To the untrained eye, big and solid blackwork looks incredibly simple. In reality, it takes a true artist to create designs that work with the body’s anatomy and an impeccable craftsperson to fully saturate the black within the skin. One of the hottest blackwork artists of the moment is Black Prada, who creates stunning abstract designs out of Madrid. We caught up with this mover and shaker of tattooing to learn how he found blackwork and why bigger is ALWAYS better.
Why did you decide to become an artist?
I was always addicted to creating and I was lucky to connect with tattooing the way I did. When I discovered tattooing, I gave up everything else to focus on it. I had many other projects going on in the music industry but realized I can only do one thing properly.
Did you have a traditional apprenticeship?
What advice would you give to someone starting out? I was cleaning tubes and answering the phone for a long time. Nothing would be possible without my masters, and I’m very thankful to have started with a big artist in the Japanese style. I created my style and I believe in being an autodidact, but if I could give advice to a beginner, it would be to get tattooed by someone who’s a master in the technique you want to learn. What made me learn the most was getting tattooed by many people with different techniques to build my own.
What drew you to blackwork and who are some of your favorite artists in this style?
I’ve been doing geometric work for many years and I’ve changed my style a lot. From an artistic aspect, my biggest influence and favorite artist is Roxx. By using less information to create more impact and enhance the body’s shape, she changed my view of composition.
From a technical aspect, I learned a lot from Dekalcomanu, who’s doing part of my bodysuit and has mastered me over the years. He has been doing blackwork for over 20 years and really knows what he is doing. For me, covering a big area with black without damaging the skin is one of the most technical aspects of tattooing.What’s your process for designing a piece for a client? It's always a team effort and a collaboration between me and the customer. I take some pictures of the area and do a digital mockup to make the composition. Together, we choose some textures or patterns that express what we want for the project.
Why are you drawn to large-scale work?
The effort and discipline that’s required for a large-scale tattoo is what makes tattooing special and unique. For me, the whole body is a single canvas and, in my opinion, a small tattoo doesn’t compliment the anatomy the right way. One body, one tattoo.Does your style of tattooing attract a lot of customers looking for cover-ups? I do a lot of cover-ups, but what would surprise many people is that I also cover up very well done tattoos from big artists. Many people like me get overwhelmed by colors or an excess of information over time. When you get very minimal, solid black, you look completely different with clothing or jewelry. That’s why many people like blackwork in general, not just for covering up badly executed tattoos.
How do you think your tattoos will age over time?
My focal point when I do a big area of black is to avoid scarring. You can saturate a lot of the skin, but the less the skin suffers, the less scarring. Damaged skin can be pigmented, but it ages worse over time. This can be seen through lines that expand over time. I really trust in what we call dry healing, which basically consists of not using moisturiser and keeping the skin clean for the first three days after the session.
Take us through your dream canvas and what you’d create on a blank slate.
I love minimalism and human anatomy. For me, the human body is beautiful in itself, so I would use very simple shapes to maximize its natural shapes. Every different body dictates its own shapes. Depending on what we want to express, we could choose aggressive-looking patterns or more wavy, organic textures. It's the personality of the subject that dictates what fits best.