Stef’s first encounter with tattooing goes back to when he was a kid, about 10 years old. In his neighborhood in Florence lived a man heavily tattooed, well known in the area. Every time you would cross paths with him at local cafès you couldn’t help being fascinated by those blue arms. There was something magnetic about his presence, nonconformist, living by his own rules.
Three years later Stef and his friend are tattooing a small kanji on each other with a threading needle and china ink. Growing up the story of that old man with blue arms becomes more familiar: his name is Maurizio Fiorini, historical italian tattooer well known and respected in the industry.
Maurizio’s influence continued to shape Stef’s path in tattooing. At the age of 15, Stef’s friend introduced him to the famous tattoo magazine ‘Tattoo Life’, featuring Maurizio on the front cover. It was at this moment that tattooing truly captivated Stef, and he received his first machine tattoo shortly after, a tribal design from one of Maurizio’s apprentices. This marked the beginning of Stef’s obsession with tattooing.
Fastforward a few years and Stef eventually gained entry and learning valuable lessons about machine building and the daily life of a tattoo shop. He spent countless hours there, absorbing all he could, being happy to be part of that magical world. Stef’s fondest memories from this time were the kindness and passion that Maurizio shared, as well as his captivating storytelling. Stef would eagerly listen to stories about colorful characters, prison ink making, gangster life, Maurizio’s friendship with Herbert Hoffmann, and the ethics of the tattoo business. These experiences influenced Stef’s vision of how to conduct oneself in the industry and the importance of storytelling as an old school tattooer.
A pivotal moment in Stef’s journey occurred when he heard an old saying, “I always wanted to see the world, but I couldn’t afford it. The only way I could was to become a sailor or a tattooer. So I became a tattooer.” Inspired by these words, Stef embarked on a life on the road, spending 10 years traveling and working in various countries. His goal was to learn as much as possible and work with the best artists in the world. Stef’s journey took him to Australia, the US, New Zealand, Asia, and 16 countries in Europe, where he worked in numerous tattoo parlors and gained the technical expertise and network that enabled him to become part of some of the best tattoo studios and conventions globally.
Throughout his 20+ years of tattooing, Stef has been involved in various exciting initiatives, including:
-Being part of an exhibition at the New York Historical Society
-Exhibiting at the Camera Japan Festival in Rotterdam
-Participating in the 2020 Design Matters conference in Copenhagen
-Contributing to different tattoo books published by Neversleep Publishing, Atonement books, Coenen Publishing, and Sea Shepherd
-Being featured on the artists’ gallery of the Arches Paper website
-Hosting two art exhibitions as part of the Stef Bastiàn Presents charity series at the prestigious London Tattoo Convention
Today, Stef’s focus is on perfecting his favorite tattoo styles, Traditional American and Japanese. In addition to tattooing, he also enjoys painting, teaching watercolor seminars and classes for his new Tattoo Mentor Program, and running the Tattoo Tales podcast. Stef’s main purpose is to contribute to the industry that has given him so much, just as Maurizio would have wanted.
Overall, Stef’s journey in tattooing has been a testament to his passion and dedication to the craft. His experiences, collaborations, and accomplishments have shaped him into the artist he is today.