Whoever said you can’t learn anything while glued to the television? Carlos Fabra developed his love for art by recreating his favorite cartoon characters, particularly those found in “Dragon Ball Z.” The hours spent drawing his anime heroes helped propel him into the world of tattooing, and his passion fast-tracked his success in the industry. We caught up with Fabra to learn why he favors black-and-grey and how he continues to create original designs using the same characters.
How did you start your career as a tattoo artist?
When I was growing up, I was fascinated by people who had tattoos and started drawing things that related to tattoos. I got my first tattoo at 15 and since then I haven’t stopped tattooing myself. When I was 20, I was given my first tattoo machine and I started to practice. Two years later, I quit all my jobs to focus solely on tattooing.
What attracted you to black-and-grey, and who are some of your favorite black-and-grey artists?
Black-and-grey is easier for my brain to understand than color. To make a color tattoo you need a lot of patience that I don't have. I also consider color to be more painful and I’m very concerned about pain when tattooing. I think black-and-grey tattoos are more elegant and last better over the years.
There are so many artists I admire in this style, many are friends of mine that I’ve had the great luck of being able to tattoo with and be tattooed by. The list could be very long, but these are some of the ones I like the most and have liked for a long time: Miguel Bohigues, Robert Hernandez, Sergio Fernandez, Fred Thomas and Matteo Pasqualin.
Do you follow any of the black-and-grey rules? Why or why not?
For me, the most important thing is that a tattoo is impressive and attracts attention. That’s the main rule. The tattoo should draw attention at long, medium and short distances. I make my tattoos the maximum possible size to achieve this. I also like to make tattoos with a lot of contrast to make them look impressive. I’m not as concerned with technique, but more with the visual impact.
We see that you frequently tattoo characters from "Dragon Ball Z.” What do you love about this anime and who are some of your favorite characters to tattoo?
When I was little, I loved to draw the characters in this series and it helped me perfect my way of drawing. It has been my favorite cartoon series for all of my life and I even have Goku tattooed on my skin. When I started to tattoo “Dragon Ball Z” characters, it was very special for me because I’d spent my whole life drawing them. I think my love for this anime has helped me to succeed in this tattooing.
How do you keep creating new designs while tattooing the same characters multiple times?
This is the most complicated part of my job. Many customers ask for the same characters, but I never repeat the same scene or the same perspective. It’s at this moment where my imagination and creativity come in. It’s definitely a challenge, but for now it’s working for me.