Milena Fusco Talks Machine Collecting, Japanese-Style Tattoos, and Her Sacred Tattooer Moments...
Point to Point takes you behind the needle to share the personal journeys of tattoo artists like you. Drawing inspiration, spreading respect and love… This time we’re talking with Ottawa-based tattooer Milena Fusco.
PC: Well, well, look who’s here, the ever-joyful Milena! I wish this could be a live interview, I’d love to share the enthusiasm you usually have on a daily basis, lol! 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’m your typical working-class tattooer. My days are filled with coffee and tattooing! I’m 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 waayyy too easygoing, lol, 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, it 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 fine line 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 - lol! What would be your top three collectible coil machines?
MF: Lol! 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, lol. 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 five years of making needles and running shops, I earned my apprenticeship. I feel special to come from this lineage. In thirty-eight years the shop has had three apprentices and I was the last one fourteen years ago, under the guidance of Dan Allaston.
PC: One last one here Milena, tell us where we can we see you and get tattooed by you this year?
MF: My home is New Moon Tattoo West in Ottawa, Ontario. I’ll 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