It’s the place: Red Point is a home for art created by Claudia De Sabe, Yutaro and Teide, who have come together with the same, shared intentions: to banish their egos, create, follow their own personal inspiration, and play to their own tune…
Hi Claudia, this has been an important year for you, full of big changes that have had a direct influence on both your personal and work spheres. Would you agree?
Yeah, absolutely. Just think: we signed the contract for the studio on September 17th, and my son was born on October 2nd. This wasn’t planned at all – babies are born whenever they are born – and it was pretty difficult to find the studio, it took us almost a year to find the right spot. And when that finally happened, we didn’t hesitate to grab it. I started working 11 weeks after Zenta’s birth, so that was a big period of adjustment; I was at home with him, but I had thousands of bureaucratic tasks to deal with for the studio, while the guys took care of the manual labor. It was a whirlwind of emotion.
But let’s just say that I was prepared for all of this inside myself, because there has never been a dull moment in my life, and things usually happen all at once. So I’ve learned how to deal with these kinds of situations really well! I feel like I’ve been lucky because all my clients have been really understanding and supportive, and willing to wait. I had to postpone some appointments and manage my agenda differently. I’ve got my priorities right in front of me, and deal with them one by one, but gone are the days of sitting on the couch without anything to do, or just taking time out to draw for myself. If I do sit down, I know that I have 20 minutes of autonomy. But that’s fine, because now I have to make the most of the time I’ve got. So everything has changed a bit from that standpoint.
Maybe it’s still too early on; maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to the changes.
Red Point is your very first studio. Had the time come to make this move, during this new phase in your life?
I’ve been in London for 13 years now, and I’ve worked in four different studios; it was time to do something that fits who I am.
Your team consists of you, Yutaro, and Teide. Tell me about how you’ve become a team.
Teide is from Madrid. I met him eight years ago when he came to Jolie Rouge looking for a job. At the time I was also the studio’s manager, and I liked the fact that he presented himself with a book full of flash, lettering, and other work. I saw that he had great potential, because when a person brings you that much material, you know that he or she is willing to work hard and take on a challenge. We worked together for three years at Jolie Rouge. Then I moved to Black Garden for a year, and when Seven Doors opened, we found ourselves working together again. We traveled a lot and formed a really deep friendship. We’d always thought about doing something together, so when Yutaro and I felt like it was the right time, we talked about it with Teide and decided to start this new project together.
Where’s your studio located?
It’s in between the Angel and Kings Cross stations, parallel to Upper Street. It’s a small studio that perfectly reflects the idea that Yutaro, Teide and I had in mind for our own place. One of the things I really wanted more than anything else was for the studio to have windows and natural light. As you know, the spaces in London are small; they’re often windowless, in the basement. I worked in places like that for 10 years! I had the feeling of being out of touch with the outside world in those places, and at the end of the day I felt stressed and tired. Our 100 sq. m. space has a room upstairs with windows, and a door opens out onto a little garden in the back. We have natural light, and it’s amazing to not have to use artificial light. This really makes my work much more relaxing.
So it’s perfect for you three!
Yeah, it is – we wanted a private spot, or in any case a small space that would be just right for us, a place to call home base. Our intention was to create a team with just a few people who really respect one another – kind of like a family – who are able to work together all day and create a vibe that’s based on reciprocal sharing and trust. A place where we could grow artistically. We also do walk-ins, but our main goal is to do custom tattooing and push our creativity, also by offering and receiving criticism. No space for the ego here, just constant help, ideas, and suggestions about how to improve your style from a technical and artistic standpoint.
How has your work evolved over time, for the three of you? Has anything changed?
Speaking for myself, as I told you I feel much more relaxed and I can see my clients are, too. The same is true for Yutaro. I believe this is also reflected in the tattoos, because nothing is ever rushed. All this calm almost makes me feel like I’m in Italy!
And this relaxation can be seen at the technical and artistic levels, too.
What kinds of changes are happening for Teide?
Teide is experimenting a lot, he’s doing freehand and his style is really evolving. He does “one shots”, so you can really see this evolution, as he might finish and end a piece in one day. However Yutaro and I work on back pieces, so it’s a bit more difficult to see how our work evolves in real time. Teide’s approach is very close to wood carving, and carving in general: thin lines mixed with super colorful backgrounds, or thicker lines with a touch of psychedelic. His pieces are so balanced and interesting. This is his own language; it has its origins in traditional Spanish tattooing, but he adds his own personal stylistic flair. Teide uses heavy doses of black, with very electric colors. You can still see his Spanish origins – it’s in his blood – but the pieces he makes, which are so similar to carvings, are actually a bit less Spanish and more British. You know, black work is really strong in London, and that can be seen in his work. He’s able to combine two things: for example, a black portrait with a psychedelic, rainbow color background.
And how has Yutaro’s work evolved?
He’s following his own path based on traditional tattooing. Yutaro came to New York from San Francisco, where he had tattooed for more than 20 years. He’s had so much experience that he can do almost anything. However over the past four years he has focused on a bolder approach to traditional Japanese; he’s limited his chromatic range, takes inspiration from ukiyo-e, and refers to early 20th century Japanese tattoo masters like Horiuno. Ichibay and Horihiro from Three Tides Tattoo are following a similar vein. When Yutaro was waiting to get his visa so he could come to England, he spent two months in Japan with them. It was the first time he’d been back after twenty years. This was at the end of 2015, early 2016, and his path has really changed since then. He has a much more traditional Japanese approach now, compared to what he was doing five years ago, when he was working in San Francisco with Grime.
And what can you tell me about yourself, Claudia?
I’m continuing on my own path, with Japanese and Traditional Western mixed with my own personal style. There haven’t been any major changes in terms of subjects; I still create flowers, women, dragons, snakes, etc. I seek inspiration from ukiyo-e and reinterpret it with my own natural style, and the personal aesthetics I use for drawing.
You recently published an eBook with us. These “line drawings” consist of flowers and beautiful female portraits, which are a bit reminiscent of 1980s cartoons where the characters had a Western-Asian mix. The female characters seem to be Western women seen from the eyes of an Asian.
Like Lady Oscar! Did you know that these Japanese manga and Japanese cartoons we’re talking about were much more popular in Italy than in the rest of Europe? In terms of cartoons, Italy and Japan experienced a big exchange of productions at that time. In England, for example, there weren’t nearly as many of these as there were in Italy! Those cartoons were a big part of my childhood in Italy! My first drawings were of cartoon characters. It’s strange how these continue to inspire me, even at 38!
As we wind up our chat, can you tell me who chose the name “Red Point”?
It was Teide’s idea, because the place where you are on a map is always marked in red. It’s the place! Yutaro was initially against the idea because, from a Japanese standpoint, he ironically thought that maybe it was too cliché. But in the end, we all liked the simplicity of the name.
You can read the full interview by M. Baleni on Tattoo Life July/August 2019