I remember few years ago, Lukasz Sokolowski just sprouted out of nowhere and shocked everyone with his talent. By ‘shocked’ I mean, complete revolutionary which stood out from the usual idea of the tattoo art. Surely you are very confident and aware of how good you are at what it is that you are doing. However I know that a few years ago it wasn’t the first time you tattooed. How did it start for you, how did a break improve your work and why exactly have you came back to tattooing?
Hey, you are right, my first contact with tattooing happened in late 90’s, when me and my friend from ‘Plastyk’ Art High School in Bielsko Biala started experimenting with injection needles and motors from tape recorders. Poor outcome of these experiments I still happen have on my body. I have no intention in covering or lasering them off at any point in the near future. I don’t exactly remember why I stopped at that point. Other concerns and matters went in the way, not only those involving making art. My return to tattooing started just after I finished my masters. With a title of ‘Graphic designer’ – I came back to tattooing in seek of doing something satisfying for myself- in opposition to toxic atmosphere in work and making business cards for building companies and kebab shops. This is the whole story really.
So you already knew fundaments of art, you were creating work with use of different media and attain experience in different fields. When you picked up the tattoo machine once again, you knew exactly what to do, or was it an experiment?
I didn’t even have a dim awareness of the aim and possibilities. I had a small concept and perception about the phenomenon, based mainly on memory of how the standard of tattoos used to look back in late 90’s. Boucherie Moderne or Buen Vist opened my eyes for the first time, this was a shock to me as I was stuck in stereotypical tattoos, seeing artists like those who introduced graphic designs and translated it to tattoo the world was mind blowing for me. After that in my first studio I worked for ‘ Totoototam’ I started including graphical elements into my tattoos. With time I got more of my own clientele for more of my own designs, not as many “Walk In tattoos” such as script, dandelions etc. My interests and fascinations changed with time. Additionally, the more my custom work was asked for the more it become easier for me but it also taught me more skills. When I first was starting to tattoo I was really hating on traditional tattoos and now this is the style I ended up on doing. A big impact on my work had all of the many tattoos I had to do before, I have to admit. I definitely think now apprentices get easier for fresh tattooists but their apprentices are definitely full of surprises as well. I’ve noticed every fresh tattooist is starting their career straight away from creating their custom work which I think is great however I sometimes notice the lack of confidence and skill in their work because of that. Not everything which looks good on paper will look good on the skin and I personally think without knowledge of the tattoo language or knowing your own way which comes with gaining an experience with years of practice. Not every design can be translated into a tattoo design unfortunately. To not sound like a guy who knows it all and has everything worked out- everyday I think to myself I know less and less about tattooing.
I don’t see why you think about yourself as a guys who knows it all, intact I thought your statement was full of awareness and reflection. I personally think this is a value which is essential in this profession. I remember your work was amazing me for a long time, in a positive way. I studied ‘Historian of Art’ module in University and since I remember I enjoyed the art not so much seen as ‘pretty’ and obvious. This is how I class your work, looking at it makes me think what is it? What inspired you? So here is my next question Lukasz, what is your source of inspiration; references.
Sometimes I notice you relate to poems and variations of human mentality more than art resource itself, am I right ? I’m inspired by the whole lot; paintings, music, illustration, posters, tattoos, literature. Films not as much, if not at all ( however you probably notice I use film theme quite a lot in my work, but it’s mostly asked for by my customers). I do not influence myself with any drugs which can probably surprise most of you.
Yes, to be honest this was going to be my next question, but I wouldn’t dare to accuse you. How in your own words would you call your style of work? Nowadays we have so many different styles which can be seen on the tattoo conventions, which every year another category happen to be added to the list of contest. However I have a feeling your style is still very unique and hard to put in a category, I would probably suggest graphic surrealism or in my own words just call it ‘Sokolowski Style’
I am not the best at classifying styles and things in general. In my head I feel the right way of calling my style would be ‘Post traditional’ which seems very general almost too general to again class it as anything really. If it comes to surrealism- I happen to exhibit my work on the tattoo conventions in this category as this is the closest style to what I do, I think?
I think that is very interesting to call your style “post”, understanding what ‘post’ actually means I think ‘Post Traditional’ is a style definitely describing your style. If it comes to your collaboration with your customers, as I doubt customers come to you with exactly described idea to be created in your style. What I mean is I think your customers must really put a trust in you and usually give you free hand?
I am still amazed of how much my customers trust me, usually they just see a quick sketch before the actual session which really shows possibly just 10% of the whole final outcome. I would like to say massive thanks to all of my customers for that! I’d like to point out that my customers aren’t just random customers, all of them know my work, they know what style I work in and know or suspect what to expect. Usually few words and examples of existing pieces in my gallery are enough. If you ask me it works better than 10 pages long briefs explaining the theme of the tattoo in exaggerated depth.
What do you think about Polish Tattoo industry. You are a very modest person, which engages a huge respect, however personally I think having artists like yourself made an impact on how open minded and brave customers became, they want to try something new and more adventurous and let tattoo artists be artists.
I consider myself as lucky, because most of my favourite polish tattoo artists happen to be my best friends. You said I am a modest person, if it comes down to it, it is not my place to decide whether I am or comment on it as I don’t know. Also regarding the customers being open minded nowadays I don’t think it has to do anything with the actual customers but the fact the tattoo itself has become more popular.
I can’t agree with you more, however I think this is some way of familiarising customers to something new and something different…
This interview for TattooFan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel
All photographs come from the social profile of Łukasz Sokołowski
Łukasz Sokołowski Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/looQ.totoototam
Łukasz Sokołowski Instagram profiles: https://www.instagram.com/looqsok/?hl=pl
Spider Web Fanapge Studio: https://www.facebook.com/pajeczyna/
Pajęczyna Studio Instagram profiles: https://www.instagram.com/pajeczyna_tattoo/?hl=en