Sam Fiorino is a tattoo artist, working out of NiteOwl Tattoo in Northampton Mass. His new school caricatures blend nature themes with a human feel. He's an innovator in that style, and in high demand. Book him at a convention near you as he travels all around the country slinging ink. We know you'll enjoy this edition of 9.5 Questions.
1 - What is your background in art? Formal training? Sketching in the back of math class? How did you get the art bug?
My brother used to draw comics of ninjas and a hippy character he made up named Henry Teco. I always wanted to be exactly like my brother so I just started drawing a bunch. We got really into comic books and just constantly tried to out draw each other. He was so much better than me! I took a few art classes in high school but pretty much am self taught. Especially with paint...
2 - Your new school work is masterful....what drew you to this style?
When I got back into art after a long hiatus I wanted to be a neotrad tattooer. I wasn't any good at it! Everything I drew was sad and cartoonish. So I just embraced it! It suits my personality better! I still try to incorporate a little neotrad if I can. Simple backgrounds and compositions that stand alone... But mostly just really enjoy the depth and how dynamic new school tattooers are getting!
3 - Living artists you're really digging right now?
Oh man! So many! Non tattooers mostly. Brian Despain and John John Jesse. Amber Carr! Those guys make me feel so many emotions! Just from paintings!! As far as tattooers, art wise, Tim Biedron is always going to be my favorite. Of course Kelly Doty! Curtis Burgess is one of my favorites, and he's a really solid dude. Anytime I hang with him it makes me want to be a better person.
4 - You're kidnapped by the mob for accidentally misspelling a word on a tattoo of a 'boss'. They're not going to kill you, but you're locked in a basement for the rest of your life. They let you take three albums with you....which three do you choose?
Man! These questions are so hard! That changes from week to week! Right now: The Essential Bruce Springsteen. Anyone who has been to Niteowl can tell you that one. Tiger Army, the power of moonlight, and maybe Every Time I Die, from parts unknown ( or hot damn).
5 - As a kid: Favorite toy, favorite cereal, favorite cartoon?
Growing up dirt poor in Louisiana, one year dad bought me a Voltron. The metal one. Not the shitty plastic one that came apart. That was pretty special 'cause we didn't have much'. I've always loved fruity or cocoa pebbles. Still do! I was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when they first came out and would draw them all day! Was pretty into Robotech as well....
6 - These are the three candidates for President - Axl Rose, Miley Cyrus, Jean Claude Van Damme... who do you vote for?
Well I guess Van Damme since he's European and probably has his shit together...we would probably get to see him do a split at the inauguration. But he wouldn't be a valid candidate since you have to be born in the states, right?
7 - Many of your tattoos revolve around nature/animal themes as well as some of your wood block art....any reason this type of imagery is so prevelant in your art?
I love animals! Watching them, drawing them. They are so genuine. They do what they want and it's awesome! So it's funny to put them in human situations especially cause if you put a mesh hat on a fish it probably wouldn't be too stoked about it. But it'd be hilarious! Honestly it started 'cause I used to draw chickens a lot'.
8 - If you could tattoo any celebrity, who would you tattoo....any particular piece you'd like to tattoo on them?
Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood. Cause it would be so funny to see these super tough dudes with cute, sad bunnies tattooed on them! Maybe Kirsten Dunst... I've got a soft spot in my heart for her...those fucked up teeth!!!!
9 - Legend you'd most like to be true - Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Alien Abductions (probing).
Since aliens are real, I would say Bigfoot. There's something really romantic about a big man-ape wandering the woods all by himself. He's probably a real nice guy.
9.5 - (fill in the blank) If I wasn't a tattoo artist, I would be a ___________ .
Answer - Park Ranger.... Scratch that! Hobo!!!!
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All pictures used in this blog belong to Sam Fiorino and Niteowl Tattoo.