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Interview with illustrator and tattoo artist Sacronero

Thanks Marco Costantini @sacronero for taking part in our illustrators’ interview series!

How long have you been drawing?

From a very long time, since i was a young boy. 
I have a precise memory of my childhood: my dad who used to draw beautiful and super funny greeting cards for the whole family, and me trying in every way to copy him. I obviously failed miserably, my dad drawings were beautiful and too complex for me.
I remember the drawing battles that I used to lose every day against my best friend of that time (he still is now!) during classes at elementary school. 
My passion for illustration started the first time that i saw the drawings of Sergio Toppi, founded on a children’s newspaper (il Giornalino) that I used to read avidly every week when I was a kid.

What’s your process?

I always start flipping through my old sketchbooks and my notebooks, that over the years I have filled with interesting photos and doodles., looking for ideas and references.
When i find something that catch my interest i start to work on that subject.
I usually work on very large sheets of paper (as large as possible), in this way i avoid the risk to have limits that force me in some direction. 
as soon as i start to draw, my mind begins to travel and to imagine associations between elements, scenarios, and compositions, that i can build around the initial idea. for this reason it is fundamental for me to use a very large sheet: when i start i never know where i will end. 
When the artwork is done, i simply cut the sheet in a proportioned size.
Generally it is while my hand is moving on paper that I find ideas. If I try to find a good idea just staring at the wall, I could stay there for days without finding anything.
I have to move my hands and to do something to activate the mind. 

Digital vs traditional?

Traditional. My passion and obsession with drawing materialize in the point of contact between paper and pen and in the sound that they produce together.  The different types of paper, and above all, the pens, are my great obsession.. the pens.. I have a lot of them and when they finish I don’t have the courage to throw them 🙂 I have drawers full of pens of all kind, I know them all and I’m very jealous of each of them. It is almost impossible to steal one from me, my friends know that:) I also use the iPad when I need it, especially when I have to create a graphic that will then be printed on clothing, because in that case I need a very clean file to create the screen printing frame. I lso use it when  i have to change a design for a tattoo. It is very useful for these things.

How long does it take to create it?

The technique that I mainly use, and that gives me the most satisfaction, is crosshatching, that is a fairly slow technique. It takes me a while to finish a drawing, then obviously it depends on the size and complexity of the subject.  over time, I became much faster, also because I have to think less and less about what I’m going to do. In short, I make decisions quicker.

Is it a hobby or your career?

It is my job. 
Drawing is the core of everything i do, and I try to use it at 360 degrees. 
I get up in the morning and start to draw, in most cases I don’t know where my creation will end. It can stay there on paper, it can be framed and embellish a wall, it can become a shirt, it can be printed on a wardrobe or on a plate on which someone will eat, or maybe I will tattoo it on the arm of a client, to remain there for a lifetime. I love my job.

Why do you draw?

Because it’s the thing I do best, and it’s definitely the thing that makes me feel better. I completely lose track of time, worries disappear, I end up on another planet where I find peace and silence. For me it is a kind of meditation.
I think that through drawing I can express what I really am. Strengths and weaknesses, my passions, my taste and my limits. I draw precisely in the hope of reaching someone else’s eyes, someone who may have had a bad day, and make him smile, because maybe in that drawing he saw something that he felt familiar, something that resonated within him. Yes, I draw for this reason.

What inspires you?

My main source of inspiration are books and songs. 
Sometimes years after reading a book, suddenly a detail comes back to me: the description of a room, an object, or a person’s face. I love the great classics, my favorite authors are definitely Dostoevsky, Flaubert and Yourcenair. Another source of inspiration are the songs, the phrases of a refrain, or an impact title, I often turn it into an image.

What is the proudest moment that you have achieved?

Three moments.
The first one is when i opened my showroom in Turin, perhaps even earlier, while I was furnishing it, trying to find singular objects and decors in some hidden warehouses. I felt that the birth of something beautiful was near. 
The second one is the first time that I accidentally met, in a city far away from mine, a guy that was wearing a tshirt designed by me. It was funny and exciting.
The last moment is that time that a girl came in the shop where i work, asking to get her first tattoo done from me. She was super tense and nervous, but after we finished, she pulled out a giant smile and asked me if she could hug me. It moved me.

What is the biggest obstacle that you have faced?

I don’t know if I faced real obstacles in my career. Surely I struggled to convince myself of my abilities, and to realize that drawing could become my job.

You have one day to live, how do you spend it?

Easy question 🙂 For sure i would spend it drawing, closed in a stone and wood house on the high mountains, surrounded by pine forests with an icy torrent that passes by. Nothing more.

How can people get in contact with you? 

I can be reached on instagram @sacronero or @hardtimesdesign, on facebook Marco Costantini or Hardtimes Design, visting, or via email or


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