Legacy of Darkness - A book for the art of Welt

Books & Publications - Issue 26

Welt is an authentic personality in the tattoo world. He is a fan of the arts and metal music, while he has been working as a tattoo artist for over twenty years. He has never stopped being active creating, and also supporting the underground scene. Having met Welt and visited his "sanctuary" Yama Tattoo, in Rome, I consider that "Legacy of Darkness" reflects deservedly his charismatic nature.

Welt interviewed by Ino Mei.  

Is this your first book?

It is the first one dedicated solely to me and my art; tattoos, paintings, and artworks. This book idea came from the publisher, “Shatter Agency”, and I am glad that it happened for real. 
Aside from making this artbook, I have taken part in various other book projects, for some of which I have created the main concept, such as “Children of the Grave”; a tattoo artists’ collective that is connected to the metal scene, including Tas, me, Delalande, Tim Lehi, Jondix, Whitehead and others. 

Another cool book is “Unfathom”; a painters’ collective that is dedicated to the arts that are related to metal music, including Dave Patchett, Tim Grieco, T.Ketola, me, Paolo Girardi and others. Furthermore, I have participated in some other books about art exhibitions like “Origin of Fire”, “Ink of Ages” among others.

What will we come across while reading “Legacy of Darkness”? 

“Legacy of Darkness” is a book full of a selection of images, photos and art from the 90s up to today. It is in Italian and English, with a lot of quotes by many artists that work with different media, such as Alex Binnie, Luke Atkinson, Jannicke Wiese, Jondix - among others - from the tattoo scene, as well as members from Incantation, Reverend Bizarre, At the Gates, Goblin, Obituary, Venom Inc, Sunn o))), Nocturnus ad, OG and others from the metal music scene, along with artists from the Horror movie scene. All their comments about my creations make me really happy and proud!

The last part of the book is kind of a biography/interview made by the editor, where we talked about all my influences in art, and the numerous collaborations I’ve had to this day, in the world of tattooing, art, music and cinema.

"John Carpenter", ink on paper, private Carpenter's collection.

When and how did you first get into tattoo and tattooing? 

It was a long time ago… In the mid 90s I went to a tattoo convention and had my first tattoos done. Some years later, towards the end of the 90s, I started trying to become a tattoo artist. I opened my tattoo shop “Yama Tattoo” in Rome, twelve years ago - I am vintage (laughs)!

How would you define your tattoo style? 

I much prefer black & grey. My style is a mix of medieval woodcut reference, dark/horror design, ancient decorations, symbols and iconography from the forgotten past. Solid lines and contrast - I just love it.

Do you “detest” then colour tattoos? 

No, I like many different styles in tattoos, and I do like to use colours but only for the Japanese and oriental pieces.

Welt's art used for RockHard Festival posters and t-shirts. 

How has music influenced your tattoo work and heavy metal in particular?

I have been listening to heavy metal since 1987. It is a part of me. Metal music will always walk with me in this life! Of course, my art has been influenced by metal, and different genres within it affect my artistic vision in different ways. For instance, death, black, and doom metal drive me into the dark/mystical design, as well as horror and sci-fi movie soundtracks - I have loved this genre of films for a long time, whereas classic heavy metal or heavy 70s music guide me more into heroic/fantasy visions. 

Music or tattoo?

Ah! Impossible. Both!

What inspires you when it comes to drawing and tattooing? 

It is just pure instinct mixed with my personal art research from all my life. I believe that it is important to give freedom to the spontaneous imagination. Of course, the technique must evolve but it should remain within the reach of the imagination.

You are based in Rome, how does a city as ancient and historical as Rome impact your work? 

There is definitely a great impact. Rome is beautiful. I love the secret atmosphere of this city, and the ancient places nearby. These romantic views provide me with a lot of inspiration. Naturally, living in Rome can be difficult sometimes due to the more “classic” and conservative mentality, with my personal interests differing a lot, and appear to be more developed in the UK and USA. But at the end of the day, in any place around the world there are both pros and cons. 

"Joan of Arc", ink on paper.

How do you see the international and the Italian tattoo scene of today?

Right now, I don’t see a cool global tattoo scene. There is too much trendy, fashion, and poser attitude from tattooists as well as customers. Luckily not from all of them, but they are definitely many. Of course, the tattoo scene still has a serious crowd of tattoo artists and tattoo collectors. But it is for sure smaller than before. We probably lost some of the “magic” of tattoo in this super-fast “virtual” generation… As far as Italy is concerned, it is pretty much the same. For me it is important to always work with tattoos and tattooing. I love my job.

In your opinion is there still an “underground” aspect of tattoo? 

Yes, a small and selective part of this scene acts with a true underground mentality and with cool underground events such as exhibitions, music, artworks, fanzines, collaborations, etc. We may not be too many, but surely, we are strong!

You have been around for quite some time now; do you feel that your work has been recognized in the tattoo community? 

It appears so, yes, and actually from many awesome tattoo artists, which is a great honour for me. People outside Italy have known me for almost twenty years now. I have given interviews to international tattoo and metal magazines, and I have also travelled a lot as a visitor or supporter to various tattoo expos, events and shops - both as a tattoo collector and a guest tattoo artist. I have gained respect as an artist as well as a person, and this makes me happy, and offers me the chance to compare myself to other great artists in the art world. It also pushes me to evolve more.


Apart from tattooing, is there any other medium that you use in order to create? 

Yes, from drawing and painting to playing music and creating art for bands.

"Eclipse"", detail, acrylic on wood.

Tattoo pioneer Alex Binnie, refers to how committed you have always been to tattoo, and that you are the Italian master of horror/metal/dark theme sub-genre within tattooing. Terry Butler of Obituary mentions that he is blown away by your free hand tattoos, and Tony Dolan of Venom Inc. talks about the Italian brother he is proud to have. How do you feel about these great man talking about you in that manner?

This is truly amazing! These people rule. Alex Binnie is a true mentor in art. I have been following his work since the 90s, as I have been into the Leu Family’s exquisite work. Venom are pioneers of extreme metal. Obituary too. So it is a great feeling, which motivates me to create even harder and to set up new goals. I have only recently realized that I made an artwork for Slayer last summer… This is crazy, as I have loved this band since I was a kid. Plus, they treated me with so much respect. I truly hope that in the near future a similar opportunity may come up, because I never get tired of producing art.

Art for Slayer's final 2019 tour passes. 

Kerry King & Welt. 

What kind of events do you organize and host in your tattoo studio in Rome? 

At “Yama Tattoo” I have hosted art exhibitions as well as various meet & greets with metal musicians from Nifelheim, Satyricon, Pestilence, Lamb if God, Morbid, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin and others. There were also some unplugged shows from members of Necros Christos, Arktau Eos, and Saturnalia Temple, and also Halloween happenings with horror movie characters during the “Halloween tattoo walk in day”. 

So many cultural things have been happening in the shop and new are coming soon! 

Several cool artists have walked in my tattoo shop, and I have very nice memories. But above all, the shop stands for tattooing, where me and my team - Silvia Akuma, V. Scissor, and T. Ketola - are based, along with various guest tattoo artists such as Tas, T. Jarva, Xcjx, Capra, Horizakura and others. 

There are also bigger events that I organize, like concerts and exhibitions, that need to be hosted in larger spaces. Furthermore, Yama Tattoo is a sponsor to a lot of events. So I don't think that I will ever be bored with organizing situations that are connected to the tattoo studio. I love the exchange of energy that takes place between artists. It is like an epic drug!

Girlschool with Welt at Yama Tattoo.

Art for Claudio Simonetti's Goblin, used for band merchandise.

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