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Killer Interview!
The Heavy Mental.vs.SCARFUL

Text & Photos via The Heavy Mental

Scarful has an aura around him. If you know him well enough you understand what I am talking about. It’s a thick, shiny cloud floating around him probably because his odd-shaped skull is filled with wisdom nectar. Even though he is usually a very peaceful creature, if the cloud is dark and stormy, you better stay away or you can get blasted by his thunder. His knowledge on occult arts and crafts is enormous and he is constantly experimenting with them in his studio in Tor Pignattara, in the suburb of Rome. Alessandro Maida, also known as Scarful has done with inks and drawings pretty much what Sasha Shulgin has done with psychedelics. Fertile as Gengis Kahn in conceiving artwork for record covers, posters, and fanzines, he is a Belzebub of cross-media collaborations. He wears black and has asthma like Darth Vader.


You are always busy doing all kind of things at the same time. What are you doing now?

Considering what’s going on with the Italian economy today, I am trying to do as much as I can to not go bankrupt or totally depressed. I’m working on the artwork for the roman rap duo, Gast & Chicoria. A couple of cover-arts for the hardcore band ANTIYOU, one of which is for a Maximum Rock’n’Roll. On long-term projects I am about to finish a series of etchings and mezzotint, two of the oldest techniques with a big span of experimentation. Also Rumore Nero is a project inspired by the contemporary time of my country, abstract shapes in black china on packaging paper. And I am still producing some small-scale sculptures using aluminum, with CNC and fusion.



CNC. Do you mean Numerical Control? Since you left full time jobs as creative/art director for advertising and fashion brands how much computer are you using these days?

Yeah, Computer Numerical Control. It can create incisions, sculptures, embossings and such with extremely high precision.

However, it is very important for me to start with an idea sketching out with traditional methods and tools like charcoal, china, pencil or whatever. I also always build models and prototypes with cardboard or wood to see shapes and what to fix. Computer is the tool to optimize my workflow, graphic design, or illustration but I always put manual skills into everything I do.


Right. I guess in your enormous inspiration bin, most of the items are from sans-computer arts. Would you name a few all-time favorites?

I began to love illustration looking at the covers of Metal Records, Joe Petagno’s work for Motorhead or Iron Maiden’s by Derek Riggs… those were my major influences growing up in the 80′s. I loved everything illustrated on Metal Records.

Then punk records…. Raymond Pettibon and Pushead’s artworks… everything from Winston Smith too.

Let’s say that Raymond Pettibon is still my favorite, absolutely a genius.


How and when did you jump from Pettibon to explore all kind of obscure and occult forms of art like.. I don’t know, like ancient Japanese book binding or Tibetan drumming using human tibias and skulls…..

My teenage distress mixed with an obsession with the macabre and influenced probably by the music I listen to got me very curious on the subject. Obviously Satan is a classic icon in Heavy Metal. Bands like Venom, Possessed, and Celtic Front were filled with pagan references, so everything related to the occult was an ingredient for my artwork. Could it be Tibetan or Crowleyan….


Last time I was in your studio you were meticulously feeding water and salt to a thick metal slab shaped like an old-school skateboard deck. Was that just to get that thing rusty where and how you wanted it or…. are you secretly working on the philosper’s stone alchemy? Are you trying to turn raw steel into gold?

HA HA ‘right. If I was born in the 1700′s I could have probably turned out as a deranged alchemist… You know, like the Conte Raimondo di Sangro… Although I am not a blue-blood and not even close to being rich so the only experiments I can actually afford are on scrap metal with salt and Rome’s water.

Ha! But… What if you somehow manage to turn rusty metal skateboards into solid gold, what would you do with it? Buy the revolution? A coup d’etat to extort the leadership of our tormented country? Damn I am sure the flag and the currency of the new-born nation is going to look pretty sick

With that cash power I’d fill the financial hole of Italy and design a new flag, vicious, with spikey geometries. I’d pay all the politicians to get out, is that corruption?

…and I’d find a nice place, actually many nice places, to settle down and create new ventures with friends and family.


What’s up with the Grim Reaper Tattoo? Isn’t that a new venture you are doing with friends and family?

Grim Reaper Tattoo is the new creature of two big Roman tattooers, Luca Mamone, who runs Santa Sangre Tattoo and Nello Rossini, who owns Battle Royal Tattoo and their assistant, Cuns. They both wanted to start a studio together, a special place where, beside tattoos, they could create and collaborate.

They’re my closest friends, my family. We even have a publishing house (Surith Press) for tattoo related-books together and they’ve been trying to make me grab a tattoo machine for years… I always loved tattoos, I tattooed myself the blue oyster cult logo on my hand when I was 13.

But I was too paranoid to permanently fucking up people’s skin. Then one day they ask me to join them in the new studio. Having 2 teachers like them is a unique privilege.

Finally a place where everything can happen: tattoo, paint, screen print, engraving…

Anyway I’m tattooing more and more these days… It will be my new adventure…

Amazing. You are going to be even busier. You better plan to come back and visit us to this side of the world before that starts.

Yes! I’d love to come back there and do things with you guys! We could do something darker than black. I just need a nod and a FCO-JFK flight ticket for 3! Can’t get there without Elisabetta and Leonardo Rodan, last time we were there he was only 8 months old!


02 Studio Scarful
03 Aluminum sculpture 1
04 Aluminum sculpture 2
05 Criminale Album Cover Art
06 Illustration Examples
07 Studio Detail
08 Sette
09 Explosion

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