Lorena Morato is a 38 year old artist from Brazil who came to Germany 11 years ago. She started tattooing back in 2007 and is currently living in Cologne where she is working at Golden Times Atelier, her private tattoo shop, creating unique and unmistakable pieces of art on skin as well as on canvas.
When looking at your tattoos, I get the impression that it’s not just nice paintings, but it looks like in some tattoos there’s another level or layer of symbolism beyond what’s visible – is that correct?
I would say yes, it’s correct. I do my best to put a bit of my soul into the designs that I create. Some of my designs are very much inspired by mythologies, ancient civilizations, shamanic cultures, as I feel very much connected to a lot of archetypes and symbolisms of magic. I try to incorporate all this in my designs.
How far does your Brazilian background influence your designs?
I would say now more than a few years ago. I’m living a moment in my life where I feel very connected to my roots since my last travel to Brazil, at the beginning of 2021 when I spent the second lockdown back home. These past two years brought so many changes to all of us at so many levels.
A strong part of it was leading many of us back home, and if you could really understand and see the big meaning of it all, for me was leading everyone of us back to ourselves as we were in a situation we didn’t have that much choices but look within. Many of us stayed away from so many friends and family members. We had to learn new ways, and for me one of them was to reconnect to my roots and to my people by going back to Brazil for a while. I stayed a few months there and this influenced my art immensely and keeps doing it more and more.
How do you create a design? Especially the large pieces look like a composition, so how do you put different elements together to achieve a harmonious picture?
First I hear all the ideas of my clients , and pick elements which I think will form a good composition. Most of the times clients give you so many ideas, and not always incorporating many elements in a tattoo will work harmoniously. Less is more in my opinion when it’s about body composition.
So I use the ones I think will work properly. The placement on the body is the most important part of the process.
First I like to observe the placement of the design, the body flow, and then I start building the best composition for the area to be tattooed.
There’s a strong indication of a connection to nature perceptible in your work. Can you tell us about your relation to nature?
Nature is everywhere around us. Even when living in the city there is nature around us. We just have to be aware and look around and look in ourselves, we are part of nature. The connection with nature in my work is based in the connection we should have with ourselves first and the idea to not separate us from nature because we are part of it.
Many times I thought I was so distant from nature because I live in a city, but then I started to realize what’s around me, what’s in my inner self, my thoughts and from where inspiration comes from when I close my eyes. The sun is still rising and setting everywhere we are. Healing plants inspire me a lot when creating art due to my experiences in the nature of Brazil, and so many other elements of nature. Of course hiking and spending time in the woods give me an immense flow of creativity. I’m very grateful every time I can do that.
Most of your work is huge and you also have an enormous output – you must be really blessed to have so many customers who commission such big pieces, how do you manage to find these customers and how do you handle so many large-scale projects?
I’m truly blessed and grateful to have so much interest and above all trust from many clients. With all sizes of projects, I’m just grateful for people’s trust. I believe that once you start tattooing a certain concept and people start seeing that, they get curious, interested and it gives them ideas and inspiration to get tattooed something similar to what they saw.
So they contact you. From the point I realized I started tattooing bigger projects, I also create a few designs of what I call “wanna dos”, tattoo concepts that I draw and publish on my social media, so people contacted me to realize the projects. This is truly amazing. For the big scale projects I give the clients a few appointments not that far from each other, to create commitment and motivation to carry on. It takes a lot of time.
I try not to tattoo big scale projects each and every day, because is very tiring for my mind and back, so I make my best to place a smaller project in between the big ones weekly. Sometimes the same client requests two sessions in a row because either they live very far or some are just very motivated. Then I do that with those who asks. After weeks of big scale projects I try to take a short break to gain energy again. This is important.
Given the amount of work that you present on your profile and the size, I presume that you are a fast working artist, is that correct?
Many clients say I am fast, haha, but it will always depend on skin types or the client’s pain resistance. Sometimes I can be fast because the skin takes the ink easier and my clients are having a good day with a good level of pain resistance. But it’s not always like that.
In the end the best way is to work focused and not in a hurry. Especially with tattooing.
When it happens that I’m working fast, it’s because I am having a good work flow, an easier skin to apply the ink and a strong client. But respecting clients’pain levels is the most important, people are different.
When working on such big pieces, I guess you get to know your customers during the process; do your tattoos cause a change in them, in their personalities? Do they acknowledge such a change?
Yes, we get to know each other well and I really like that. And with the ones who got the biggest projects, we get so well in tune with ideas. I guess that’s the reason why the size of the projects keep expanding. They maybe learn some things from me but I certainly learn a lot from them as well. The whole process for me is about transformation, not only on our bodies but in the whole experience. I can tell myself because I went through a bodysuit and from this tattoo experience so much of my mind changed as well. It’s a great process.
You also draw and paint a lot; which one do you prefer, tattooing or painting?
They are both very different I would say. I’m in love with the tattoo craft and I am in love with my paintings (gouache and oils). Painting is a different state, you’re putting all of what you are in the art you are creating. Tattooing has a lot from you as well of course, but in tattooing you also have to listen to the ones who will carry your designs and therefore match ideas, which for me is also great and fascinating. It’s always good to put ideas together, I like collaborations in art.
You have a very distinct and recognizable style, but sometimes artists with such an unmistakable style feel like they got themselves in a trap, when customers ask for the same things over and over again and therefore prevent the artist from growing and evolving – have you ever felt like that, can you relate to this? And how do you go about it?
Oh yes, I can relate so well. People like to get what they see, and with tattooing this happens a lot. When I repeat a subject too often, I like to take breaks and give it time before taking similar requests again. I need that for myself. I’m not a big fan of tattooing one subject over and over again for a long period of time.
As with my paintings, I like to experiment a lot, change techniques and subjects, I like to leave my comfort zone. Also in tattooing, I don’t like to repeat a subject over and over. So making these breaks is good, and specially creating “wanna dos” of different subjects and concepts, these help me a lot. So if you think you aren’t developing, you are stuck, just change, don’t be afraid. Make new designs, present them to your public.