We’re excited to introduce Rocio Todisco in this week’s Tattoo Artist feature. Working out of The Black Lodge on Johannesburg, Rocio’s illustrative style of tattooing is nothing less than top class! Get to know more about her and her career here.
Name: Rocio Todisco
Shop: The Black Lodge
Years tattooing: year 6
Tattoo style: Illustrative
Hourly rate: R1150 ph/ Full day R5700
When did you first know that you wanted to become a tattoo artist?
In my teens to early twenties I was into punk rock, I was constantly surrounded by the subculture and got pierced and tattooed at an early age. I got tattooed by a friend of a friend that said he was a legitimate tattoo artist, non-the-wiser, I got tattooed and was left with a disaster. Not to mention I had to do the design and the stencil for him. I guess I should have seen that as a warning sign, but I was just too excited to get a cheap tattoo and help out a “tattoo artist”.
As much as I hate the tattoo, that experience got me thinking, “hey I can draw, I think I should quit studying and do this!”, so I did.
What happened in your life that led up to that defining moment?
So walking around with a horrid tattoo led me to my future mentor, Gerrit Botha, who fixed up my tattoo as much as possible. I would hang out at his shop while my now fiancé, Callum Els, was doing his apprenticeship. I Would help Callum scrub grips and try out my hand at making needles when Callum had late nights at the studio. Once Callum had finished his apprenticeship Gerrit was kind enough to offer me an apprenticeship, and I am forever grateful for this.
What were some of the most valuable lessons you learnt while doing your apprenticeship?
First and foremost, hygiene is key. Secondly, if you can draw it and you have your technique down, you can tattoo it. Thirdly, try every style of tattooing you possibly can, one style can help you with the next. And finally, to stay humble.
How would you explain the experience of doing your first tattoo on a client?
The most exciting and nerve racking experience of my life, so much so, I don’t even remember my first paying client or the piece I did. Too many emotions made me block it out [laughs].;
How would you compare the tattoo industry of today to 10 years ago?
It’s definitely grown a lot. From the development of styles and creation of new ones, to technological advancements in tattoo equipment. Now There are just so many options of inks, tattoo machines, power supplies etc. There is definitely more competition for all artists, every time you look in another direction there’s a new artist that’s doing amazing work. There is more demand for tattoos than ten years ago, every year they are becoming more and more accepted into mainstream society. There are definitely more and more clients wanting larger scaled work than before.
Where do you see it going in the future?
I haven’t thought about it much but if we look at how much tattooing has grown over the years, I would think that the industry would become more saturated with even more artist getting involved. This will up the overall standard of the art form, making the competition higher for all and making it harder to get in to the industry.
What have been some of the more weird requests you have received?
I can’t really say, I feel like what’s weird for one person is probably the most amazing thing for another. I mean, I have a farting monkey on my leg with its dick hanging out, I’m pretty sure a lot of people would find it weird.
What does the tattoo industry and being an artist mean to you?
It really means everything to me, this industry has given so much and will forever be grateful to be a part of it.
What style of tattoo would you say you specialize in?
At this moment I don’t specialize in any style as I’ve been exploring and absorbing from as many styles as possible. But, I am definitely leaning more towards neo-traditional and a sketchy illustrative style. I just feel like I can express myself and my clients ideas so much more fluidly in these styles as they feel like more of a natural way of drawing for me.
What type of tattoos do you most enjoy creating?
Anything with animals, faces and fantasy themes I go Gaga for, especially if it’s larger scaled work like full sleeves or back pieces.
What do you find is the best way to keep up with the times and keep progressing in your art?
I find Instagram is a great tool for me as I get to follow artists that I like and can see what they are doing on a daily basis.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from all over. Books, movies, nature, seeing new places and seeing good artwork. Sometimes the most unexpected things can lead to inspiration.
For someone wanting to get their first piece, what advise would you give them?
Research your artist properly, you can find everyone’s portfolio online. Don’t go into getting your tattoo done without trusting them. Make sure that you go to an artist that can do the style that you are looking at getting. Don’t try and cram all your ideas in one piece. And no, your tattoo doesn’t necessarily need to have meaning, no matter what you (not your significant other) choose to put on your body, it will always reflect who you are.
If you could be tattooed by any local and international artist, who would it be and why?
Luckily I’ve been tattooed by my favorite local artist, Tamar at Good Things Tattoo Co. She is busy with a full sleeve on me at the moment and she is my favorite neo-traditional artist in country.
Internationally, there are just too many to choose from but if I would have to choose just one it would probably be Mike Stockings, I’m just loving what he is doing with his rich colour pallets at the moment.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
They can check out my portfolio on Instagram @rocio_todisco and contact the studio either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 678 1321.
Tattoos by Rocio
Photos by Alexander Wolf.