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interview by Stephanie De La Rua

I got a chance to chat with São Paulo based tattoo artist Alexandre Assal during Quarantine to talk about music, tattoos, his influences and how he’s keep busy during this time.

(S) Tell us a little about yourself.

(A) My name is Alexandre da Fonseca Al-Assal, I’m a 25 year old tattoo artist. Born and raised in São Paulo. Many Brazilians have different miscegenations, my family is Lebanese, Portuguese and indigenous which created a multicultural atmosphere upbringing.

(S) Brasil is definitely on my travel list! Excited to learn more about subculture of São Paulo. When did you start tattooing, what was the reason behind this choice?

(A) Since I was a kid drawing has always been a thing in my life, but to me it was something that used to keep me calm and concentrated. Later in my life I started to listen to hip-hop and hardcore music which developed an attraction to graffiti and tattoos-since most artist of this culture had tattoos. When I turned 15 I was looking for ways to make some money through my art work. I did illustrations and mural work but it wasn’t my thing it wasn’t turning out to me. In 2013 when I turned 18 I went knocking door to door on tattoos studios to find an apprenticeship which was pretty hard til I found a studio near my neighborhood, which was a dream coming true however the owner was struggling with crack and cocaine addiction, so after six months I left it and started working on my own.

(S) I agree, I also developed an attraction for tattoos through music and the media especially when i tapped into photographers such as Estevan Oriol in my teens. I see you have developed a style in tattooing for yourself with heavy single needle line work and Chicano influences. Who inspired your style and is it popular in Brasil?

(A) Well Brasil, specially in São Paulo, is heavily influenced by hip-hop, skate culture and rap was becoming really popular in the early and mid 2000s when I was growing up, as well as a lot of popular artist and football players were starting to get heavily tattooed most of them with black and gray lettering and Japanese. I think those styles became popular because it looks good on brown and darker skin and that made it very popular on teenagers especially on periphery communities and I kept digging into it til i found out about California and Chicano culture. I automatically related to because being Latino I didn’t feel represented by the American traditional tattooing and those aesthetic we’re already around me.

(S) Love to see how California and Chicano culture reached Brasil! Some of my tattoos are cutty old english letters that were done in my boys Brooklyn basement those are my favorite. So much style. I see that your also incredibly talented illustrator as well are you currently working on any new projects during time outside of the shop due to Quarantine? 

(A) Due to the quarantine situation my income was hit pretty hard since I’m not able to tattoo as I used to, so I’m looking for ways to get some money to afford my living, such as focusing on painting panos and some comissioned work too.  I’m also taking this time to put some ideas in place I’m starting to think about an art show with some friends of mine and work on my own merchandise when I’m able to do so.

(S) We’re lucky to have this time to focus on future projects for sure. You’ll have to keep us updated when your merch is released though we can agree that these are crazy times. What does your day to day look like in Brasil and have you been able to practice a routine?

(A) As Brasil is a third world country things are looking pretty bad in a nearby future which has impact a lot on my mental health and anxiety issues, so at the moment I’m trying to maintain by keeping myself calm and focused on a short time period, like stretching, cooking and reading to refresh myself. At the beginning of quarantine I was pretty messy with my routine like going to sleep at 5am waking up in the middle of the afternoon but in the last month I got more organized and started to follow up a routine with work exercises and self care.

(S) I feel this completely. I definitely hit a wall in the beginning and had to build up a routine for myself as well but as soon as this is over all i want to do is travel. Do you have any plans on coming to visit America when this is over and where would you like to visit first and why?

(A) I was planning to visit USA by August this year, but unfortunately the pandemic made me postpone it to the next year maybe. I would like to go to NY and LA especially because it’s where a lot of my references are such as tattoo but also in music as well. I also would try to get an upgrade on my equipment since things are way cheaper in the United States.

(S) We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for you coast to coast next year that’s mad exciting!  Do you have any hobbies outside of tattoos?

(A) I used to photograph a lot in the past years but I lost my camera in a trip to Paraguay and never had the money to buy another one nowadays I’m really into music and I live with a friend that is a DJ and he’s currently teaching me a lot about turntables and I have been collecting records for a couple of years.

(S) Photographing and documenting is everything to me as you know but i am music head myself and i always wanted to learn more about DJing as well! With that being said, what is your favorite genre and what are you listening to these days?

(A) Brasil is one of the richest country’s when it comes to music we have like a universe of genres and styles so I definitely would say that Brazilian music in general is what gets me the most. I grew up listening to Samba which is popular Brazilian regional music to Bossa Nova. Right now I’m digging into old soul music samples and Brazilian soul music is one of the things that I listen to most.

Follow more of Alexandre Assal work on Instagram @alexandre.assal

(S) Who are you, where are you from and
what you do?


(K) Hola, hi, hello, i’m Krizzo,
i reside in Los Angeles, CA, & i create art,
digital illustrations, and i’m also
a freelance graphic designer.


(S) How are you keeping busy during
Quarantine? Have you found yourself able
to establish a routine?


(K) Honestly i’ve been working on my
art more ever since miss rona showed up
and we had to quarantine. I’ve always
had a routine i stuck to religiously
pre-quara but changed drastically ever
since this all happened, so me being the
virgo that i am i adapted & created
a new one which took some time to get
used to but i like now.

(S) Have you found yourself working on
any projects and if yes, would like
to share with us?


(K) Yes, definitely more personal artworks
and also partook in my first ever
3D augmented reality art exhibition
which was as cool and fun as it sounds
& is available to view til the end of
May at: staygallery.org/human

(S) What are some examples of self care
that you are practicing during quarantine?


(K) 1 of the biggest forms of self-care was
actually the change in routine due to
quarantine surprisingly,
another is jogging (participating in safe
distancing ofc), walking my dog, and
a lot of sunbathing
which i’ve found to double as meditation
because it’s kept me at peace w/ the
world and myself,
and i get to tan so it’s a win/win.


(S)What inspires you/your work?


(K) Movies are definitely a monumental
inspiration for me, my daily walks w/ my
dog and when i buy my coffee—
i document anything i find interesting
on my walks be it cloud shapes,
the chipped paint on a car from a detail
job, graffiti in my neighborhood, the
“buff’s” brush strokes
when they cover up the graffiti, etc.,
things of that nature; big fan of my
environment.

stay tuned for upcoming interviews by Stephanie De La Rua