I believe what will strike you immediately is the color...bright pops of vivid pigments beautifully shaped by designs that span many an art movement and aesthetic. What may also come to mind is the humorous tone that each tattoo radiates; Paul Colli is a genius at making pop culture and vintage style spark with wit. His portfolio is filled with copacetic geisha gals, unique memento mori, and old school favorites like Snoopy and Lisa Simpson.
In this interview he talks more about what inspires him, how he spends his days off, and how creating art has no limits.
What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer?
I've not an academic background. When I was kid I used to draw a lot of cars. Tons of cars. I started drawing tattoos only at 16 years old when I got my own first tattoo, before that moment I never thought of being a tattooer.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that inspire you?
I've a lot of heroes in and out of the tattoo world! I love Quentin Tarantino... My favorite movie director! I like the way he mixes vintage, splatter, soundtracks and dialogues. In the art world I've been always fascinated by Pop Art (obviously), the color choice, the pattern and the unique impact of the subjects. I also like metaphysical artists like Giorgio De Chirico!
Can you talk about the tattoo culture and community in Turin, Italy? What is it like being heavily tattooed there?
I just moved to Torino and started working at IMAGO AMENS from September, so I don't feel like I have much experience with this city yet. I probably don't have much experience with many cities! Ahahaha
Most artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work. How would you describe yours? Why is it important to create, and could you see doing anything other than tattooing?
My works are simple. I like to use a bold line so my subjects need to be simple and essential... I also like to use weird colors for my designs and my references are usually from traditional artists like Herbert Hoffman, Bert Grimm or traditional Japanese painters. I think painting is one of the best alternative creative choices for a tattooer. You can learn a lot drawing and painting. It's a more free way of expression: to create flash to be tattooed you have to follow some rules, otherwise you can paint with no limits at all, every dimension, every material, every support is allowed when you do ART.
Tattoo artists often travel a lot for work. Can you talk about your favorite travel spot, or guest spot that you’ve ever been to and why? Do you have a favorite travel story?
Yes, it's true. I'm really lucky because from my 1st year as a tattooer I started traveling a lot around Italy and Europe. My very first guest was at TWILIGHT TATTOO in Pavia. I remember it as probably one of my favorite guest spots I ever did, with some Italian tattooers I loved the most: Geno, Alex Gallo and Ivan Fungus. But I'm also lucky to have met and worked with the guys of BIRIBI (Lyon), Carlotta Cawa from Alba/VIS (Agrigento), the crew of SAILOR WHISPER (Ravenna), SANG BLEU ZURICH, TOE LOOP TATTOO (Berlin) among many other talented people I have met along the way doing this job! I would love to come soon to work in the USA too!
Beyond tattooing/creating art, what is most important to you? What do you wish you had more time for?
I love living a quiet life with my wife Elena Borio (she is an incredible tattooer) and spending time in the countryside or in the mountains! My biggest wish is to travel more around the world, which I think is the best way to spend your time eheheh!
Do you have any plans for 2019 that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, projects, merch releases, etc?
I would like my 2019 to be a good year of growth, from the working point of view. I hope that the tattoos I offer will be known better in Turin, I would love to conquer a bigger number of clients in this city that would like to have one of the flashes I propose in my book! As I said before, this is a complete new ground for me. I happily work with the many clients personal requests I receive every day, and I feel very lucky about this...but I have much work to do to be able to propose my own ideas and during this year I will work hard to see a little change!