I’m Michele Servadio, and This Is How I Tattoo
Second part of the conversation between Brody Polinsky and Michele Servadio: Michele interviewed by Brody
Read PART 1 here.
Where do you live, Michele?
Do you have an idea of what your style would be?
I wouldn’t like my style to be called blackwork, but… I don’t know, it’s spontaneous and textured, it’s not detailed, it’s textured.
When did you start tattooing?
About eight years ago (2008).
Do you have a waiting list?
No (both laugh), I don’t have a waiting list, but I have a long list of things to do, so I make people wait, even though I don’t have a waiting list.
Do you have an hourly rate?
Hourly rate… Umm… no.
You could estimate.
I could estimate, but I guess I go by piece.
Do you have one word that would describe your tattoos best?
Umm…. no, not one word, no.
How did you learn to tattoo?
By myself, I didn’t do any apprenticeship, I’ve just ruined a lot of friends, or I just had a lot of good friends to learn on them.
What’s your idea of art?
That’s too much of a big question, and it would take too much time.
Who influences you the most?
In terms of tattoos?
Anything, I guess.
Influences… the environment, the environment that surrounds me, and the place where I live, and the people I share my time with or is giving me ideas to draw either on skin or canvas, or paper, or… wherever.
Tell us a bit about what a typical day of yours.
The typical day… the typical day is wake up, go to my studio and I see what to do. There are many activities involved so I just If I have an appointment I concentrate on that and before or after I do whatever is needed for the other projects that I have: editions, or paintings, or printings, or whatever it is.
Has there been some turning point in your life or career?
Yes. The turning point is when I started publishing my work because before, I guess 3 or 4 years ago, I would not publish my work, I would just keep it between people. Then I radically changed my idea when I got offered to work with people I really respected.
And that was the AKA London.
And that was the AKA London.
Are there apps, or software actually, or even tools you couldn’t live without?
I love the concept, the idea of living with nothing, you know? not even a house or anything, but in terms of what I really need in order to have the work done, then well, I think we are pretty bounded to instagram, as an app, and software… well, yeah, maybe my laptop for the pictures.
But also, this amazing press you got.
Yes, the etching press is a very interesting new entry at the studio. We have this etching press we can print up to 50 x 70 and there we create lots of artworks in collaboration with the artists that guest at the studio.
What is the studio like?
The concept of the studio, well, first of all it’s a private space, it’s not a street shop, it’s an atelier of experimentation where printmaking, painting and tattoos, all are very close to each other, they constantly influence each other, and that’s why I like to do with guests that are coming, to push them, to experiment out of tattooing.
How do you organize your working calendar? like on a daily basis. Do you bother? You just wing it don’t you?
I just improvise. I like to organize but it’s a struggle, it’s the most difficult thing, organizing.
Do you have any tattoo-related techniques, tricks or secrets that you are gonna share with people?
Why not share my secrets? I mean they are not secrets, I don’t know… Tricks? Yeah, slow down your rotary (laughs), slow your rotary down. Yeah, slow your rotary down, that’s a trick.
Is there anything that makes you stand out above the rest? Can be tattoo related or not. … I think you being humble, you should answ…
I cannot answer, maybe you can answer this for me.
The most humble and inspiring person that I know. That’s the answer to that. How do you see the world of tattooing in a decade from now?
In a decade from now, I believe there will be fragmentation, and it will be privatized in terms of, despite the tattoo shop, it would go towards of a private environment and it will be mixed with other techniques despite all the hype around tattooing these days.
And how do you see yourself in a decade from now?
I don’t know. Not in London
I see you being somewhere warmer.
What book are you reading right now?
Good question. No, I’m not reading any books. I was reading a book, but I’m not going to tell you which. And I stopped reading it (laughs).
How do you do to recharge your batteries?
I’m not really recharging my batteries, and is something that I should do. Skateboarding when I have some time, seeing some friends, doing nothing… to try not being at the studio is recharging my batteries. But it’s love and hate, because I love to be here and I love to do things, I have the feeling that I am charging myself up by working, then you realize that you need to stop some time, if not you melt yourself.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I cannot tell which one is the best but I have been given a good one: don’t do things towards the inside of your circle of friends, because they all understand you more or less what you do, so, turn yourself the other way around and take all your knowledge and your special things that you share with your few friends, and start to speak a language that is understandable by everyone else. Did that make sense?
Very. If you could get tattooed by any artist living or non-living, who would you choose? What would you get?
I would go back in time, yeah…
Egon… No, Modigliani I guess, more than Egon. Egon… different, we would paint together (both laugh). From Modigliani I would get a tattoo. Maybe he was tattooing, you know?
Yeah… stabbing people. Who would you suggest also having an interview? Who are you interested in?
Hah… who… maybe someone…
Timor, Timor is good, yes.
Glue Sniffer, because Glue is a very, very special human being. Yes, I guess this people…
Talley… Talley. Talley is another one. Because all this people have a very visible soul, you can feel it and beside tattooing or anything else are very inspiring people.
Is there anything you would like to add that might be interesting to people?
(Thinks) It’s fine. I mean, we could talk about, many, many, many other things.
Yes we could.
We could. Like… um… (Thinks) No, it’s ok. Thank you, thank you very much.
Interview number V of the How I tattoo interview series.
The How I Tattoo series asks the best tattoo artists to share how they tattoo. Every few days we’ll feature a new tattoo artist and the workspaces, routines, gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that they use. Have someone you’d like to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email us to email@example.com.
How I Tattoo interview series is inspired by Lifehacker’s How I Work series.