Artists: Stefano Alcantara
What year did you start tattooing?
The first time I grabbed a tattoo machine was in 1994. I didn’t have an apprenticeship, so during the first three years of my graphic design career I practiced with friends. After tattooing for three and a half years I decided to open my first tattoo shop in Lima, Peru—Stefano ?s Tattoo Studio. It’s been in business for almost two decades and [is] still open.
How did you get into tattooing?
In Peru, at that time, there was not an established tattoo shop, and tattoo magazines were not available in stores. A friend of mine showed me a tattoo magazine he bought at the flea market in Lima, and I was shocked by what I saw. I’d never seen details or even color in tattoos before, so I thought, I need to do this at least once! I wasn’t exactly aware of what was involved [with being] a tattoo artist, but that’s where it all started.
Where did you apprentice?
I didn ?t have an apprenticeship, but I wish I had! It would have saved me time and I would have accomplished what I wanted to do better and faster.
Do you have any special training?
I have a degree in graphic design, and i continue to take courses in painting. This summer I attended an illustration master class taught by professional artists, including my biggest inspiration, Boris Vallejo.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I’ve attended so many conventions in my career that I can’t count them all. When I came to the States, I went to as many conventions as I could to promote myself and put my name out there. Now I’m blessed to be invited and taken care of at major conventions, so the tables have turned. I’ve won a lot of awards throughout the years. My focus now is more about pushing myself with each piece and not about collecting more trophies.
How do you describe your style?
My style is realism, but I try to put a signature spin with textures to achieve a surreal vibe.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything around me. I’m a visual person, so I can find inspiration in movies, photography, fine art. I’m inspired for each new challenge. I love when clients give me the freedom to do what I think is best for the piece.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I don’t know if I am so different from other people, but I do have a special hunger to grow because I came from a third world country with very little opportunity. I appreciate that I can succeed doing what I love, because I consider tattooing an art form and not a job. For me tattooing is fun!
What other mediums do you work in?
I have been focusing my attention on oil painting lately, but my portfolio of work ranges from colored pencils to airbrushing various surfaces, like body painting, murals, graffiti, etc.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
Through Last Rites, I participated in Art Fusion, and being exposed to the art that came through that gallery has inspired me to branch out into painting more in my studio. Exploring other mediums has enhanced my tattoos because my approach to pieces has totally changed.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
I appreciate tons of tattoo artists’ work, but to admire an artist, for me, comes after being friends and knowing them as a person. Throughout my tour, I had the luxury to see into the lives of artists whose art extends past their tattoo shop. I don’t want to leave anyone out of my list, and it continues to grow, but you know who you guys are!
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I want to create tattoos on a larger scale and also tattoos with more creativity in the concept. I feel this is happening more often but I am excited for what is to come.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
My advice to clients is to think about the entire body part you are starting to tattoo. Ask if you are going to fill a certain amount of space, so that the placement and flow will look the best for future additions.