Interview with Elena Lamberti

 Hello Elena Lamberti! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. You are very talented, are you a self taught artist? My name is Elena Lamberti, I'm 41 years old and I'm Italian. I have been living in Poland, in Krakow, for three and a half years. When I was a teenager I attended art high school because I always had a passion for drawing and after graduating I started working as a furniture decorator. I painted on wooden furniture. I did it for many years until, due to a bad illness, I had to stop. During my convalescence, a friend with twenty years of experience in tattooing asked me if I wanted to learn tattooing and so I started, it was 2014. The following year I moved to Switzerland where I continued my apprenticeship and in 2016 I returned to Italy. I have had a passion for drawing and art since I was a child, while my passion for tattooing was born the moment I picked up the machine for the first time. All the people I have met over these nine years have in some way influenced and guided me on this path and I am grateful to them.

Q: I believe even the super talented people who want to excel in this business have to work a lot and make some sacrifices. What kept you motivated to continue learning and growing when you were a beginner? Honestly, was it hard to learn the basics?
A: It was certainly difficult at the beginning to approach this profession, I carry out it with great seriousness and responsibility, which is why I have always tried to make progress one step at a time when I felt ready. It probably took longer but I am happy with my choice. Of course I made mistakes, like all beginners, but I think I've always done things with my head on my shoulders.

Q: What type of tattoos you use to do back then and how long took you to gain confidence in your work?
A: The first year I did very small tattoos, only with line on arms and legs, more difficult areas of the body were prohibited. From the second year I also started using color and tattooing on other parts of the body. I was very interested in Japanese tattooing because my mentor was an expert in it.

Q: I absolutely... love every tattoo in your portfolio. Seems like black and white tattoo realism is the chosen direction. What do you like about this style?
A: Now my passion is definitely black and grey realism, I love details, I love tattooing animals and faces and I love doing shades. I'm still trying to personalize my style.

Q: Oh for sure, it is one of the most difficult style to master it. No "edit" no experiments with cover ups... either is perfectly done or there's a resentful client... ah! Tattoo realism is no joke! That being said... what types of designs take a lot of time to finish?
A: All projects require a lot of time to be carried out in a work manlike manner, but unfortunately this is not always possible because customers often ask for a tattoo of 2-3 sessions in one, because they have a small budget or because they simply don't want to do long sessions. But we should dedicate the necessary time to each project, in my opinion it would be perfect to have a further session once healed.

Q: Any favorite portrait you did? Mine is Michael Myers's oh, now that's perfectly done!
A: I don't know which of the portraits I've done is my favorite, maybe the Native American woman I did for my client was a 70's photo of his mother.

Q: I think you will do well if you try experimenting with color inks, any plans for that? Or maybe a totally different style?
A: Every time I travel and come into contact with great artists who are experts in color tattoos I come home very motivated and inspired and it makes me want to use colors myself, I don't rule it out in the future.

Q: I saw some of your drawings... they are very, very good! They look like a photograph. Do you sale some of them like for a special client or on the Internet? If yes, please let us know how/when we can buy some.
A: One of my goals is to paint and draw a lot more and I will definitely be preparing some prints soon. If anyone is interested in purchasing them you can always contact me privately. The ones I have done so far were not commissioned.

Q: Good drawing skills are crucial if someone wants to be good at tattooing, even though, tattooing is a special technique that must be learned (separately) but these two always go hand in hand. Would you agree?
A: I don't really agree, I know many people who are very good at painting and drawing who are denied tattooing. Certainly a good drawing basis is fundamental in tattooing but to tattoo you need a particular predisposition, I believe that it is not a job for everyone. And I also believe that aesthetic sense and good taste cannot be learned, regardless of whether one has good drawing skills or not.

Q: Do you draw some sketches before the session for your clients or you both work on the design before the session?
A: Years ago I used to get very stressed and prepare freehand drawings for clients, and many times it happened that on the day of the appointment they changed their mind about the project. It was never a waste of time because it was still a good exercise, but I haven't done it for a couple of years. On the day of the appointment I take the time necessary to talk to the client and think about the project together, I think it's the best thing, and the iPad is a tool that has speeded up the process a lot, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do it.

Q: I think you should have like a special design book that will showcase your beautiful drawings. That will be an extra "upgrade" of the basic, usual, ready made catalogue designs. Would you try something like that?
A: I agree, it's one of the things I should definitely do next. I just need some free time to focus on it!

Q: Now with the new technology, Ipads, procreate, even AI... there's so much room for creativity and artistic exploration. Do you like where we are going with this or it's kinda fake and generic? How much it may help in creating tattoo art?
A: I don't like it at all and I don't like tattoos done with AI. They are fake and soulless. I think a lot of tattoo artists overuse it and have become a little lazy from a creative standpoint. But I respect everyone's choices, everyone is free to do what they prefer obviously. You could say the same thing about a realistic tattoo, which is nothing more than a copy of a photograph, so I think I'm in a transition period where I'm still experimenting with a way to personalize my tattoos, this is my next goal.

Q: Do you have something you would like to promote on this interview?
A: There are many projects that I would like to tattoo on skin and that I have ready, anyone interested can write me a message on my Instagram:

Also next year I will do my first seminar in Italy, I can't wait. It will be a seminar for beginners, because I noticed that even apprentices go to the seminars of the most experienced tattoo artists. I believe that they are not at a level of knowledge that can learn all the information and use it in their work. In my opinion, things should be done step by step. I'm also organizing to do one in Mexico City next year.

Q: We are more connected than ever. Social media can have really good sides. Tattoo artists connect and share the knowledge with each other. It's a great opportunity, I think. It's easy to link up and meet up. Do you travel for work? Like guest spots etc? What was the coolest experience, did you learn something from it?
A: I travel constantly for work, of course, I'm lucky enough to meet and work side by side with the best tattoo artists in the world and I always learn something new. I think the most decisive meeting was the one with my partner, Victor Portugal, 5 years ago, who introduced me to the black and gray style. Sitting next to him every day while he works made me appreciate his passion for details, dedication, respect for this profession, the search for perfection and the desire to always, continuously improve. I'm still very far from what I would like to be.

- Let us know where you are located and how we can book an appointment.
I am a resident in his studio in Krakow, Darktimes tattoo, but I travel constantly, as I was saying, to other countries in the world. Sometimes it's difficult to understand where I am because I move often but on Instagram I always announce my movements.

Q: Once you get good at tattooing, clients and good reviews, there's no going back! Hah! Tattooing is one of the best professions out there. It's love, it's self expression, it's passion! Sure there are sacrifices and sometimes pressure, thirst for more knowledge and progress, but it's woth it. What do you like the most about being a full time tattoo artist?
A: This is truly my dream job, I like to push my limits, I like the adrenaline I feel every time I start a new project. I'm never happy with the result because I would like to do better and every time, I can't wait to get the next tattoo to prove it. Then I love how I feel when I tattoo, listen to my music and enter my world, I simply feel at peace and happy, satisfied. However, when I don't work I feel depressed and frustrated.

Q: In few words, what would you recommend to all the young people who will read this interview and want to try getting into this business?
A: My advice is to start this profession only and exclusively if driven by passion, not because it's cool or because you believe you can earn money easily. You can also make mistakes easily and these types of mistakes have serious consequences. You have to have respect for this job, dedicate yourself completely to it, practice, and take things one step at a time. If you feel like you are doing something well otherwise you have to say no. I believe it is much more professional to admit one's limits and not accept projects that we are not capable of carrying out. No one is capable of doing everything well. Another very important thing is the awareness that we never arrived in this profession, we never stop learning and evolving, also to keep up with the times, compare for example the tattoos of the nineties to those of now ;)