Interview with Dave Veronesi

   Hello Dave Veronesi! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot having you here. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training or? I come from South Tyrol, Italy, and have been living in Vienna for four and a half years, where I was finally able to fulfill the dream of tattooing. I have been tattooing for 7 years and have had no artistic training, only drawing anime as a child and in school, which is also the only thing I can do.

Q: How did you discover your talent and what kind of art do you like the most?
A: Actually, I stumbled upon tattooing by chance because I wanted to get myself fully tattooed and didn't have the money for it. So, I tattooed my own legs, and then friends asked if I could tattoo them too. That's how everything started somehow. Apart from tattooing, I enjoy drawing on my iPad for our fashion label, Fake Label.

- Any favorite artists?
Favorite artist is Isnard Barbosa.

Q: When did you try tattooing? How was the feeling?
A: I started tattooing myself seven years ago, and it was quite funny at the beginning. I admit I was quite scared to tattoo other people, but that fear quickly faded, and I didn't really care anymore.

Q: Even though, you are very talented, I bet it took you some time to learn the basics and start feeling confident?
A: It took me longer to learn all the basics and everything because I pretty much taught myself everything and didn't have much opportunity to tattoo with color at all at the beginning. So, it really took a long time. But if you stick with it and always try to make each tattoo better than the last one, somehow it works, and you get better.

Q: Did you have any setbacks as a beginner? If so, what kept you motivated to continue on your journey?
A: Yes, I had difficulties because I was never able to do anime tattoos since I come from a small town where people didn't like that style. So, I tattooed all other styles except the one I actually wanted to do. It was demotivating, but the thought that someday I might be able to tattoo only my own style and make my own art kept me motivated to continue.

Q: You like anime and illustrations. I was absolutely impressed when I saw the big tattoos like back tattoos and sleeves... Some might say, well nothing special, it's just crazy, cartoonish stuff, nah I would say... The tattoos look amazing Dave! You got that special sense for details and beautiful color harmony. All are super detailed and quite complex, honestly. I bet you spend a lot of time on a back piece... Guide me a bit...
A: For a full back tattoo, I need approximately six sessions of around 6 hours each, so around 30-35 to 40 hours in total for a full back piece. I start with outlining, then black shading, and finally, adding color. I focus on anime tattoos because ever since I was a child, my grandpa showed me Dragon Ball anime, and since then, I've been deeply involved in that theme. It's something I identify with, and it's the only thing that interests me in terms of art. I've always been fascinated by how everything is drawn and how it could be brought to life.

Q: I bet by now with so much experience, you can tattoo a lot faster than the early days... However, we are talking here skin... Marking someone for life... Oh the responsibility!
A: Yes, nowadays I tattoo much faster than at the beginning, logically. The fear of skin in general, or rather the thought that it's skin, has long been overcome. It's just like working on a canvas, albeit a living one, so to speak. You tattoo to achieve the best possible result. Of course, you must never forget that it's actually a privilege and an honor to be able to tattoo someone for their entire life.

Q: What happens during those long sittings, how do you cheer up your clients?
A: During the sessions, we usually talk about anime since it's a common interest shared by both the client and me. We also discuss design ideas.

- The longest one?
The longest session I've done so far was 14 hours, which I did with my colleague Marcel, aka Mister Exodia. We worked on the backside of the leg, from the ankle to the bottom of the buttocks, in one session, doing a full-color tattoo.

Q: Colors, colors, and more colors! Vibrant, and crazy mixes but perfectly bleeding in all together. Do you plan to surprise us with black and gray pieces or nah? I think you will be perfect!
A: Thank you, but I only do color tattoos now because I used to only do black and gray. I find color more exciting and challenging, especially working with similar cold or warm tones to create a cohesive image while still maintaining a higher contrast. I find it very challenging and still difficult, and one never stops learning.

Q: All are unique masterpieces... Do you first draw a bunch of sketches before the session?
A: Yes, I first sketch the design and then create a stencil. I only do the outlines, colors, and shading directly on the skin, so I don't have a template for that part. That's why the process goes fairly quickly for me.

Q: What happens if the client changes his/her mind "last minute" do you change the whole design or? How do you manage to save up time and energy? Let's be completely honest, tattooing is not an easy job.
A: If the client decides not to accept the design or changes their idea, I send the client home because I don't have the time to change the design. It still takes 5-6 hours to draw something, so it wouldn't make sense anymore. Also, clients are specifically selected, I don't take all appointments. Therefore, everything is discussed beforehand over the phone and agreed upon. Everything needs to be in place for the session. The design is only shown on the day of the appointment.

Q: I can spend a whole day talking about your style... I don't think I have a favorite tattoo... Do you have one? A tattoo you did that is like a "creative upgrade" technically challenging but in the end, turned out really good?
A: I generally try to incorporate some kind of upgrade or improvement in every tattoo because there's always room for improvement and always a room to grow. But if I had to choose a favorite tattoo, it would be the Exodia tattoo, the back piece done on Marcel, the colleague I mentioned earlier. This tattoo holds emotional significance because we attended many conventions together and he was also my first client in Vienna. We've shared a lot of experiences.

Q: Some might say, it's limiting to work only one style, however, I'll say, it's better to excel at one instead of being mediocre at many. Your thoughts?
A: I personally believe that it's great to master multiple styles, but when it comes to my own skin, or rather, when it comes to myself, I truly want to stick to the anime style and only the style that I'm currently working on with the larger projects. I just find that you make more progress when you concentrate solely on one thing.

Q: You see all kinds of people every day... What type of people are the easiest to work with?
A: The people who simply come to me and say, "I want a full sleeve, for example, themed around one piece and I'll let you choose what to tattoo," that's the most comfortable situation for me. Everything is discussed beforehand and there are no modifications, objections, or anything else. That suits me best. And of course, when clients talk a lot, it can be a bit distracting, but if you're on the same wavelength, it's easier to manage.

Q: Any funny memories/stories with the clients?
A: I think the best moments are always after a long, hard session where your eyes are almost closing, knowing that you done and the session is over. I believe those are always the best moments for me and for the client when they see the result and they are satisfied.

Q: Now... Tell me about your graffiti art... Are you an active painter? Solo or in a team?
A: I have only recently started with graffiti. So far, I've only painted two pieces, but I really enjoy it. It's a nice change where you can let your thoughts flow freely and work on something fun with friends in peace.

Q: The best place to paint graffiti?
A: Danube Canals in Vienna Austria.

Q: I think, you should work on book covers or publish your own book with some crazy characters and cool storylines. For real! I would totally buy it! Any chance for this?
A: During the lockdown, I actually worked on my own manga. However, it became very time-consuming, and I became more interested in drawing than in the story itself. That's why I didn't make any further progress and ended up abandoning the project. Perhaps in the future, when I have more time, I might consider doing something in that direction again.

Q: You also design t-shirts, hoodies... Dave.. you are so, so inspiring! Please let me know where we can buy. Write down your contacts social media links.
A: Yes, we design t-shirts, hoodies and we've also included hats in our lineup. We're expanding to include jackets, fanny packs and similar items. Our website and online shop is www.fakeLabel.at and our social media presence on Instagram is @fakelabel.at Unfortunately, we don't ship to the USA.

Q: Where are you located now? Please write down your studio location. Are you available for bookings?
A: I tattoo in my own studio called Fake Tattoo Studio located in Vienna, Austria. We are a team consisting of four tattoo artists, one guest artist per week and one shop manager. My bookings are currently closed. I open my bookings once a year and fill up the slots for the following year.

Q: After all these years, do you still have the same enthusiasm?
A: I have to say, after all these years, the enthusiasm has diminished a bit. I'm still motivated and trying my best, but there are times now when I really think it would be nice to have some time off, or to not tattoo for a week or two, which was previously unthinkable. In the past, I used to tattoo every day without fail.

Q: What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist?
A: I mostly enjoy the artistic freedom, knowing there's never an upper limit, the exchange with other artists or convention attendees and simply the whole experience of turning my hobby into a profession and living a dream.

Q: Your advice for those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: Always stay on top of things, even during difficult times or when you don't feel like it. Try to keep going and draw every day. Drawing is crucial and the most important aspect for tattooing in my opinion. Eventually, when you master the technique, you can implement everything you can draw, but not the other way around.