Interview with Close | Tattoo and Graffiti Art | Spain 18/01/2022

  Hello Close! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Were you like an artistic kid drawing sketches etc? I was always a good student. I liked everything . But nobody really motivated me to draw. I really enjoyed the art class at school, but you know, the kind of thing everyone tell you…" you can’t live of drawing" . When I was very young, we did do a group at school and draw unconventional superheroes. I remember "super rapping grandma" as one of the most special. Lol It wasn’t until I discovered graffiti that I became more serious about art. I was 15/16 years old. I started drawing letters. During the week I made sketches and on weekends I painted on the wall. I also made many orders customizing hats, slippers, backpacks, blinds... We were poor, so if I wanted to paint, I had to do jobs in order to pay for the material. At home we couldn’t spend money for it.

Q: What was the best but also the most difficult part of your journey to become a tattoo artist?
A: The University was a great place. I studied fine arts and majored in graphic design. The people I met and everything I lived, are things that have made me grow as a person and a worker. On the other hand, there’s graffiti. Painting in international festivals like "Meeting of styles" has made me meet many people, live incredible experiences and have friends all over the world. Especially in Italy. Trying to live always doing what I wanted has been complicated. I started by combining graffiti and graphic design. Then I went to work for tattoo artists, making logo designs and later designs of tattoos. It was here that I approached the world of tattooing and felt it was time to start. I really would have liked to get a definite style by painting graffiti and then start tattooing. But life goes its own way and I felt it was time to start. The hardest thing has been growing up without any help and being able to help my mother at the same time.

Q: What kept you motivated and work hard to keep learning? Did anyone help you?
A: At institute I studied science. There were a lot of problems at home. So graffiti was the only thing that made me really happy. That’s when I decided to study fine arts and that this had to be my whole life. As I said in the previous question, I never had any help. I was really bad at painting and yet I liked it very much. I think painting with my friends, all we shared were very special things. I think the kind of life we led are things that not everyone sees as normal. It is not just a profession. It’s a lifestyle. I think it’s what has saved my life, without a doubt.

Q: I really like your style! Every tattoo is unique and with a comic vibe in it. I love new school style! I bet, you have a lot of fun creating those designs and really cool customers. Tell me more about the creative process. Do you work with pen tablet? Do you collaborate with your clients on ideas?
A: Thank you so much for your words. I love newschool, but I also don’t know if I want to do this all the time. I’ve wanted to do something different for a long time. Now I finally have the chance. So I hope this year, I'll be able to draw more to finally define my style. I like to make fun ideas. Usually it is the customers who give me the idea and after talking to them we see how to solve it in the most original way possible. I think it has to be. Really when you tattoo, you have to interpret what the customer wants and give it a spin to try to get the full potential out of it. I don’t know if I’ll focus on anything specific. I like doing a lot of things. Right now my challenges are to draw faster and combine many resources to do something unique. I have to learn to synthesize as well. Don’t make too many details in tattoos. I also want to continue researching color. It’s really the color that I’m passionate about. I got too used to working with the iPad. At first it was a good thing. It’s comfortable. Now it's slower. I want to get back to the paper. Recover the freshness. iPad takes the soul from your designs.

Q: New school as a style is like a funny upgrade to the well know old school style. It gives so much creativity freedom, so I think artists really like this style because of this. What do you like the most about new school style?
A: I like newschool for the freedom it gives you. You can play with strange perspectives. Generate foreshortenings that fit perfectly to the tattoo area. I like that the line is very valuable. It appears and disappears. But let all the strength be in the color. Generate striking atmospheres and volumes. I would also like to play with gradients. There are many resources in painting. The fun thing is to try them all. I think it’s the style that gives you the most versatility in this regard. But I don’t know if I want to do things too caricatured all the time. I also like to do serious and elegant things. So I think I need to keep learning resources to make my work rich.

Q: I like how you combine your graffiti art with your tattoo art! You're a true artist! Tell me a little bit about this mix. Do you feel like one artist should stick to a one particular style and master it or?
A: Thank you very much. I don’t really consider myself an artist. If anything, an artisan. I think in the end it’s easier to stick to a style. Because there’s always going to be things you can do better than others. I haven’t been very smart about that. What I really like is learning. But you can’t be learning your whole life. It’s exhausting and you don’t focus. You’re always going to learn something new. But you have to specialize in something. However, I think it’s important to touch all styles before specializing. And in general I think I am very dispersed. I have done a lot of calligraphy, design, illustration, photography... everything is related. Everything adds up. But it’s time to do something with it.

- How do you manage to be open minded and go on board with your clients ideas but still maintaining your own style?
It’s really complicated. The Internet has made a lot of new styles appear. But it has also made people want what they see. Sometimes it’s hard to get them out. Sometimes there are things that aren’t directly true. They look good for the photo, but when it heals, it’ll be something else entirely. It is also important to keep a cool mind. Sometimes the customer is not right. Sometimes your life is complicated for other reasons and you have to give your best. Someone will carry something of yours all their life! You have to strive to be the best version of yourself every day. This is sometimes difficult. But luckily I have more and more customers who trust me. You learn to separate your emotions and maintain an order between your life and your work. I am recently returning to sports. This is giving me life! It is very important to maintain a balance and reach a halfway point between what the customer wants and what you want.

Q: What would be the funniest tattoo design you would like to tattoo on a loved one? :)
A: I would love to tattoo my mother! She seems willing, but I think she only says it to please me. Someday I’ll cheat on her. Haha It’s really the only one left in the family to be tattooed. I’ve already tattooed everyone. But I’d like to mix fantasy with more realistic images. Make portraits that suddenly are something else. Mix them with landscapes. Impossible lights. Crazy colors... I don’t know.

Q: Gotta say, I love everything I see in your portfolio, but that Scar with the hyena (The Lion King) hah! It's my favorite tattoo. Ah!! Bravo! What a nice, funny tattoo! Who came up with that idea?
A: Actually, this tattoo is worn by one of my best friends. He’s been one of the most supportive people since the beginning, so he always lets me do whatever I want. We share many tastes of cinema and life in general. "The silly hyena of the lion king",” the metal jacket"? Why not? It really is a cartoon of ours. We worked together for a while and he and another fellow were the "hyenas" of the studio.

Q: I guess you should think about doing a comic book with like crazy characters and cool story lines. Just saying.
A: I never really thought about it. But it would be great to be able to do something with more content. Sometimes a mural or a simple work falls short. I don’t know if the comic format is the one I like the most... but I remember that I really liked the graphic novel. I really like this format. I did something like this in college and I had a great time. I took note.

Q: Being a tattoo artist is a very responsible, very hard job but also a very rewarding experience that leads to personal growth. I see it as, someone doing what they love, learning every day about life through clients stories and giving them a life long memory marked on their skin. That type of dynamic is not so common in other professions, right?
A: Absolutely. It’s a big responsibility. Now I’m trying to learn how to get customers into my field. But it’s not always like that. You can’t always totally do what you want. Sometimes this can be frustrating because you know that the tattoo would be better if you were left completely free to do it. You also often have to do things you don’t like. I’d like to change that. But I know that it is my responsibility and that I will not be able to change it completely. As I said, I am not sure that we are artists. If only artisans. That is why it is essential to leave you time to draw, paint... I have recently discovered how important graffiti is to me. I really already knew it. But I didn’t know it up to that level. Graffiti is freedom and I need to be free to be happy. If I am happy, my work is much better. So it is important to always keep the balance. But it certainly is. It’s something completely different from other professions. You really have to spend 24 hours thinking about tattoo (yes, sometimes I also dream that tattoo haha). But this also makes it magical. What I experience every day is very important. But so is my team. We’ve had a hard time building a strong team. But now we’re a family. We spend more time in the studio than at home. So they are just as important as everything else. We help each other a lot. We try to make every customer feel at home and that is also our responsibility. Of course, this doesn’t happen in other jobs either. So it’s very important. Sometimes I don’t need to make social life outside, because I have everything I want in the studio. In our house.

Q: The graffiti art is insane! I absolutely love all of your paintings. Sincere compliments! How long have you been doing graffiti?
A: I’m not used to that kind of compliment, so thank you very much, really. I started painting in 2006. I have had different periods, but I certainly think that after finishing the Fine Arts degree was when I painted more seriously. In a matter of a year I moved a lot and that led me to participate in many festivals. Then I started tattooing and I had to focus on it. As I was saying, now I understand that it is a necessity. So I have to get to do both. So that’s my purpose this year. To be able to paint and tattoo until I can merge the two. So that I feel complete and I can do what I want both on the wall and on the skin. But I hope I never give up my life. It’s vital.

- Are you independent or you're part of a crew? If so, please tell me a little bit about the team work and some of the best places you painted together.
Now I’m independent. I’m in a workshop with people who do everything. There are 4 graffiti artists too. I go there Monday, Tuesday and some nights. This is another indispensable thing. I had a crew since I started, with them I also had a local. Currently we are still friends, but everyone has made their life and it is increasingly difficult for us to paint together. But with them I have also experienced incredible things. I later ran a hiphop culture association. I was in charge of the art group. With them I painted at the MEETING OF STYLES in Germany and Madrid. But because of my situation, it was impossible for me to lead the group. We also didn’t have the same goals. So I preferred to quit before this was a problem. But it was also a great experience.

Q: Digital illustration, graffiti, tattooing... Creative for sure, but also very driven and dedicated I would just add. Is there any other medium you would like to try experimenting? Like oil painting etc?
A: I really experimented with many techniques in the fine arts career. Fresco painting, oil, acrylic, encáustica, watercolor, sculpture, animation... although I like them all, right now I need something that is faster. So I want to make painted sheets with markers or guache. I’d like to go back to painting pictures. But it takes me a long time to do it, so for now I think I should practice in smaller formats and dry them earlier.

Q: I guess you're busy all the time and as much as that keeps the mind focused it could also be draining sometimes, especially in creative jobs. How do you manage a busy schedule or simply a creative block?
A: It’s been exhausting. I’ve really just come out of a brutal existential crisis. Because not only did I do all this, but I was also in charge of directing the studio, running social networks, as well as everything that depended on it. I needed help to get out of there. But I really think it’s important to also hit bottom. It is the only method of really learning to live in a healthier way. On the other hand, I have recently had the opportunity to meet several of my older referents. I have seen that this is something that happens to us all and that it is important to pay attention to know how to take the best method possible. So it’s a matter of taking it easy. Pay attention and keep growing Up!. It’s also hard to find a couple who understands all this. I’ve been through previous relationships and it just keeps happening to me. But well, I think it’s possible and I’m sure my future will be better than what I’ve already experienced. So now I’m very calm.

Q: We live in very uncertain times now with the pandemic and many tattoo artists are struggling with the restrictions. How are you doing?
A: Part of my crisis last year came through here. Not because at work level we were particularly affected. Mostly because nothing could be done. So my life was limited to working. But for everything else, we haven’t noticed much. This last wave has. There have been people infected who have changed their date. But luckily there are not many and we have not had major problems.

- Are you available for bookings? If so, please write down your email and studio location.
I am now super available for tattooing. I downloaded my social media activity precisely for this reason. I needed time for myself. Drawing. Pose where I want to go now and where I want my style to go. I will soon start publishing new things. Both works and personal designs. My studio is located in Valencia, Spain. It’s called La Pirateria Tattoo Ship and I invite you to meet it. It is a very nice place, made with much affection and my companions are also great professionals. I usually attend appointments by instagram @closetattoo or by studio email lapirateriatattooship@gmail.com

Q: What would you recommend to all the young people who want to try getting into this business?
A: Think about it well. It’s a very sacrificial thing. So you have to be clear that this is going to be your whole life and that you can’t take shortcuts because you’re doing something for life. If all this is clear to you. The usual. Draw, draw and draw. I still lack a lot of drawing. So I am paying a lot of attention to this. Because it’s about constantly improving and learning. If you can’t do it on paper, you can’t do it on the skin. It’s that simple.

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