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Dad ‘Finishes’ His Kids’ Doodles. Sounds Mean, But It’s Awesome

by Cassandra Morris
Cassandra is the Senior Editor of Original Content. She loves sweet tea, binge-watching Antiques Roadshow, and petting puppies.

As a kid, I loved to draw. To me, there was nothing better than sitting down with a fresh box of crayons, a few sheets of paper, and my limitless imagination.

Whether it was creating my own crazy creatures or just copying the world I saw around me, I could spend hours quietly doodling.

But my parents, wonderful as they were, did not share my passion for art. They loved all my creations, of course, but my drawings went no further than the refrigerator door.

That’s why Fred Giovannitti is so special. Fred doesn’t just hang his kids’ creative works; he finishes them! A very successful tattoo artist now located in Lewes, Delaware, Fred is incredibly skilled with color, shading, and detail.

And when he’s traveling around the world for business, he stays connected with his children by bringing along their doodles and coloring them in!

As much as I drew, and still occasionally do, my skills are no match for Fred’s! His immense talent is astounding.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred is a skin artist and inventor who has been featured in Popular Science, National Geographic and Fast Company magazines. He’s also a dad to three children: Jaxton, Sofia, and Federico. Since he’s such an artistically inclined guy, it really comes as no surprise that his children are all talented, too. His kids love to draw and often come up with really clever and interesting illustrations.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred told HuffPost that he started this project after his daughter gave him an illustration to take with him on a trip. “My children like to draw me pictures for my trip so I can keep them close to me while I’m away. One day my daughter didn’t get around to making me a picture in time, so right before I left she quickly drew me a line drawing to take with me.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

“On my flights to work I keep a sketchbook to draw on the plane and have colored pencils handy. This one particular trip, instead of drawing in my sketchbook, I decided to color in my daughter’s drawing in the manner in which I would color my own work.”

The story is already really sweet, and it’s really touching how this is another way for Fred to stay connected to his kids while he’s gone.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred also says that the best part about collaborating with his kids comes at the end. He loves the “AHA moments when they see the finished product.”

The first drawing that Fred finished was just completed on a whim. He said, “I did this one a few years back on a whim to see how it would look if I colored one of my 4 yr old daughter’s pictures. This is the one that started it all for me. Colored with prismacolor pencils on a small piece of scratch paper. This is also when I realized that I should take before pics.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

And then the project just really took off.

“After a few months, I remembered about coloring the previous drawing and asked my daughter to draw me another one for my trip. Also colored with prismas and this time on a piece of paper from a small watercolor pad. Apparently it’s ok to go on a plane with dozens of sharpened pencils.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

A lot of what makes this project so visually appealing is that Fred really uses tons of lush, rich colors. The drawings are so cute when they’re in pencil, but they take on a new life and gain added dimension when Fred fleshes them out.

Fred also sometimes fleshes out the drawings electronically on an iPad. He said it was a big hit. “Needless to say, everyone loved it at home and I figured I’ll try getting better at this medium. IPad>ArtStudio.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred’s job as a tattoo artist is actually what has him traveling up to a third of his year. That’s pretty impressive! But it’s easy to see why people are drawn to his work. When you look at the tattoos on his site, you can see a similar artistic approach. He definitely has a fondness for weaving together texture and color to tell a story. This is pretty funny, especially since as he explained in 2018, it wasn’t his goal.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred sat down for an interview with the Cape Gazette and told reporter Nick Roth, “I was never interested in tattooing. It was never a thing that I thought I’d want to get into.” But he said that he began tattooing after a friend got one of his designs inked on himself and he didn’t like the end result. “My friend was excited about it, but I wasn’t. The shading was all wrong and the amount of detail was unimpressive.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

And while he became a professional tattoo artist in 1993, he said that at the time, “I still had no intention of getting into this lifestyle. Then one thing led to another, and the immediate financial gratification of getting paid just to draw something on somebody convinced me to put everything else on the back burner. Here I am, still doing it today.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

He also shared that he likes to take a holistic approach to tattooing. “I have to meet somebody, talk to them and get in their head. I have to learn about them because we’re going to be co-parents of a baby here, a work of art, and we have to be on the same page.”

And that attitude toward tattooing is really special. Since a tattoo is on your body forever, it’s probably nice to know that your artist is taking the process as seriously as you are.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred also shared that he likes that tattooing someone gives him an opportunity to get to know them in a really unique way. “I get a chance to dig deeper and learn more about them and about the piece we’re working on. I want to love the piece too.”

He also points out that for a lot of people, getting a tattoo is really therapeutic.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

“I’ve had clients crying because they remembered things we’re putting into the piece that are meaningful to them. When they leave, they have this feeling of being lighter. And the tattoo just shines with all the love that was in that session, all that energy that was flowing.”

It was while working as a tattoo artist that Fred became inspired to turn his attention to an important cause: helping to save the planet.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

He said, “I was working on a client, and he didn’t seem very happy. It seemed like he had everything he could need, but I could tell this guy was missing something. Eventually, I worked into the conversation, ‘if you could be doing anything other than what you’re doing right now, what would you be doing?'”

His client had an answer: He would be helping to clean up the Pacific trash vortex.

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

One thing led to another, and Fred all of a sudden became a lot more passionate about saving the planet. And that’s a pretty cool thing to add to your list, especially if that list already includes being an artist and stellar tattooist. Fred started sketching an invention that could pick up plastic, and he shared it with his tattoo client at their next session. Eventually, Fred found himself delivering a TED talk called “Healing Our Planet With Love.”

Fred Giovannitti/Instagram

Fred is clearly a very talented artist, and he’s a dad who is raising three very talented kids. It’ll be fun to see where he goes with his many interests, and if any of his children follow in his artistic footsteps down the road.

Fred also shared that being an artist was a surprise to him. “I never thought I’d pursue art. For some reason, it was told to me often by my parents or authority figures to not pursue art because the only rich artists are dead artists. I suppose the anti-authoritarian in me fought back against that and wanted to prove them all wrong.”