Get under the skin of the world of tattooing with Silvia Zed, owner and founder of the amazing Shall Adore in Shoreditch – one of London’s most iconic tattoo studios.
When did you realise you wanted to be a tattoo artist? How did you get into tattoo artistry?
I knew I wanted tattoos from a very young age as I saw them as the ultimate form of ageless self-extension. I’m from a small town in Italy where tattoos were seen as pure evil and certainly not a respectable career choice (especially for a woman).
I had many chances to get into the tattoo world but refused time and time again, all the while wondering what I should do with my life. Everything changed for me in ’98 when I went to Mexico and spent 2 years in the tattoo community.
Tell us about the process of creating a tattoo. How do you get from someone’s initial idea to the final design on someone’s skin?
Realism is more about collaging than drawing really. The client and I place images together and decide what works best as a whole. The skill is in blending loads of pictures together to make one cohesive mural. A portrait is a little more straightforward; I just advise on the location, size and quality of the picture. From there, I do my best to create a likeness to the original photo whilst bringing the image to life with a creative and artistic spin.
You practice at your tattoo parlour, Shall Adore, alongside a number of other tattooists. Can you tell us about the different artists and their distinct styles?
It was important for me to have each artist in my shop embody his or her own personal style:
-Emanuel De Sousa does Sketch/Graphic
-Sergio Terrakiu does Traditional/Neo Traditional Japanese
-Nikki Kelis does dark (black and grey) Neo Traditional
-Nikki Lolly does soft (colour) Neo Traditional
-Roti does Geometry/Dot Work
-Gisela Raider does Hand Poked/Symbology
There seems to be more acceptance for tattoos than there was in the past. Why do you think thinks is? Has there been an increase in people coming in for tattoos?
Yes, there has definitely been a significant change in the way tattoos are accepted in modern society. There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of tattoo artists in the industry, especially females so I’d say both of these things have led to an overall surge in the amount of clients and people interested in tattoos and the subculture.
What is the longest someone has been in the chair?
Nine hours is the longest session I’ve ever done.
What was the most elaborate tattoo you have created?
It would be hard to define my most elaborate design. Each piece is a unique and intricate challenge and I put all of myself into every tattoo that I do. It would be impossible to name just one.
If you could tattoo one person in the world, who would it be and what artwork would you suggest for them?
I would tattoo my father because of his resentment of the body art culture and my involvement in it. I’d be thrilled to tattoo “I love tattoos” on him but I guess I would also accept a portrait of my face as a baby.
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