Each week our intrepid artist liaison and generally jovial Eikon staffer Patrick Coste sits down with a tattoo artist to get to know them a little better. This week, he's catching up with Milena Fusco.
She loves tattoo history. She looks like an ever-smooth girl but be assured she can jam up a traditional Japanese tattoo like no other, and she's been at it for a while - Patrick Coste
Name: Milena Fusco
Year tattooing: 14 years
Years actually good at it? I was always taught you are only as good as your last tattoo!
Place of business: @New Moon West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
PC: Well, well, look who’s here, the ever joyful Milena! I wish this could be a live interview, I would love to share the enthusiasm you usually have on a daily basis ahah!! How've you been? What are you up to these days?
MF: Salut Monsieur Coste! I’ve been well. Life has been busy but always in a good way. I am your typical working class tattooer. My days are filled with coffee and tattooing! I am a restless person and always need to produce no matter how I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life: it’s what pushes me to be better. Mostly all I do is draw and tattoo and get ready to draw and tattoo! We run a pretty tight ship at the shop and it’s always finding ways to improve and stay ahead that I find truly inspiring. Every project is an opportunity to do something bigger, better, faster, stronger.
PC: You always seem nonchalant, always happy and wayyy too easy going haha, then BAM! you throw a left hook with a traditional Japanese tattoo like there's no tomorrow! I'm not kidding, I remember seeing you and I didn't know who you were, and then your tattoos spoke for themselves!!!
MF: Thank you for that; means a lot! It feels like I’m doing something right. I really love tough tattoos. Early on, I was surrounded by amazing traditional Japanese and fineline tattooers. The benefit of working at such an old established shop is I got to watch, learn and travel with so many amazing artists over the years, and learn a little bit more every day.
PC: Tell me, have you always been a fan of tattoo history? What would be the ultimate moment that you'd say was THE Milena tattooing moment??
MF: That’s a hard one! Working at New Moon you have to be passionate about tattoo history. Anyone who knows me knows that tattooing is my religion and I do my best to collect as many relics as I can wherever I can. I also feel like I have had the privilege of having lived those sacred tattooer moments: midnight tattoos by Freddy Negrete on sunset strip; Amsterdam red light district tattoos with Bill Loika; 3 am tattoos with Jack Rudy, I could go on. I was always encouraged to collect from the heroes of tattooing. But on my bucket list at the moment would be a Coptic tattoo from Razzouk tattoo. I think that would be the holy grail of tattoo history for me.
PC: Speaking of history/collections, would you mind sharing a few of the coils in your collection? Yeah, yeah... I know you've got some - hahah! What would be your top 3 collectible coil machines?
MF: Haha! I do have a few! Since this is a special occasion I figured I would dig into the New Moon vault and pick out a couple of pretty girls for people to enjoy (all with permission from my mentor Dan Allaston)
PC: Holy crap! So Sexy! Thank you so much for sharing those! - WOW! Here's the question where the answer always makes me smile. You obviously have the respect of your peers, your tattoos are speaking for themselves, I see that you are Jack Rudy's best friend hahaha. Tell me how did you end up tattooing?
MF: I had a bit of a travelling childhood growing up and was always drawing. Since I was little, I was obsessed with tattooing thanks to my older brother’s punk rock influences. Started getting tattooed at 14, tried for apprenticeships by the time I was 17: obviously no one wanted me. Ended up going to college, became a government illustrator/designer. At 21, I took a chance and by luck, got a job at New Moon Tattoo as a counter girl in 2001. Back then there was certainly no room for apprenticeships and hardly any women working in tattooing where I was. Finally, after 5 years of making needles and running shops, I earned my apprenticeship. I feel special to come from this lineage. In 38 years, the shop has had three apprentices and I was the last one 14 years ago under the guidance of Dan Allaston.
PC: One last one here Milena, tell us where we can we see and get tattooed by you this year?
MF: My home is New Moon Tattoo West in Ottawa, Canada. I will also be heading to these conventions in 2020: Toronto NIX (June), St. John’s NFLD (July), Winnipeg (August), Montréal (September) Québec City (Autumn) and Calgary (October).
PC: Milena it was a pleasure. Please say 'Hi' to Dan and see you on the road! I want those hugs!
MF: Merci beaucoup pour l’opportunité: it’s always lovely chatting with you! I will pass on your hellos! À plus tard!
Follow Milena on Instagram: @milenatattooer