-Hello Sofia, introduce yourself briefly:
Hello everyone, I’m Sofia Souza. I am from Verona, Italy. I live in Berlin, Germany, that is my headquarter but I travel a lot as tattooing gives me the chance to work, and see the world at the same time. I feel really blessed for this!
-How did you discover the tattoo world?:
I believe it was my destiny to become a tattoo artist. The first time I saw a Tattoo magazine as a kid, I felt something inside me, that was telling me, I belong to this world. By the age of 5 I was already doing body painting , with 14 I stepped into a tattoo shop for the first time to get some piercings, and it became clearer that I wanted to be part of that world, but at the time it seemed to be something unreachable, like a dream. Once I turned 18 I got tattooed, and that’s when I seriously set the goal to become a tattoo artist. I always walked alone, and never cared about people´s opinion and wasn´t afraid to dream big. I am that kind of a person who just packs his shit and leave if he thinks it is the best thing to do and at that time tattooing was my biggest dream so I just gave 100% to make it happen. I was studying art and working at the same time but I felt I didn´t fit into that boring normal reality so after I finished school I broke up with my boyfriend, I told him “this is not where I belong, I want to see the world and become a tattoo artist”, left my hometown and started traveling. I was so sad i broke his heart but I had to follow my own heart and chase my dream and now after 10 years even though he still loves me, he understood what i meant and he is happy i found my path. And I’m happy I followed my heart and gut feeling.
-tell us a little bit more about you. when did you do your first tattoo and how did you become a tattoo artist? did you make an apprenticeship?:
The first time I picked up a tattoo machine was in 2007. It is not that long ago but still back then in my small hometown it was really not easy for a young artist to get started as other tattoo artists didn’t want to share their knowledge and it was hard to get into the scene, so I just did what almost everybody did, I got myself a coil machine and started tattooing friends at home. In 2009-2010 I was studying at the Academy of fine arts in Bologna and I started to hang out at a tattoo shop every day after class to watch this guy tattooing and try to learn some basics. He only did Polynesian style but for the beginning it was good for me to watch him do good lines and proper black filling as this is one of the basics in tattooing and should not be underestimated. By the way me and this guy became good friends and one day while he was blasting his own knuckles all of a sudden he gave me the machine and said: “you are gonna do the rest now” I couldn’t believe he was trusting me to do his knuckles and got kind of anxious but when a challenge arises I don’t step back, so i did it and to my surprise it turned out pretty good. He also let me do my first black and grey piece on his leg. He said, “Do whatever you want”. I did a skull with some biomek and surrealistic shit, at least I tried haha. This was my first attempt with shadings and I was so happy someone gave me this opportunity and believed and trusted me. In 2011 I moved to Berlin and went to some shops to show my portfolio. After four days I got a spot in a big tattoo shop. That´s when my career as tattoo artist started and since then I never looked back. Even in really dark times, tattooing has been the fuel to my engine and the only reason that kept me going. In the past years I had a few people helping me out a bit, teaching and mentoring me, though I never did a real apprenticeship . I wish I could have had a master in my life who took me under his wing and shared with me his precious knowledge…but maybe it will happen in the future as the process of learning never stops. As every artist I am never satisfied with my work and always try to step up my game, improve day by day and set new goals. Goals are very important to keep me focused and keep me grinding!
-when did you get your first tattoo?:
With 13. It is a small star on the right hand. I did it myself with a needle and Pelikan ink. 20 years earlier my aunt tattooed herself the same star on the same spot, she is the reason why I did it. She is one of the coolest person I know and one of the biggest influences in my life. When I was a kid and went to visit her we used to draw and paint together, she is a very talented artist.
-do you enjoy to do different styles or do you stick to a specific style? :
I do only black and grey. I like to do dark realistic style with a touch of surrealism.
-What does tattooing and art mean to you?: art always attracted me since i was a kid, it is a bridge to other worlds where i can go and find comfort to escape this reality. we live in an era where evil dominates. Art to me is so beautiful that sometimes when i stand in front of paintings from the great masters in some art gallery i get tears in my eyes. All that amazingness is so powerful, takes my breath away and makes me just feel good, empty and full at the same time. it´s like an ecstasy of the senses. Tattooing is for me nothing else than painting using different tools. And for me that jump from canvas to human skin just happened naturally. Also i was fascinated from what goes beyond the standards, the unconventional and tattooing was for me one of those things. also it´s incredible how tattooing tecnique developed and an artist can nowadays really do a piece of fine art on a living body. I believe body suits could be shown as living models in art exibihitions together with paintings and sculptures! why not? it takes the same amount of talent and knowledge to create such a compositions on a human body. just much more patience! (laugh).
-How do you choose the images you put on skin?:
I like to represent bits and pieces of my own world, that’s why I don’t really like to do things like family portraits and other stuff that don´t leave the artist much freedom. I like to represent beautiful women in form of human,non-human, demon, goddess, warrior, extraterrestrial and other forms and put my own touch to it, which is mostly dark but also nostalgic, decadent, aggressive or romantic, depending on what is the message in that piece. I love sexy outfits especially latex and lace, so you will see this a lot in my work.
-I saw you like to represent nuns in unconventional ways like with guns, sexual behaviour, latex outfits ecc… what is the message behind it?:
I grew up in Italy, where catholic morals are very strong and I never liked them. I was forced to go to a school of nuns and for a few years live with them during the summer holidays because my mother got better things to do than taking care of me. I was forced to pray, go to church and all that shit you should not force a kid to do. And I tell you they were not nice with us kids! I was a very sensitive and aware kid and i saw how fake most of them were. So maybe that’s why I like to represent that hidden sides. Nuns are considered pure from the society and I believe no human being is pure anyway. Only a newborn child is. Sometimes I represent human´s demons in an extreme way or with a sexual input because I always liked images with strong visual impact. I only represent beautiful women because in my opinion a harmonic woman body is the classiest thing one can see and I have a strong aesthetic attitude. Perfection doesn´t exist to me though, in the end it is just a matter of taste.
-what is your plans for the future?:
right now I am doing my world tour, next stop will be New Zealand for the tattoo expo end of November and after that Australia for a guest spot. Concerning the future I cannot say much right now, as I am planning my life not more than 3 months ahead. Of course I got some ideas. But what I can say is that I will surely keep on traveling and split the time of the year between my favourite spots in the world.
-Thank you very much Sofia for this interview, it was a pleasure. Is there anything you would like to tell to our readers before we finish?:
The pleasure was mine, thank you! Yes sure! I would like to thank everyone who supported me, showed me his love and trusted me all over the years. Thank you so much! It means the world to me! And there is much more to come so stay tuned! If you would like to contact me, see my work and keep updated on what´s new just go follow me on Instagram: @sofiasouzaart and Facebook: Sofia Souza Art.
Check out the full photogallery by Sofia here on Mediazink.