After serving in the Italian army, tattoo artist and founder of The Honorable Society, Marco Cerretelli, found his call of duty within the American tattoo scene. Known for his real-world-meets-vintage-comic-art tattoo style, Cerretelli learned firsthand about the trappings of the competitive tattoo world, surviving a backlash that would provide the opportunity to open the doors to his dreams and his own tattoo shop.
By Paul Pike
Professional tattoo artist and founder of The Honorable Society, Marco Cerretelli, crests atop his own circle of artists, each handpicked to help him create a shop that could become its own community. While it may seem like a lofty perch now, Marco has more than earned his view, which is focused on keeping The Honorable Society true to the pure basic principles of tattoo art. “I would love to establish the shop as one with a reputation of being the customers’ favorite,” Marco says from his West Hollywood location. “I don’t care to make any lists of the world, but as long as customers leave here happy and wanting to come back, that’s what it’s all about. Being true to your customers is everything in this business.”
While he’s not afraid to tackle the business aspects of the shop, Marco remains as committed to what inspired him to open the shop in the first place: the art. Whether in the peaks or the valleys of his lifetime, it’s always been about the art for the Italian-born Cerretelli. “We are craftsmen here; we are here to do our art,” he says determinedly. It is determination that Marco knows a lot about; making your way into a career in a new country and navigating your way through the pitfalls of the tattoo industry takes more than just a casual commitment.
After growing up in Italy, Marco traveled to New York City to spread his tattoo wings in 2002, a move that would force him out of his comfort zone and thrust him into the spotlight of a booming tattoo culture in the United States — literally. His work was good enough to earn him a chair at the coveted World Famous Spotlight Tattoo helmed by Bob Roberts. After cutting his teeth there for five years, Marco suddenly became more outcast than in-crowd, as a falling out would leave him forced out of the shop. Amid allegations and character assassination, Marco survived an industry backlash that would have probably ended most artists’ careers and instead used the experience to fuel the dream of owning his own tattoo parlor, The Honorable Society, in 2010. The shop’s Victorian charm and team of multitalented artists has quickly earned a clientele that appreciate Cerretelli’s attention to detail and approach to the tattoo experience.
Marco sat down with Bound by Ink to discuss the motivations behind The Honorable Society and why artists should always be more concerned with the satisfaction of their customers than they are with building a name in the scene.
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