Interview with Maiza Albuquerque

   Hello Maiza Albuquerque! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot having you here. You are a very talented artist and I believe you inspire many young artists out there. Young, adventures, with some super cool tattoo collection on yourself, traveling, working in different environments, meeting new people, tattooing some of them, maybe even making some new friends? Ah I bet, you are living the dream Maiza! Super glad about it! Is it all sunshine and rainbows? You gonna tell. I know our interview will inspire many people, especially girls so... Let's start!

Q: What or who inspired you to try tattooing?
Hi , Fredrik. Thank you for having me here, it means the world to me. I usually say I have become a tattoo artist by destiny if I can say that, as I never planned to become one, but after a tense period of my life I started seeking freedom and the feeling of being alive. So, everything started 17 years ago, I developed an interest in skateboarding and graffiti until I finally started drawing influenced by a friend, who had a lot of tattoos and silly or not he wanted a design made by me, and at that time I didn’t know how to draw! Well, I knew how to draw clothes as I wanted to be a fashion designer hah but I didn't know how to draw tattoo designs.

Q: How was the feeling of doing a tattoo for the first time? What was the design and who gave you the trust?
A: Wow, it has been a long long time. My first one was a beetle I did on my co-worker. Back then, I was selling tattoo equipment but in this store, there was also a tattoo shop and I tattooed a close friend. I remember how hard it was. I couldn’t make a line, but I also chose the wrong placement, it was at the back of a knee very difficult skin. It looked bad of course but I did it anyway.

Q: Undoubtedly, you are very talented and I believe it was easier for you to learn the basics. However did you have any help from someone, an experienced artist or did you figure out all by yourself?
A: I had to figure it out by myself, even though at one time I had help from @ubiratanamorin back then he was a beginner and I couldn't do anything, without him. But at one point, I couldn't continue being an apprentice, because he was still learning and I needed to work to survive, because back then I was really poor, it's normal if you live in Brazil. After a few months, he had to follow his career and I had to figure it all by myself. All I was left with, was many tips, many explanations, and I had a lot to study myself, stuff like anatomy, drawing, painting, mixing colors, skin... So I tried to get the most of what I was told, I had to make it happen! There was not a day I didn't believe in myself.

Q: Wow that must have been very difficult?
A: Yes, I am from a small town in Brazil very far from Sao Paulo. I left my parents'home to go to sao Paulo and try a different life… It was very hard to start from scratch, in a new state, new city, no money, no job. I never had a job even when I left my hometown. Then I wanted to be a tattoo artist and I had to learn how to paint, how to draw and finally how to tattoo... it was a long and lonely journey… It took me two years until I finally started to get better. Luckily today is a lot different.

Q: What kept you motivated to keep learning and trying to figure out your way into professional tattooing?
A: My dreams, I always had dreams. I never thought of giving up because of it. This is what keeps me going. When I'm upset I just say to myself tomorrow is another day.

Q: How long did it take to start feeling confident and maintain a regular clientele, working in a professional tattoo studio?
A: Well, before I became a tattoo artist I was a body piercer, because I needed a job to keep myself going, and this job needed to be in a tattoo shop. In Brazil back in the day, the body piercer would not only do piercing but also take care of the shop such as receptionist. So, I was a body piercer first. Before that I was selling tattoo equipment and it helped me meet and know the most famous and prestigious artists in that time and I consider myself very friendly. I made friends. When I started, I was working in one of the best tattoo shops in Brazil, called Zumba 13. Unfortunately the owner died but he made history in the tattoo community in Brazil and there is not a single person who don't know him in Brazil. To be fair I don’t have experience working in small studios, I wish I had however, I feel so lucky because since the beginning I was surrounded by big names.

Q: You are unique... Your tattoo art is pure imagination and excellent execution. That's what it's called art. I love that. How do we call your style? Would you classify it or is it simply Maiza's awesomeness? I would say so.
A: Today I don’t know, I don’t follow any rules. I do what I think is good, what my imagination brings to me. I always say, I flow like a river! I use references to keep all designs as similar as possible, not many secrets.

Q: How long did it take to figure out your creative direction? Did you have like a period of "finding yourself" or?
A: I started with neo traditional since my first day. That is what I did for many years, but I was heavily influenced by other artists. What I mean by that is, I was following all the rules. I was having another tattoo artist's work as a reference, until the day I felt depressed even though I had everything. Such as good customers, good studio but something was missing. I started to notice that I was not excited anymore because a tiger would be only a tiger nothing special, no meaning, it was boring. So, I started traveling. This is how I changed. I travelled to Ireland and I fell in love with the Celtic culture and fantasy books. I stopped with the references of other artists. I started to read more and I figured out that in story telling and imagination books, my brain go crazy. I like botanical stuff as well, so I tried to bring this to my designs too. I do what I truly love today!

Q: I really can't pick a favorite tattoo... I like all of them, especially the portraits that have unmatched symmetry. Very interesting.
A: I get the most crazy ideas from poems, books, feelings and I always did a lot of "pre draws" I drew a lot of those, I posted online, and I sold them all. Today everyone comes to me to ask me for "pre draws" for their tattoos. And now it's hard to make pre draws due to lack of time. As an example I made one "pre draw" based on a short sentence I read "when words cannot translate" so I imagined a girl in her own world, with closed eyes, flowing, waving hair surrounded by a dreamy fish and then I thought ''what is the most dreamy fish in my perspective?'' and I said' fly fish'! They are very magical, they jump out of the water and in my point of view they jump because they are happy.

Q: Some are very detailed and quite complex. Hmm any hidden message or it's just a beautiful design? I'm talking about the portraits again!
A: They have always some sort of feeling inside. That is how my imagination works. I try to create a story. I need this sparkle and imagination to make a good design. My spiral eyes are my signature. It's been eight years since I had a weird dream, so weird, where I was in a forest and I saw a fox and I thought she was so beautiful so I got close... The closer I got, I started to notice, one of her eyes was different, there was this sort of spiral, that I couldn’t avoid looking at until all of the sudden I got up and since then I have been using the spiral eyes as my signature. I do not tattoo both ‘’normal’’ eyes at all! I think it will bring me bad luck, and the tattoo will go wrong. I don’t like it!

Q: Since every design is a story on its own, a unique masterpiece... I bet sometimes the expectations and the requirements can be negotiable. Have you ever tried to change your client's mind about a certain design or placement?
A: All of my customers are very similar to me spiritually. Everyone who comes to me wants something similar to what I did in the past, they really like it, so I don’t have any problems. Sometimes I have to convince them to change the placement due to too many small details.

Q: After all, you want to be known for your own style and your own artistic approach... I believe it's better to excel at one style rather than trying to do all kinds of styles and be mediocre... Do you agree?
A: I truly believe everyone needs to specialize in one style! You’ll have no competition especially if you develop a style that is complicated to do. I never did all the styles. I am a very sensitive person, if I have to make a geometric design for an example I will cry afterwards. I can’t do things that aren't from my soul and things I don't enjoy doing.

Q: Having a unique style gives you the artistic freedom you need to express yourself as an artist, right? Even though tattooing is a "service" job...
A: Yes, in every detail there is a bit of me and my customers because as I said… they are all like me! They have this sparkle of imagination, love for nature and dreams that connect us!

Q: Do you have any favorite tattoo you did that was like a creative upgrade and technically a bit challenging?
A: Wow, I don’t. I can’t choose, all different feelings, concepts and different sparkles of imagination in different hour, day, year! They are all very complex, and it takes a very long time to draw them. Sometimes an insane amount of time, I cannot be precise, regarding how long it will take me, even though I have been tattooing for almost ten years.

Q: Do you want to experiment with other tattoo styles, let's say more bold like black work or black and gray tattooing and mix with your own style?
A: I am not sure, I would love to collaborate with other artists, I guess this is a thing I must try as soon as I am settled in one place, after all I have so many talented friends.

Q: Many will say that it is easier to get into tattooing today, since we have so much info out there... Tattoo seminars, magazines, YouTube videos, conventions... Sometimes I feel like this can blur the lines between quality and quantity... What's your opinion on today's tattoo scene and do you feel like we are heading in a good direction?
A: I think we are going in a good direction, especially everyone who has their own style because of course it will be saturated, but if you do what everyone does you’ll become just one of many. I'm not sure about AI in the business yet as I see many artists using it. There is no creativity from this or anything artistically valuable. I ask myself are they a real artist or just a printer? I hope I can understand more about it in the future and be more open.

Q: What in your opinion, makes a good, professional tattoo artist when it comes to ethics?
A: Everything starts from scratch, how professional you behave, how much knowledge you have, how you handle your customers, schedule and time. Another thing to mention is how much this artist has studied and how much experience they have. I believe they have to know what kind of pigment they are applying into the skin, how good they are when it comes to sanitation and cross contamination, for me it is insane the number of artists preparing their station without gloves… Do they know about skin types? How to deal with birthmarks and skin diseases? Also, it is not only the artist but the studio as well, both are responsible for the health and well-being of the customer! The studio has to watch how professional their artists are… Artists have to know how to deal with clients and any bad situation that may happen. I studied about it all before I even touch a skin for the first time. Since the beginning I was working in very well-known studios, so I always had good examples to follow.

Q: You are lucky to be born with a talent that gave you this opportunity, and be resilient enough to make it happen. Tattooing is a gift either given to someone or by someone.. right? What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist?
A: Life gave me this gift that I can’t see myself doing anything else! I love what I do. What I love the most is my freedom as I consider myself like butterfly, I love to fly. To be able to explore this world as a tattoo artist is a blessing, I get to know so many wonderful people every time. I love this sense of freedom, achieve things that are beyond imagination on top of that if you differentiate yourself from other tattoo artists and you know how to sell your work very well, there is no limit in your salary and I love that.

Q: As a traveling artist, you have seen many people, many places, where do you feel like home? Where's the best?
A: I don’t have a favorite place ! I am still exploring but I love anything with mountains, lakes, waterfalls… I loved the diversity of the US for me it was insane, Colorado and its mountains, sun, flowers such a place of wonders… I loved Aspen! Switzerland is magnificent, Scotland has a sense of emptiness that touches my soul in a way I can’t explain. I just feel I can be 100% myself because everything there is so raw!
I also loved Mexico with all its Cenotes, it was so magical but I can’t forget about Bali. Bali is my summer dream that I think everyone has to go quite often to recharge!

Q: I think the American tattoo scene is huge and very diverse. Oftentimes, the best place to go and make it big. Big scene, big opportunities. If given a chance, would you consider it? That would be a great career highlight in my opinion.
A: I'm planning. It's insane the number of requests I get from there. The tattoo community is fantastic, so many talented artists with a number of insane prestigious tattoo studios. I think if I have the opportunity to be a part of it, it would be such an honour and on top of that I would have unbelievable numbers of opportunities to grab. Learning new skills and techniques with a few artists I have on my list would mean the world to me. I know I could go far!

Q: I'm so glad that professionals like aitenitas and @madrabbit are supporting your career. How this collaboration happen?
A: Wow, yes I have two very talented friends @planoc and @fredericorabelo who use Ai-tenitas I saw they were working with this machine and I thought it has to be really good because they do insane work with it! I also thought that this is what I needed and all of the sudden @planoc wrote to me saying the owners saw my work and they saw that we follow each other and because we are both from Brazil, she asked if he knew me and he said yes and she got in touch with me. Ai tenitas is an extremely powerful machine and I have never been so happy to represent this brand with many other good artists. MadRabbit have amazing products. We got in touch by email and I am a huge fan of their products. I love the transparent gel, my tattoos heal so beautifully with it, I love it.

Q: Are you open to collaborating with other brands?
Yes, in the past I was sponsored by Radiant Colors Ink but I didn’t feel connected with the brand, so I stopped. It's been more than a year… I think we have to promote what we really love, right? I tried Vince colors in my last guest spot in Dublin. Believe it or not, all my ink got lost in the post office... and I had to borrow ink from the studio and wow I tried this brand and I really loved it. I have to get in touch with them, I think I will have a new sponsor.

Q: Tattoo conventions and seminars can be a great opportunity to meet fellow artists and learn a lot. How often do you participate?
A: Back then I attended the Tattoo week in Sao Paulo in Brazil together with my friends @karllamendestattoo and @ubiratanamorim and after that I stopped because I started to travel. I was focusing only on guest spots not conventions. I wanted to learn new techniques and meet artists that I have always been a huge fan of. Everything changed last year, I got invited to be a judge at Namur tattoo convention in Belgium and then I got invited to judge again at the Scottish tattoo convention and then I got more invitations such as Gods of inks in Germany, Belfast tattoo convention, New York tattoo convention, Marmots tattoo convention in Turkey, Tattoo Planetarium in Paris and many more. Those conventions are very important, private conventions, majority you can apply yourself, on others you have to be invited. I couldn’t say no. Now I am planning more. I actually forgot how fun conventions are, it's so nice to meet new people all at one place, to work closely around big names in the tattoo industry tattoo, and connect with my followers who come to see me! It's such an honor! I intend to travel more for conventions.

Q: I don't know where your ambition will take you next but I assume somewhere nice! What are some of your goals for the future?
A: I hope I will be able to move to the US because it will for sure add so much value to my career. I already got the most of everything in Brazil and Europe. I guess it is time to explore inside the US.

Q: If you were starting today, what would you do differently? Any advice for those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: I would focus only on my own way to draw, without being influenced by anyone, any rules or concerns that you might hear from other artists it's a no. Tattoos are so rich in style today and we are so advanced that I believe any work can last very long on the skin once it is done correctly!

Ms.Maiza Albuquerque Thank you for the interview,
Fredrik Lindstrom
Skin Artists tattoo Magazine