PainfulPleasures: How would you define your own signature style?
Mandy Fabrizi: I like good, solid tattoos. I try to be a versatile artist so that I can help anyone who walks through the door, so I would say that my signature style is just to do good work. Nice clean lines, smooth blends, and soft black and gray is what I try to achieve with whatever I’ve got on the table. I like drawing goth lady faces most, though. So, come to me for that if you’re reading this!
What inspires you most as a tattoo artist?
What inspires me the most is when I make a client happy. There’s so much going on in the world today, and believe me, I understand that it’s stressful, but tattoos should be fun! It should be an experience that you leave from feeling happy, and like you’re a little cooler. Tattoos received so much mainstream attention in recent years that it blew the doors off our shops, and honestly some of the people who are coming in just shouldn’t get tattooed.
If you’re not really excited about your tattoo — if you’re pining over the size of one leaf on a flower — don’t get a tattoo. It’s not for everyone! I miss the days when everyone came in stoked, had a great time, and walked out ready to show all their friends!
You were recently featured in an article by Alexandria Perez on CHICPEAJC as one of 28 women tattoo artists to follow on Instagram. With so many iconic female tattooists in the industry, how do you feel tattooing has changed?
Haha, there’s always a “chick” question in there. So to be perfectly honest, yes there are more women in the industry and that’s good. Are the men still a--holes? Yes. Do we still work twice as hard for half the credit? Yes.
I always say, if I was a dude, people would respect my work ten times more. I definitely feel as a woman I don’t get the same allowances as my male co-workers. For instance, my clients hound me for weeks about drawings. I work with guys who never prepare anything in advance and their clients don’t argue! I could never get away with that and is it because of my gender? Maybe not completely, but it’s definitely part of it.
You were recently featured in the North Jersey News and laid out some great safety measures Roses and Rebels will be implementing moving forward. Do you foresee any permanent changes in the industry after COVID-19?
Oh boy, that’s a loaded question. So a lot of our health and safety procedures have been standard practice. The new ones would be mask-wearing, social distancing (not bringing anyone with you), and the entering protocol (hand washing, temperature taking, phone sterilization).
I do not see this COVID mess going away in the foreseeable future. We’re having presidential debates now focused around the topic and what’s to come. So, to answer your question: yes, I do believe these are permanent changes. I am not happy about that, as I miss seeing my clients' faces. Some of my clients would bring loved ones or friends who I really enjoyed the company of, but this is the new world! Nothing to do but assimilate.
Can you talk about an experience or an artist who taught you something new or changed your game?
This question makes me sentimental, and it’s because so many artists at so many shops have taught me about art and tattooing. The COVID world has had such a great effect on shops financially, especially in NYC, and I see some of my most favorite and iconic shops on the edge of shutdown. It absolutely breaks my heart to see places where so many amazing artists passed through now not able to catch up because of the massive lockdown in NYC.
As far as learning techniques, it’s always funny, because when you’re young, you think you know everything. People gave me advice as a tatter tot that I would always act like I already knew, and then years later it would click. You would be working on a tattoo and say to yourself, “Ohhhh, that’s why so and so told me to do it that way 10 years ago."
So, I kind of answered that in two ways, but there are so many people who I’ve learned from over the years, and I still continue learning with each new year. I’m so lucky to have the people I’ve met through tattooing. It really was a place for me to find out who I was, and make some amazing and lasting friendships that I continue to cherish. Shout out to all my tattoo homies. You all rock!
What improvements would you like to see in the industry in any respect?
I would like the tattoo industry to either unionize, or for shops to offer their employees a legitimate pay and benefits package. For 12 years I have busted my a-- for shops, been slammed with taxes, and gotten nothing in return. No sick days, no vacation time, no health insurance. It’s a struggle. Tattooing is now a multi-million dollar industry, we deserve to be legitimized.
What are your favorite tattoo supplies to use?
I use a pen-style machine now. I do find it sad that the small machine builder is gettin' pushed out of the business little by little, but the ease of a cartridge machine called me to the dark side. Best needles are still Cheyenne. I’ve tried them all and they just have the best needles and the best plastic. They look, sound, and feel better than the other brands. Eternal is my go-to for color ink; for black ink, it’s usually Kuro Sumi or Dynamic. I shop at PainfulPleasures OF COURSE, where you can get everything you need whenever you need it!
Can you talk about one of your favorite tattooing experiences?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one. I’ve done some crazy tattoos over the years, I’ve been to some crazy gatherings.
I guess I would have to say “Snowpocalypse” circa 2011, I think. We had all loaded into the hotel for the Baltimore Tattoo Arts Festival on Friday, and the snow was just steadily building. By the end of Friday night, we were all buried and no one was goin' anywhere. Sailor Jerry booth ran out of the whole weekends' worth of rum the first night just giving it out for free, no clients were able to make it till Sunday. Time stood still for that short while. We all made the most of it. We did tattoo contests, and tattooed each other. I’ll never forget it. Things were simpler then. Just a bunch of weird people gathering together to have a good time. We didn’t freak about our money, we just all cut our losses and had some fun.
Check out more work by Mandy Fabrizi on Instagram, @mandysutattoos.