Tell us about your tattoo journey; what was your first tattoo?
My first tattoo was in memory of my Nonna (Grandmother), Marea, who had been tragically killed a few years earlier. She was a significant part of my life growing up (especially in an Italian family), was a substantial support in my early years, and taught me a lot about life. I was in Melbourne at the time, and a friend who ran a record label and was heavily tattooed connected me with a tattooist (Trevor Mcstay) who I had been following through the Tattoos Down Under Annual Tattoo Candy Magazine. Trevor was known for his style. I visited his studio - Dynamic Tattoo - in Richmond. Unfortunately, he was fully booked for the year, but I got a spot with his apprentice at the time, Evan Griffiths (@griff_tattoo). He tattooed both my knees for my first session. I got diamonds representing my Nonna's bright and sparkly choice of fashion and personality with her name surrounding them. It was such a fantastic experience. I then booked in for the next day to get my shin tattooed...
What is your vision for the next 5 years of SWALLOW?
I see SWALLOW as a tremendous value add for all games and metaverses everywhere, SWALLOW Studios, both physical and digital. I see SWALLOW as the go-to place for skin-bound customization across web3 and web2 games and metaverses. I see SWALLOW becoming the authority in digital tattoos. A place where users can find their new favorite tattooist and also support them by purchasing digital and real tattoos.
How did you get into NFTs?
For 13 years, I have worked as a merchandise designer. I was used to getting paid a small flat fee, and that merchandise became an endless source of income for the client. Some designs were even sold onto other platforms, which created more revenue streams for the client but as the creator, I was only ever paid a small upfront fee. In 2017 I won a cease and desist with Gucci over a piece they claimed was an "unofficial collaboration" and were going to run in a new range. Instead of offering me payment, they offered me an internship, and when I tried to pursue compensation, they threatened that they had endless capital and over 9 lawyers that would drain me dry.
When NFTs started rolling out, I was skeptical about art quality in the early mints. As I delved deeper into the mechanisms of rewarding both the artist and the buyer is when I really got interested.
What excites you about being a part of SWALLOW?
A lot of my close mates work in the tattoo industry. Many also run tattoo shops. There is no natural scalable way to work smarter rather than harder in this industry. Most of my friends suffer from physical and mental strains from overwork. With rising living costs (insurance, rents, gloves, electricity, etc.), it is becoming harder for stores to turn a profit. A lot of artists are opting for private home studios. This isolates them from potential new client exposure. Most rely purely on Instagram to replace this, and we all know how the new algorithms work. Contemporary, younger, talented artists who haven't already established themselves will find it increasingly difficult to get the exposure they deserve. We are helping bridge an entire industry into the digital world. A new global distribution system for artists. This excites me the most.