Toni ‘Zalzettu’ Psaila has always had a passion for tattoos. Eventually getting into actually tattooing his own ink, Toni finally found a place of his own in the late 1960s in Valletta, on the then still-bustling Strait Street. He named the shop Together Forever, and it became the first tattoo parlour in Malta.
In a video recently uploaded to Facebook, the tattooing pioneer shared the story of Together Forever, and the future of his art on the island. Back then, Toni had bought the entire shop (or as they called it back then, the room) for just 130 Maltese Lira.
Toni recollects the first and commonest tattoos he was asked to ink, and they really do help cement the sentiment of 60s and 70s Malta. “I had people coming asking for tobacco pipes, Mintoff, the PN emblem…” he says, laughing.
Together Forever is now based in St. Julian’s, but of course, it’s no longer the only parlour in the country. Toni took the time to acknowledge how many talented tattoo artists there are out there right now. “There are a couple of children out there who are so talented,” he said. “You have to be an artist nowadays. It’s useless to try if you’re not an artist, because there’s a great deal of competition.”
Nowadays, Toni doesn’t tattoo anymore. However, his sons Wayne and Renald carried on his trade and legacy. Wayne still tattoos to this day, and he’s been joined by two other resident artists, Toni Ciantar and Charleston Scicluna. The two have been tattooing for over seven years.
The five-minute video, directed by Sebio Aquilina, goes on to highlight some of the parlour’s works, which are as colourful as they are large. They specialise in traditional Japanese, black-and-grey realism, Mandala, dotwork, geometric, old school, neo-traditional and new school tattoo styles.