Do you think there are good and bad tattoos, Ana Goulão?

Ana Goulão is co-owner and manager of “Estúdio Onze“, a conceptional studio, in which various artistic activities are combined: Tattoos, street art, and sustainable sculptures. Together with her partners Miguel Martins and Edgar Pacheco, she runs a studio with unique style in Faro. While the city fulfills Ana with creativity and inspiration, she finds peace living in the countryside.

How did you come to Faro?

I don’t live in Faro anymore but I did for eleven years. My heart still is in Faro although I live nearby – 20 minutes away from here. I live now in the countryside, near São Brás de Alportel . I’m from Sagres and then I came to Faro to study. Then I met Miguel, who was already a tattoo artist. We had these ideas in our heads, so we decided to open a little shop, which was already like a conceptuality. I stayed and I kept staying and staying, and now it’s my home. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I like to live here, although I don’t live in Faro City anymore, but it’s my hometown, my heart town

What did you study?

I studied pedagogy 10 years ago and I just finished my master’s in marketing management.

“So let’s work together and let’s do magic together.“

What do you like about this city?

I like the fact that it’s a small city, but you can find a little bit of everything you need. You can find nature. I can go hiking. I can go to the ocean. I can discover all the things I want in the historic center. I can go to museums. I can feel that finally, the cultural vibes are buzzing a lot. And it’s starting to be something special for a small city. And I’m proud of the way, the city is going. In the past, it was a bit different because we wanted to share this culture and this artsy vibe and it was difficult. People didn’t want to accept the cultural thing so much. But now I think we are on the right path to something beautiful and special. It’s a high-potential city. You get to know everybody because it’s a small town. So let’s work together and let’s do magic together.

It all started with a small studio.

Back in 2016, I would say. In the beginning, Miguel was the only tattoo artist. I was already learning how to manage a tattoo studio. So Miguel and I launched the project “Estúdio Onze”. Maybe, ten or eleven months later, we invited Edgar to become our partner. He started learning everything about tattooing, and then he worked with us. Many years after, we still are all three together. This is a really happy thing for me.

Three years ago you opened up a new, big studio.

We found this new location in 2019. It was super, super old school with rotten floors, a lot of molds, and a lot of bad things around. So we three made all the renovation ourselves: We bought the floor and wood to make divisions and we created an open space area. We wanted to create a conceptual tattoo studio. So now we have these three big cores on our business that are tattoo, street art, and then wood assemblage or sculptures. The studio is out of downtown. We also feel that Faro has a lot of potentials, not only focused in the downtown area. We thought this is the perfect spot because we have tons of square meters. As you can see, it’s quite big. When we wipe the floor, we feel some regrets (laughs). But it gives us the freedom to do whatever we want.

Have you already tattooed someone by yourself?

Yeah. I don’t like it at all. I don’t have the patience to tattoo somebody. I already tattooed Edgar and Miguel just for fun and it’s terrible. It was a big mistake. Do I want to repeat it? (laughs) No, but it was just for fun on a little piece of skin. So it’s not a problem.

Do you think there are good and bad tattoos?

I’m sure! (laughs) Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad tattoos around. Sometimes we feel that tattoo artists are misrepresented because there are a lot of bad tattoos in the world. And therefore we want to keep doing good art on people’s skin.

How do you react when a customer wants to have a tattoo, which you would in general advise against?

No, we say no. We say big nos a lot of the time.

“We are really lucky to open the door every single day to a different life story.“

So you have already saved a lot of lives?

I hope so. I hope people don’t go out of this door and do it somewhere else. For instance, if people are asking for this infinity sign, we try to say it’s out of stock because a lot of people do have it. And we try to create on people’s skin their own stories. We don’t have this copy-paste idea that you can see everywhere. This is our main goal in this tattoo world.

People have a bit more to gain than to lose. If they come to us and tell their stories, we can create something unique because it’s your unique story. It’s not somebody else’s story. It’s not that you just google, find a nice picture and you want to have it stamped. If that’s what you like, that’s okay. But we don’t do it. We are focused on people’s stories, and we mark people on their skins because of their stories and not because of their Google research.

Getting a tattoo is a kind of commitment. What makes people want to wear a specific image on their skin which will be there forever?

We do receive a lot of beautiful stories here. Our target is that the public is aware of what we do. People get to know that, if they come to us and tell their story, we can visualize it on their skin. I think it is something special that we are creating here.

You’re in contact with a lot of different people. What do you learn about humans during your work?

It’s quite inspirational, it’s massive, and it’s brutal. It’s about really getting to know people’s inspirations, lives, and stories about dedication, strength, losing and evaluating. We are really lucky to be in this project and to open the door every single day to different life stories.

What do you think about seeing a tattoo as a piece of art of someone, which you wear on your skin?

There are maybe three perspectives on this. There is the perspective of telling your own story and creating something unique for you. This is beautiful. And then there is something in between that is like these “copy-paste tattoos”. I don’t have to agree or disagree, but I don’t feel it. And then there’s this third perspective that you just addressed.

If you could give one piece of advice to a person who thinks about getting a tattoo, but is not sure, which advice would you give?

Don’t do it. Only do it when you are sure about it. Nowadays a lot of people have tattoos without any good reason or any good meaning. If you don’t have the meaning, you shouldn’t do it, right? If it was the time, you would be sure. If it’s not the time, you’re not sure. So you should wait.

So besides tattooing, you also do street art. What is special about street art?

We began street art in 2019. Street art is different from graffiti. Graffiti is a bit messier. People usually don’t like it so much. We started street art to show people that it’s different from graffiti and we can do beautiful things on walls. We started and we got success.

“We can create something unique because it’s your unique story. “

You try to capture the Portuguese identity and culture in your street art. What do you think is Portuguese identity or culture?

I think what’s Portuguese and what we try to put on the wall is about the old culture. Now we are living in times that are not constant but living. Developing technology is a big part of our lives. We are a bit afraid that we forget the things, we do with our own hands. For instance, to create these baskets that everybody is in love with. Almost no one knows now how to build them in the Algarve. It’s something you can do with your own hands, and technology can evolve so much, but it cannot come to the countryside and make a basket out of palm trees or leaves. It’s really special when we keep up with technology and in this concept of “movement”: to go forward and to learn something new. This is one thing, but at the same time, we should be faithful to our ancestors and these things, we do with our own hands.

There are a lot of foreigners here in Faro. How does that influence the city’s identity?

I think it was something amazing because Faro was and still is a really small town, in which everybody knows each other. And this can be a good thing, but at some point, it needs a break from everybody knowing each other. Because when everybody knows each other, you cannot go bigger than this. You already know the council. The council knows you. At that end, you cannot grow out of this. What other cultures bring here and this passion for Algarvian and Portuguese tradition is a good blend of everything.

Between street art and tattoos, you also do contemporary art. You use sustainable and recycled materials for your artwork. To put the question in one word: Why?

Miguel and I walked a lot in Gambelas and Ludo, and we started to collect a lot of wood and garbage from there. We were hiking with the dogs and gathered a lot of wood, a lot of mishmash things. Then Miguel started creating pieces out of these reclaimed woods. We saw that he could create something beautiful with his hands and simultaneously we could collect garbage from the places. It was the perfect combination between art and cleaning. For others, a rotten door would be only garbage but for us, as artists, it is an opportunity to keep the wood on this economical circle.

How do you spend your time at home?

I now have chickens and I have a garden. I love this cultural vibe that a city can give you, but I’m really in love with the countryside. I’m really lucky that I finally discovered my place to be and it’s not at the ocean. It’s in the countryside. I live in the mountains. I have my garden, my vegetables around, trees, and chicken. So I’m happy now because I have this mixture. It makes my life complete.

© Photos by Anja Kloss