Meet Neto Coutinho - a Brazilian tattoo artist whose talent and passion for art have propelled him to the summits of the tattoo industry. Over the course of six years, he has become a recognized master of black and grey realistic tattooing, distinguished not only by his unique style but also by his remarkable dedication to perfection. In this interview, Neto shares his experience, talks about his journey in the world of tattooing, how he found his style, his achievements, and dreams. Let's delve into the story of his success and uncover what lies behind his impressive works.

Neto, hi! Let's start with a little introduction. Tell us a bit about yourself. How and when did you get into tattooing?

- I've been a tattoo artist for six years. I always liked drawing. I started caricature from 2012 until 2018 when I decided to completely change the focus of my career, migrating from caricature to tattooing. In search of a little more knowledge, recognition, and artistic evolution.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

Do you remember your first tattoo and how you felt after the session? 

- I do remember! I actually have this tattoo saved in my feed to this day. In fact, all the tattoos I've done to date are on my Instagram timeline as a way of showing all my evolution over the six years I've been a professional tattoo artist. And the feeling of tattooing on human skin for the first time was very different because I had no experience with tattooing. I had done some studies on synthetic leather, but that alone was not enough. Even so, I decided to do the first one.

I was in a cold sweat, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish, wondering if I would ever really be a professional. And that was very difficult, but when I presented the result to the client, she liked it! He hugged me and said it was great. This for me was the fuel in search of evolution. I immediately thought: Imagine when I do quality work what people's reactions will be like. And that's what made me want to evolve and become a good tattoo artist.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

When did you realize that realism was your style? 

- From a very early age, when I started drawing. I have always been fascinated by the human face or animals. And whenever I tried to reproduce it in my drawings, I sought as much realism as possible for my work. So, when I started tattooing, I already had in mind that this would be the style I would follow.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

Do you have formal art education? Is it possible to pursue realistic tattooing without an academic background? 

- I never studied art academically. I always learned on my own or by watching videos, comic books, and close friends who already drew. I learned informally. I always wanted to go to art college, but I never had the financial means or enough time to do it. I had to learn everything about the race. In my point of view, I don't think that academic study is necessary, or that you have to have some training to be a great artist or a good tattoo artist. I believe that with dedication, you can achieve your goals.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

Your work seems to scream that it's made by you. How do you manage to create such "soft" and standout tattoos? Share your secret? 

- In fact, the secret is that there is no secret. I just do the basics very well. Today, I use the pendulum technique for all my shadows. But I do it slowly and with a lot of focus, dedicating myself to each pass so that I have the most uniform result possible, valuing all the contrasts and volumes to bring maximum realism to my tattoos.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

You often work in black and grey rather than color. Why does black and grey tattooing attract you more? 

- The black and gray tattoo always attracted me because of the way it healed and because I felt safer applying it. So, I decided to stick with conventional black and gray for all this time. But now I have introduced a little color to my work to develop my own signature style.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

Let's talk about tattooing in Brazil. What style do you think is most popular among Brazilians? 

- Without a doubt, black and gray is a tattoo style most often done by Brazilians. Over the years, it has experienced enormous growth, further spreading the black and gray culture in my country. And I'm very happy to have developed this technique and to be recognized nationally and even internationally for my works in black and gray. And most importantly, I have been able to pass on my black and gray realism techniques to many people through workshops and mentoring for other tattoo artists.

How do you assess your popularity in Brazil and worldwide?

- I see my popularity growing a lot after my development in the flat shadow technique, which won me some awards in Brazil and took me to participate in a convention in Germany, where many tattoo artists were surprised by this technique. Since then I have been in great demand to give seminars, workshops, mentoring and fill my schedule. This recognition is very important for me to continue following my path in search of evolution.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

You recently opened a new studio. Tell us about this project. How long did it take you to reach this goal? 

- Yes, recently, my partner and I opened a new unit in São Bernardo do Campo - SP. A large studio, with capacity for eight tattoo artists. Our structure has three floors, a great reception, a good team that works together with us. Today, we have five resident artists of the highest quality, some of them award-winning. It makes me very happy. I feel that we are on the right path, fulfilling a dream of having a studio with all this structure and organization to receive, perhaps in the future, international artists to guest.

Arkad Tattoo Studio São Bernardo do Campo - SP

The idea of a bigger studio was always a dream. And in recent years, we felt that our space was cramped and uncomfortable for customers. So we met a few times, came up with some ideas of what was needed to have in a new unit and got this idea off the ground. Together, we managed to build a great, luxurious space. All customers are impressed when they see what we build. This fills us with pride and is priceless. It was an achievement that we got off the ground and we are very happy with the result.

In addition, you are a member of several famous brands. What does this collaboration give you? 

- As an artist, I am happy to be sponsored and recognized by brands like Eztatooing, Grupo Amazon, and Forceink. It is very important for my development to know that I can count on them at any time. Providing products of the highest quality and safety, promoting my work and with that, also growing in the tattoo industry.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

And of course, we can't miss asking about conventions. Share your experience. What do you think changes in a tattoo artist's life when they receive their first award? And how was it for you? 

- It was very important. From the moment I started winning my awards, I saw my career advance even further. Not only for recognition, but for artistic development. I became better known and respected in the artistic tattoo world. My first award made me very euphoric and happy, but without a doubt, the award that made me most happy was Tattoo Week 2022. I won two awards at the biggest convention in Latin America and perhaps one of the biggest in the world. I was very happy and had a significant change in my career.

Tattoo artist Neto Coutinho

Many aspiring tattoo artists consider you their idol. What would you say to them, or what advice would you give to those who want to follow in your footsteps? 

- I feel very honored to be an inspiration and reference for new tattoo artists and even those older than me. What I built in six years is the result of a lot of effort, a lot of study, and dedication. If I could give someone advice today, it would be: Believe in yourself, follow your dreams, dedicate yourself, and have a lot of responsibility. Because everything you do at a given moment can serve as an example for someone. Take the path of good. Respecting the profession, clients, and above all art. I believe that this makes a total difference in the life of any tattoo artist.