October 12, 2017
What is your name, birthplace, and year of birth?
My name is Luciano Calderon. I was born in 1986, in the city of Bern, Switzerland.
Where did you grow up? Please describe your upbringing and sociocultural background.
I lived in Switzerland for most of my childhood, but, due to the fact that half of my family is from Bolivia, I visited quite often. I moved there at age 17 or 18. My family was middle-class.
Where do you currently work? Prior to that, where have you worked?
I currently work in Mexico City, where I have my own private tattoo studio — Klassik31.
Before that, I worked at Luna Negra in Buenos Aires and Carborundum in Mexico City.
How long have you been tattooing?
It will be four years in October.
What inspired you to learn tattooing, and in what style did you initially learn how to tattoo?
I was always fascinated by tattooing, but I thought I would just leave it to the pros. At that time, I had other ways to express my creativity. I began to think about learning how to tattoo when I understood that I wouldn’t be able to live like a hobo forever! I always had my own style, but somehow I wasn't convinced that it would translate to tattoos. That’s why I started to do traditional tattoos—they were most similar to the style I was used to.
Were you trained through a formal apprenticeship? Describe the circumstances of learning.
When I decided that I wanted to become a tattooist, I really wanted to do an apprenticeship. Due to constant traveling and moving from one city to another, it seemed unrealistic to have somebody teach me during the two weeks I would stay in each place. I still struggle with this today: every time I work with different people, I learn new stuff; I think, ‘hmm, that I would have learned in an apprenticeship.’ Mainly things to do with technique and hygiene.
Have you previously studied art in an institutional setting? If so, what level of training did you reach and in what disciplines?
I graduated as a graphic designer. I actually disliked the career and struggled to get the diploma. But, thanks to those four years, I now know how to use Photoshop to edit my promotional material for guest spots.
How did you develop your style? How would you describe it? What are your influences?
I was always drawing. Something very important to me from a young age was to avoid copying. I was trying to impress my role models, who would call out everybody for copying. Because of that, I always tried to create something original—even if it looked wrong or the design didn’t work, it would at least be mine.
What do you look for in a shop?
Do you have any hobbies outside of tattooing?
I play soccer a lot. I’m playing in two different leagues at the moment. Otherwise, I like to cook, play with dogs and cats. I also want to become a gamer. I realized that I’m too old and antisocial to make new friends—I just expect too much. Soon I will buy a Playstation; I’m actually just waiting for FIFA18 to drop.
What inspires you generally?
What inspires me most is sign painting. But, I do have to admit that I recently saw some artwork that spoke to me.
Where can we find your work online? What are your usernames on social media?
On Instagram: @luxiano31. Facebook: luxiano tattoo. I have a website, www.lucianocalderon.com, but it hasn’t been updated in many years.
Are any other forms of media, traditional or digital, important to your work?
I would like to invest more time in screen printing.
Is traveling important to your work as a tattooist? If so, where do you usually travel? Do you have any interesting experiences abroad that you can share?
Traveling is essential for my work. For some reason, the countries in which I feel the most comfortable are not the most convenient for me in terms of work. That means that I really depend on my trips. I used to travel for four months in a row, do a ton of guest spots, and feel great about it. Nowadays, I can do two weeks at most. Usually, I find traveling very stressful and try to do it as little as possible, since I want to be at home, work on my own projects, make sure that I attend soccer matches with my team, and so on. I organize the trips so that they are as efficient as possible. Because of that, they’re always super busy and tiring. Now that I live in Mexico, I mostly travel to the USA for work. I would like to work in Europe again next year.
What is the main challenge of tattooing today?
Competition—if you care about it. I think, as tattooists, it’s a challenge to always recreate our own work—to come up with new ideas, get attention for what we do…It’s pretty difficult with all of these great tattooers today. My personal challenge is to maintain constant evolution.
Blackwork Interview Short reads TTTism Issue 1