We’re launching our Featured Tattoo Artist interview series by sharing an interview with Fred Giovannitti from Ink and Energy Tattooing in Lewes, Deleware. Fred shares the special relationships he has with his clients and how listening, openness, curiosity, and a bit of risk-taking, create new opportunities to see ourselves more fully and make our world a better place in his TedX presentation below.
You’ve been tattooing for 24 years, what got you into tattooing when you started?
Before I started tattooing, I was living in Las Vegas and deeply involved with the textile industry creating patterns and t-shirt designs for companies like Life’s a Beach, and No Fear. I had no interest in tattoos and did not see myself as part of any bikeresque lifestyle of what I assumed tattooing was all about. Although I did have a couple friends that embraced, or were in the larva stages of the counter culture. We were young. One day, one of these friends approached me about drawing him up a tattoo design. It was an executioner type picture with all the accoutrements of your standard 80’s metal album cover. Anyway, he went and got it done, at the single tattoo shop in town at the time, and when he showed it to me I was taken aback at what my artwork had become. It was horrible. The lines were sort of correct, but the shading was in all the wrong places and much of the important details were missing. Tactlessly I asked what happened, and his response was that these guys weren’t artists. They were just tracing stuff and putting it in the skin. Although this, I’m sure, wasn’t entirely 100% of the case back then in the early ’90s, but my young egotistical mind chose to believe it. I then vowed to myself that I would never let anyone get a tattoo design from me unless I were to be tattooing it myself. From that point on, it was a journey of failures and rejection until I was able to land a few pseudo apprenticeships here and there. Mostly learning what not to do and left with my own devices on discovering new techniques and furthering my own education via conventions and guest spots.
You’re also an inventor, what led you to start inventing and how has that changed your experience as a tattoo artist?
I’ve always felt that if I wanted something to help me perform a task, and that something wasn’t available on the market, that it was up to me to create it myself. As a tattoo artist, most of my inventions I have kept to myself, ranging from things like my footpad system to non-tangibles like particular marketing strategies. I believe that all of us creatives feel much in the same way. If we have a need, we fill it whether we can just buy something or have to make it ourselves.
You speak about how someone can create new opportunities to understand themselves more fully in order to contribute to making the world a better place, how do you see Soundwave Tattoos helping you to accomplish that goal?
I definitely see Soundwave Tattoos as a launchpad to many more creative and multi-platform directions for tattoos to go in. I love the fact that technology is being incorporated into the art by combining the old with the new. The possibilities are endless when you can incorporate tattooing with the kind of tools I use, such as the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil, and various apps. I believe being a part of the Soundwave family will allow me to continue to help people discover things about themselves things that they’ve forgotten or have emotionally misplaced. It’s like each client is a great room with many curtained windows. And, with instruments like the Soundwave Tattoos, I get a chance to help open a few more of the curtains on those windows allowing them to see more of what there is out there that they need to see.
Fred Giovannitti is a tattooist/inventor/illustrator living in Southern Delaware, where he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and 2 children. He maintains his personal, appointment-only studio in Lewes, DE for his clients on the East Coast, but still can be found working on projects during occasional conventions or frequent trips out to his second home in Las Vegas. You can see more of Fred’s work at www.inkandenergy.com or his instagram @fredgiovannitti.