Over a million followers on Instagram and an absolute stunner, but “when she grows up” Fely wants to be something else: a professional tattooist. Taking it right to the wire.

The name is sure to ring a bell because Felisja Fishball (real surname Piana) is one of the most popular Italian suicide girls in the world (over a million followers on Instagram, 252 thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook). A real web star.

We were only delighted to get the chance to interview her, to get to know her a little better and also to find out what it is that brought her this far and what plans she’s got for her future at the ripe old age of 22. Here is what she had to say, shooting straight from the hip.

Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model
Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model

Let’s start at the very start, why don’t we? Why Fishball?
That was actually a nickname given me years ago by a friend of mine. You know, he thought I looked like a puffer fish! (laughs) Seeing as how that sounded a bit odd, I opted for ‘Fishball’ and since then it’s stuck.

I know you first got into tattoo art because you’re mum is tattooed…
Yeah, my mother’s first tattoo was a tribal on her back that she got when I would have been around four years old. And so there was always that wanting to be like her: every time she came home with a new piece, I would have loved one as well.

Seeing as how the press often refers to you as a “punk beauty”, can you tell me something about your favourite bands?
To be honest, I don’t really like punk all that much… I’m more into American rap, trap and techno. But proper techno, written with a k! Tekno! (laughs)

Over a million followers on Instagram. It must have turned your head. I mean we’re talking about the fandom of an international pop star here! How do you cope with it?
Want to know the truth? It’d actually not that important to me. Basically it’s just a job that lets me make a living, not some sort of personal vanity trip. Crazy as it might sound, I hate the social networks and I try to spend as little time on them as I can. Just like anyone else who, once the work day is over, tries to devote their time to their real life.

Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model
Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model

But all this success on the web has in fact done you a lot of good, hasn’t it? It got you established, because before that you were the difficult one and hard to accept…
True. At first, people in the little town in Sardinia where I was born and bred really had an issue with my “visibility”. Actually, I could say the same for all of Sardinia, seeing as how we’re dealing with an island. And people there all know each other, even if they live two hundred kilometres apart.

Who hurt you the most?
The local girls. They were pretty mean and nasty to me: so much so that at a certain point I just had to pack up and move to another region in less than a week. (thinks for a moment) If you think that at the time I already had 50 thousand followers on Facebook without ever having posed for nude not to mention explicit shots. Those senseless reactions really got to me. But now the very same people who insulted me back then boast about the fact that they know me! I can’t even begin to tell you how satisfying that is!

And anyway you don’t even want to be a model at all, do you? You want to be a tattoo artist, right?
Exactly. For the moment I’m not tattooing and I will only start this new career in a few years when I have given up modelling once and for all. Obviously I’ll be looking at a long stretch where I won’t get paid because I have no intention of asking for money for my tattoos until I’ve really learned this fabulous trade. Money matters so that one day I’ll be able settle down and dedicate myself just to that. So I’m saving money in order to get through my apprenticeship with my back covered.

Let’s talk about your own tattoos: tell me about that subject you have in the middle of your chest.
That is a Glaucus Atlanticus, a poisonous mollusc. A really small creature, but deadly. (smiles)

Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model
Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model

Where did your love of geometric/dotwork tattoo come from?
I spent a year and a half as an assistant in Marco Galdo’s shop in Milan, Trafficanti d’Arte. Apart from considering him as a friend, I see Marco as a great artist. I think when I finish up as a model he’ll be the first I ask to take me on as an apprentice. On top of everything else we also happen to be neighbours!(laughs)

So you’ve just mentioned Galdo, but who else is on your list of favourite tattoo artists?
Well, apart from all the artists who have tattooed me, I really like the style of Little Linda in Koneko Studio in Dallas who does this really elegant floral blackwork.

Can you see yourself some day being completely covered in ink?
Yes, absolutely. And right now I’d say we’re half way there seeing as how Marco Galdo is working on my back. I have just decided to leave my face out of it because I don’t think my mum would be too impressed! (sniggers)

Can we finish on a note of gossip? You’re boyfriend is the rapper MadMan…
Yeah, we’ve been together for a while.

He’s got a fair bit of ink himself.
Yes he does, but we rarely get talking about tattoo art. I mean it’s not such a common topic of conversation. If anything, it’s he who tells me what he wants to do with his neck or chest. You know, the normal kinds of things lovers confide in one another. (smiles)

Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model
Felisja Fishball, Tattoo Model
Felisja Fishball – Tattoo Model
Instagram: @fishball_sg/