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Diego Omega: ‘A lot of my life I dedicate to listening to the stories of those who give a bit of skin to me’

Diego Omega, tattooist and artist talks about his inspiration, techniques and story, expanding on how he uses Affinity Designer to aid his design process.
Who is Diego Omega?

I’m Diego Omega, creative talent, illustrator, tattoo artist and young entrepreneur from Northern Italy.

Since childhood, I have dedicated myself to the hobby of illustration. I preferred it to any other recreational or athletic activity, and I often combined it with my passion for music.

After graduating from school, I continued with artistic studies. I learned a lot, including digital graphics, copy-writing, art history, technical drawing and design, but, because of my age, I took my studies a bit too lightly.

Thanks to that choice, however, I continued in in the creative sphere and I am happy not to have lost the habit of putting my thoughts on paper in the form of drawings. At that time, I also played with musical instruments, audio systems and DJ consoles, developing a good basis in that area, too.

In 2009, my passion for music gave me the opportunity to leave for an island in the Dodecanese, Kos, and work as a sound engineer in theatres and villages by day, while at night I worked in the island’s discos as a DJ.

That little island made me find what is to this day my first passion, the world of tattoos. I learned those artistic techniques initially with the sole purpose of being able to tattoo myself with whatever I wanted, but above all, how I wanted it.

Today, almost ten years later, I can confirm that the art of tattooing has become an integral part of my being, my greatest passion, what I am and what I hope I will be for a long time.

How did you discover Affinity apps?

I discovered Affinity apps by pure chance. Given my educational background, I’ve always used graphics and drawing software.

In late 2017, I decided to update my tools and buy a drawing tablet to devote myself fully to on-screen design. I had already started to work on my “pure line subjects” on paper. I knew that, if I worked them digitally, I could raise the quality of my creations.

The software I was used to did not satisfy me, so I started looking for an alternative app and I discovered Affinity. It is today the basis of all my creations and of every workday. It was perfect because it was the only one that collected in a single program all the features I needed.

Before, I always had to be satisfied with having one at the expense of something else. It is also very light and therefore does not create slowdowns to the computer RAM despite performing perfectly any task. This is very important.

Fluidity, simplicity and efficiency in the same product. Fantastic!

What is your process for designing tattoos in Affinity Designer?

Although in the beginning I used Affinity Photo, soon I realised that Affinity Designer would be more my thing. The vector creation allowed me to create graphics that would maintain their high quality at any size.

I could also use it to make something bigger, such as billboards, paintings, skateboards or any other product I wanted to create and print.

As for the design of a tattoo, the process is easy to explain. I take a picture of the person who will wear my tattoo, focussing on the relevant area of their body. Then I import it into the first layer of my new Affinity file and work on new layers with the “Vector Brush” tool to create those lines that will compose the final design.

By keeping the layers separate I can devote myself to the design when I have to concentrate on that, and at the same time see how it will look on the body and adapt it to the shape of the person.

What are your most used tools in Affinity and why do you like them?

As I said, the “Vector Brush” tool is crucial to me given my essentially linear creations. The choice of the stroke—especially the stroke stabilisation tool, allows me to have everything that, prior to Affinity, I could only hope to find in other software.

What can you tell us about Domus Morganae?

I had the idea for the Domus Morganae Art Collective in 2012, as I wanted to share a common project with artist friends. In practice, it was born on 1 January 2016. If we talk about the studio itself, it came from the need to be able to collaborate with the different artists I have known in recent years in a comfortable environment like a home (hence domus). There we can engage with each other freely and have different spaces dedicated to the various phases that creative artists find themselves in during the day.

When entering the Domus we are in a large exhibition hall. There we can be in the company of fans, our customers, friends, and we can exhibit our work.

From here we can move to one of the three rooms where we have five tattoo stations, all spacious and comfortable, or to a large private room, where, in addition to a second living room, we have our own creative workshop with large desks for each of us and an environment where you can paint, work with wood, play a guitar or just drink a coffee in total privacy.

The collective Domus Morganae understood as “people and artists” on the other hand is a group of people I have met in recent years and with whom a close relationship has developed. We have understood that, by collaborating and sharing our skills, we could all be useful for the growth of ourselves and others. We became what I can be proud to call a real family.

What are some things that inspire your style of art?

Stylistically, my subjects often change shape. I started creating with pencil and charcoal, and then moved on to watercolours, and then to a more modern and clean line. The only thing that has never changed is the theme.

My subjects are always sadly sensual female subjects. If I don’t draw women, I draw objects or subjects that in some way speak to me about them.

I started to create in a more constructive way in a period of great sadness. I discovered that I could vent my discomfort and sublimate my shortcomings through creativity, thus benefiting from them.

I think that my greatest inspiration is precisely the search for the sublimation of something lacking through the creation of something beautiful and present that no one can take away from me.

You recently released a book, what is that about?

First of all, I would like to thank the Affinity team for having supported me in the creation of the book. Without you I could not have had this small but at the same time great satisfaction.

Malinconica.Mente is the first volume where I collected about 30 of my recent artworks. The book doesn’t really talk about anything, since it is composed 99% of illustrations, but it collects some of my strongest outbursts of melancholy in recent times. It is very intimate.

The title comes from an Italian word, malinconicamente (melancholically in English) that in Italian generates a beautiful play on words. Malinconica (melancholic) and mente (mind). So it can also be read as melancholic mind.

It was born from the desire to see concretely, on a touchable and tangible object, those projects that were saved on a computer or put on the skin of a single individual. It gives the opportunity to anyone interested to take home a collection of these melancholies, without necessarily committing their skin. I can already say that Malinconica.Mente is the first volume of a collection that I hope will last a long time. I loved seeing my creations on paper. One day I would like to be able to take my books in my hands and leaf through them to relive the emotions that drove me to create each of those artworks.

What can you tell us about future projects?

In the future, I will continue as a tattoo artist. It gives me a lot of satisfaction, but I’m sure I want to expand more and work more often on supports that do not have the expiration date of human skin.

I really enjoyed seeing my graphics printed in a book, and I’m sure I’ll do that again.

Today, I dedicate myself to creating decorative paintings to take my artworks to different environments. I would love to devote myself to the furnishing of modern spaces with purely linear black and white plexiglass paintings.

Soon we’ll announce the exhibition of a whole collection of illustrative paintings never seen before by the public. Through it I hope to establish new collaborations and new outlets for my career.

I don’t deny that I would love to see my creations in different types of environments. In this period of my life I am often thinking about how to enter the world of interior design with my works.

What do you enjoy doing in spare time, for fun?

I am extremely lucky; I have turned my hobby into my job. I actually always have free time and at the same time I never have any. Every day I create and live off my passion.

Let’s say that, in the last year and a half, I have discovered that I love spending time raising and playing with my son. When I don’t create, I enjoy my second passion, that of being a father.

“I am extremely lucky; I have turned my hobby into my job. I actually always have free time and at the same time I never have any. Every day I create and live off my passion.”

Your tattoo work is phenomenal, how different is it creating art on the human body rather than a canvas or screen?

Oh God. Technically, of course, everything is different. When you change support, you change technique and attitude.

Humanly speaking, the difference I think is above all that in order to tattoo you have to confront yourself with the tastes, experiences and desires of another mind. This puts in place limits for your art. Working on a non-living support instead, you find yourself able to be 100% yourself, even though I’m lucky enough to have very passionate customers who leave me a lot of room for expression.

They are two different things. With tattoos you create something knowing that it will really only be yours in those hours and that it is always the result of the collaboration between you and the wearer. It’s great to enter so much into someone’s intimacy and stay there until death do you part.

The strongest ties of my life I created on a tattoo bed. A lot of my life I dedicate to listening to the stories of those who give a bit of skin to me.

On canvas, or digitally, you fulfil your intimate need, just for yourself, which allows you to go beyond certain limits. On canvas there is just you, your needs and your emotions, free to let off steam.

You can see more of Diego’s work on his Instagram and Facebook or on his website.

Artist relations

Umar is part of our artist relations team. He likes to tinker with computers, build things and play competitive games. His favourite colour is green and he enjoys bouldering, which is basically climbing without any ropes. It’s less dangerous than it sounds.

Credits & Footnotes

All images copyright of Diego Omega and used with permission.