Artists: Joe Capobianco
Hope Gallery Tattoo
835 Woodward Avenue
New Haven, CT 06512
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in February of 1993.
How did you start tattooing?
Actually, a shop on Long Island, NY, asked me if I wanted to apprentice and learn there. I turned the offer down for about a year, and eventually came around and apprenticed. Haven’t looked back since.
Where did you apprentice?
Cliff’s Tattoo, in Centereach, NY.
Do you have any special training?
No, just high school art classes and a lot of practice. I think keeping your eyes and ears open is one of the best ways to learn.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
Wow, lots. Over the last 15 years I’ve worked countless shows, all over the world. Lately I’ve been doing quite a lot of shows overseas. I’m just enjoying the new faces and ideas away from the States. Like many aspects of tattooing, there is just too much, and shows in the States have been just that the last eight to nine years—too much, too many. So I’ve been taking a step back. As for awards, I’ve won my share.
How do you describe your style?
Hmm. I guess colorful, and shapely. I’m not so much about realism, more about what I think looks good. So an animated approach to my gals, and using colors that may not be correct but that look cool. I’m not certain when the phrase “Capo Gal” started being used, but I’ve kind of grown to like it.
What inspires you as an artist?
Other artists. I so much dig checking out other art—gallery shows and museums. Hell, art books and magazines. It’s all inspiring. I also like fashion photographers. From classic to the more alter-native, even porn. I find it all very inspiring for what I’m into and what I do. On skin, or paper.
What other media do you work in?
Primarily acrylic paint, and mainly with an airbrush. It’s something I’ve done since high school, and still to this day find a bit challenging—and fun.
What do you think separates you as a tattoo artist?
I think perhaps style. Even with all the amazing talent out there being discovered daily, I keep doing my own thing with the pinups, traditional ideas, and even Japanese styles. I don’t ever want to be confused with another artist. This individuality is most important when it comes to who you are as an artist and tattooist.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
The list is oh so long. Eddy Deutsche, Filip Leu, Bernie Luther, Tin Tin, Timothy Hoyer, Mike Ledger, Cap Szumski, Tom Strom, Jeff Gogue, Miyazo, Shige, Jee Sayalero, And—hell, the list goes on. There are so many that I find inspiring.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
At this point in my career, it’s more about the clients than me. If I dig the people I’m tattooing, what I’m tattooing is almost second. Honestly, I think that once a tattooist finds his groove in his style, the right clients come to him. And they know what you’re into, and want that.
Is there anyone you would like to tattoo?
I can’t think of anyone that I want to tattoo. I’m cool with folks wanting to be tattooed by me.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Just think. I’ve done some crazy pieces on folks over the years. And a handful of those people have found me years later saying, “Man, I really don’t know what I was thinking.” So now I say, “Think.”
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
No. Really, I usually come up with an idea and draw it in my sketchbook—maybe even paint it, and sometimes I’ll put it up on my website or my blog. And usually before long, someone will say to me, “Hey, have you done this one yet?” But in all honesty, some of my more memorable pieces are ideas from the client that I’ve been able to run with and make my own. The client should never be overlooked or ignored. Maybe just shaped.