I got to catch up with Elisa Marconi, one of the three artists working on our new t-shirts. Her background is in tattoo artistry and I was interested to find out more about her images, which are full of magic, symbolism and nature…
The t-shirts are really cool, how did you come up with the design?
Thank you so much!
Jon told me all about the history of Camden, you know, about the stables, and the slavery of the horses – it was quite interesting because I didn’t know that stuff. So yeah, we tried to make a design based on those past events.
I wanted to kind of mix it up with music and everything, because Camden is all about live music. I mean, I do like horror stuff, mostly, so why not do some kind of zombie horror horses, innit?!
Yeah, why not? I think it works really well for the rock crowd, if you’re gunna go to a gig, you could wear this.
Doesn’t it? You wanted to add in guitars, as well, and I love guitars. Though, I don’t know if people ever look at the t-shirt and link it to what it was in the past, because people don’t know, really…
Yeah, I don’t know if anyone’s gunna think ‘zombie horses – obviously, it’s Camden market!’
And now we’re doing the new one…
Is it with zombie horses again?
No, it’s about a woman who was the owner of this pub and she was always surrounded by drunk people, so we tried to draw about this woman but in a modern way, so we’ve got a little bit of a sexy thing, with all of these men around. I finished it last night, actually… so you’re gunna see it soon.
So if people see this stuff and they’re like ‘wtf is that?!’ you know, they don’t know about the history!
No, that’s true, but I think a cool t-shirt is a cool t-shirt. (#wisdom) So how did you get into art?
I’ve always been into art, like since I was a kid, I’ve been drawing since I was 3-years-old, literally. It was in my blood, since I was a little girl. Tattooing was the last thing I thought I was going to do in my life. I wasn’t into tattooing at all, I wasn’t into tattoos, I didn’t want any tattoos on me…
And then I started to work in this tattoo shop as a receptionist, and you know, on reception sometimes, you don’t do absolutely nothing, you just stay there, and I was waiting to answer the phone. I was sketching in the meantime and the guys were like, “Hey, you are good! D’you want to learn how to tattoo?” and I was like, “Yeah, why not?!”
So I did the apprenticeship and that’s how it started…
So you had the natural ability already and it’s almost as if fate pulled you into doing it and now you make designs for a living?
Yeah, I think clear was my path since I’ve been a kid, I knew where I had to go.
That’s awesome because some people just don’t know what they’re gunna do and they’re struggling with that…
Well look, I didn’t know where to go, either, I just knew that I loved drawing and that I wanted to be more than just a passion, but I didn’t know how to turn it into a job, because as I said, tattooing wasn’t always my thing, but, now it is!
“For my art I don’t give a shit, I just put it out there, that’s just me.”
I was wondering how you transfer your skill over to t-shirt designs, is that a similar process?
It’s very very similar, obviously you don’t have the same restriction that you have when you’re tattooing, because when you’re tattooing, you’re tattooing on skin, and you have to be careful of all of the details, because if you do something too small, you can’t do it on skin, because skin is skin (#wisdom) and with the time and with the aging, if you have too many details on a drawing and it’s too small, you’re not going to have a nice tattoo in a couple of years, but when you’re drawing on paper, you can just go mad with it! So it’s a little bit more easy from that side.
But yeah, before the tattooing, that’s what I was doing, (…) when I was 20-something I was drawing artwork for bands and designed for them, just as a hobby. I knew a lot of people into music and bands, and they were asking me all the time to make covers and all the CD and booklets, the logos as well.
How do you feel about taking inspiration from other sources?
Yeah, that’s something with tattoos as well, because sometimes you have to do things that you really don’t feel like, or it’s not really your style, but I always try to make it – to turn it into my style anyway.
I mean, it’s good for them, because for example, if you go to a few artists that, does realism, and they do realistic stuff, and you got there and like, ask for something cartooney, that guy might be like, “this is not really what I do” but not because he doesn’t want to do it, but maybe because he doesn’t have the right skills to do it, even if the customer asks for a tattoo, y’know?
That makes sense. Because you define your style, someone’s not going to come to you and ask for something completely different?
Yeah, but it still happens sometimes?
Of course. Sometimes people ask me for a sleeve that’s really colourful, and I’m like, have you seen my instagram?! I mean, that’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering lasagne…
If it’s too extreme I’ll say, “I don’t really do that” because it’s not going to work – because I’m not going to put any passion into it and they’re not going to get what they want, (…) so I refuse it sometimes. If it’s something that we can work on and tweak it a bit, then it’s absolutely fine, totally.
“I love Camden. It’s always been in my heart and it will always be.”
There’s quite a lot of nature and symbolism in your tattoo art, was that preconceived or is it a popular request?
Unfortunately, it is very popular now.
All this witchcraft is a bit too much, which pisses me off, because it’s my thing, it’s something that’s been with me for my whole life, so… it’s what I wanna do, it’s what I want to push the most – as long as there is an occult abut witchcraft, it’s just what I put the most in my work. It’s what I want to do.
And it’s obviously popular, which is good, because it’s what I want to do but still there are times when I feel like I want to do something completely different. Because everybody is doing that now!
For my art I don’t give a shit, I just put it out there, that’s just me.
You said you like guitars, is there a reason for that?!
No. I mean, I love them! I even have one here, I don’t know why, I just look at it, but I can’t play it!
I think the sound of it – it’s just the best instrument ever.
So do you go out in Camden?
Oh yeah. First of all, I love Camden. It’s always been in my heart and it will always be, even if it’s changing so much lately, it’s completely different… so it’s changed a lot but I still love it.
It’s not as rough and alternative as it was before, but still, it’s a magical place, I think it’s full of… it’s just the vibe it has, I just love it.
It’s so easy to get to gigs, to get to music, to whatever you want to do, it’s right there and coming from Italy, from a small town, going to see a gig, I have to drive fucking hours! But here it was like, ‘oh, look, we can go to another gig! It’s just freedom – Camden is freedom.
Maybe we should put that on a t-shirt?!
So what’s the best gig you’ve been to in Camden?
The last one I went to that was amazing was when I went to see Pantera (…) it was just great, and my boyfriend was playing with them, as well, so it was like wtf is going on here?!
Where can people find your designs?