Creatures seduced by some invisible demon, beautiful tormented souls, majestic birds with crumpled wings… An intense sensation of power and danger comes from Frederico Rabelo’s tattoos. So fascinating. He explains to us his trajectory as a tattoo artist.
Lire l’interview en français ici.
What did you dream of as a kid ?
I knew I was going to be an artist. I was amazed by any kind of visual arts. It was a very instinctive affinity. My first memories have something to do with painting and drawing. I was 8 when I saw a Picasso painting for the first time. It’s hard to describe what I felt. It was an intense mixture of emotions and excitement that made me aspire to do the same sort of thing. Now, seventeen years later, I understand what those feelings were : inspiration.
So I kept on painting and drawing throughout my childhood. I was able to feel touched like that again when I was introduced to pichação, which is a form of vandal graffiti that is peculiar to Brazil. Our main cities landscapes have been transformed by pichação. Many buildings have been covered with it. For me, it is one of the strongest visual manifestations of our time.
When I was about 11, I devoted myself to graffiti and pichação really hard. I’ve learnt so many important things from graffiti ! Pichação, as a subculture, inevitably led me to admire tattoo art, but I had no idea how to get there. And I kept practicing tattoo and pichação, until tattoo art finally came back to my life when I was 23.
Who were your childhood heroes?
They came mostly from painting history. I’ve always been extremely inspired by Picasso and Dalí. I had some knowledge of their lives beyond their artistic production. On the other hand, there were also very close people and relatives, such as my elder brother and a friend of ours, Alan. I wanted to be like them. I admired their vigour and their freedom. They were cool and rad, and so passionate about what they used to do.
What was your first tattoo ?
The first tattoo I’ve got was a realistic face on my forearm, by Carlos Torres.
As a tattoo artist, which tattoos are you especially proud of ?
I feel fulfilled with the success I’m having during this last season in Brazil. It’s different from the previous ones, as I have prepared forty-five projects in which I believed and I wanted to devote all my energy and time to them. So, for now, I have been working exclusively on them. This is not something I had seen other tattoo artists do. I didn’t know if it would work at the begining. This is a new way to communicate with your clients, offering them the best you can do.
How would you define your style as a tattoo artist ?
I do mainly black tattoos. To me, black is about power, warmth, elegance and strength. It is the most beautiful colour. I seek to understand my inner sensations and to see myself from inside; but I don’t do that with words, I try to express them through images.
Does everybody will be tattooed in the future ?
No, I don’t think so. But I do think that the number of tattooed people will rise faster and faster after every new generation.
In the end, what does tattoos stands for ?
Tattoo is the visual language of our generation and therefore I think it should be a way to produce culture and knowledge. You don’t see so many young people going to art galleries, but you do see quite a lot of them with tattoos, going to studios, having tattooed friends or, at least, willing to get a tattoo one day. This is the opportunity for tattoo artists to make a difference contributing for artistic and cultural production, making people’s lives better. We have the chance to be revolutionary every day. We only have to choose to be revolutionnary.
04/04/2016 – Email interview by Christophe Chadefaud