IN THIS FORMAT WE INTRODUCE YOU TO A TATTOO SHOP PRESENT IN THE “TATTOO ARTISTS YEARBOOKS”, A HANDY GUIDE TO THE TATTOO SHOPS IN EUROPE.
We are in Rimini, a renowned Italian town by the sea, famous for its nightlife and that flavour of Italian tradition that makes it loved all over the world. It is here that Arianna Settembrino, Miss Arianna, opened her Skinwear Tattoo shop in 2002, a shop that perfectly reflects her personality and style: artistic, rigorous and sensitive…
Hi Arianna it’s been 21 years that you’ve been in the tattoo industry, what do you think are the prerequisites to last a long time in such a wide creative world?
21 years… which added to the three years of apprenticeship makes 24…
I am impressed! Part of me has retained the same enthusiasm as when I started, and perhaps part of the secret of ‘success’ is precisely this. In addition to enthusiasm, great discipline, spirit of sacrifice, study and application, both artistic and technical, entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge of the sector and, last but not least, in-depth knowledge of the hygienic-sanitary aspect, which is fundamental in this trade.
In the film you posted on your website you define yourself and tattooing as solid and clear. How do you think your personality is reflected in your work?
A lot. The best thing is that in tattoos I can bring out the best part of me, the most intimate, free, artistic and sensitive part. But my stricter side also contributes to the result. Because technique and ‘cleanliness’ are a distinctive feature in my pieces.
Your tattooing is very codified by your style, of course Traditional with powerful outlines, lots of masonic symbols, tarot cards and… what else today? How has it changed over time?
Although I deeply love the more classic Traditional iconography, I have always sought inspiration in esoteric symbolism, and this has meant that my work has been steeped in it. Today I continue to study symbols, and incorporate them into my work, but I am experimenting with ornamental styles on paper, especially for large projects (back pieces, arms and legs) taking inspiration from tribal but also from sacred and Tibetan geometry. I look forward to setting to work on those who will appreciate these ideas… I will post something over the next few months.
You defined your work as a vehicle, because you bring out on the skin what often not even the customers know they want. Is this such an important aspect of your work?
It is true, it is a very important aspect. It often happens to me that the initial idea of the client is rather basic, fragile and confused. And that I therefore do not have many tools to interpret it. People (myself included) are not always able to express in words what they would like exactly on their skin. So I work almost ‘in the dark’.
I focus on the person, based on what he or she has conveyed to me during the interview, or by reviewing the messages…
and from there I start to create, guided by something ‘magical’ that I cannot quite explain. The drawing process is intense, at least 4 or 5 steps from the initial draft, until something (I call it alchemy) is triggered that can even completely change the initial draft!
When I show the design to the client (never in advance, only when she/he arrives at the appointment) it is always a special moment, I love to read the amazement in the eyes when he/she says that he/she would never have imagined it like that…
The same goes for the final result, because I almost never plan the colours in advance, I create everything at the moment always guided by instinct.
It is a process in my work that is totally inspired by my inner world and the great empathy I have (and think that at first I seem cold and detached).
You are very keen to emphasise your integrity in hygiene and the professionalism of your work in both tattooing and piercing, and your respect for the customer. What are the basic rules of Skinwear from this point of view?
Thank you for the question. I care a lot because we as tattoo artists (and piercers) have a great responsibility not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in terms of health and hygiene, because working in contact with people’s skin and blood, we have a duty to know perfectly the rules for the prevention of cross-contamination. We have a duty to follow hygiene protocols for workstation set-up and cleaning. We have a duty to know certain aspects of dermatology and to learn to recognise possible problems so as to avoid ‘operating’ or seeking medical advice first. Today, I must unfortunately say that a good performer is not always able to work professionally in terms of hygiene. In my practice I am very strict about this aspect.
Shall we open the studio doors and take a tour with you describing the location, atmosphere, furnishings etc?
The entrance welcomes you into a comfortable waiting room (our chesterfield sofa is very popular with clients). The walls are adorned with numerous art prints and many original paintings. There are works by my friend Simone El Rana, who believed in me from the start and brought me beautiful pieces to decorate, as well as giving me some works that I am very jealous of. In the window there is a beautiful guitar he made for the prizes of the London convention… it is the only prize I keep on display because it is truly a beautiful piece of furniture as well as very meaningful to me, won in really glorious times of our tattoo world (around 2012).
Through a noren curtain you enter the large open space room with three comfortable stations. In this room I thought about the practical and hygienic aspect, but the walls are very high and I was able to cover them with magnificent boards, from the book “The Wooden Folder” collection to the “Traditional Folder” to the extraordinary ones from the first volume of Spider Murphy’s (all your productions by the way, congratulations).
The third room is the magical drawing room, where there is a large L-shaped desk (which becomes a lunch and snack table when needed) and a bookcase to lose your mind. In twenty years I have collected everything, the best sketchbooks exchanged for the best, author reference books, scrapbooks from the 1920s onwards, a Dover collection with everything unimaginable and much more.
There is something incredible in this room, which has literally driven some foreign guests crazy: archaeological excavations dating back to the 2nd century AD and original Roman walls in excellent condition. The excavations are protected and covered with corten iron panels, but the idea of walking on top of history has a certain fascination…
Who works with you at the moment and who do you like to remember among the countless guests who have crossed the door of Skinwear?
Currently by my side there are Loris Bak, 29 years old with me for three years, versatile but with a preference for black, fascinated by both traditional and Japanese, and Valentina Besutti, a professional piercer, very skilled and much loved by our customers.
Vanessa la V, with her Traditional modern (with attention to detail and lines of two thicknesses) and romantic style, is much appreciated and in high demand precisely because of the sensitivity and originality of her interpretations.
Andrea Playink has been a regular guest at Skinwear for over a year, specialised in realistic black’n grey, he is a talented artist and a fantastic person.
Deborah Ferranti, who has been a member of the Skinwear family for 5 years now, is the youngest, very talented, a lover of Black work in its darkest forms. She created the graphics for our latest T-shirt, in metal style, not to be missed.
Then there is Simone Gallo, a bombshell of talent and adrenaline, who collaborates with my studio mainly on Japanese style, a regular guest.
Last but not least Olimpia Quartieri, our queen of Traditional, she has been collaborating with Skinwear for over 5 years, in the studio by appointment.
Last but not least, among those who have ‘passed through’ my studio I like to remember Spillo, one of the best, if not the best among Italian tattoo artists, a guest since 2005 and a great friend of mine, Gakni (Gallo, ex Manao Tu Papao in Modena) a piece of my heart, Marco Lari, Rudy Fritsch, Federica Marshmallows, Vale Lovette, Dane SOOS, Gaia Leone, Andrea Pallocchini (my first special guest in 2003), Samuele Briganti, Morg, Pietro Sedda, Stizzo, the great Pino Cafaro, Chriss Dettmer, Didac, El Carlo, Donna Mayla.
And I will always remember with great affection Christian Forrester, who worked with me at Skinwear for 7 years, and Koji Ichimaru, who both passed away prematurely, I miss them (R.I.P.).
To conclude, what do you feel confident in today and what has bored you in your work?
Tough question! My only great certainty comes from myself, and it is an awareness that I have achieved with time and after various disappointments. I have learnt that there are things I cannot control and that I cannot infuse others anything they do not already have:
I can be an example, that is true, but enthusiasm and determination cannot be taught.
Today I am a better business woman, I made mistakes in the past for not separating friendship from business, and this cost me a very high price. Today I know that it is necessary to do it and that there is nothing wrong with this. Nothing has bored me, I am always full of energy and I love facing new challenges and changes. What disappoints me, however, is the turn the tattoo world has taken. The free market and the easy availability of tools, together with the ease of access to tattoo studios and conventions, has allowed the masses to take over a job that, as a Craft is by no means for everyone.
Social media has created the illusion that everything is easy to achieve, and in some ways this is true.
The responsibility lies, first and foremost, with the suppliers who have sold without reserve and without selection. Greed has won out over critical sense and professional ethics. And again, studio owners have allowed anyone into tattooing, young people are not supervised, all they have to do is make cash, professional ethic is not conveyed.
The same is with conventions: in many of them booths are sold to anyone who pays, while in the past only those with experience could have the privilege of tattooing at a tattoo convention, due to the respect of the entire tattoo community and the visitors who paid to see the best. This of course is a generalised argument and does not apply to everyone.
But for those like me who hold on to tradition and values, it is hard. We are few and not even united, so we dissipate our energies and complain about what is wrong without doing anything to change. However, I do not give up! I am always ready to welcome honest, talented people who are genuinely interested in tattooing. Obviously with my rules… it takes rules and great effort, but it is a meritocratic path, at least at Skinwear!
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