Interview with tattoo artist Carolina Caos

 Hello Carolina Caos! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. What inspired you to start tattooing? Was it hard?
I am Italian and I live in Voghera, near Milan and I am 31 years old. I studied psychology in high school, later attended the European Institute of Design in Milan.

Q: Did you have any help from someone or you're a self taught artist? How long took you to gain confidence?
I worked as a book illustrator and for some cartoon design studios for a short time. Eight years ago I met my partner Stefano Galati with whom I have been managing a tattoo studio for about seven years. We started this journey together, he was already passionate about this world and he influenced me. At the beginning and for the first few years, we concentrated (more than anything else) to drawing and graphics. We followed the conventions, we "stole" with our eyes from the other tattoo artists at the conventions and we started as self-taught. We tried on synthetic leather and then many friends. Starting as self-taught was not easy at all and it was a long journey. We were always careful and tried to inform ourselves a lot but when we started it was not like now, videos were not found and this world was still very closed. It takes a lot of determination and passion and a lot of humility. We still have a lot to learn and it never stops.

Q: I bet you remember your first tattoos! Would you correct them if given chance? What type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner?
A: For the first few years I tried to deepen, learn many different styles, draw a lot and study the various tattoo styles from japanese to cartoon, from realistic to old school at times. From color to black and white, trying to learn as much as possible from the various styles and techniques. I started with small tattoos, simple things, very low voltage of the machine and a lot of patience, it took me 3-4 hours to make a very small tattoo. The first tattoo I did was on my partner Stefano Galati, an anchor with two hands that tighten and a parchment with the words "carol" inside. Evidently, thanks to the low voltage today it is still well defined, it has not widened and it has satisfying lines for a first tattoo.

Q: What's your opinion on getting an apprenticeship? Do you think is a necessarily?
A: Not having done an apprenticeship, I don't know what to answer. Surely, if I could have done an apprenticeship I would have learned much faster, but maybe I would have been influenced by the person who would teach me. I am happy with the path I took and if I went back I would not change it because it allowed me to create MY path, personal, free, and without influences.

Q: Today your work looks awesome! How much tattoo realism as a style is a challenge to master even if the artist has good * drawing skills?
A: Thank you so much!!!! In my opinion, in order to create a good realistic tattoo it is essential to know how to draw, know the anatomy, the use of lights and shadows, know the colors and know how to mix colors, and this is possible through study and practice. I have been drawing since I was very young, but above all I had the obsession to copy anything, I opened a newspaper and I copied the model, I copied the comics and then I tried to do it without looking, I invented stories and I tried to learn how to use all the tools, pencils, brushes, markers, watercolors, paint etc. I have been doing this throughout my childhood. My current style is a collection of everything I have learned, and I am trying to continually improve. Sometimes it takes me a few hours or 12, 15 hours to create the project. Today I call my style REALISME AVANTGARDE and it is the result of my studies and my approach to the different techniques. I mix illustration, realism, graphics and painting trying to unite everything in a harmonious way.


Q: It's a pleasure to get a tattoo but it's also to give one, what a good enegry exchange!
A: I love children's illustration. This love was transmitted to me by my mother who, when my brothers and I were children, told us many fairy tales and often drew for us. Usually, to design my work, I ask the clients to tell me their story, explain to me what they would like to express with the tattoo, a particular moment of their lifee etc With all this information I create the project. Sometimes it takes a few hours, sometimes much longer. When I meet the client we analyze the project, my interpretation of the story and we create a very deep empathic connection... they trust me, they open up and I become a narrator and illustrator of their life, on their skin. Sometimes getting a tattoo is almost therapeutic, because people have the opportunity to tell someone outside of their daily lives about a difficult or painful moments that have marked them in a particular way but are part of who they are.

Q: How you handle a busy schedule?
A: I have a lot of respect for those who come to get a tattoo from me and I always try to give my best. This is a job that occupies you all day every day both mentally and physically. I tattoo during the day and I create projects in the evening. Luckily my partner does the same job as me, because I don't think everyone would accept this lifestyle and my devotion.

Q: Creative block? What do you do?
A: I try to interpret the customer's story in the best possible way and it is not always easy and I am very self-critical. Often after hours of work on the project I start all over again because I know I have not done well enough. I am a very tormented person ahaha Sometimes it takes days to finish just one project. But then I show it to my customer and my heart fills with joy, I have seen customers start crying.

Q: The paintings... I'm impressed! You're blessed with a true talent! I'm glad that you're not lazy so you make a living from it! The clients send you reference images or? Tell me more.
A: The last 7 years were really busy, I have always and only thought about tattooing. In 2020 when there was the first lockdown in March it was the first time I really stopped. But I can't, I took out my brushes and painted after so many years, it had become my new obsession, day, night, sometimes for 10-12 consecutive hours.
It was a great satisfaction to receive a lot of requests from people who wanted to buy. When this pandemic ends and everything goes back to normal I would like to do an exhibition.

Q: Painting might feel lonely as you sit with yourself and do what you do - the best! ;) Tattooing gives you lots more excitement and maybe even uncertainty because you deal with people and it's more like a "service" job. What do you like more?
A: Most of my buyers are from United States, selling my paintings is always like letting go of a piece of me. This gives me a melancholy feeling on the one hand and a deep sense of contentment, knowing that somewhere in the world there is a part of me. So for my paintings and so for my tattoos.

Q: Do you have any favourite painting you done lately?
A: “The Queen’s Gambit” is the last one, sold to a boy from Seattle. I will miss it

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: To have respect, humility, to draw to the point of exhaustion and to put all the passion they can into it.

Q: Any plans for the feature?
A: I plan to travel and work as much as possible.