ALEX DE PASE
by Ashlee McCann
Photos courtesy of Alex De Pase
From the August 2008 issue of PRICK Magazine.
All the way from Italy, Alex De Pase brings the
world a taste of his powerful tattoos—from
his traditional style to his favorite realism
pieces. Traveling through Europe and making it into
the states as well, De Pase has pleased many hungry
tattoo clientele with his personal portraits as well. To
Alex, giving someone a tattoo is not just a job, it’s a
life...and he has embraced it fully, an achievement
that shows in his vast work and his positive attitude.
How would you describe your style?
I would consider my forte to be realism, a talent which is constantly
evolving. I prefer to improve and develop my style of
portraiture and realism, giving more attention and detail in
every tattoo that I complete. That's the thing about realism: on
the one hand it brings me great satisfaction, but on the other it
poses steady and continuous frustrations knowing that I can
never reach perfection and that the piece can always be better.
I prefer this style of tattooing because I believe
that any manipulation of reality starts from itself.The
target of realism is the everlasting research in an
attempt to attain perfection concerning the details.
Perception of volume, wrinkles, light, shade, expression,
variations in tones of color, all to achieve the
three dimensional appearance. It is a never ending
challenge which leaves infinite room for improvement.
We live in a world full of colors. I'm in constant
pursuit of achieving a personal color theory to give
my tattoos the "real look." Doing a portrait is
extremely and emotionally intense and involved. The
client is making the decision to get someone's face
tattooed on their skin forever. Obviously the portrait
the person is choosing moves the client deeply. This
becomes evident to me when the portrait is coming
to completion and my client expresses how they feel
when they first see it.
The most important step of creating the portrait
is getting a good photo. Every tattoo requires a lot of
time searching for that perfect picture and I find that
the more dramatic and stronger the expression on
the subject's face, the better the results of the tattoo. I
study the picture, looking for what the subject is expressing,
their mood, their eyes, the light and shade, colors,
details, and nuances. Sometimes, if need be, I create and
compose themes to insert in the background.
How does the tattoo industry in Italy differ
from that in the U.S.?
From my experience, I notice that in Italy, customers predominantly
prefer two things: black and gray to color, and
a lot of small pieces as opposed to large pieces like full
sleeves, back pieces, chest pieces, etc. In the U.S., on the
other hand, I see that many people get larger pieces, full
of color, and backgrounds. In the last few years there has
been an increase in people that are getting larger pieces,
more color, and a greater sense of the quality of the artwork
itself. Money is not so much the main concern anymore.
The Italian tattoo clientele is becoming increasingly
informed about where and what to look for when it
comes to choosing an artist and choosing better subject
What is your biggest goal in tattooing?
One of the biggest goals for me would be creating a clientele
so that I can tattoo what I really love all the time: portraits
and realism. Another goal of mine is to create a
solid, united group of artists and friends who work under
the same set of principles to develop a stimulating and
Do you enjoy owning your own studio and all
that comes with it?
Yes, at the moment I am very satisfied. I currently have
two great full-time resident tattoo artists working with
me, as well as a piercer. Besides that, owning my own
shop gives me a lot of flexibility. For example, I am
pleased to say that I had the pleasure of having Mike
Cole come from the U.S. to do a guest spot at my
shop. I'm also happy to say that there will be many
other great artists over the next few months doing
guest spots here, including Luca Natalini. Another
benefit is the friendships that I've made and which
have grown with me over the years. I've met a lot of
people like me who have the same passions and with
whom I share experiences, constructive ideas, and so
on, which causes a positive competition and, in turn,
brings on an improvement. I would also like to say
that I have my beautiful wife, Camilla, who offers me
priceless help in keeping the shop running very
What is the best perk about being an
accomplished tattoo artist?
It gives me the opportunity to do exactly what I want
to do, but it also gives me the chance to focus more
on improving my art, rather than being distracted by
other, less important things.
Will you be coming to tattoo in the U.S.
Sure! Absolutely. I love the U.S. I've been there many
times on vacation as well as for work purposes.
Recently I worked a guest spot at Off the Map Tattoo,
where I met many fantastic colleagues and people. I'm
looking forward to going back to the U.S. and will,
most likely within the year.