Currently reading : An interview with tattooer Matty D’Arienzo
Matty D’Arienzo has a strikingly bold style. While tattooing mostly in strong solid black, he manages to express strong graphic qualities in beautifully simplistic ways. We cannot blame him for his bold, loud style as he is a part of the infamous INTO YOU family of tattooing in London. Carrying on the torch on his terms, I got a chance to ask him a few questions.
Interview by Miguel Chavez
When was the first time you saw or consciously understood what a tattoo was? How old were you and what kind of impact did this initial interaction have on you?
The first tattoo I saw was the one on my dad – he has a stick man saint with a pitch fork through the halo, hand poked by one of his mates. He was told it would last a few months, but 40 years later it’s still there and he wears it well. My sister and I plan to get the same tattoo one day.
Tell us about the first tattoo you received, was it done professionally?
Like for many people, my first tattoo was symbolic and had meaning.
At the time I was heavily into playing music so I ended up getting a treble and bass clef on the back of my ankles. I love doing people’s first tattoo and there’s something special about it: it takes me back to the time of getting my first one done. Being nervous and excited at the same time, and putting your full trust in someone to mark your body for life.
Do you have any education in formal art schools? When did you start making art and when did you realize that power of art, whether it be drawing painting or tattooing?
I used to draw a lot when I was a little kid. I never went to art school but always sketched when I was a teenager.
Did getting tattooed or tattooing play any role in your life as a teenager in middle school / high school?
Some of my friends had tattoos but it was never something that was on my mind.
When was first time you put a tattoo on someone? How long have you been tattooing?
I tattooed my sister, my best friend and his girlfriend one day with an outline of a star in pink ink. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. That was 2005.
I started at a tattoo shop doing a traditional apprenticeship: hand stencils and making your own needles.
Have you always worked at Into You? Give us a bit of background on your career in tattoo shops and how does Into You differ from other shops you have worked at?
My first shop was Down To Earth Tattoos in Melbourne. My boss and I had a great relationship and he really took me under his wing. He didn’t only give me an apprenticeship in tattooing, but also gave me an apprenticeship in life. I learned so much about myself in those three years.
After that I worked at Chapel Tattoo In Melbourne for just under a year and guested a lot at Westside in Brisbane.
Then I decided to move to London and worked in a few shops but nothing compared to what I was used to and for a little while I lost the drive. Getting a job at Into You seemed almost surreal. Most of the guys are people I was looking up to for many years and suddenly tattooing felt like it used to.
Into You is definitely one of the most notable shops in the world. How did you meet Alex Binnie and Duncan X? Describe what the initial interaction with them was like and how long you have known them?
I met Alex at the London Tattoo Convention. I was blind drunk and somehow we got introduced to each other, next minute we were stumbling arm-in-arm together through the place.
I met Duncan X four years ago when he tattooed me, I was straight away fascinated by the way he worked and drawn to his personality. Now he is not just someone I look up to and who inspires me, but also a good friend.
Your work seamlessly fits into the ‘style’ of Into You, yet it seems you bring your own distinct personality to the crew. Describe what it was like finding your style and how Into You had a role in that. Have you always tattooed in a bold, heavy black style?
For a long time I felt there was something missing in my work and I was trying to work out what it was. Many of the guys from the shop had a very simple and slightly different approach to what most people are doing. That’s what got me inspired to strip back, drop colour and simplify my work.
The heavy black style of tattooing seems to be a focus point in your tattooing, yet your color work does not falter at all. How do you feel about the differences between color and black tattooing? What do you prefer whether it’s what you like wearing on your own body, or what you like to tattoo?
I’m more into black tattoos these days, Seeing Duncan X, Thomas Thomas, Tas and Chris Higgings on a daily basis, the tattoos they wear and the tattoos they do definitely heavily influences me in this.
Besides tattooing, what other art practices are you currently involved in? What should we look forward to in the future of your work?
I’m working on a few projects with my clothing label BARON. I’m also planning on doing more art work, I’d also like to collaborate with others more often.
Follow Matty on Instagram here