The guru of tattoos at risk of eviction: “Help us find a new space”

Gianmaurizio Fercioni is the owner of the historic Queequeg tattoo studio in Brera, in Milan, and of the Museum, recognized as the father of tattooing in Italy and the first to open in 1974. Now he is launching an appeal to the mayor and the Region: “It is important preserve the cultural tradition”

Don’t just call him a tattoo artist. Gianmaurizio Fercioni is much more. The first tattoo done at the age of 15, considered a true guru at a national level, Gianmaurizio was the first to open a tattoo studio in Milan, in 1974, and is also an internationally recognized set and costume designer, one of the founders of the Teatro Franco Parenti, together with Andrée Ruth Shammah, Franco Parenti and Giovanni Testori, fifty years ago. Now that he is 76 years old, with a wife, Luisa, and a daughter, Olivia, always by his side, Gianmaurizio risks being evicted because, due to renovation works on the building in which his Queequeg Tattoo Studio and the Tattoo Museum are he founded in via Mercato, in Brera, the owner has decided after 23 years not to renew the lease expiring in March 2023.

”They’re renovating and they’re kicking out all the tenants – Fercioni says bitterly to AdnKronos – so I find myself looking for a new place. I hope to succeed because when they hear the word tattoo…it becomes a bit difficult”. The eviction, explains Gianmaurizio “is temporary, in theory, but we have to see how long the works will last”. For this he has launched a petition on which has already collected over 2,300 signatures and has asked for help from the Department of Culture and the Mayor of Milan to prevent his studio-Museum, a true wunderkammer for ink enthusiasts, from , close forever. “Although we have had the patronage of the Municipality of Milan since 2001, we launched the appeal a year ago but we have never been worthy of interest” says Gianmaurizio’s wife, Luisa Gnecchi Ruscone, tattoo historian and author of eight books on history tattoo traditions and cultures.

Something, however, begins to move. “A regional councilor came to visit us today and they gave us an appointment – explains Luisa – we will go and talk to the councillor’s office. The problem is, they don’t know what the Tattoo Museum is. We would like the Municipality or the Lombardy Region to help us find a new location where we can continue to carry out this activity. A new space, which has the same ‘soul’. Currently between the studio and the museum there are 50 square meters, we are interested in a similar space where one can tattoo, a ‘living’ space, where we can invite tattoo artists from various cultural traditions, from Polynesia, India, America and Japan”.

In their studio-museum “that everyone defines as a cave” Luisa says with a smile, next to the exhibition of drawings, tools, photos, books and videos from various parts of the world and belonging to different historical periods, there are stations where the tattoos. Many, those that Gianmaurizio boasts in his curriculum vitae: “Thirty years ago a magazine asked us how many there were and we counted 6 thousand…” he says. There are also many celebrities who have entered the studio over the years, from Eros Ramazzotti to Gabriele Salvatores via Amedeo d’Aosta, the stylist Stefano Gabbana, Nina Moric and many football players.

“I’m 70 and I’m not tattooed – remarked Luisa -. My husband, on the other hand, is covered in tattoos and was the first to open a modern tattoo studio. Let’s hope that something is moving because it’s a real pity… Anthropologists maintain that the tattoo is the first conscious object with which man differs from the animal world. It is important to preserve an ancient cultural tradition of such current interest”.