Interview with Giulia, aka Gee

   Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training or did you feel inspired by someone, how it all started? My name is Giulia, aka Gee for most people, and I’ve been tattooing for about five years now. I’ve never really studied art at school. The only memory I have of an art course I’ve taken, I was about 9 or 10 years old and I dropped out of it after a couple of lessons because the teacher wanted me to paint landscapes and I wanted to draw dinosaurs instead. My dream as a kid was to be a writer, then a cartoonist, but I eventually went to study informatics and programming. I changed a gazillion ideas and taken as many roads, but the only thing I’ve always done ever since I was three years old, was drawing. I would skip mid-morning (or any other) break at school to stay in class and draw. I would stay up under the blankets with a pocket torch not to get caught by my parents, and spend the nights drawing. I was obsessed. I guess I haven’t insisted in studying it nor I thought of turning it into a profession before tattooing, because I was afraid of losing the passion.

Q: Why tattooing? What do you like the most about tattoo art?
A: Initially, I was just fascinated. I remember the moment when, at 16, I was on the internet and stumbled upon the work of Timur Lysenko and I was like wow, so tattooing isn’t just about tribals on the lower back! But it took me over a decade to find myself in the mindset and possibility to actually go for it. Now what it strikes me about tattoos, is that they’re one of the only things that accompany you for the rest of your life, and it’s yours: nobody can take it away from you. Ultimately, I find it very powerful when the customers disclose their stories and we work together on the piece, it’s so personal, intimate in some way.

Q: Do you remember the beginnings? Was it hard mastering this skill? Honestly, how long it took you to feel confident?
A: I clearly remember my hands shaking at the sole thought of having to tattoo. It was hard, I tried without guidance first, and failed. Then I eventually got an apprenticeship (and a rotary machine) and it started making more sense. It was trial and error at the beginning, and sometimes still is. I still get nervous sometimes, but I trained myself to analyze the work I’m about to do and, if not imagine the full process, at least have a rough plan. I can spend ridiculous amounts of time staring at a design before tattooing it and it makes me less nervous. From there, I can then improvise! But it genuinely took a good year for the stomach butterflies to go away when picking up the machine!

Q: What type of tattoos you used to do as a beginner and how long took you to figure out your creative direction?
A: Anything that walked through the door. I had an apprenticeship at one of those busy Pinterest oriented shops where artistry is not strictly necessary to work (which hit really hard on my fantasy of artistic tattooing!), but the silver lining was that I could get a massive amount of practice because I was tattooing every day. I was told that I had to do black and grey realism eventually, because that’s what people wanted the most. I never really cared for nor vibed with black and grey realism much, and it took me leaving the shop and quitting tattooing for the good part of a year to figure out what direction I wanted to take. Then covid hit and I had plenty of time to practice various styles of drawing.

Q: You have a very interesting style! I like the colors, the designs are very detailed and unique. Love it! One can look at your portfolio and never get bored. Heh! I assume you have very creative clients! Talking about creativity, how's the creative process, do you draw some sketches before the session or it can be done with the client?
A: Thank you! Most of the graphic inspiration comes from my travels and - especially - the street art I have seen while getting lost in this or that city. Then I was blessed with some genius clients! I always draw the projects before the session. It takes me multiple hours to finalize a design and drawing in front of people makes me rush! I still always revise the drawing with the client, but I try to present a mostly finished project to each of them.

Q: I love every tattoo, simply because they're personal and quite funny, some of them at least. Is it something personal about the client or it's just a super, cool designed tattoo, oh well maybe both?
A: It’s a combined effort, most times. I let the customers’ imagination run wild and I give hints whenever I can, or just hide easter eggs in the tattoos. That’s how we ended up having things like Transformer Pomeranians and Spider Kitten.

Q: I guess it might take some time to figure out the best design idea. Do you use like pentablet or PC to save time and what do you do if suddenly the client changes their mind? Do you have any rules for this or?
A: It really takes me forever, and technology helps heaps, I work both with iPad and PC. I try to be as clear as I can regarding the fact that slight changes are allowed on designs, but coming in with a complete other idea - that happened more than I’d like to - really messes things up. To avoid this I always ask customers to be as precise and detailed as they possibly can and I’d rather know too many details than too little.

Q: You're very creative and super talented. I bet artists like you are constantly trying to improve their skills and even experiment a little. Have you ever thought to try a different style and maybe try mixing it with your own, already very cool style?
A: I wake up every day with a different style in mind and spend most of my time off doodling or splashing colours, or browsing in search of photographers, artists, often even music, books and quotes than might trigger creativity and end up in something cool. I have so many unfinished drawings and moodboards it’s unreal.

Q: Most are super detailed I guess it takes some time to finish a big piece like a sleeve?
A: I’ve only recently learned to take my time and that it’s okay to do some extra sessions rather than less. I used to feel very pressured by the customers’ need to have their tattoo finished the soonest possible. Now it can take me a couple of sessions even to finish a quarter sleeve.

- The longest session?
I think it was some 12 hours with barely a break on a girl’s leg. She sat like I could never, by the way.

Q: Tattooing is fun but very responsible job. Many young people think that you guys are just travelling all over the over, partying and making money, but there's also, busy schedule, sacrifices, sometimes time apart from friends... it's not an easy job. But still no job will give you as much joy as tattooing, right? What do you cherish the most about your job?
A: I never really understood that rockstar aura that most people attribute to us: I’m an introvert nerd who gets all anxious if the apple pencil battery is low! Jokes aside, no fun comes without any sacrifice, and that’s what I cherish most about this job: being able to set a goal and go for it even when it might seem out of reach, overcome difficulties it’s very humbling. I did and do spend a lot of time by myself, move around a lot, I’ve been away from my loved ones for years at time. But your loved ones will still be there after you come back, and those people will support you and want to see you succeed and do what you love. It’s hard and sometimes exhausting, but immensely rewarding.

Q: Do you have any plans for the future?
A: I’m trying to! I’m the worst planner, but after over a decade of traveling around the world I start to feel the need to settle down somewhere. I really want that somewhere to be in Europe. I don’t know if I want to open my own shop, but I definitely consider the possibility. And conventions, I want to do a bunch more, meet the artists I cherish and some more customers with genius ideas, obviously.

Q: Maybe a different medium to explore? I would be very happy to see some cool illustrated book from you with interesting characters and storylines, or tattoo prints collection?
A: Definitely trying to get into painting some more. I started during lockdown but with all the moving from country to country is not easy to force myself into the right mindset now. My partner used to be a skateboarder and gave me the idea of doing some painted decks series, idea that I loved and I’m currently (slowly) working on! And definitely prints too!

Q: Where are you currently located? Please write down your contacts social media links and availability for bookings.
A: I am not very located, haha. I’ve lived in Mexico for the past year and a half, and have worked mainly in North America. I’m just about to go back to Europe and hope to finally stay put. I have worked in the UK a bunch and will definitely still go there from time to time, but I’m currently looking at settling in either Spain or Ireland!

Instagram:gee_nk
Email:gee.nk.tattoo@gmail.com
Bookings are usually a month or two in advance, email is preferred but I’m easily reachable on either platform!

Q: I think nowadays it's easy to meet new people, artists, and learn more about tattooing. The tattoo conventions, the seminars... There are also some great courses... What's your opinion, do you like where the industry is going or do you think there should be some new regulations etc?
A: I like that tattooing is becoming more universally accepted and somehow mainstream. I think that sharing knowledge and having the possibility to even just watch youtube videos or online seminars is unpriced! I don’t believe that because some of us had it harder, then everyone should. So yes, I like how the industry is opening to the world and vice versa. What would be good, is to eventually be recognized as our own professional category - when now we are formally beauticians or estheticians in most countries, at least in Europe.

Q: What would you recommend to all the young people who will read this interview and want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: Find someone experienced to put your trust into, pick the right person. For every ten tattooers that will say no, you’ll find one artist who says yes and has genuine knowledge to share. Be humble but don’t sell yourself short. Know your worth but don’t overstep and for god’s sake, be nice. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Built a solid drawing portfolio. Be curious and when it gets a little bit harder than you had in mind, just get some rest and keep rolling!