Issue #119

Paolo Caraffa

Un Uomo da marciapiede

Paolo Caraffa, AKA Paolino to everyone, was born in Milan in the 1969 day of the death, November 2nd. This could explain many things! With comics as first passion, he began drawing as a child. Allergic to school and institutions, he develops skills in graphic arts by his own self; the passion became a concrete job in 1995, when, under the directions of Danielino, teacher and mentor, he starts the never ending way of being a tattoo artist. Appreciated artist in Milan, for more than a decade he gave a big contribution to expand the art of tattoos in Italy. Since 2007 he lives and works in New York.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

New York City doesn’t give You a lot of free time! not to me anyway… I am always working or doing artwork for my next appointment; when it is possible to slow down, I try to improve my personal art, exploring new ways, let my contorted brain release myself… not easy and neither fun sometimes, but still, that is my path! I love also watching tv with Manu & Liam! (my family).

What made you leave Italy and chose NYC?

I left my country because of LOVE!! Pure and simple. True, I wasn’t happy anymore in Italy and I experienced a feeling to flight since long time already, the universe just listened to me! So here I am! of course with my love, Manu, my wife, she’s Italian… mogli e buoi dei paesi tuoi! per i buoi ci stiamo attrezzando…

Please share your best memory in the City.

Before moving to NYC for good, I spent almost 2 years traveling back and forth between Milan and the big apple; in that period I worked occasionally in a tattoo shop near my house in Queens, and I really needed working because for some reason, in one of those trips, my credit card wasn’t working. Never had problems with ATMs, besides USA, so I had $1 (yes,one!) in my pocket…great… Now, its my 37th birthday, and my co-workers are ordering food; nicely they asked me if I was hungry. I actually was starving but I didn’t know my colleagues very well, and I didn’t want to ask them for money, so I was like “oh no thanks, I had a huge breakfast, and Manu probably will coke dinner!” I remember I thought: “f@@k Man! You are 37, in a place You don’t know, You don’t even understand what people is talking about, just cutting the bridges with no clues for Your future, one dollar as friend…”. In that moment I realize how happy I was, the happiness only freedom can give You… I was free, I felt so strong and good, in that moment I realize I knew I would make it… it was an extremely cool, strong and clear feeling.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

Bricks and stones, CRASS in my bones! In my PunkRock background, a brick’s wall is the stage of a NYC life; in fact it’s recurrent in many of mine old drawings… also that is the roof above my studio… So convenient! CRASS is the first album I bought in my life…let’s say I’m romantic… t-shirt apart, that is how I dress every day.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US.

In the American’s popular imaginary, Italian’s mid-class characters are still linked to the past; to all those things made us famous in the world (pizza,mafia etc…). Although we didn’t do much to change this, part of last Italian’s generations have been produced such an example of individuality, deeply different from the stereotype which still shows us like the middle class caricature, the classic Italian funny dude… I think, I believe and I hope, that the (beautiful) work done by Our Wandael could give a contribute to describe, intimately and better, some typical aspect we may be proud of, and still unknown to the majority of American people.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

The good ambassador put the seeds. Then the world will see the plant, the flowers, the fruits. It’s to be able to merge different cultures respecting Your host and its traditions. It is being ourselves but with the awareness we are not at home. Basically, being the opposite of the Italian tourists we see on this city all year long!!!

  • Shots

    81

  • Time

    120 mins

  • City

    New York

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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US