These Two Architects Have Added Tattoo Design To Their Repetoire

Architect firm founders, Alessandro and Isabel, met during an architecture workshop in Cartagena, Colombia. Isabel was a keen tattooist, having started using just a stick to tattoo her friends at school, and over time Alessandro found her own relationship with the art form too.


Though the pair initially collaborated on their architecture studio, Lanza Atelier, once the business was established and stable they decided to take on their next challenge: turning their hobby into part of their career. They now have hundreds of intricate tattoo designs with their studio, Ttoo ttoo, and have garnered a large Instagram following.


Their tattoos span animals, geometric shapes, symbols and basically, anything you can think of, including a metal saw. Quirky, cool, simple and meticulously detailed. We spoke to one half of the architect turned tattooist team, Alessandro Arienzo, about how the two work in tandom.


The Plus: What are the similarities between architecture and tattoo design for you?
Alessandro Arienzo:
It is actually pretty much the same process. Redrawing basically is the most similar thing between both. We understand tattooing in the same way we understanding designing a space. It’s nice to have a oneday project between the long term process that architecture requires.
Isabel Martínez Abascal: What strike us also is the translating process in between the two dimension and three dimension world. A drawing is not the same when it is flat than when it gains volume. This process happens both for tattoo and architecture.


TP: What is the creative process when designing a tattoo?
We have a lot of references around us. The images are there, so basically we use what already exists – we hardly ever invent anything. The dialogue with the client in tattooing is very similar with the relationship with architecture clients.


TP: There seems to be a theme of geometric shapes and nature running through your designs – why? and what inspires your tattoos the most?
We love to tattoo images of nature, and geometry and whatever has a strong identity within a simple drawing. We don’t think we have a preference for any theme, apart from ‘hands’ maybe.
IMA: ​Yes, we do love doing hands, animals and plants, all of theme have movement and are able to adapt them very well to human bodies. But actually, any tattoo can be a nice challenge.


TP: Has tattoo design helped or inspired your architecture at all?
Tattooing has helped us to draw with the same responsibility in our architecture projects. Drawings are the main product we produce in both businesses.
IMA: ​Also tattoo has connected us with people that after can become architecture clients, and also the other way around. This is very surprising and nice.

TP: Do you design tattoos with specific people in mind?
Not really, I think we focused more on the idea of the drawing but we always work with the client.


TP: Do you have any tattoos yourself? What and where are they?
Yes, I have 17 and Isabel has 4. There are a lot of emotions connected to every mark we have on our skin. I have a trapeze artist spinning around in my arm, a Roman sculpture of a man suffering a little bit, an avocado, a flamingo, a piece of wood in the shape of a cone, a sexy lady to name a few. All my tattoos are in blue ink. Isabel has a beautiful fox pn her chest with red ink.
IMA: ​We enjoy somehow this fact of having just blue (Alessandro) or just red tattoos in my case. We have internalized the tattoo concept and work with it on our own bodies in a personal way, following certain principles. The same happens with our architecture,


TP: Why do you think tattoos are so popular?
It’s a beautiful thing to be part of something so personal. It also gives you a little bit of rush. It is very cool to have drawings in you.
IMA: ​They make it possible to participate of the image that your body projects, to co-produce your own body. Through working over your body to reach your mind and also mingle with it. They can vary from flexing points to help change things in your life to passage-rituals or reminders of fundamental staff.

TP: Which is your favourite tattoo design and why?
Once I had to tattoo a 3 year old kid drawing on her mothers body and it was so interesting to redraw that sketch.. It was a fox cowboy with boots riding a horse .
IMA: ​I usually love designs that are tattooed in different parts of the body that together form a single drawing. I also loved groups of tattoos when they harmonized very well all together, like Alessandro’s.