Hernan Giamberardino - The XLarge Power of XSmall Tattoos
Miniature tattoos are becoming more and more popular every year around the world! For example, most tattoo artists from Asian countries, for example, from South Korea, are involved in the competition in this area, increasing the quality and detail of small tattoos to some incredible level.
However, we have been following this growing trend for a long time and we can confidently say that not only Asia is famous for its miniaturist tattooers.
Today, we want to introduce you to a tattoo artist from sunny Spain who creates incredible, highly detailed miniature tattoos! His work experience and artistic skills allow him to embody the most complex ideas in XS format! How he does it? Let's find out together! Please meet - Hernan Giamberardino, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
- Please, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you work now?
- Hi! My name is Hernan Giamberardino, I'm a tattoo artist and founder of Cry Baby tattoo in Palma, Spain.
I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina and moved to Spain in 2001. I lived for a couple of years in Barcelona where I was studying Fine Arts and it was also there where I had my first contact with tattooing. After that I came back to Palma and studied illustration at the Superior School of Design. I opened my own tattoo shop in Palma in 2016 where I'm currently working.
- How and when did you decide to become a tattoo artist? Who taught you? How was it?
- When I was studying in Barcelona I discovered these reality tv shows about tattooing and I got really interested in the art of it. I thought by then it was the perfect combination of art expression and the possibility of interacting with people.
I always loved making art but the process was a little lonely. When you make a painting or a drawing it's just you and the project for many hours a day. When you make a tattoo you're working with another person, they tell you their stories, you meet new people everyday and you can share experiences and moments.
I walked through my hometown trying to get some apprenticeship at tattoo shops but back then the business was very oldschool on the way of teaching, I remember one of the shops owners telling me "come back when your whole arms are tattooed". Ten years from then I still have a lot of empty space in them. I found a tattoo shop in Barcelona that offered some lessons. It was very expensive for an art student but my grandmother paid for it as a birthday gift. Who would tell that after a couple of years she would get her first tattoo by me at the age of 84.
It was a two days workshop where they would teach me the basics of tattooing, how to prepare the machines and all the sanitary precautions and on the last day I could bring a friend and they would help me get him a tattoo. It was very exciting, I fell in love with tattooing since minute one. After that I practiced with my friends at home and I got some clients that would help me buy more tattoo supplies.
My first "real" job as a tattoo artist was actually in a nightclub. It was really cool, you would get inside of the nightclub and there would be some glass windows on the dance floor and we would be there tattooing, it kinda felt like being a rockstar, everybody would come to see what we were doing. The music was loud, clients were crazy and I got in a couple of months experience that would take years in a regular tattoo shop. Then I worked for the same company at their shop in downtown Palma for 3 years until I decided to open my own tattoo shop.
- What does the word "tattoo" mean to you?
- For me it means opportunity, it's more than an art form, it gives you the chance to have an amazing good life, working on something you feel passionate about.
I'm still shocked about the power a tattoo can have on people, it can give them the strength to keep going after a bad situation, it can make you feel part of a certain culture. It can raise your self esteem , it can show the love you feel for other people or even your pets. Or simply customize your body and turn it into a piece of art.
- Let’s talk about your work. Why miniature? How did you come to this tattoo style?
- It kinda just happened, I got some small tattoos inquiries and I realized I enjoyed doing them way more than big tattoos. One of the first ones I did on myself, I wanted to try how much detail you could put on a rose tattoo the size of a coin. Fine line wasn't even a thing back then, I remember I had to customize my needles because suppliers would have single needles.
Social media really helped develop my style, I would upload only the kind of tattoos I would want clients to ask me about. I was the only one on the island doing very detailed small tattoos back then and got a really good acceptance by the public. One of the main reasons I opened my own tattoo shop was because I wanted to be able to choose what tattoos I wanted to do and which ones I didn't.
- Is it hard to work with xsmall size? What features of your work would you highlight?
- It's very hard, I still get very nervous sometimes. There's no space for mistakes in xsmall tattoos, one dot out of place and the whole tattoo can be ruined. The stencils can't be very complex either because on a small scale all the lines come together so you have to learn how to simplify and trust your drawing skills to do the rest.
I think my best features are the amount of detail I can fit in such small tattoos, the clean look and smooth shading textures. I don't stick to the conventional use of the machines. Sometimes I use magnum needles to trace very thin lines or get dots textures. Sometimes I shade with liners on a low power setting to get dotted lines. I love trying new ways to get different outcomes and keep it fun for me.
- What equipment do you use in your work?
- I worked for many years with Inkjecta flite nano, and now I moved to cheyenne hawk thunder. I like machines that would allow me to do everything, lines, shading and color without having to switch to one another. I like machines that are not too heavy and always rotary machines. I prefer rotary over traditional because of the noise. Not just for me but also for my clients, i think the more silent the machine the more comfortable my clients feel.
I work very intuitively with my power supply, it's a Critical Atom, it has no numbers it just changes colors. Sometimes people ask me what voltage I use for my machines, I just don't know... I hear and feel the machine and change it depending on the skin of my client or the design I'm making.
In my work table you will only see 3 cups when I'm tattooing in black and grey. One for Black ink, one for a clear mixer and one for white ink. I shade on the skin directly. Most of the times I only use the black ink and go softer or deeper to get different shades. I try to avoid using white as much as possible. I only use it to highlight maybe a spark on the eyes or outline the tattoo to give it a "sticker" look.
For needles I use Single needles and 3rl 0,25 long tape, magnum 7 and 9. I tried different brands, for single needles I use kwadron 1rl-025 (the pink cartridges) and the rest I'm always testing new ones. I used to do my designs on photoshop and Illustrator with a wacom tablet but a couple of years ago switched to Ipad. Now i design everything on procreate. It just makes my life easier.
- Where do you get inspiration?
- Everywhere, I'm constantly browsing and saving illustrations, paintings, photographs... I love traveling and getting inspiration from different cultures, it could be the wallpaper of a castle in France, flowers or plants from some tropical vacation or even colors or shapes from landscapes. I try to be very respectful with those cultures, if a client ask me for a design i try to do as much research on what meaning that design can involve and make sure the clients is not getting it just because is trendy. I love antiques and vintage, and I try to make my tattoos timeless.
- How do you transform a client's ideas into a tattoo?
- I always design the same day I'm gonna do the tattoo with my client by my side. I used to design in advance but they would always change their mind once they came to the shop and then had to design something entirely different. Sometimes they would ask me for a butterfly and I would design it as they asked me and then when they came to get a tattoo they would ask me for a spaceship. So over time I found more time saving for me to just design when they come to get it. Also it gives me the freedom to not be working outside of the time I spend with my client.
I take appointments only trough Instagram, so first thing I ask them to tell me about their idea and send me some reference pictures to calculate how much time i will need for that piece. I'm very good at reading people, when they come to the shop I analyze their body language, try to figure out if I'm working with a shy person or someone more outgoing, see the way they dress to figure if they would go for a design more risky or something more classy.
Then we sit down, have a little talk about their ideas, sometimes if I need more information I would ask for the reason they're getting the tattoo. I try to gather together as much information about that person as I can so I can personalize the design better.
I make them part of the designing process, they're by my side all the time, I make sure to ask their opinion and make them feel comfortable to tell me if there's something they don't like or they would change.
Most of my clients always thank me for making them part of that process. Communication with clients is key to make sure they will love the tattoo once it's done and in the future. If I see my client having doubts on the reason why they're getting a specific design I send them home to think a little longer or go for something else they feel more secure. At the end of the day I prefer to lose an appointment than having a client regretting a tattoo.
- Who are your clients? Can you highlight something in common among them?
- Most of my clients are women. between 20-35 years old. I think because of my style that is very delicate I attract more that audience. And I must say I love working with them. I'm very happy with the kind of clients I have.
99% of my clients are local people even though I work in a very touristic area. I make sure to prioritize clients that can potentially come back, so you can get a closer relationship with them, follow up the process, if they need a touch up on their tattoos in the future and of course cause they're the ones that will still be in the area when the tourists are gone.
- Do you travel a lot? How many countries have you visited? Where do you like to work much more? Is there a difference between people in different countries?
- I do travel a lot, I live on an island so every time I get the chance I take a little holiday. I usually work a lot when I'm in my hometown so whenever I travel I prefer to disconnect from working. I really enjoy traveling because as an artist I get inspiration from my environment and there's no better way to rejuvenate my work than visiting another place.
I tattooed people from many different countries and usually there's not much difference. They always ask me for my style of tattoos, the only thing that might change a little bit is the themes, people tend to choose designs that are related to where they live or where they come from.
- What about tattoo conventions? Do you participate in them? Please share your experience with us.
- I'm so very excited to be attending my first tattoo convention this October in Barcelona. I have actually never been to a tattoo convention before, I know it's very popular amongst the tattoo community but for the last 10 years of my career I've enjoyed focusing on crafting my art in a way that resonates with me. I think tattoo conventions are a great place to connect with the larger community, be inspired by other people's work, and show your own.
- Do you have any real idols among tattoo artists?
- I have some tattoo artists that I really like from Spain like Nacho Serrano (nachocaja), Andrea Morales, Nacho Frias...
What I'm really fascinated about is this new trend of Korean artists that blows my mind. I look at these super realistic tiny tattoos and it makes me wonder how they do it. They look almost unreal, the amount of detail and how clean they look is amazing. Some examples would be: @ziho_gallery, @juun_tattoo, @eunb.tt
- What future for the global tattoo industry do you see in the next few years?
- The global tattoo industry changed so much in the last few years that it is hard to ignore. The way we can use social networks to launch our career is amazing. Right now clients have a larger panorama from where to choose and the exposure to so many styles and ideas made them more demanding. I think it will only keep growing.
There's still some stigma to the industry that needs to change, some clients tell me they would love to get more tattoos in visible places but their jobs won't allow them. It is slowly changing and I hope in the upcoming years that won't be a problem anymore.
It will for sure become more competitive and I believe that in the future it won't be enough to just be a good tattoo artist in order to be successful, you will have to keep updated to new platforms and have social media marketing skills.
- What about your life besides tattoos? What do you do in your free time?
- I try to keep it balanced between training, working and social life. Tattooing is very demanding for the mind, you have to be focused for several hours so it's very important for me to find those moments to relax.
Whenever I'm not working I try to spend some time with my friends and family. I'm always up to something and love trying new things. I'm teaching myself how to make clothes right now and would love to launch a fashion line someday.
Here in Mallorca summer is amazing, we have the most beautiful beaches and many outdoor activities, my favorite is skating on the bulevar by the sunset. Winter is more chill so I slow down a bit to keep updated to my favorite tv shows.
- Are you preparing for some personal activities in the near future? Maybe an exhibition or something else?
- I'm actually opening my second tattoo shop very soon, I'm very excited. I will have more artists working with me. I love doing special events such as "flash days" or contests and with the new shop is gonna be even more fun. I'm also working on a book to share my experience with other artists and people that love tattoos.
- What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 5 years?
- I would tell myself to take dance lessons because I will need them for tiktok.