Interview with Laura Caselles, watercolor tattoo artist from Spain
Laura Caselles is a tattoo artist near Madrid.
She is a specialist in everything related to watercolor and, besides making some totally incredible designs, as you will be able to see in the images that are hung through this interview, she also has a story to tell you.
I assure you that she is not going to leave you indifferent, because she is an example of struggle, perseverance and good work, with a mentality that we are sure will allow her to get exactly where she wants.
You will be amazed.
More about Laura Caselles
We would love to know how you started in the world of painting and, after, in the tattoo, as well as if it was something of formation or vocation.
I started by taking the Fine Arts Bachelor, then I took the entrance exam for the Restoration High School in Madrid and I was suspended from the entrance exam for doing “too much color”.
According to the Director of the School, that would mean that people would not know how to differentiate the original work from my restoration.
Imagine the look on your face, when they tell you that you don’t get in because you do it too perfect, what irony….
So, I looked for an artistic alternative and I got into the Francisco Alcántara School of Art and studied for the Higher Degree in Artistic Ceramics in which I discovered another of my passions, sculpture.
While I was studying it, I took the exam for the High School of Restoration in Madrid again and this time I did get in.
I learned a lot about art, a very demanding school, I only had to pass Physics & Chemistry and Biology, which were studied at a very scientific and mathematical level and already burned out of life and having acquired all the knowledge that interested me from there I ended up abandoning it.
I worked as a gardener and I started to save money to become independent, since I had already checked a tattoo kit, but in my house I couldn’t get a machine like that, well you know the image that people had of tattooers relatively recently.
So as soon as I became independent, I started my almost “self-taught” journey, the only thing I had available was a book in English on how to tattoo.
With that I started with this wonderful and “hidden” world. Since at least before, it was very difficult to get in.
But once I started, I didn’t stop, I want to become the best watercolor tattooist in the world 😀
Laura, we greatly value this type of initiative and life, always struggling to move forward and forge a path, so we take this opportunity to ask you, what was the most important thing you learned during that journey?
That having done a course like the one I’m creating right now would have saved me a lot of headaches hahaha!
We like to know more about the people we are interviewing, tell us about your hobbies, what do you like to do in your free time?
I am a very simple and introverted person.
I’m not one to party with friends or anything like that.
In my free time I like to be with my partner and my animals. I’m very cuddly and affectionate.
Watching a movie in the living room or going for a walk is enough for me. I’m not much of a mall person either.
Playing computer games like League of Legends, World of Warcraft and lately new Oculus Quest 2 games like Beat saber or FitXR. I would also like to travel and get to know different cultures and gastronomies.
I like very much to try new foods (I have never had economy to do it, I come from a very humble family, and now I don’t have time since I don’t leave a project and I am already in another one hehehe).
We love that you are so busy, it's a symptom of things rolling and, at the end of the day, it's the most important thing of all. Another question forced by the type of media we are: how do you see the tattoo world in Spain in terms of equality? Have you felt treated differently simply because you are a woman? What things do you see that need to be changed (if any)?
Well, that’s a very good question. Since the tattoo world, is a “closed” world, tattooers don’t want competition or, at least, that’s what I was shown at the beginning, as they saw you as a threat.
An example of this so as not to focus everything on me.
An apprentice came to me 3 years ago to ask for a job in my studio with good lines and good potential and I told her that she had a future.
she was surprised because in all the studios she went to, they gave her a hard time and told her to do something else.
Today she is a great tattooist and although I could not give her a job in her day it was clear that she would do well if she continued like that.
The mentality that tattooers from other generations have, or at least that’s what they passed on to me, is that there was a kind of monopoly where they shared out the work.
That, thanks to God, has changed and the art of tattooing in Spain has taken an awesome evolutionary leap in a very short time, thanks in great part to the internet.
Returning to the issue of equality, my answer is no, there is no equity.
Whether you are a man or a woman or of any sexual condition.
It is true that it is a man’s world, but that is beginning to change and there are more women in this world.
As to whether I have felt treated differently simply because I am a woman, the answer is yes in a first contact with the client. Then, when I’m tattooing, no.
I think that only once, a client came and when he found out that I was going to tattoo him, a woman, he said that not even as a joke was a woman going to tattoo him.
It’s funny, because in my shop there was my partner (he manages the shop) and myself (tattooist). When people enter, whether they were men or women, always thought it was my partner who was going to do the tattoo, and I was piercing him.
In fact, when a client came through the door, they went directly to my partner to explain what they wanted done.
Changing the patriarchal mentality is very difficult, but in Spain if we can boast of something it is the great advance in this field.
Personally, you think you can do anything.
Dedicate yourself to what you like and what fills you, whether you are a man, a woman or I insist on any sexual condition. Your gender does not define who you are or who you will become.
I totally agree, Laura. In fact, what you say about "the man in the studio is the tattooer and the woman is the piercer" is very ingrained, in our experience, thank goodness more and more people have their brains in place. We fully agree that, although the road is started, there is still a long way to go.
More about Laura Caselles' work
You have 2 tattoo studios in the middle of a pandemic situation, which seems to us an act of total courage, how has the current situation influenced this?
Just like all freelancers and small companies.
We feel like shit for society, and the government’s piggy bank to pay for their plans that have little or nothing to do with the general interest.
A tremendous economic collapse and a great sadness to see that either you spend up to euros from the piggy bank or your shops will close.
I only have a slight hope that they will leave us all alone and we can go on with our lives and save people and their respective jobs.
We sincerely hope that it will improve, to put it in context to the audience of other countries, in Spain the tax pressure on the self-employed and small businesses is quite high and, most worrying, it has a ridiculously high barrier of entry. If you want to add anything else, it's all yours. How is the type of person who usually goes to your studio? (They already have tattoos or it is their first time, younger/older, man/woman...).
Pfff, all kind of people, really.
They are usually people from 25 to 45 years old.
And as far as tattoos are concerned, I’ve had both first-time and experienced people.
How do you see the consideration towards the tattoo in Spain? Do you think it has improved in the last 10 years?
Both in technique and in artistic design things have improved by 100% and I think we will continue to improve in general, better machines, better artists…
What impression do you have about the consideration of the tattoo in the street, do you see it more standardized in companies, positions facing the public, managers, etc?
No… There are still people who don’t get it into their heads that wearing a tattoo doesn’t make you worse at your job…
I still have clients, that have to get tattooed on a hidden part of their body because in their work they don’t let them wear tattoos…
We love your tattoo style, full of color, with a lot of harmony and with very careful shapes. How would you define it and how did you get to it?
I would define it as the joy of living.
For me, it brings the color I never had, until now.
I seek to transmit color, joy and good vibes through the feelings and ideas that the clients who choose me want to capture on their skin.
I got to it because as soon as I got into color it was a boom and I liked it a lot more and more. I would like to be among the best watercolor tattooists in the world someday
Okay, I think we couldn't say anything more accurate or more beautiful than "joy of life" to name your style, and that touch of self-improvement and, so to speak, well-brought-out melancholy is cool. And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
How life itself, you do not know what the future holds
Here we can only applaud you for having that mentality. To be able to express your art in that way has to be something vocational, what does it feel like to be tattooing your pieces?
It is not vocation; it is to achieve freedom through mind and art.
My pieces arise from the expressive freedom that my clients give me, that’s why when they tell me, I am your canvas, do what you want is when the best works arise 🙂
I feel my client, what he transmits to me in that moment, it is very difficult to explain it with words…
When I’m tattooing, for me, the world stops and there is only that tattoo, the colors, the client’s feelings and me. Tattooing in color for me is the channeling of feelings through the tattoo.
If we do not misunderstand (which is very possible), here we can mix artistic sensitivity with something similar to meditation and what they call in the Far East the "return to the animal feeling", where there is only what you are doing at that moment.
I think that’s what happens 😀 I’m going to study what you say about the “return to the animal feeling” I find super interesting!
Another complicated one, what things inspire you to keep improving?
For me, once I have my needs covered, nothing extravagant, I am rather frugal, I would like to create companies, give people jobs.
To be able to create an NGO to help animals or people in need, etc.. If I already have my life figured out, why not help others?
I couldn’t seriously spend 3,000 euros on a bottle of champagne, instead of giving it to a soup kitchen or an animal collection center so that they can buy food and feed.
We think it is a more than correct vision of the world and of life. Once again, I wish we were more people with that mentality. Our last question is always the same: Please give some advice to those who are starting out.
Three pieces of better advice, for life itself, for this or any job:
- Don’t be fooled by others.
- Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do.
- Be yourself and fight every day to be the best version of yourself.
That’s in terms of your philosophy of life.
As far as learning how to tattoo, look for a good tattoo course, before having mastered drawing or illustration, of course.
Learning to tattoo with a helper or a mentor saves you a lot of trouble, displeasure and if the course is good it speeds up your path in a spectacular way!
In fact, my own tattoo school will soon be open to people from all over the world to learn how to tattoo.