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Every Tattoo Tells a Story

Sarah Cornelli (25 years old) works as a tattoo artist in Piacenza, a small city in Northern Italy. She was a great student and could have chosen many fields of study but has always been predominantly passionate about art . RebCat was impressed with her work, success and wanted to know more about her journey.

How did you start to work as tattoo artist?

Since I was child, I have always dreamt of working in the artistic field. When I discovered the world of tattooing, I immediately understood that that would become my greatest passion. I started working as an apprentice in a tattoo parlour while I was attending art high school at 17. I was very fascinated and wanted to learn more about this field, but I never expected it to become my job!

Tell us about your first tattoo

I was so nervous. My first tattoo was an “Emo” version of Nemo, which I did for my colleague Davide. He and Erika (my current colleagues and my "teachers") helped me along the way, following me step by step advising me what to do! My hands were almost trembling! I will never forget that emotion.

Do you create all your own designs?

Yes! I create all my drawings. I like the idea of imprinting something unique and personal on a person, which only she or he can have! For this reason, I never reproduce the same drawing twice. I always try to make each tattoo fine, delicate and elegant. I believe that a tattoo must be in harmony with the client's body and anatomy.

Why do people want to have tattoos?

I believe that most people tattoo themselves to have an indelible memory on their skin, often they are memories about a particular period of their life, almost as if they wanted to have an irremovable reminder of it for themselves! Sometimes, however, they do it in memory of a lost love, a way to always have a person who is no longer with them forever in their mind. Other times we tattoo ourselves for pure aesthetic reasons, perhaps to accept parts of the body that we do not particularly like, to cover scars or simply to decorate our body.

What was the hardest tattoo you have done?

There hasn't really been one more difficult than another, on a technical level. The initial design drawing is the most creative part but also without a doubt the most complex, especially when the drawing has to represent a person who is no longer here. I am very sensitive and more often than not I let myself get “carried away” and very moved by the client's emotions, trying to fully understand their feelings and sometimes even their suffering. I try to make it so that the tattoo has a significant personal meaning for the customer but not easy for others to interpret. In this way the customer's story remains theirs and they can choose whether to tell its history or not.

Has there ever been a tattoo you didn't' want to do?

No, I refuse commissions only when they are not feasible on the skin. You have to follow very strict rules to ensure that the tattoo remains beautiful forever.

We know you work very long hours, and each tattoo requires creativity, care and attention. After 6 years do you still enjoy your work?

Absolutely yes! I do not deny that sometimes it can be very fatiguing, but it is a very dynamic job. Every day is different from the next, you do different tattoos every day and above all you meet a lot of people. I am a person who has not had a lot of opportunities to travel, to get to know cultures and cities different from my own, but my clients very often tell me about the places they have visited, and their experiences. Through their stories, I can get a "taste" of many places outside Italy. I love listening to the stories they recount.

What is your process?

During the day I tattoo. After tattooing I respond to various requests and in the evening, I usually design for the following days. I usually manage my agenda, planning the drawings from week to week, giving the client the opportunity to see his or her project a few days in advance. On Sundays, work permitting, I try to unplug, perhaps by reading, watching movies, or going on a day tour- this also allows me to find new ideas and inspirations for my projects. I have realized that even taking at least a day to recharge the batteries is very important to work at your best!

What do tattoos mean to you Sara Cornelli?

For me, a tattoo represents a person’s story: for example, all the tattoos I have on my own skin are closely linked to the happiest or saddest moments in my life, to difficulties that I have managed to overcome or to people who unfortunately are no longer with me; the tattoo gives you the possibility to make a memory, a bond or a story "indelible”.

What would you say to people who are very prejudiced about hiring people with tattoos?

For people who have prejudices towards tattooed people, I would recommend trying to step beyond appearances, and dig a little deeper into the person themselves. In the end, tattooing is art, like fashion, design, architecture or make-up. We are surrounded by art, we live in houses made by architects and furnished by interior designers. We wear clothes designed by designers, we read illustrated books by designers etc ... So, if you don't mind employing someone who wears a Prada dress, why not employ a person with tattoos?

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