INTERVIEW WITH MATT CURZON

How do you feel about the tattooing scene in Melbourne, and on the flip side, how has the Melbourne scene embraced you and your art?
Melbourne is incredible, man. To have such a strong previous generation of tattooers to look up to has really set the bar high for the next wave of artists coming through. Generally, I think anyone who has come up in this city over the past ten years had to be a decent artist with a good attitude to even get a shot at it. As far as how it’s embraced me since I came back from the UK almost three years ago to do Empire I can’t really imagine things going better. Clients and collectors place so much trust in me to do my thing here, and the tattoo community has embraced me to the point that my entire life sits within it. I’ve worked all over the world and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, so that makes me happy.

Looking at the impeccable quality of your work now, it’s hard to imagine you starting off as a tattoo artist. Through your young life into adulthood, can you place moments that would go on to shape your life as an artist, specifically in tattooing?
Oh yeah, plenty. I mean, it’s more a slow build than one or two epiphanies that I can pluck out, but I’ll try. My art really took off once I wanted to be a tattooer. I’m no prodigy, that’s for sure! I had a little knack for doodles or whatever, but once I realised I wanted to be involved in tattooing I poured all my focus into that. I remember going to my friend’s house when I was about 8 or 9 and him showing me some tattoo art that was made by his dad, who was in prison at the time. I particularly recall this leather/clad humanoid pig riding a motorcycle that to me felt like it was riding off the page. I’m sure my imagination must have been filling in the gaps, because I’ll bet that design would look very dated today, but at the time it was so wild and completely sparked my interest in tattoos. I started considering it as a career years later, particularly when I started getting tattooed and realised it was something I could pursue if I applied myself. I did just that and landed my apprenticeship in 2010. I gradually developed my skills which continued to improve over the course of my career, and hopefully still will! I think having to earn my way through a slightly more old-school apprenticeship made me know that I wanted it, and then making the choice and effort to start travelling hard, far and wide from early on threw me in a very healthy deep end. I had to support myself and I had to meet the standard of the shops I was guesting at, so that meant I had to get out of my comfort zone and get better fast.

Your take on some classic tattoo subjects definitely shake things up, but that’s necessary and only stands to make your work so prominent. The array of animals, skulls, creatures and haunted faces that you commit to the skin could almost all be part of the same shared universe – whether that’s a fictitious world or a full spread of a record sleeve. What are the main mediums of inspiration you draw from, even if not directly related to tattooing as obviously as an image?
This is always one of the hardest questions to answer because I don’t have a specific well of inspiration that I dip into every day. In fact, I never really think about it. If I have an idea, whether that be a subject matter I’d like to tackle, a new element I want to try and include, or a new technique I’d like to employ, I try and jot it down so next time I’m drawing I have a list of things to inspire me. Sometimes I’ve gone super cold on them by the time I get back to it. Occasionally there’s an idea that I find I can apply to my client’s request to improve my tattoos but also keep it fresh. As far as where these ideas come from, it could be as vague as me walking down the street and have it pop into my head, or it could be as obvious as me seeing a painting in a museum and wanting to do my take on the idea.

Someone can pick any one of your tattoos and spend time admiring the depth, colours and detail, especially in your back and chest pieces. There’s so much canvas for you to explore. Where do you start taking on a project that covers as much human skin as that?
That just starts with the client emailing me with that request! Although a larger canvas gives me the luxury of fewer restrictions, my process doesn’t change dramatically from a one-hitter to a ten-session back piece. I just scale things up.

Awards tend to follow you wherever you take your tattoo equipment! In your travels so far, how have you adapted to life as guest in other studios? Looking forward, do you ever see yourself packing up and relocating more permanently, maybe to somewhere literally on the other side of the world?
As I mentioned earlier, I started my travels pretty early on and I found that getting out of your comfort zone only helps to improve your tattooing. I just try to be as organised as possible ahead of time to make my work and travels run smoothly for me. Generally, life as a guest is super fun. You get to experience other like-minded people’s day-to-day in a completely different part of the world, and most studios do a great job of hosting and showing you a good time! That being said, it’s not a holiday and life on the road can be a grind. Every year I say I’m going to reel it in a bit, but I’m yet to do so. The opportunities are just too enticing most of the time! Having spent a short period permanently in England, and having considered the option of moving to many other places I can happily say I’m staying in Australia with the great family at Empire for good. Through my experiences elsewhere I have gained so much more appreciation for Melbourne and the work/lifestyle balance that is available to me here that I would never want to live anywhere else.

It’s really uplifting to know how close your relationship with Melbourne and its art culture is – on the other hand, your experiences abroad have obviously been massively influential on you as an artist and a person. How do you cut time out of your busy days to make room for yourself? As busy a city as Melbourne is, I imagine you are never too far from a gig or an event but maybe you prefer to spend your downtime more privately?
It’s always a struggle, man. To be honest, I don’t get much free time on any given day once I add up tattooing, drawing and admin. However, my biggest life-balance shift has been making myself a rule to take Sunday and Monday off from tattooing every week, no matter what. Even though I’ll normally use one day for drawing and emails, this still gives me a night and day to relax, hang out and do something fun. You’re right though, there’s always gigs, sports events, stuff like that going on in this city that I like to get out to when I can. Otherwise simple things like getting out to bars with my girlfriend or shooting some hoops with my mates keep my mind off work for a minute. I’m just grateful to be in a place that whenever I do get some time away from tattooing I’m never short of things to do.

Empire continues to grow in reputation and quite rightly so, the art leaving the studio never ceases to amaze. Is it true – does a happy studio make for better tattoos?
Well, it makes for a much healthier environment, which creates solidarity and longevity for your crew going forward. Everyone who works in the Empire/Tatsup building are now my best friends. We do a lot outside of work together, and just enjoy hanging out at work every day and making cool tattoos.
When we started Empire we wanted everyone involved to be great tattooers – but more importantly, we wanted them to be great people. Most tattoo shops have some sort of underlying tension ready to bubble over and ruin your week, and we’d all worked in these sorts of places before. It’s tiring, man. We decided we wanted to create an environment with no drama, no hierarchy and no bullshit to distract us from doing our best work. We all work for ourselves, but we share the space, share the decisions, help each other and work together to do something bigger and better than we could do on our own. I’m sure we’ll all do it for a very long time.

The only thing left to ask is – what’s next? As an artist, what gets you excited about the future of the trade and where does tattooing go from here?
I don’t know what comes next, but I’m sure there are big changes just to come over the horizon. I’m sure the influence of social media will fluctuate going forward, as well as the presence of tattoos in the mainstream.
As far as the practical application of tattoos goes, I try to make a conscious effort to keep up to date with new technology and tools available to us. I think this is important in order to be able to catch the next essential wave of tattooing, whatever that may be. I’ve always loved that this is one of the last individual, hand-crafted trades going around, so all I care about is that that continues to be the case.

INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIE BELLINGHAM

Your tattoos are often big, bold and beautifully dispersed with colour – but you must have started a lot smaller way back when! Can you bring the world up to speed with the tattoo art life of one Sophie Bellingham?
A lot smaller! I’ve been tattooing for 4 and a half years and I originally started in a High Street shop. Most of what I was tattooing at the beginning were the smaller things like names, dates, and infinity symbols. All of which teaches you so so much! I was also very lucky to have a few very brave volunteers who let me start some big pieces on them which honestly felt like climbing Mount Everest at the time. Now I’m based at Adept Art Collective which is a completely different setup. I mostly get to tattoo my own drawings now and really get to experiment with styles so I’m very lucky and thankful for the opportunity to be here!

Since you’ve picked up the machine as a full-time professional artist, what have been the most valuable lessons learned? Like with every good passion, every day is a school day!
Ohhh that’s a tough one! I think the need to have perspective and patience is the biggest thing that I have learned. It’s very easy when you are early on in your career to get wound up about how you feel nothing you do is at the standard you want. Although it’s very important to always want to improve and have that drive and passion for your work, I also think it’s wise to consider all the facts and not overthink it. I always compare my work to artists who have been tattooing 20 odd years and be really hard on myself for it. That sort of thinking long term can damage your confidence and progress. This job is all about balance and it’s ok to be nice to yourself. Of course, it’s much easier when you are working with all your best pals who aren’t afraid to get you telt!

Even die-hard fans of blackwork or horror and gore tattoos find time to admire your work, in all of it’s candescent splendour. Have you always been a colourful person – as silly a question as that may seem?
Yes and no? Haha, I’m a little goth/emo kid at heart so I very much threw colour out the window for a few years! It ultimately depends on my mood. With tattooing, I like to have some consistency between my work and I have so much fun going to town with all the colours and figuring out what my favourite blend is. I’ve often spent hours with Vicky Isabella going through each other’s ink collections to find the juiciest colour combo. It’s all about that colour theory! I was a painter first though and my palette would shift dramatically depending on my headspace. It was either neon rainbow vomit or black, white and red.

Your works all feel like they could exist in the same shared universe. Your creative take on neo-trad stylings creating recognisable “characters” almost! Where do you pull your inspiration from – whether it’s other artists or even a particularly colourful print on the wall?
Ta very much! I’m very lucky to work in a studio with so many great artists. I think a huge portion of my inspiration comes from them. We all have such different approaches to tattooing and such vast differences in our backgrounds before we all started tattooing. We’ve also all worked with each other at various points in our career at previous studios so I think when you are that comfortable with each other it creates a really inspiring and fun atmosphere. You are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and opening your mind to other ways of thinking. I also collect a LOT of art. Some people have said too much art… My station at work and my living room are covered with prints, ornaments, antiques and collectables. I also draw inspiration from really old reference books, history, nature, travelling and a mountain of talented artists and tattoo artists.

How much of your life now revolves around tattoo art? Sitting down and tattooing skin takes up your days but staying active and present on social media, researching and creating stencils etc. Where do you find solace and relaxation amongst all of that?
All of it? Most of it, but I think that’s natural when it’s your passion. If I’m not doing it I’m normally thinking about it one way or another. I quite often dream about it! If I need a break from it then I will binge watch some weird serial killer documentary and freak myself out or read a book. Usually, at least once a week I am very lucky to have a particularly close and very awesome group of friends around me that don’t really have anything to do with the tattoo industry at all. We normally meet up for group hangouts, chip in for disgusting amounts of food. If we are very lucky one particular friend will cook the most delicious food for us. We will crack out the board games and just spend the full day chatting and laughing together catching up on what projects people are working on and generally act like idiots. It’s pretty fun. I also have a very supportive and understanding better half who knows when to snap me out of overthinking any work that I might have to do and reminds me to have fun and relax!

“I have a pretty consistent set up across the board, in terms of how I approach each tattoo technically. I usually use 2-3 different line weights for the line work of my tattoos as I like how it creates depth within the design. My usual go-to is an 11RL, a 5RL, and a 1RL which I line with my coils. I keep my rotaries for shading with a cartridge setup. My go-to inks of choice are solid inks which are a lot less easy to acquire, but the lads at Tattoos Supplies UK see us right! I very rarely plan out my colours in advance and prefer to just wing it on the day. I feel like the client gets a much better tattoo that way as you get to know them and what might suit them personally! Ultimately though I’m just very lucky to have the most understanding and trusting clients who never cease to amaze me with how open they are to my thoughts and take on each design, no matter how personal and important it is to them.”

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Matt MacLennan
All images courtesy of Sophie Bellingham

INTERVIEW WITH COLIN WHITFIELD

Opening an interview is always a bit strange! Shall we open with your background in art and tattooing? Were you a young fan or did tattooing arrive in your life later on?
I’ve always had an interest in art from a young age, my uncle Michael Collins is a painter and he would sit me down and give me lessons as a kid. I think it’s these early lessons and the support from my parents that definitely guided me to what I’m doing now. I didn’t find tattooing until later in life and started my apprenticeship at 26. It was Chalky, my mentor, who gave me a shot and guided me through my apprenticeship and set me up with a solid skill set to start my career. Being part of the skateboard and motorbike scene, being surrounded by good people with the same interests guided me towards tattooing.

Can you pinpoint moments throughout your tattooing life where you walked away downbeat – but still left having learnt valuable information about the craft, and yourself?
Definitely, there have been times I wanted to quit, particularly when I was working a full-time night job alongside five days in a studio, It was my wife that kept me going and pushed me to drop the night shifts and supported us financially so I could concentrate on tattooing, no matter how tough it got or how many chances I take with my career she always supports me, I’ve learnt over the years it’s the people you have around you that make you who you are.

Your tattoo art is very expressive and vivid – whether in black and grey or full colour. When working on a design, what do you feel is the most important area to focus on? For example, the placement and composition or the balance of colour and shadow?
That’s a tricky question, I think the most important thing is a tattoo that suits its wearer. One of the things I love most about my job is working with my clients and developing the design together, it’s this process that steers the design in one particular direction whether it’s high contrast, dark and broody or light, warm and flowing.

What kind of tattoo gets you most excited to work on? If someone was to come through the studio door with a blank slate and total freedom on your behalf, what would you tattoo?
When given total freedom I tend to lean more towards the darker things in life. I’ve always been a big horror fan but going to my previous answer, sometimes it’s my clients that lead me in a direction I would never have considered and I produce some of my best pieces.

You’re consistently knocking out amazing tattoos in all shapes, sorts, and sizes – yet you haven’t lost any of the passion of a young artist. How much of your time spent away from the tattoo machine is devoted to the art and how does one manage their life around it?
Thanks very much, the process I use to develop each tattoo is longer than it’s ever been in my career but it’s a necessary evil to keep pushing forward, there’s always so much to learn and I believe there’s always new, better or just different directions to go in. Finding that balance between work and family life has always been tricky and will be forever grateful to my understanding wife who says I am obsessed – I just don’t think it’s a job you can do without passion and a little bit of obsession.

Your bold realism often turns into a sort of “hyper-realism” in some of your work, how did you come to adopt these techniques and quirks into a style that you now succeed so well in?
I think it stems from drawing a lot of observational sketches and paintings, when I was apprenticing I used to do a lot of commission work for extra money – mostly peoples kids and pets, doing those drawings definitely helped me pick up a lot of the techniques I still use today. I was even asked to draw a dinner once for a chef, apparently, it was his signature dish.

 

Everyone loves a skull tattoo and you are stranger to a striking skull here and there! Why do you think it’s remained such a key component of tattoo art? Do you have a skull tattoo on yourself!?
Yes, I do have a few skulls on myself – you can never go wrong with a good skull! I’ve always thought it comes down to the strong imagery and how we recognise certain images easily from a distance, there are certain images that get repeated in tattooing time and time again, anchors, roses, women’s faces, skulls… Tattoo art relies on being bold and clear and most important of all you need to be able to see what it is at just a glance, let’s face it there’s nothing more recognisable as a human face, combine that with the hugely varied symbolism that the skull holds to so many people and cultures, it makes for the perfect tattoo reference.

What’s next for Colin Whitfield? What can we expect from your art in the future?
I have a lot I’m hoping to do this year. There’s always something new to learn but mainly I want to work with other artists on different projects and take in as many different techniques as I can and keep pushing to make my work better. Hopefully, this will keep me and my art evolving.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Matt MacLennan

All images used courtesy of Colin Whitfield

INTERVIEW WITH ANDREY LUKOVNIKOV

You come from Ukraine, but for some time you have worked in Poland. What influenced your decision to come to this country?
I worked in Ukraine, but I always dreamed of going to tattoo conventions in Europe. Somewhere on the Internet, I found information about the conventions in Poland, more precisely in Wrocław. I remember how terrified I was when I finally got there. There was so much happening and it was so fast. So many cool artists, friendly people, and this atmosphere that was really amazing! It did not take me a long time to start thinking about moving here.

 

 

Everyone has to start somewhere in the beginning. You certainly remember your introduction to this very well. When you look back on it, what was the most difficult part of this process, how did you come to the idea of working in this craft?
With a pen, I drew tribal designs on my friends’ hands! They said to me, “this is great, you will be a great tattoo artist”- ha! However, my first tattoos my beginnings were not easy, like many tattooists,: a chair, a Chinese machine, 30ml bottle of ink and friends who were ready to wear rough tattoos.
My mentor in the art of tattooing has always been Tymur Denysenko. I thank him for his help and I am always happy to remember the time when we worked together. It was a great time!

You currently have your own, amazing and original style, but I guess it did not appear to you right away. What did this process look like, where did you get the ideas like this and where did you find your inspirations? How did you experiment?
I love to experiment, I always prefer to do something original and fresh, thanks to this I discovered new techniques and possibilities.
The double exposure style appeared accidentally. One of my clients wanted me to make her a beautiful, colourful worm. I prepared the outline, and inside I put a rose. Ultimately, we did not use this project, but I liked the double exposure technique very much and decided to develop it in my works.

It seems that your style is, as you already mentioned, very often based on a double exposure, combining animal and floral motifs. They go above and beyond delicate, feminine tastes. It turns out that in this way you can tattoo almost everything like this, and you find the darker work in among it.
I really like doing darker designs – and I would like more of these projects – but I like flowers too. If I’m doing a lot of floral tattoos, I draw something dark for a sense of balance.

Looking through your gallery of works, it is impossible not to notice that you are a very skilled graphic designer, is this how all your projects are created? Are illustrations and digital graphics works your next passion, or rather a tool used to utilise as a tattoo artist?
I create illustrations for myself to develop as an artist. In this area, I have much more freedom. Tattooing brings certain limitations and not every graphic idea can be translated onto the skin. I recently worked on a great project, with a very well-known person from the USA. Joey Graceffa wrote to me asking me to create a book cover design for him.
It was very nice that my graphics interested him, it was a great challenge and it gave me a lot of satisfaction. Soon these illustrations will appear on my profile.

That’s a huge honour, congratulations! We can’t wait to see them! How does your relationship with your clients work? Do they normally come to you with the design they want or are they interested in your ideas and designs? I only ask because it appears many projects have been brought to you which you then create on the skin.
I think that every person has something cool in their head. When the customer’s idea amazes me, I immediately save it and turn it into a new project. Everyone knows that it is easier for an artist to draw something according to his own taste, but the clients are really the most important – I create for them and give thanks to them for the opportunity.

You are a co-founder of Wroclaw’s Underdog studio, a studio signed with your very own name. It’s a massive undertaking and certainly a very significant step in your career. Therefore, I suppose that Poland is not a temporary home for you, rather you plan to stay involved here for longer, if not permanently?
I feel very good in Poland, for now, I plan to stay here, support the development of the tattoo culture here, and promote my art. One of my dreams was to open my own place. I wanted to create something more than just a tattoo studio – a place where art will develop. In my opinion, a tattoo artist must be an artist, draw pictures, illustrations, and sculpt – in a word, CREATE. The fact that it will be a Tattoo Gallery means that you will not only be able to create a tattoo with us, but also see and feel the art on your own skin and on the walls! My ideas rang true with my friends from Warsaw, with whom I worked since I moved to Poland.
This is our joint project, keep your fingers crossed for us and come to Underdog!

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel
All images used courtesy of Andrey Lukovnikov

THE TATTOOED WOMEN OF 19TH CENTURY CIRCUSES

Many of us have seen photos, some over a century old, of tattooed women. Many of us have been fascinated with these pictures, encouraging curiosities as to what these ladies were doing at the time. There are many theories about the fact that tattoos covered women’s bodies in the 19th century as a sign of emancipation, which was a big issue of the time. As Margot Miffin writes in her book Bodies of Subversion, women in tattoos saw the early points of feminism in the release of the corset yoke that kept their appearance uniform and appealing to the male gaze. It turns out, however, that – although of course, it had some connection – the genesis of this phenomenon started somewhere else. The 19th and early 20th century was a time when women if they did not belong to the upper classes or did not marry well, struggled to ensure their quality of life. The woman’s place was thought to be at home, and the right to education belonging primarily to men, it was not easy to find employment for those who needed it. In those times, especially in the United States, cinema was spreading as a means of entertainment. Without television, Internet, etc. Next to the cinema and theatre, the most popular entertainment, cheap and available to everyone was the circus. Exotic trained animals, clowns, acrobats, bearded ladies; a whole galaxy of “freaks” and in among them, tattooed women. All of these intriguing delights aroused fascination and amazement in the large audiences. When nature did not give the woman an extraordinary talent or an interesting defect in the form of a beard or third leg, it was always possible to create the interest and intrigue yourself. Tattoos proved to be the perfect solution!

Irene Woodward, a.k.a La Belle Irene, born in 1862, is considered the first completely tattooed woman to appear in the circus.

“First, my father painted a few stars on the child’s skin. Then from his hand came the whole picture. Despite the pain, the six-year-old was delighted, urging him to continue. She knew that without tattoos, with bright, beautiful skin, she would certainly be kidnapped by the Indians. I was this girl” – the beginning of Irene’s story and her tattoos, made up, of course. The authors of her tattoos, the number believed to be around 400, were the famous Samuel O’Reilly and his student Charlie Wagner, who tattooed her almost continuously for three months. Irene was 19 at the time. During numerous scantily dressed performances, she showed off a significant portion of them and people, with undisguised fascination, would pay to cast their eyes on them. Under the guise of shame and modesty, she made herself quite a career. She travelled in the United States and Europe, even performing before monarchs. She was a star.

But was it just her that came across this enlightened way of fashioning a career? Not at all.

Nora Hildebrandt, born in 1860(1860?) in Melbourne, Australia, decided to create an even more elaborate story explaining the tattoos that decorate her whole body. As the cause of her “stigma”, she also blamed the Indians.
After her mother’s death, Nora was to leave Australia and go to the United States, where her father lived – – a sailor and tattoo artist who had abandoned his family years ago. As Nora told, while they crossed the lands of America, they were allegedly kidnapped by a Sioux tribe. They travelled with them for some time when the girl’s father was accused of trying to poison one of the Indian warriors. The tribal chieftain, the Seated Bull, would show them mercy, saying that he would release them if Nora’s father would perform tattoos all over her body. For a year, tied to a tree, she would endure pain for six hours a day, which resulted in 365 tattoos. The infamous chieftain, despite the completion of the task, decided to kill the father of the unfortunate, “disfigured” girl and Captain George Crook himself had to save her from the clutches of the savages. This amazing story has only one drawback – it is just as unreal as the previous one. Nora competed with Irene, performing everywhere and letting herself be seen and touched. Her tattoos and, of course, her naked body, did not inspire contempt or malice, but compassion caused by stories of traumatic experiences.

Both women were featured in the press, and their shows in circuses and museums attracted huge crowds of curious and demanding onlookers.

For over 40 years, Betty Broadbent was part of the circus business. Born in 1909, Betty Broadbent began her career at the age of 18, just after Charlie Wagner and Joe Van Hart covered practically her entire body with tattoos.

Some women decorated their bodies with tattoos to develop a specific career. However, there were also those that started independently from the world of tattoos. The ink appearing on their skin only with time, usually due to their husbands – the tattooists. There were also those who took this profession from their life partners, leaving their mark on the pages of the history of the craft.

It’s likely that anyone with a keen interest in tattoos has come across an image of Maud Stevens at least once. However, not everyone knows who this woman really was. She was a special character, born in 1877 in Kansas. In 1904, working as a circus acrobat, she would meet her future husband – Gus Wagner, a tattoo artist who learned the craft from Alfred South (apparently the creator of the Bengal tiger Queen Victoria had tattooed). Wagner decorated Maud’s body with tattoos, spending the time teaching her the profession too.

In 1907 their daughter was born. Lotteva, at the age of nine, would go on to tattoo her own father’s body. She never received any tattoos herself. Although it was the era of the electric machines, Maud remained faithful to the traditional, hand-poke tattooing method. She was hailed as the first tattooing woman in the United States. After winding down their circus career, together with her husband they travelled around the country continuing to tattoo. Lotteva took over the family tradition, however, like her mother avoided technology, she also preferred traditional techniques. She made her last tattoo just before her death, in 1993, at the age of 86 – the tattoo was a rose on Ed Hardy!

Dainty Dotty, renowned for her tattooed body, appeared in circuses for years under the pseudonym “Fat Lady”. In 1923, she met Owen Jensen in Los Angeles. He would give her her first tattoo. The couple fell in love and got married, with Dainty quickly becoming fascinated by the art of tattooing. Although her weight was not record-breaking, and she was not the first woman to tattoo, she always joked that she was probably the biggest female tattoo artist.

Artoria Gibbons, an American circus star, also wore reproductions of works by artists such as Rafael and Michelangelo on her skin – all by her husband, Red Gibbons.

The number of women connected with circus arts, who are also ink lovers, could be multiplied. Considering how in the present day tattoos are able to shock and arouse controversy, it is hard to believe that it has been very popular for a hundred years ago, also among women. In times when it was not okay to reveal the smallest hint of ankle, let alone any cleavage, they exposed their bodies in all their glory. Did it upset the public? Of course! However, there was an even greater interest in their “dissimilarity”. With time, circuses fell out of fashion, being replaced by other forms of entertainment. This fall did not affect the art of tattooing. Quite the contrary, actually. More and more women began to decide on tattoos, more and more decided to reach for the tattoo machine. Since then, the continued flourishing of this craft is unquestionable. It would be tremendously ignorant not to recognise that these few women also played a significant role in this process.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Maria Śmigiel
Images used from the following locations:

www.rattatattoo.com
www.womenintheworld.com
www.thetattooedbettie.files.wordpress.com
www.ubersuper.com
www.ltproject.com
www.needlesandsins.com

ŁADNE RZECZY TATTOO & PIERCING

“I wanted it to be nice, cosy and homey, and at the same time professional. I think that I managed to combine these assumptions and hope that our clients also love this place. What matters most to me is the high-qualitywork we do. I mean not only tattoos, piercings too. The atmosphere we create is very important to me and thanks to this we are a very close team – every day of work in the studio is a great day spent with friends, “- Ola.

Ola has always been drawing and creating various things, but without real purpose for some time. She openly admits Jarek Gorajek – an outstanding realist – persuaded her to reach for the tattoo machine. She started her tattoo journey in 2012 under Sebastian Wierzbicki, the founder of the studio Od Świtu Do Zmierzchu, where she spent the next five years. During this time, she put a lot of work into her development. Her great ambition and persistence, numerous trips to foreign studios – where she also gained experience – working surrounded by the best artists, participation in conventions resulting in numerous prizes; all of this contributing to her great success.

Ola on her tattoo work and about herself:
“It’s like my own mix of neo-modern style with watercolours and sketches, I also like to do black, purely graphic, dotwork works. I love animal themes, characters from movies, cartoons and anime. Although my clients are mostly women, since I have fallen in love with graphic tattoos, I have more and more male clients. Like any tattoo artist, I have my favourite subjects, but when I choose projects I am guided by one criteria above all – I undertake projects where I know I will do my best work. I love nature and whenever I can, I use every spare moment to go somewhere away from the city. I love animals, sometimes I just lie on the couch with my cats and relax after work. Unfortunately, I do not have much time for other activities, when I do not work, I try to devote as much attention to my relatives as possible.”

Ola invited exceptional people to work with her. Currently, the studio crew consists of the ladies themselves and it is a well-coordinated team full of exceptional talent.

Ewa Sroka is an undisputed master of watercolour tattoos – her work exploding with vivid, contrasting colours. Her works have won a huge crowd of fans, not only in Poland but also abroad.
“I am a graduate of the Lodz Academy of Fine Arts. Before I started tattooing, for three years I worked as a graphic designer in the computer games industry. The decision to change my profession came with the discovery of tattoos that look like brush marks on the skin. I was fascinated by their expressiveness and from the beginning, I knew that this is the direction in which I wanted to learn and develop. Professionally I have been tattooing for four years. My favourite and, at the same time, most often tattooed designs are animals. At one time I tattooed a lot of roses, but I started to feel stifled and bored with this pattern. Fortunately, there is no indication that the cats that currently dominate in my portfolio will ever bore me. When I draw for my own pleasure, I choose topics that I rarely tattoo on the skin, i.e. landscapes and nudes. They give me a great break from what I do every day. When I have long periods of free time, I relax by sailing. I love both inland and sea sailing, and my dream is to cross the Atlantic.”

Basia Kowalska is definitely one of the most experienced piercers in our country, but piercing is not her only passion. Working with Ola in Ładnych Rzeczach did not happen accidentally, instead the bond came from the result of many years of working together and a true friendship grew between the two women.

“Psychologist by education, piercer by vocation. Piercings have fascinated me since I remember, and because psychology turned out to be the wrong profession, I almost missed my calling, I decided to pursue my piercing passion. I started my adventure with the tattoo studio 9 years ago from piercing in the Od Świtu Do Zmierzchu studio in Lodz. There I got to know the specifics of the trade and met wonderful people. After a few years of piercing, however, there was an irresistible urge to develop and look for new experiences. My best friend – Ola Kozubska, who showed me how to hold the razor in my hand, came with help. Tattooing became for me a great springboard and a break from piercing.

At present, in Ładne Rzeczy I deal with both crafts, thanks to which, I will never get bored with these two things. After a year of keeping the machine in my hand, I find that the most satisfying work is when tattooing small, minimalistic works, I also love geometrical challenges, dotwork and mandalas. Recently, I’ve started enjoying working in colour ”

Personally, I had the pleasure of meeting Ola at the very beginning of her career and with great admiration I’ve watched her progression. I was happy to see how this unique place is created, and in it – nice things. Certainly, its success is the result of not only hard, solid work, but also modesty, honesty and the genuine goodness of the people working in the studio.

“My biggest dream is that my studio, myself and the people who work with me, are valued in Poland for the high quality of the work they do to make everyone feel at home, both clients and the guest artists. These short years of my internship have brought me the opportunity to meet great people, artists and learning from the best. I very much hope that the next ones will be equally as fruitful “- Aleksandra Kozubska.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Maria Śmigiel
Studio photography by Patrycja Jędrzejewska

TOP 10 STUDIOS IN BELFAST

Colour House Tattoo & Piercing

Belfast’s new home for vibrant, luminous colour tattoo art. The artists of Colour House don’t just spray colour willy-nilly, their comic, realism and neo-trad colour works are all perfectly tailored to each individual tattoo. Anyone looking to go for broke with a bold design needs to stop in.

 

 

60 Castlereagh Street
BT5 4NH Belfast

Belfast City Skinworks

For over 30 years, Belfast’s tattooed folk have been visiting this studio for tattoos and body modification. Now, generations in, customers are still leaving with exceptional tattoos and the good times that come with them. A firm city favourite, for many good reasons.

 

 

21 Oxford Street
BT1 6EA Belfast

Crooked Mile Tattoo

The trio of artists plying their trade under the Crooked Mile banner offer exceptional tattoos in the friendliest of environments. Owner and artist Connor Curran, raised in Belfast but born in the USA, started tattooing out of an obsession with Americana and now tattoos everything at the highest level.

 

13a Church Road
BT18 9BU Holywood

White Dragon Tattoo Family

Each name on the White Dragon Tattoo Family roster holds their own with artists around them. Each excelling with individual flair, every tattoo through the door is stunning. Anyone looking for custom work in stunning realism, comic book, geometric, Japanese, et al needs to make a visit to the studio.

 

15 Fountain street
BT1 5EA Belfast

Skullduggery Tatu

Ireland’s first all-female studio, Skullduggery was opened by the notorious Helen McDonnell in 2002. Now operating with one other artist and a steady stream of fantastic guest, Skullduggery are proudly vegan-friendly. We’re on board with this – not to mention all the stunning art they perform!

 

75 Dublin Road
BT2 7HF Belfast

Joker Tattoo

With the award-winning Joe Mullan clutching the reins at Joker Tattoo, the studios’ esteem can only continue to flourish under the eye of the fantastic artist himself. Awesome flash days, custom work and the always stylish work of Mullan all reasons to make a stop at Joker Tattoo.

 

 

90 Royal Ave
Belfast BT1 1DJ

Bloodline Tattoo

Since 2016, the crew at Bloodline Tattoo have been ensuring their customers walk in happy, get tattooed happy, and leave happy. This level of care and the fantastic tattoos they collaborate on with their customers has boosted the love from the city for this group of artists.

 

 

168 Lisburn road
BT9 6AL Belfast

India Street Tattoo

Since 2014, owner and artist Craig Kelly has been behind the wheel at India Street Tattoo. His core team of artists offer up high quality, customer focused work. Japanese, traditional, blackwork… You name it, they’ll work on it with you. Operating in the heart of the city, seven days a week, the India Street crew are ready to tattoo. Check them out.

 

1 India Street
BT7 1LJ Belfast

Original G Tattoo Lounge

Anyone looking for something a little left of centre needs to head out to the Original G Tattoo Lounge. While they can knock out designs of every style, shape and size, the studio deals in fantastic custom works, creating unique tattoos for anyone looking for something a bit out there. Check them out regardless for some fine tattoo art.

162 Antrim Road, Glengormley
BT36 7QZ Belfast

Belfast Tattoo Collective

Boasting over 40 years of tattoo experience between their artists, the Belfast Tattoo Collective studio knows a thing or two about tattoo. Custom work and flash all welcome, the Collective’s doors are open to get you in for some new ink!

 

37-39 Queen Street, 2nd Floor
BT16EA Belfast

INTERVIEW WITH PSYCHO DOLLS

How many people make up your team, and organised them originally?
PSYCHO DOLLS are “crazy dolls”, transforming madness into passion and energy, into a fantastic show full of femininity and sex appeal. We are a group of girls with extreme interests and a passion for adrenaline. By combining these features and emotions and our diverse characters, we have created this unique show together. PSYCHO, because we are not afraid of challenges and fire, we know what we want, we like danger and we feed on adrenaline. DOLLS, because it’s a group of unusual and completely different girls. All different but each is strong, courageous and have a fire in their hearts. The team includes Naffti Mama, Malina-Satan Sister, Peachy Kopa, Baby Face Waleria, Akro Ya Mayka, Shazza Extaz and Gumbi Ninja.

When and where did the idea come from, to set up Psycho Dolls?
The founding member of our project is Naffti – Kinga, who wanted to be a firefighter but wasn’t permitted to learn. She said that if she can not extinguish it, then she will make the fire! But seriously, the idea was born thanks to the motocross events at which she worked. As you know, testosterone dominates such events, and they lacked a female voice. When looking for attractions at similar events, the idea to blend fire with dancing arose. Looking for the perfect solution, Kinga decided to create her own group. Five years ago, the search for equally fiery girls, dancers and masochists began. We are the first group of this type in Poland, of which we are very proud.

The name of your group is very appropriate – you must be a little “psycho” to choose to carry out such extreme exploits. For those who don’t yet know, and have not had the opportunity to see you live, please tell us a little bit about what your show is about.
Haha! That’s right. You have to be a little crazy to deal with it. The show full of adrenaline, with live fire on the stage, beautiful women and lots of energy. Dance and fire tricks – fire breathing, fire eating and body burning are an inseparable part of our performances. You can not describe it – come and see it yourself.

Fire is usually something we have been told to avoid since childhood. Boys usually dream about extinguishing them, yet you decided to create the fire. What about the danger? You can’t eliminate the risks altogether, do you always have other factors to take into account? How much work is necessary to maintain the levels of professionalism?
As the “Psycho Dolls”, each of us has always been drawn to danger and extreme emotions. Although we are crazy – safety is always the most important issue. The risk of burns is always going to be there. That is why it is the first thing that we consider when planning shows. Our safety and our viewers’ safety is our priority. We work all the time in the workshop because we want to grow. We have regular rehearsals and meetings where we work on what else we can do to surprise and how to spice up our show. Additionally, we practice stage movement and acrobatics.

You must be addicted to the adrenaline. You surely cannot do such things if you can’t handle strong emotions? Do you still get stage fright or fear? Maybe they are feelings that no longer grace you once you get on to the stage?
Yes, as we mentioned (already a million times), we definitely like adrenaline! We get jitters every single time! There is no difference if we perform for 10 or 100,000 people – we always give 200% of ourselves, which is why there is so much stress. However, when it comes to fear – there is no place for it. We are dealing with an element that we must tame, which is why fear, and above all panic, are not allowed in such circumstances.

And what skills does a girl need if she wants to join and be one of your team?
To join Psycho Dolls you must have the fire in you! Be a courageous and open person not afraid of hard work and, above all, fire! You have to love yourself and be sure of your femininity. We love it when someone brings new skills to the group. It gives us the opportunity to diversify our show, develop with each other and acquire new skills. In one sentence, you have to be ONE BAD ASS MOTHERF-CKER!

You are not the only group that performs “fire show” performances. What distinguishes you from the rest of the pack?
There’s definitely diversity among each group, each of us is completely different and you can see it on the stage.
We’re like a candy store – everyone can find something that suits them. Starting from hair colour, tattoos, attitudes. We all have (oddly, very masculine) alter egos. which we like to joke about. Because rock’n’roll is not a tube of cream. Our shows differ significantly from the classic fire show performed in the past. With our diverse music and climate, which we can build around us, through our carefully practiced choreography and costumes that awaken the imagination of the audience, ending with even more attraction. In addition to the fire show, we also have someone dancing with a snake, dancing in the air and also on the pole. We are flexible, without any problems we can adapt to the customers’ needs. Beyond the stage, we like to create a hot atmosphere. We have fun and are happy to pose for photos and happier still to answer all of the fans questions.

You perform at various events, even during concerts – We even met you at tattoo conventions, etc. You had the opportunity to be one stage with Machine Gun Kelly. How can organizers of similar events contact you in order to arrange to work with you?
It’s best to contact by phone or email – info@psychodolls.pl. You can also find all the information at www.facebook.pl/PsychoDollsPL and Instagram @thepsychodolls. LIKE THIS! #supportyourlocalgirlgang #cutebutpsycho
P.S. MGK Gang, we all fucking love you!

So far, from what I know, you are performing primarily in Poland, are you also planning some performances outside its borders – are you open to offers from abroad?
Not true! We have performed the show in many countries – in Italy, Spain, Austria, Ireland, Germany… We like to get to travel to new places and in the near future, we will travel even more. Stay tuned!

Each of you are noticeably incredibly beautiful, emphasised further so by your stage costumes and the entire atmosphere accompanying your show. To be honest with you, it’s difficult to imagine you going home, jumping into a tracksuit and watching TV, stroking a cat! What does your everyday life look outside of, and in between performances? How do you find the balance between all of the adrenaline and everyday life?
That’s exactly what it looks like. Each of us returns home and strokes something, ha! But when we go to the city, we have always good fun. In addition to Psycho, each of us works professionally somewhere else, but they are still artistic activities. Fireshow is our escape from reality, as we mentioned earlier, we have our stage (not the men!) alter ego, which we gladly adopt during the shows. We can vent their wildness on the stage so when we come back home, our men can feel safe!

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel

All photography by:
Patrycja Jędrzejewska | Kamila Burzymowska | KStudio Krystian Michalak | Pola Sobuń | Piotr Tarasiewicz

INTERVIEW WITH JACK PEPPIETTE

Where did your background in art and tattooing stem from? Is there one particular artist or piece of work that made you think – “this is for me”?
I had always had an interest in art and tattooing, and I can remember getting the first couple of tattoos and as soon as they were finished immediately thinking ‘OK, what’s next’. But there was actually one piece that stands out as really sparking an interest, it was a sleeve by Thomas Hooper, the picture was of it unfinished at the time but it was entitled ‘one line short of a basket’ and it was where my love of tattooing and interest in geometric and pattern work began!

Your work with black ink really stands out from a lot of other practitioners of similar styles. What is it about black heavy designs that make them so appealing to so many, and how did you come to employ such a signature style?
I think there is a combination of things people find appealing, the ability to adapt the style I work with to be more heavy and bold or more light, more masculine or feminine, being able to fit it to each individual, their style and personality really work well. But as to how? It was a sort of slow natural progression into pattern work and then evolving it into what it is now! I think I was always interested in mandalas and geometry and as it progressed people seemed to like the mehndi and eastern patterns more so as more people booked in, I got more interested and practiced in it and then it just grew from there!

The “ornamental” tag doesn’t really do justice to the work you commit to skin. It makes sense as a descriptor but the large, intricate pieces and the small, personal designs you create are more than ornaments for the people who wear them. Even years into tattooing, do you still feel the same catharsis when you’re involved in a relationship with your client, from booking in to sitting down and working on/with them?
Thank you! I do agree, I think ornamental is just the cleanest box to put my work in at the moment but realistically I would say all tattooing is something of an ornament, but I think having a style now that people know me for really helps to have a much better relationship between client and artist. When you start out and tattoo a little bit of everything that comes through the door it can be challenging to create pieces which are not particularly to your taste, but when you find your own particular style the trust and understanding in how the design comes together is much more free leaving me much more open to really create something new and inspiring for each individual client.

At the recent Scottish Tattoo Convention, nearly every artist there had prints, flash, books and other items for sale. Your Gentleman’s Tattoo Flash book and the fantastic leggings you’ve created are two of the most unique “side gigs” around. How important do you feel it is for tattoo artists to branch outside of simply just tattooing?
I think its very important, both to express yourself creatively in other mediums and in business, It’s a great way to try new things! There are lots of straightforward merch ideas but I really enjoyed working with Al at Gentlemans Tattoo Flash and Jamie Christ to try and create something a bit different that no one has seen before or that hasn’t been done too much already. I have a few other projects in the works as well which has been great to get all my ideas out of my head and into reality so I can sleep at night! On the less creative side the extra projects are super important to make sure you have a bit of security, tattooing is one of the greatest jobs on earth but its very much self-employed and if you have an accident or get sick and can’t work, that’s when its good to know that you have other projects and another side to your business.

Some might be guilty of assuming that your ornate works are all you do, but a good dig through your work brings up some stunning traditional pieces, some designs bordering on neo-trad and many in between all the usual genre tags! Are there designs, motifs or rough ideas that you have in your head that you want to tattoo, ideas that may not “seem” like a Jack Peppiette idea?
At the moment not so much! I am really enjoying experimenting with the style of tattooing I am doing at the moment and trying to do interesting and unique stuff with the motifs that come naturally to me, I really want to see how far I can take the work I am doing at the moment! I do however still really enjoy traditional and more of a woodcut/lithograph style tattooing which is always nice to break things up a bit and keep me fresh and I also won’t say no to a good portrait or some realism now and again! I am very privileged position at the moment with some fantastic clients who allow me to create everything that goes on in my head!

You quite often work on areas like the hand, throat and face with your work visible on many a scalp in the UK and plenty more worldwide. It might seem like a tired point but how do you feel about the working world, outside of tattooing, and their attitudes towards modifications that are so visible and upfront?
It’s certainly an interesting point even if it comes up a fair bit, but I like the fact that everyone has different view on things. Personally, I love the fact that people trust me and like my work enough to have it become such an important part of their life and how people view them. I think the attitude towards heavily tattooed people has changed a lot in just the last five years or so,it’ss so much more socially acceptable which is fantastic progress but it also leaves it more open to people being somewhat naive about the choices of who and what tattoos they choose to get on public display areas. It’s a great step forward in acceptance that its who you are rather than what you look like, but its good to be aware hands, neck and face will affect your life.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Matt MacLennan
All images used courtesy of Jack Peppiette

 

HANNYA GALLERY

Andy Canino

Japanese tattooing has a multitude of levels to it, so much so that one article could never properly touch on the cultural and personal significance of the country’s tattooing particulars. One could try, but what does one Scottish writer really have to contribute to a discussion on one of the most intricate and striking tattooing styles around? The answer is a little bit, and it’s regarding the hannya mask.

As a fan for many, many years – even the years before I was legally allowed to be tattooed – hannya tattoos always struck me as the most intimidating, upfront kind of tattoo someone could possibly get.

Whether they were huge, dark and daunting or palm-sized and drenched in vibrant colours, hannya masks always caught my eye. Now as an adult with a more refined appreciation of all kinds of tattoo art, they are still one of the most pleasing motifs that anyone can tattoo, but there’s a lot more to them than just being scary. Who knew?

Originating in Japanese theatre in the 14th century, the hannya mask was used to represent vengeful female spirits. It’s double horns, striking eyes and distressing mouth used to represent the transformation from human to demon, the mask is viewed different face on as it when downturned slightly. The three variations of the mask (shiro, aka, and kuro) represent the gradual transformation from human to demon, as the masks become darker, more demonic looking, and ultimately inhuman – the progression from white and almost smiling to dark red, with disheveled hair a focal point of the style of theatre from which it came from. 700 years later, the hannya mask has come to take on spiritual and good luck meanings, as well as still being representative of Japanese theatre traditions. Some people wear it to ward off the evil spirit it represents, others may wear it to pay tribute to the captivating lore behind the mask itself. It’s not to be confused with the oni mask, however, as that’s another article waiting to be written.

Like many traditional Japanese tattoo motifs, the hannya mask has been contorted and morphed into just about every tattoo style you can think of, but the boldest hannya tattoos are done in the old manner; big bulging eyes, thick outlines, well packed vibrant colours and that instantly recognisable curled grimace. While people wear them on their skin for various reasons, the visual impact of a great hannya tattoo is universal.

As beautiful and striking as the tattoo may be, it’s still a frightening image. What may surprise many who wear one of these tattoos, is that the image is inherently feminine. Some of the biggest, scariest looking tattooed males walking around with evil looking hannya masks may not be aware of the traditions and story behind it. That’s not to say that it’s a tattoo motif that shouldn’t be worn by males. Everyone has their own reason for choosing the ink they wear, after all. The hannya mask can be adapted anyway to fit the personality of its owner.

We’ve pulled together some of the finest examples of hannya tattoos from all around the world. As vast as Japanese tattooing is, this one design really stands out among the rest. These fantastically executed tattoos bring history to the present day, thanks to the wonders of modern tattooing techniques and technology.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine UK was prepared by Matt MacLennan
All images used courtesy of the respective artists’ social media

ROCK'N'ROLL TATTOO & PIERCING GLASGOW

Now into their second decade as one of Glasgow’s premier tattoo studios, Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing still remain all about the customer. With a dedicated team of artists, managers and apprentices all aiming to give their clients the best tattoo possible, Rock’n’Roll’s Clydeside representatives have only grown in reputation and talent. A year on from the opening of their new flagship studio, first timers are welcomed as warmly as the people who call the studio their second home. Now with the space to allow twelve artists to work at any time, the Glasgow Rock’n’Roll studio remains focused on getting the client what they desire, matching artists to the particular designs being requested.

If any evidence was required, a quick social media search for “Glasgow tattoo” will show how many customers exit through the doors of Rock’n’Roll Glasgow with delight for their new ink. Countless proud shares of excellent tattoos from their residents, apprentices and a constant stream of exceptional guest talent mark the streets of the city in black and grey, realism, watercolours and many, many more. This doesn’t happen on its own though, everyone working for the studio puts the work in to make sure the music keeps flowing. It’s not enough to be the biggest studio around, there always has to be progression and improvement; moving toward newer and bigger goals. Something that studio proudly takes ownership of as their Studio manager Jamie Wilson elaborates:

“Rock’n’Roll is mainly known for its high quality and detailed tattoos, may that be from residents or guest artists, to which we bring some of the world’s biggest names to the UK, like Denis Sivak and Grindesign. We have the biggest team – currently sitting at twelve residents, five apprentices and a piercer. I have never worked with such a fun and passionate team before, everyone always gives it their all every day, making sure we keep to the high standards that Rock’n’Roll is known for. It’s done with ease though as everyone is so friendly and artistically gifted…it’s not just about the tattoo, it’s about the full experience. From booking in, to the finished product.”

Wilson and the rest of the team organising the details in between the ink pots are well aware of the studio’s reputation and often take bookings completely online; from the many customers who travel to the studio just to get ink from their bevvy of talented artists. The high demand for Rock’n’Roll Glasgow’s artists means many do travel from afar. Glasgow is a lovely place to visit, yes, but it’s the tattoo talent in this studio that they’re travelling for. On top of the incredible guest artists that sit in, the studio boasts tattooists capable of blending their unique styles with the wants of the customer. With artists available for specific requests, each resident has grown their personal reputations and portfolios immensely. Duncan Sweeny is just one of the residents loving his time in the studio:

“For me, the sheer variety of artists working at RnR was a big attraction. If you want to be a good artist [aside from hard work] you need to surround yourself with good artists. I really believe in that. Glasgow is a great city. I think the people are what make it so special. Naturally, that is reflected in the customers we have. Ultimately what I love is the complete faith they show in your vision and style that really makes every tattoo super fun.”

Rock’n’Roll is also always developing future talent, with a team of dedicated apprentices, ready to learn their trade in one of the best tattoo studios in the country. It’s no easy task, but the hard work pays off. There’s nowhere better to learn than inside a studio so busy,. Stephen Dali is one of the Glasgow studio’s apprentices and is grabbing the opportunity with both hands:

“As an apprentice in the Glasgow studio, I’ve had the chance to work with a load of amazing artists who specialise in a number of different styles. Having so many artists in the studio has been a good opportunity to learn different approaches to working and tattooing.”

One of Rock’n’Roll’s most sought-after artists is Alex Underwood. His work bringing visitors from all corners. Alex has plied his black and grey illustrative style in the Glasgow studio since his first days as an apprentice, a fine example of the kind of talent that the Glasgow studio can help achieve greatness in tattooing. Hard work and having a team around that are constantly pushing everyone for their best work definitely makes a difference. The years of training, practising and finessing all resulting in the happiest customers. There’s probably no one better to back this up than the man himself:

“Since the day of my interview I’ve worked contently at Rock’n’Roll Tattoo in Glasgow as both an apprentice and resident artist – Glasgow isn’t my birthplace but it’s definitely my hometown! It’s a city that’s friendly and easy to commute around. It’s also an added bonus that the tattoo culture thrives here! Dull Scottish weather helps keep folks’ skin pale which is perfect for the style of tattoos I like to do! I love operating using only black ink, and against the pale skin, it just has the elegant sort of aesthetic to it. It’s always so rewarding to draw something that really interests you and have complete strangers share that same enthusiasm that they would want it permanently on their bodies!”

These are words from just a few of the crew of Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing – Glasgow. The array of talent stretches further than words can go into. While only hearing from a few of the bodies that work through the blood, sweat, and tears in the studio, there’s a tonne of fantastic tattoos from all of the artists and apprentices that need to be seen. Literally something for everyone.

Alex Underwood

Edo Sacerdoti

Gabbi Vasquez

Duncan Sweeny

Karolina Sylwia

Cubb Snogg

Cheryl Dakota

Nicko Onno

Jim Gray

Burt Tattooizé

Steph Owens

Apprentices

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Matt MacLennan
All images courtesy of Rock’n’Roll Tattoo & Piercing Glasgow and the respective artist’s social media

 

SCOTTISH TATTOO CONVENTION 2018 - RECAP

On a sunny weekend in Scotland’s capital city, a deluge of tattoo artists and enthusiasts descended onto the famous Corn Exchange venue for the eighth annual Scottish Tattoo Convention. Crowds of ink wearing attendees piled through the doors all weekend to feast their eyes on some of the world’s best artists doing their thing, and many of them picked up ink of their own. In all truth, it was a first for yours truly. The Sunday of the Scottish Tattoo Convention would be my first taste of the now famous celebration of art that it has become. For some, an event like this could be incredibly intimidating but as soon as anyone crossed the threshold, the event and venue staff, with their big smiles and helpful attitudes, made everyone welcome with a smile. Scottish hospitality – with helping hands from all around the world – made this the fantastic event it always promised to be.

Missing the Saturday was a crime I have punished myself for greatly, but this is a celebration of the event so let’s not dwell on it. The buzz around the event on Sunday was immense but the Saturday was all about the tattoos. Every artist I spoke to barely had a chance to catch up with what was going on as people cleared them out of flash and designs. This was more than apparent on Sunday as scores of people wandered around with their newest additions on display. The sound of multiple tattoo machines working all at the same time music to the ears of everyone in attendance.

As soon as you got through the doors of the Corn Exchange, the air was buzzing with a good-hearted vibe. Vendors selling high-quality prints and etchings, fiery and delicious hot sauces, and a barber studio giving everyone the freshest cuts all contributing to the hubbub and communal feel to the entrance to the event. A feeling that was visible on every face in the building, save for the faces of anyone getting tattooed in an awkward place like their armpit, hand or head! The venue staff were exceptional too, making sure everyone knew where they were going and managing to keep a thirsty crowd well quenched. All of this contributing to making the eighth Scottish Tattoo Convention running smoothly and most importantly, putting the visitors first.

Aside from a few tired faces later in the day, the event was packed with the beaming faces of the next generation of tattoo owners and, potentially, tattoo artists. Families wandered through the aisles of whirring machines and maestros at work, with many of the children mesmerised by the work on display. It was totally refreshing to see, knocking any of the old stereotypes of tattooed people straight on the head. There’s no better environment for youngsters to learn about not judging someone on how they look, what they wear, or what they have marked permanently on their skin. Longstanding event MC Pedro helped make everyone feel welcome and included when running this Miss Scottish Tattoo Convention contest, inviting several kids up to participate as well. In other circles, it might be seen as a flat gesture, but at an event like this, it stood to show how inclusive and judgement free tattooing is.

Outrageous and delightful performances from pinup and burlesque artists like Mini Blue and Kimi Kaos, and the dastardly, death-defying antics of the Death Do Us Part Danger Show kept the audience fixated on the stage – between periods of staring at all the gorgeous art being created on human canvases. The Dr Martens raffle also brought the attention of the crowd, with several pairs of boots customised by artists from the convention given away to the lucky winners. The buzz of the attendees, moving in waves between booths, artists and vendors was electric, and again showed why the Scottish Tattoo Convention is one of the best. The organisers kept the flow of traffic between areas seamless, making sure anyone in search of a bite or a pint would not go without.

It would be ridiculous to not mention the actual artists involved, but it would be impossible to name check everyone who committed amazing work on skin. UK representation was high but the convention welcomed plenty of artists from overseas. There was a noticeable amount of artists specialising in traditional styles, with neo-trad, blackwork and new school also very well represented. As to how much that says about the current “trending” styles in tattooing? Who knows. The representation of styles, designs and techniques was still so wide that it was difficult to move too far without stopping and chatting with people about their work. All of the artists were receptive to questions about their work, even while working, and many allowed people to get a real close look too. Furthering the friendly atmosphere of the whole event. The competitions brought tattoos of all sizes, styles and designs with the “junkie pigeon” that won Best Scottish tattoo bringing a hearty laugh from everyone in attendance.

Approaching a decade of events, the Scottish Tattoo Convention maintains its status as one of the most relaxed conventions, without ever faltering in the quality of artists, entertainers and vendors they bring to the Corn Exchange, year after year. Next year should find the famous venue crammed full of fantastic artists, friendly faces and more gorgeous ink on display than the eye can handle. To anyone thinking about attending for the first time – do it.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Matt MacLennan
All photography courtesy of Greg Armstrong

INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK SHERIDAN

Hey Patrick, for the benefit of those at home, could you give us a few quick sentences about yourself – the Cliff notes, if you will.
I guess I’m a 42 year old musician, tattoo artist, husband, and father from the United States. I play in a band called Fit For An Autopsy and I’ve been playing music since high school in 1994. I’ve been tattooing for about eleven years or so. Tattoo wise, I primarily do American traditional designs. Real straightforward tattooing

Excellent man! I believe you’ve been working at Artisanal in New Jersey most recently?
I work at Artisanal when I’m back visiting in New Jersey, yeah. When I’m in Atlanta, where I currently live, I now work at 1920 Tattoo in Helen, Georgia.

I saw that you held a tattoo day for an animal shelter, was that at Southern Star?
Actually, that was another shop called Mothership Tattoo. Once a year they do a benefit for a local animal shelter. All the proceeds go to benefit the shelter, so we went up and tattooed for a whole day there at the shop.

That’s such a great event! I think I’m not wrong in thinking that these kind of charitable actions are a big part of your life?
Absolutely, yeah. You know, I’m not vegan. I don’t fall into that lifestyle, but I do feel like a lot of people overlook the mistreatment of animals, on a broad scale. One thing I try and do as much as I can is donate to or help shelters and animal rescues. I have four dogs and all four are shelter dogs. I’ve worked with different rescues in the past, but mainly pitbull rescues as I feel in the States they are a very abused and overlooked breed of dog. My band also tries to reach out and help not only animal charities but a whole handful of others too. We did a limited shirt to benefit the Syrian refugee crisis where all of the proceeds were donated to a charity that created shelter and gave food and clothing to families that had been displaced by that conflict. Most recently, we brought out a shirt and CD release to assist a group of Native American folks that are going through a very rough time with the government and a whole bunch of business policies – the access pipeline that they’re trying to run through the Standing Rock reserve in Dakota. We donated a bunch of money to try and help and released a video for “Black Mammoth” (from 2017’s The Great Collapse – Matt), to raise awareness. It’s something that we feel strongly about. If you have a platform, you should use it for something good. Fit For An Autopsy are lucky enough to have some kind of platform where we can reach people and talk about the things we care about. When we can give back we do the best we can. We don’t make a million dollars but we always try to pay it forward.

I love that about FFAA and I think many more do too. I feel like that you carry that attitude everywhere in life, to be honest. Be it in music, your tattooing or even your very public quest to get in better shape, you have that confidence in yourself to put your all into whatever you’re doing. If you were going to give advice to a young musician or tattoo apprentice on how to find and harness that confidence, where would you start?
Number one. Whether it’s music or tattooing or any kind of trade. You always have to look to the past. You have to look to the guys that did it before you and pay attention to the people who have established what it is you do. It’s very important to be aware of where your style comes from as a tattooer. The things that you like – say you like traditional tattoos like me, you wanna look at the people who are doing it best. So you say, okay, who did they learn from? Who did they look at? There’s a lineage that comes with all that. If you’re gonna be an apprentice, no matter what style you do or what kind of tattooing, what kind of machines you like, it doesn’t matter. You have to look back at the people who established what you do. If you’re a portrait artist, look for the best portraits. Black and grey fan? Do some homework on the guys who established the black and grey style. There’s the lineage. Always look to your past and that applies in music too. Maybe you like a heavy, slam death metal band, now, where did they come from? You have to look back at Suffocation and Obituary, maybe bands that came before that in the late 80’s and early 90’s bands that helped establish the style. I’m learning about these things every day. That’s the most important thing. If you can establish yourself in the roots of something and learn the basic steps in the beginning, you’ll be able to flourish as an artist or musician, because you’ll have that solid ground to build on.

As you’ve said, you’re a husband and a father as well as a tattoo artist and touring musician. Where do you find the balance between being permanently on the road or sitting in a studio for hours – where do you find the time to fit “Pat time” in?
Well I mean, I have a very supportive wife. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do. When we began life as a couple, I was tattooing seven days a week and doing my band as a part-time thing. I cut my tattooing to five days a week but then the band started to pick up. Then, in 2008, we got an offer from our first record label so we made that record and then the band started to get even busier. And then we had my son and I started touring. You can see there’s a progression, one where my wife has been unbelievably supportive. Because of her I’m able to sit back and do the things I need to do to keep my sanity. I’ll be honest with you, when I get home from tour all I wanna do is tattoo. Then when I’ve been tattooing for three months, all I wanna do is go on tour. There’s this love for tattooing and music – the reason I do tattoos is that I met people who did tattoos through music and I fell in love with it. Each one is lined up with the other, without one I don’t have the other. They are my two passions so it’s almost like I’m cheating while I’m doing one or the other.

I think you’ll get away with a little bit of cheating in this case!
I’m trying really hard! Another thing is, and I hate to say it like this, but I was a full-time tattoo artist and now I’m almost a part-time tattooer, which I hate because it’s almost like a no-no in the industry – “you’re not allowed to do that”. Somehow or another, people I respect as tattoo artists see how much I care about both things and they let it slide. Thankfully, I work at a couple of really great shops with a bunch of really great artists and I’ve got lucky in that sense. As far as me being me, my whole life is my wife and my son, guitars and tattoo machines. I mean you come in my house and there’s tattoo books all over the place, paintings on the wall from my favourite tattoo artists, and then guitars and heavy metal and rock’n’roll CD’s everywhere. My whole life revolves around these things. As long as I’m doing one of these things I feel like I’m not cheating myself, but it’s hard to be away. I’ve been gone for seventy days from my wife and son at the end of this tour. When I’m home I tattoo for a couple of weeks and then I’m back out on tour doing a small headliner and a couple of US festivals, then home, then out again for for a few days and then some time off to write a new record.

The Great Collapse topped a whole bunch of end of year lists and I feel it’s the most complete Fit For An Autopsy record. So far anyway!
Thank you.

As you move forward with the band, what are your plans moving forward in tattooing? Would you like to guest spot abroad?
I mean, I would absolutely love to come tattoo in the UK. If anyone reading this is interested in getting tattooed by me or anything, please get in touch @prstattoo@gmail.com and we can work whatever out. I have five months off this summer, aside from one tour in August, but I’m off for that time. I would love to travel and tattoo as much as I could. I’d be more than happy to come to the UK and meet cool people and make cool tattoos.

That would be sick, the UK would be lucky to have you over! Now, to close things off, now’s your chance to tell everyone who they should be listening to and getting tattoos from.
Yeah if you live in the North East you need to be paying attention to the guys in Kings Avenue tattoo – Mike Rubendall, Justin Weatherholtz, Matt Beckerich, Grez. They have one of the strongest teams in the North East and I’ve been tattooed there a bunch. Anywhere near Georgia, you need to check out Southern Star, Good Clean Fun and 1920 Tattoo. Obviously, if you’re in New Jersey you need to check out Artistanal in Somerville. As far as music goes, Great American Ghost is a hardcore band that I’m super jazzed on right now. Pay attention to them. Obviously the bands we’re on tour with – Goatwhore, Obscura and Sepultura. Three bands that are super good. Then there’s this band Yashira were bout to take out on tour with us.

Yashira are incredible, so glad you’re taking them out!
Yeah, they’re great. The new Harms Way record too, man there’s so much good stuff but I always have to go with my classics – Meshuggah, Gojira and Carcass. If you don’t know those names, pay attention! With the Internet there are no excuses now. Music or tattoos, any kind of culture, if you want to know something or find something, stick it in a search engine or social media, you can find it man. Don’t be lazy. Look for music, look for good tattoo artists and take the time to pay attention.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Matt MacLennan
All images courtesy of Patrick Sheridan

INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK SHERIDAN

Hey Patrick, for the benefit of those at home, could you give us a few quick sentences about yourself – the Cliff notes, if you will.
I guess I’m a 42-year-old musician, tattoo artist, husband, and father from the United States. I play in a band called Fit For An Autopsy and I’ve been playing music since high school in 1994. I’ve been tattooing for about eleven years or so. Tattoo wise, I primarily do American traditional designs. Real straightforward tattooing

Excellent man! I believe you’ve been working at Artisanal in New Jersey most recently?
I work at Artisanal when I’m back visiting in New Jersey, yeah. When I’m in Atlanta, where I currently live, I usually work at a place called Good Clean Fun in Snellville or at a place called Southern Star Tattoo, also in Atlanta.

I saw that you held a tattoo day for an animal shelter, was that at Southern Star?
Actually, that was another shop called Mothership Tattoo. Once a year they do a benefit for a local animal shelter. All the proceeds go to benefit the shelter, so we went up and tattooed for a whole day there at the shop.

That’s such a great event! I think I’m not wrong in thinking that these kind of charitable actions are a big part of your life?
Absolutely, yeah. You know, I’m not vegan. I don’t fall into that lifestyle, but I do feel like a lot of people overlook the mistreatment of animals, on a broad scale. One thing I try and do as much as I can is donate to or help shelters and animal rescues. I have four dogs and all four are shelter dogs. I’ve worked with different rescues in the past, but mainly pit bull rescues as I feel in the States they are a very abused and overlooked breed of dog. My band also tries to reach out and help not only animal charities but a whole handful of others too. We did a limited shirt to benefit the Syrian refugee crisis where all of the proceeds were donated to a charity that created shelter and gave food and clothing to families that had been displaced by that conflict. Most recently, we brought out a shirt and CD release to assist a group of Native American folks that are going through a very rough time with the government and a whole bunch of business policies – the access pipeline that they’re trying to run through the Standing Rock reserve in Dakota. We donated a bunch of money to try and help and released a video for “Black Mammoth” (from 2017’s The Great Collapse – Matt), to raise awareness. It’s something that we feel strongly about. If you have a platform, you should use it for something good. Fit For An Autopsy are lucky enough to have some kind of platform where we can reach people and talk about the things we care about. When we can give back we do the best we can. We don’t make a million dollars but we always try to pay it forward.

I love that about FFAA and I think many more do too. I feel like that you carry that attitude everywhere in life, to be honest. Be it in music, your tattooing or even your very public quest to get in better shape, you have that confidence in yourself to put your all into whatever you’re doing. If you were going to give advice to a young musician or tattoo apprentice on how to find and harness that confidence, where would you start?
Number one. Whether it’s music or tattooing or any kind of trade. You always have to look to the past. You have to look to the guys that did it before you and pay attention to the people who have established what it is you do. It’s very important to be aware of where your style comes from as a tattooer. The things that you like – say you like traditional tattoos like me, you wanna look at the people who are doing it best. So you say, okay, who did they learn from? Who did they look at? There’s a lineage that comes with all that. If you’re gonna be an apprentice, no matter what style you do or what kind of tattooing, what kind of machines you like, it doesn’t matter. You have to look back at the people who established what you do. If you’re a portrait artist, look for the best portraits. Black and grey fan? Do some homework on the guys who established the black and grey style. There’s the lineage. Always look to your past and that applies in music too. Maybe you like a heavy, slam death metal band, now, where did they come from? You have to look back at Suffocation and Obituary, maybe bands that came before that in the late 80’s and early 90’s bands that helped establish the style. I’m learning about these things every day. That’s the most important thing. If you can establish yourself in the roots of something and learn the basic steps in the beginning, you’ll be able to flourish as an artist or musician, because you’ll have that solid ground to build on.

As you’ve said, you’re a husband and a father as well as a tattoo artist and touring musician. Where do you find the balance between being permanently on the road or sitting in a studio for hours – where do you find the time to fit “Pat time” in?
Well I mean, I have a very supportive wife. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do. When we began life as a couple, I was tattooing seven days a week and doing my band as a part-time thing. I cut my tattooing to five days a week but then the band started to pick up. Then, in 2008, we got an offer from our first record label so we made that record and then the band started to get even busier. And then we had my son and I started touring. You can see there’s a progression, one where my wife has been unbelievably supportive. Because of her, I’m able to sit back and do the things I need to do to keep my sanity. I’ll be honest with you, when I get home from tour all I wanna do is tattoo. Then when I’ve been tattooing for three months, all I wanna do is go on tour. There’s this love for tattooing and music – the reason I do tattoos is that I met people who did tattoos through music and I fell in love with it. Each one is lined up with the other, without one I don’t have the other. They are my two passions so it’s almost like I’m cheating while I’m doing one or the other.

I think you’ll get away with a little bit of cheating in this case!
I’m trying really hard! Another thing is, and I hate to say it like this, but I was a full-time tattoo artist and now I’m almost a part-time tattooer, which I hate because it’s almost like a no-no in the industry – “you’re not allowed to do that”. Somehow or another, people I respect as tattoo artists see how much I care about both things and they let it slide. Thankfully, I work at a couple of really great shops with a bunch of really great artists and I’ve got lucky in that sense. As far as me being me, my whole life is my wife and my son, guitars and tattoo machines. I mean you come in my house and there’s tattoo books all over the place, paintings on the wall from my favourite tattoo artists, and then guitars and heavy metal and rock’n’roll CDs everywhere. My whole life revolves around these things. As long as I’m doing one of these things I feel like I’m not cheating myself, but it’s hard to be away. I’ve been gone for seventy days from my wife and son at the end of this tour. When I’m home I tattoo for a couple of weeks and then I’m back out on tour doing a small headliner and a couple of US festivals, then home, then out again for a few days and then some time off to write a new record.

The Great Collapse topped a whole bunch of end of year lists and I feel it’s the most complete Fit For An Autopsy record. So far anyway!
Thank you.

As you move forward with the band, what are your plans moving forward in tattooing? Would you like to guest spot abroad?
I mean, I would absolutely love to come tattoo in the UK. If anyone reading this is interested in getting tattooed by me or anything, please get in touch @prstattoo@gmail.com and we can work whatever out. I have five months off this summer, aside from one tour in August, but I’m off for that time. I would love to travel and tattoo as much as I could. I’d be more than happy to come to the UK and meet cool people and make cool tattoos.

That would be sick, the UK would be lucky to have you over! Now, to close things off now’s your chance to tell everyone who they should be listening to and getting tattoos from.
Yeah if you live in the North East you need to be paying attention to the guys in Kings Avenue tattoo – Mike Rubendall, Justin Weatherholtz, Matt Beckerich, Grez. They have one of the strongest teams in the North East and I’ve been tattooed there a bunch. Anywhere near Georgia, you need to check out Southern Star, Good Clean Fun and 1920 Tattoo. Obviously, if you’re in New Jersey you need to check out Artistanal in Somerville. As far as music goes, Great American Ghost is a hardcore band that I’m super jazzed on right now. Pay attention to them. Obviously the bands we’re on tour with – Goatwhore, Obscura and Sepultura. Three bands that are super good. Then there’s this band Yashira were bout to take out on tour with us.

Yashira are incredible, so glad you’re taking them out!
Yeah, they’re great. The new Harms Way record too, man there’s so much good stuff but I always have to go with my classics – Meshuggah, Gojira and Carcass .If you don’t know those names, pay attention! With the Internet there’s no excuses now. Music or tattoos, any kind of culture, if you want to know something or find something, stick it in a search engine or social media, you can find it man. Don’t be lazy. Look for music, look for good tattoo artists and take the time to pay attention.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Matt MacLennan
All images courtesy of Patrick Sheridan

POZNAN TATTOO CONVENTION 2018

Tattoo Konwent is a unique series of festivals dedicated to the art of tattoo, organised and run in various Polish cities for many years. Every year, each convention brings together thousands of enthusiasts of this fantastic art. On March 24-25, the third edition of the Poznań festival took place under this particular banner. From day one, the Poznań convention has been breaking attendance records. This year’s event was attended by 9,000 people, with over 450 tattoo artists from all over the country involved.

Such a large turnout was the result of the organiser’s care and attention to detail, ensuring anyone attending would remember this weekend for a long, long time. Every now and then we could hear amazing music – hardcore, punk, metal, African, electronic, you name it. Concerts by artists like Hidden World, Torn Shore, Lua Prete and Queenz of Steel attracted large crowds. However, this was not the only entertainment available. Between the concerts and individual contests, there were amazing performances on stage. The temperature’s stayed high thanks to the performances of the Pyrohex group from London, presenting aerial acrobatics and extreme acts with grinders and fireworks taking centre stage. During their fireshow, the gorgeous ladies from Mystical Tribes got involved, unafraid of playing with fire. Following this, LUQO – a master of acrobatics at the highest level. His amazing control over his own body and fantastic choreography deserved all of the applause given.

It wasn’t just the stage that held all of the attractions, with every step forward revealing something new. Automobile fans were attracted by the Hot Ball zone, with custom cars and motorcycles. For those interested in art, outside of tattooing, a special exhibition zone was created with the works of Tomasz Strzałkowski, Damian Dymas, Beyger and Bestiarium D all on show. Additionally, the gentlemen in attendance could refresh their hairstyles thanks to the talented barbers from the Buttercut barber show. The ladies (and others!) attracted to the fashion and design zones, in turn. Everyone could rest in the chill zone and eat well in the open air – with several food trucks in attendance also.

This year, the Banana Ink stand let anyone and everyone, regardless of their age, try their hand as a tattoo artist – with airbrushing! Following last years success, Tattoo Konwent again ran their “Tattoo In The Dark” attraction, which is becoming more and more popular. The person sitting for the tattoo does not know what they are getting until the very last moment, as they are sat with their tattoo hidden by a curtain! The organisers prepared 15 tickets for the price of PLN 399, with those who purchased them able to enjoy their surprise tattoo! The artists behind the black curtain were: Dymas, Crystal Heart Tattoo and Marcelina Urbańska.

Another notable event was the competition “Kids Tattoo Their Parents” where tattooers from Zajawa Tattoo Studio carried out designs created by children up to ten years old. The winning designs were selected from the children’s work, created prior to the event. On the second day of the convention, presentations of designs tattooed on the parent’s body took place, as well as a ceremonial awarding of prizes for children. The family atmosphere is what distinguishes the events of the Tattoo Konwent series. Although tattoo festivals used to be more associated with scary-looking gentlemen in leather vests, they are now a friendly event for parents coming with their children. For a whole two days in a special children zone, professional and full of energy animators made time and provided entertainment for the youngest attendees. The convention really emphasised and carried out with their slogan – “Join the family”. In connection with this, a special charity event was organised, resulting in the festival organisers donating at least PLN 5,000 to the SOS Wioska Dziecięce association.

“This time, the number of participants is not just a statistic. Attendance has influenced the amount that Tattoo Konwent will donate to the SOS Wioska Dziecięce association. Today we know that it will be at least PLN 5,000. We transfer PLN 1 for every ticket sold. This amount we raised PLN 4,488. Money was also collected when signing up for competitions – participants willingly donating to the can, which we transferred to the foundation. At least 569 people supported the association with at least one zloty. However, most were far more generous.” – Marcin Pacześny, the main organiser of the convention.

However, let’s return to the main premise of the festival, which is to select the best works made or presented during these two days. In eleven competition categories, the jury consisted of: Aleksandra Kozubska – founder of the Pretty Things Tattoo studio, Jarek Goraj Gorajek – founder of the Goraj Tattoo Studio and Łukasz Smyku Siemieniewicz – founder of Dead Body Tattoo Studio. They judged over 569 entries for 31 selected prizes. From all the work submitted, one tattoo was awarded “Best of the Show”.
Below are the winners of the competitions:

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Maria Śmigiel
All images by Błażej Michalczyk, courtesy of Tattoo Konwent

UNDERDOG TATTOO STUDIO

“Underdog Tattoo Studio’s first steps came in October 2016 when, together with Łukasz we decided to open our own, more friendly and welcoming place for tattooing. We had our grand opening during the Warsaw Tattoo Conventions and thanks to our talented artists, we started right away”, opens Barbara Czwarno.
“Many probably wonder where our name comes from. It comes from the fact that we like to surprise and win, even if most would bet against us. We want to be the best and we believe in our success. Besides, we always fight to the end and as it happens in life. At Underdog, everyone can find their place and feel at home with friends – that’s the idea that inspired us when we created this space”

Underdog Tattoo in Warsaw is developing at a surprising pace, despite it’s young age. The studio is known for its high levels of quality tattooing and holds a great reputation. This is certainly due to the crew that they employ. As one of its founder continues:
“The whole team came together spontaneously. Paweł was the first to believe, uprooting his life and joining us. He came from Ukraine and became our first tattoo artist. We already knew Taras from our previous studio experiences. We noticed his talents and gave him a chance. As you can see, it was a great decision. Later on, Black came to us and as our student is constantly learning new skills and climbing to the next levels of his tattoo career. The last to join us was Rinst83, who worked in Warsaw studios for several years. From the first conversation, we knew with Łukasz that this was the man we were looking for.”

Now to get to know them a little better!

RINST

“My life in tattoo began about fifteen years ago when I first picked up a tattoo machine. However, my interest quickly disappeared. However, tattooing would not let me go that easily and in 2014, I came back to its world. From then on, tattoos have been an all-consuming part of my life. I prefer to tattoo script, more precisely calligraphy. I don’t turn down other projects though. I come from a graffiti environment so I really love all forms of typography. I also deal with illustrative works, which I can then transfer to the skin. As for inspiration, it really depends on what I’m doing. If I’m designing script, everything comes from my head, but when I create something graphic, I browse for media that inspires me into creating something uniquely mine”

PAWEŁ

“I started tattooing professionally in 2015. I work mainly in black and grey realism, sometimes using colour to emphasise details like in the eye of an animal. The most common design I work on are fauna, flora, and statues. Still, I’m always looking for something new and interesting. I try to follow the latest works from the best tattooists, artists, and photographers. Tattoo wise, I draw the most inspiration from Den Yakovlev, Dmitriy Samohin and Denis Sivak.”

CZARNY

“My friends call me Black Brother and I have been tattooing for over a year, so still a lot of learning awaits me. The tattoos I love doing have thick lines and colourful cartoon and fairytale themes that I sometimes like to merge with my rap style. I love the works of Thom Bulman, Der from Arbuz Tattoo, Paco Sanchez and the rapper and artist – Tempz. Most of the time I’m tattooing colourful, cartoony designs. All of my work revolves around fairy tales, toys and hip-hop culture. These are the things inspired my designs every day.”

TARAS

“It’s hard to say how long I’ve been tattooing. When I first started, I did not think it would become my career. Initially I was doing one or two tattoos a year, mainly on the skin of my friends. Seriously, professionally, I’ve been working in the studio for two and a half years. I like combining and interlacing different styles with each other e.g, watercolours, new-school and graphic elements. The most important subjects of my work are animals, flowers and feminine faces; inspired by my beloved Ania. Inspiration can be found almost everywhere – sometimes something inspires me on a trip or while watching a movie I see an interesting element in the frame. Inspirations are everywhere”

After such success with their Warsaw studio, Underdog are expanding their reach. From March, visitors will be welcomed to their second branch, in Wroclaw. This studio is co-founded by another amazing artist with a unique style – Andrey Lukovnikov. The Underdog Studio under Lukovnikov will be full of amazing artists, including Olya Levchenko. We can’t recommend enough that you visit both Warsaw and Wroclaw’s Underdog studios. We insist!

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Maria Śmigiel
Photographs of artist’s work made available by Underdog Tattoo Studio
Studio photography by Patrycja Jędrzejewska and Aleksandra Sędek

 

INTERVIEW WITH BLAME MAX


Tell me, please, when was the first time you grabbed the needle and decided to make an unplugged tattoo, what prompted you to do it?
It was about 3.5 years ago. And I was tempted by a buddy dorm. Total spontaneous, I had no idea what I was doing.

Before you started doing hand-poke, did you have any prior experience with tattooing using an electric machine?
No, I’ve always used a needle from day one.

Hand-poked tattoos are probably one of the most popular tattooing trends. I have the impression that many people think it’s an incredibly difficult technique. On the other hand, there are those who think it requires less talent – the patterns are simpler, often just outlines and the scale is much smaller. Additionally, to those thinking in that manner, someone interested does not have to invest much money into equipment. But how is it really? I think you are the right person to ask.
In recent years yes, the number of people doing hand-poked tattoos has increased by about a thousand percent. When I started to take my first steps, I heard of two others in Poland – I heard about two, I did not say there were not more. As far as the technique is concerned, I’ve seen first timers creating cool designs, people working really hard to get their tattoos to look solid, and then there are those who after several years still do terrible beets. It’s different for everyone. Technique and execution is an endless topic, there’s always something to learn. There are many ways to get a good contour, same goes for good filling or shadows. Every now and then I find that one of the tattooists I’m interested in makes the outline completely different to my method, using different needles or from different angles.

It’s said that it’s always worth investigating something further, but I must admit that until I encountered your work, I did not expect much from hand-poke practitioners. I was convinced that it is unrealistic to work without electricity so I thought it impossible for a hand-poke tattoo to look as good as an electric made one). I thought the single dots would be blatant, sometimes forming together, but never creating a pure line or well-shaded area. I remember the first time I saw you working in person, I could not believe it wasn’t made with a tattoo gun. I won’t mention the perfect districts… How do you do it? How much time does it take to achieve that level with a needle, and what are the most important things to keep in mind practicing this craft?
I’m very pleased with that! Well, unfortunately, in Poland, stick poke is commonly associated and tagged by younger people as “ignorant”. But for example in Japan, there are many tattooists who do all of their work without a tattoo gun and they are super well-made tattoos! It’s hard to say how much time is needed, you learn through your whole life. Patience is very important. I owe a lot to clients who trust me and are always open to my new ideas! So it’s like if I start to tattoo more hair on women and other kinds of shadow – I’ll figure out some muck in the technique that I want to use in this way.

When the kids without talent are referring to works like yours as ignorant, it’s just irritating and putting a downer on this particular trade. Coming back to you, I have heard various things about hand-poke. Some are adamant it is more painful than the tattoo gun, with many others holding the exact opposite belief. That aside, it’s undoubtedly a time-consuming technique. How much do you need to do a palm-sized tattoo?
It’s definitely a different type of pain, but 99% of my clients say that it hurts less than an electric machine. Timing wise, it all depends on the amount of detail in the design and of course, where on the body. I’ve been sitting for two hours doing portraits lately, things less complicated I can do in little over an hour.

Well, this is a surprisingly short time. I expected at twice that time. Forgive me if this next question is silly, but I’m very curious. What is more difficult to execute – a simple, undisturbed line or perfect shading?
It’s not silly, I don’t know though. It depends on the area, but a simple line is probably the easiest thing to hand-poke. The worst being circles.

Your work moves from the traditional style – often very graphic – and the “righteous” old school works, at sea or in prisons when there was no electricity. What motifs do you like to tattoo the most, and which in turn are the biggest challenge for you?
It’s always changing, every now and then I’m really into something, but there are also things I do not like doing. Everything can be fun though. The challenge is instead tattooing new places on the body, not new designs.

When tattooing, you need nothing but ink and needles. You don’t have to worry about the machine, power supply, pedal, electricity etc. So it makes sense that this technique gives you real freedom. Apart from possible sanitary issues, keeping that in mind you can work practically everywhere. What are the restrictions? Which obstacles do hand-poke artists encounter? What can’t you do with this technique? When creating designs, do you have to consider the limits of the technique?
That’s a great question. At first, drawing, I really had to think about how I would tattoo. I had certain patents that helped me later in this motif. But now it is quite the opposite. The longer I do it, the more I am convinced that there are no limitations in this technique. I even try to figure out types of shadows that will easier to achieve without a machine.

And how does colour work? There are practically no colourful designs, although some can be found in your portfolio. Is there a difference between using colour and black?
I have never drawn in colour, so I only add colour at the customer’s request and only if it makes sense. The difference is, some coloured inks are much thicker than most blacks, it can be harder at first but everything is possible to do. There are several tattooists who basically only do colourful hand-poke.

Many “electric” tattooists, with varying levels of success, have tried to go “unplugged” for a change – a break, even. What about you, are you ever tempted to pick up a machine?
Never. I’m not saying that I will never try but for now, I still see a million things to learn using this technique.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel
All images used courtesy of Blame Max

 

INTERVIEW WITH LEVGEN KNYSH

You live and work in Wrocław, but you come from Kharkiv. When and why did you decide to leave Ukraine and move to Poland?
I moved four years ago. In 2012 my friend and I opened our own tattoo studio in Kharkov, Ukraine, and we managed it all by ourselves. Running the studio was very difficult and took up a lot of our time. A few years later I visited some studios in Poland and Germany and had a lot of fun there, doing lots of tattoos. I understood that tattooing without thinking about the all the external stuff was easy, so I decided – I’m a tattoo artist, not a businessman. And I got lucky, a few months after some of my friends invited me to Wroclaw to join them in their new studio. It was a cool chance and big challenge for me; to start a new life in another country. Especially in a country with lots of great tattoo artists in countries close by, with all of the different tattoo conventions happening. I learned a lot and spent my time concentrating on tattooing.

Was art always something present in your life, or did artistic predispositions take place later on?
I’ve been drawing since I studied in school. I didn’t do very well but liked to take a pen, imagine something and just draw it. In art lessons I got bad marks every time but who gives a fuck about that. I practiced graffiti but paints were so expensive. I didn’t paint as often as I wanted to.

And your interest in tattooing? When did that come to you and where did you come to the idea to work at it professionally?
The first time in my life I was really aware of tattooing was when one of my friends showed me the book “How to Tattoo”. I found a lot of tattoo designs that I would take a pen and draw fake versions on my friends – but my tattoo journey stopped a few days later when I met another guy from high school who was already tattooing. His name was Roman. He showed me a lot of things about tattoos, about the process and he took me to visit my first convention. It was the Kiev Tattoo Convention in 2008. I was so intrigued that I decided to become a tattoo artist but had no money to buy all of the equipment. I had to find a way of living my dream of being a tattoo artist so I began piercing to make the money for tattoo equipment.

Do you remember your first steps in tattooing and your first job? How did those early days take shape and what was most difficult about them?
Yes, I remember of course. As every young tattoo artist does at that time, my first days were spent tattooing my friends, for free of course. The most difficult thing was to find new clients and to find someone who could help and answer all the questions. At that time, the whole tattoo culture was closed to anyone from the outside and to grow up, to find this information was so difficult 10-15 years ago. Now, becoming a tattoo artist is much easier.

You create the highest class of amazingly colourful, realistic tattoos. Since you started did you always know that you wanted to work in this direction or did you try different ideas and stylistics?
Oh, I tried a lot of different styles. A lot of black symbols and stupid tattoos, from walk-ins. I worked in old and new school, Japanese, black and grey and colour realism too. One day, I was tattooing a friend and he asked me, “why do you work in all these styles. If you tattoo detailed realism so well, why bother with the rest?”. It made me think, yeah, why do I do this? That was the time I decided to change something in my tattoo life. I started to talk with customers, talking about working the realistic style. Of course, not every one of them wanted to get something realistic, so I hand-picked them.

What kind of designs, images do you enjoy tattooing the most? On the other hand, are there tattoos you are reluctant to do?
I like to tattoo things from hell, scary faces, fire and flames, devil hands and skulls, of course. These themes are very interesting to me. I can’t explain to you why but I like them a lot. I also like to do flowers, something positive and funny sometimes – comic characters have been very popular. I hate to work with religion or national themes, anything to do with politics or portraits of real people. I hate that, I don’t feel good or free doing them.

Who is your greatest inspiration? Is there someone who’s had a special impact on you and what you create?
I get the most inspiration from my friends and colleagues, who work together with me. We’ve assembled the best team, where everyone is really great as both people and artists. I like to work at conventions and do guest spots in different studios. I get to meet my tattoo artist friends, follow their processes of tattooing and get to watch great work happening in person. We speak together and create new things and in the end, all of this gives me a high. I want to work and work and work, always working on new things and I can’t take a break from it. I am full of ideas. These are my inspirations.

I have always wondered how, especially in terms of realism work, there’s a noticeable pattern: tattoo artists from Eastern Europe – Ukraine, Belarus, Russia – represent the highest level and are always leading the way. Where is this coming from? What’s the secret?
I get this question every time and I don’t know what I can tell you. I never studied in art school and never took art lessons, except for ones in high school. It probably happens because of the fine art which you can find in museums, all of our art experience is based from that. Maybe, I don’t know.

What was the hardest moment of your career thus far?
The most difficult time was when I moved to Poland. I left my home, my comfortable home and work life where I had lots of friends, clients and my own private studio. Moving to another country where I had to start from the bottom, work at tattoo conventions showing off my work and myself, also finding new customers and friends in the industry. All to prove to everyone that I’m not just another artist from somewhere else. Now, I’m fine and very happy that I did it.

What are your plans for the future? Will they be made in Poland?
I don’t know. Right now I want to work in as many new places as I can. New studios, new countries, new projects and new friends. Right now, I live in Wroclaw and I love the city, the people and atmosphere here, but I don’t know what tomorrow brings.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel
All images used courtesy of Levgen Knysh

 

TOP 10 STUDIOS IN MANCHESTER

Sorry Mum Tattoo

Since 2013, the Sorry Mum crew have been upsetting maternal figures with the fantastic tattoos they create on their clients. Covering all areas of tattooing, Rob Sedge’s gorgeous portraits are worth the time, investment and subsequent disapproval from your old dear.

 

 

2 Sherbourne Street
M25 1AF
Manchester
sorrymum13@gmail.com

Flesh Tattoo

Situated in the heart of the city, Flesh Tattoo is a must visit studio for anyone looking for geometric, dotwork or black and grey. The studio obviously excels in other areas but the smartest pieces of these types definitely come out of the Flesh Tattoo studio doors. Definitely deserving of their place on the Manchester tattoo map!

 

31-33 Lloyd Street
M2 5WA
Manchester

House Of Pain Tattoo

Doing exactly what they say on the tin (sign), House Of Pain Tattoo have been using needles and ink to satisfy their dedicated customers for over a decade now. Anyone sat in one of their chairs knows they’re leaving with a tattoo they’ll love for life. As long as they don’t jump up, up and get down…

 

9 Davenport Avenue
M20 3GA
Manchester
houseofpaintattoo@hotmail.co.uk

Heart For Art Tattoo

Run by Danny Birch, Heart For Art offers customers a team of artists, each with their own specialities in tattooing. Catering to clients needs with great detail, Birch and his staff continue to pepper Mancunians and visiting enthusiasts with some of the finest ink around.

 

Unit 22 Whitelands Industrial Estate
Clarence Street
Stalybridge
SK15 1QL
info@heartforart.co.uk

Rain City Tattoo Collective

Definitely one of thee places to go to for big, eye-catching tattoos in Manchester. Rain City nail every style thrown at them and they do it with aplomb; unique takes on classic tattoo styles literally pour out of the doors here. They’re sure to be a mainstay for some time.

 

 

16 Nicholas Street
Part 3rd Floor
M1 4EJ
Manchester
www.raincitytattoo.co.uk

Sacred Art Tattoo

Fast approaching their second decade in business, Sacred Art takes pride in their reputation as one of the best. A dedicated returning customer base and exceptional tattoos – from the tiny ones to sprawling back pieces – ensure that the studio will be running well into another decade.

 

 

497 Barlow Moor Road
M21 8AG
Manchester

tattoo@sacredarttattoo.co.uk

Manchester Tattoo Emporium

Given its central location, one could presume that the Manchester Tattoo Emporium crew slapped flash on walk ins left, right, and centre. One presumes wrong. It doesn’t matter if someone wants a small, quirky design or a giant, detailed tattoo, the Emporium artists strive to give the customer exactly what they desire – be it Japanese, watercolours, trad, etc.

 

7 Nicholas Croft
M4 1EY
Manchester
manchestertattooemporium@gmail.com

Sword And Sparrow Tattoo Co.

Slightly outwith the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Sword And Sparrow’s artists are well worth leaving the bright lights and endless Nandos for a phenomenal tattoo. Covering all styles proficiently, there are some amazing graphic pieces coming out of this studio; comic and cartoon fans take note.

 

223a Bury Old Road
M25 1JE
Prestwich
swordandsparrow@gmail.com

72 Tattoo

No nonsense, customer-focused tattoos are the focal point of 72 Tattoo. Owned by Sean Lyons and Gavin Rourke, 72 Tattoo offers a full array of gorgeous tattoo styles, with portraits and cover-ups just two of their specialities. Solid staff and a gorgeous location make this one to visit.

 

31 Flixton Road
M41 5AW
Manchester
72tattoo@gmail.com

Redwood Tattoo Studio

Not content with having a fantastic squad of genre-bending tattoo artists, Redwood also ferry in amazing guest artists regularly. With a great location, studio and even better folk behind the counter and the tattoo machines, Redwood Tattoo Studio really puts the “ooo” in Manchester tattoos.

 

77 Lever Street
M1 1FL
Manchester
redwoodtattoostudio@gmail.com

GALLERY OF HORROR(TATTOO)S

Everyone remembers the first time a crackling VHS horror movie terrified them for the first time. If they’re old enough to remember VHS, obviously. For some, it was a horrendous event, a memory creeping around in the back of their psyche, ready to pop back into their mind at any time. Others, myself included, actually craved more of that very same feeling. There’s plenty of science behind it but it’s simple – it’s fun to get scared. Horror fans all have their favourites and the list is expansive as hell; serial slashers in varying disguises and states of decay, interdimensional hell portals spitting out nightmarish realities, and creepy plastic dolls are just this freak’s favourites.

We’re not here to talk exclusively about horror movies though, there are other places for that.

While the haunting soundtracks and countless rewind-and-rewatch kills live on forever, they wouldn’t hold the same weight without the striking faces of terror they follow. These faces, masks and monsters continue to live on past the credit reel, thanks to the talented artists shredding the skin of their victims. Let’s be honest, there are probably too many Jason Voorhees tattoos out there, but that’s okay – the hockey mask makes for some very cool tattoos. Whether it’s Jason’s mask or Boris Karloff, horror images are perfect for creative tattoo artists to take on.

There’s definitely a focus on realism in horror tattooing, but that’s the case everywhere; there’s also so much room for creativity and unique takes on the classics. Much in the same way an artist might tackle a lighthouse, dagger or any other traditional image. It’s this mixture of painstaking realism and creativity that makes great horror tattoos; new takes on images replayed so many times the tape disintegrated, and knife-edge portraits, precise to the last bloody drop. Taking a classic image of terror and turning it into something someone will cherish forever is a strange thing. A bit different from tattooing someone’s child on a bicep. It’s no less important though, any tattooed horror fan will tell you. The bloodsoaked memories of horror icons will live on the skin of their devoted followers with all the screams of pain and agony coming from the TV, not the studio chair. Hopefully.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine UK was created by Matt MacLennan
All images are taken from the respective artists’ social media

INTERVIEW WITH SEBASTIAN NOWACKI

Everyone has to start out somewhere. What were the early days of your tattoo career like and what would you tell yourself if you could go back to when you first started?

It was difficult at the start because there is a huge stigma attached to tattoos and tattoo artists. Going into tattooing was a choice I made because I was always passionate about art. I had a family to provide for, so from leaving a full time job, to going into something that I had no idea if I would become successful in, it was very stressful. I had to start from doing small tattoos, walk- ins, and just practicing whenever I had the time to. I had little control when it came to tattoo’s, I worked under management at other people’s studio’s, so I had to follow their rules to do whatever the customer wanted, even if it was against my beliefs. If I could go back to when I started, I would tell myself to keep going, to practice hard and that everything will be fine in the end.

What brought you to the UK initially and what are the main differences between tattooing in Poland and the UK?

I migrated to the UK eighteen years ago and never had the chance to work in Poland. Working in the UK provided the opportunities and pathways to get into the tattooing industry, I cannot make a comparison to working in Poland because I have never worked there officially.

Now that you’re running Tattoobylaw, how do you balance the workload of being a professional tattoo artist and running a business at the same time?

My partner helps me, she is also the manager of my shop, so she sorts out the business side of things while I focus on the workload. My partner encouraged me to open up my own shop and gave me a lot of moral support before and after opening TattooByLaw.

Your style blends realism with a really unique illustrative style in parts, where do you find the inspiration from in creating designs that don’t fit into any one tattoo category?

I’ve always had an interest in art and art culture from a young age. I feel that to be recognised in the tattoo scene, I have to provide a unique style. I have always painted before, and I got my inspiration, and have learnt a lot of techniques of art from my grandfather. I like to use oil paints and try to use this painting technique in my style of tattooing. Colours are a big part of what I love to do, I enjoy blending my own palette using Intenze inks.

Some artists make their living doing guest spots around the world these days, is there anywhere you would love to travel to and tattoo?

I would love to travel all over the world, see the different cultures, and experience their views on tattoos. I would also appreciate the opportunity to show my style to others, hopefully it would help to erase some negative views on tattoos.

We recently featured an article titled “The Customer Is Our Master?”, how do you approach a customer who wants their first tattoo on their throat or hand/a customer who wants a design that is either inappropriate or maybe offensive?

First, I would need to have a consultation and discussion with the customer about what they want tattooed, and the placement of the design on their body. I would ask the reason why they want it in that particular area. If it is on the hand, neck, face, head, then I would try to discourage them and persuade them to get it somewhere else on their body. If it is against my beliefs I have the right to say “no” and turn the customer down, that is the benefits of being my own boss.

Finally, without giving away any of your secrets, do you have any words of wisdom for artists looking to successfully set up shop on their own?

What upsets me the most are inexperienced people that open up a shop just for the money; these people ruin customers’ skin, and steal hardworking tattoo artists’ work. My advice would be to work hard and become established, and to have your own customer base. After that you can feel free and do it, if you feel strong enough, then why not open up your own shop.

“The composition of tattoo designs are very important. I try to pay attention to the anatomical position and imagine how the tattoo will look while the person is moving that part of the body- to ensure that it is visible. Choosing colours is a big part of my tattoo compositions, I like to choose colours that harmonise and contrast each other.”

“I just want to show people that there are so many options and possibilities when it comes to tattoo designs, make sure that you do your research before getting a tattoo done. I get a lot of people that contact me to get cover-ups done, and for me, cover-ups are challenging but very rewarding because I try to help these people out and give them something that they can be proud to wear on their skin.”

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Matt MacLennan
All images used courtesy of Sebastian Nowacki

WARSAW TATTOO DAYS 2018 - RECAP

On the 3rd and 4th of March this year, the third edition of the Warsaw Tattoo Days festival took place. This time around, the event was set up in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw, to take advantage of the great potential and large space of the Ptak Warsaw Expo – the largest exhibition and conference centre in Central Europe. If you thought the non-central location and chilling temperatures would reduce the number of attendees, you’d be very wrong! The number of participants this year, unfazed by the location and conditions, was sky high. The organisers even took care of those without easy means of travel, running a bus service from the centre of Warsaw every fifteen minutes, and for free. Incidentally, this year Warsaw Tattoo Days joined forces with the Warsaw Motorcycle Show. As most are aware, people who love motorcycles tend to share a passion for tattoos, and many with a fondness for ink appreciate the craft of a motorcycle too. Understandably, the organisers took great pride in reporting over 60,000 attendees to the festival. 160 exhibitors and over 300 artists attended, with artists from Poland and all around the world setting up shop. These conventions are primarily for tattoo industry professionals but would not function with the numerous visitors. So what can be done to ensure that people come through the doors? Just ask the people behind Warsaw Tattoo Days.

Throughout the festival, patrons could spend their time admiring the amazing tattoo works exhibited in the numerous competitions, but that’s not all. A whole host of attractions lay in wait, including live music performed by Spalto and Fu, Pono, Jetlagz and Hades, to name a few. Anyone looking for something relatively easy on the eye could check out the burlesque masters – Pin Up Candy – and their eye-catching shows. In turn, adrenaline junkies also had somewhere to get their kicks, thanks to Lord Insanity’s Freakshow. Their performances an extreme combination of horror, peculiarities and humour. Stunt champions from the Czech Republic took centre stage commemorating the legendary Globe of Death troupe. The deadly motorcycle riding and stunts inside alarmingly small spherical cages simply needing to be seen to be believed!

It would be a crime not to mention the Brzozowski Bodypainting show, who, using an airbrush and traditional brushes, transformed his models’ skins into glorious designs. Honestly, we can’t imagine a tattoo festival that could run without the guys from Banana Ink. Thanks to them, at the various conventions they have attended, visitors could try their hand at this amazing craft. It was no different on this occasion, with the youngest of the crowds given the chance, even if just for a moment, at being a tattoo artist. Additionally, anyone needing a fresh cut could use the services of the great barbers available. Attendees could even get to feel a hint of summer during the middle of winter, with the inclusion of a beachside comfort zone.

The organisers, along with Piotr Wojciechowski – founder of the Tattoo Museum in Gliwice, also held a gallery of museum exhibits. Displaying collections of Polish tattoo memorabilia, the exhibit focused on collections acquired in antique shops and flea markets throughout the years. This was aimed not only at arousing interest in the native history and tradition of the craft but also to send an appeal to visitors who may be in possession of such artifacts themselves. Anyone interested in sharing these possessions with a wider audience enlisted to help expand the collection of the Tattoo Museum in Warsaw.

We could wax lyrical about the available attractions all day. At almost every moment of Warsaw Tattoo Days, there’s something to stand and admire. From spectacular stunts and beautiful alternative models with stellar tattoo work on display or pole dancing and motoring miracles, we still made time to check out unique clothing brands and all of the delicious food on offer. With hand on heart, we can proclaim that the organisers of the festival not only stood up to the task, they took it to a new level. The momentum and size of this particular undertaking leave us afraid to ask they’re going to come up with next!

It’s high time for us to return to those who honoured this event with their presence. We, of course, are speaking about the tattoo artists themselves. For two they created amazing works to stand judged in the numerous competitions at the events. After all, this is a tattoo convention! Although there was an abundance of fantastic work, the jury – Maciej “ENZO” Sowa, Maciej Lule Hartman, Maya Sapiga and Adolf Laskowski – made every effort to pick the best of the bunch. Below is the list of winners at the third edition of Warsaw Tattoo Days:

SATURDAY:

BLACK AND GREY
I Valentin Sihida – Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing Warszawa
II Kasia Piątkowska – Widzimisie Tattoo
III Sasha Garbuz – Studio 28 Tattoo

COLOUR
I Łukasz Miskacz Antosik – Monkey Hide Tattoo
II Szymon Szumala -Golden Watch Tattoo
III Jaromir Mucowski – White Rabbit Tattoo

NEO-TRADITIONAL
I Karolina Wilczewska – White Rabbit Tattoo
II Ink by Adam – Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing Warszawa
III Asia Azja Legoda – Hugo Tattoo

BEST SLEEVE
I Szymon Szumala – Golden Watch Tattoo
II Łukasz Miskacz Antosik – Monkey Hide Tattoo

BEST OF THE DAY
I Fabian Staniec – Pathogen Tattoo Workshop
II Taras Prystupa – Underdog Tattoo Studio
III Joanna Faferko – Black Pearl Tattoo

SUNDAY:

COLOUR
I Mateusz Januszek i Igor Bilicki – Mr. OneTwo Tattoo
II Deep Red – Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing Katowice
III Asia Azja Legoda – Hugo Tattoo

REALISM
I Valeriy Letov – Studio 28 Tattoo
II Mario Crepaldi
III Mateusz Gerard Kielczynski

TRADITIONAL
I Majx – Od Świtu Do Zmierzchu
II Gruby Kruk Tattoo – 3rd Eye Tattoo
III Gruby Kruk Tattoo – 3rd Eye Tattoo

BLACK AND GREY
I Jakub Kowalski – Hugo Tattoo
II Izabela Emert – Goraj Tattoo Studio Łódź
III Valeriy Letov – Studio 28 Tattoo

BEST OF SHOW
I Jakub Kowalski – Hugo Tattoo
II Karolina Wilczewska – White Rabbit Tattoo
III Taras Prystupa – Underdog Tattoo Studio

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was written by Maria Śmigiel

All photos by Michała Szwerca, courtesy of Warsaw Tattoo Days

RIP Stephen William Hawking (1942 - 2018)

Ryan Evans

This March, the world said farewell to a great man, with a great mind. On the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death and the 139th anniversary of one Albert Einstein, Stephen William Hawking passed away. A man who had been given just two years to live in 1963, Hawking dedicated his life to helping us understand our world and the worlds beyond it. His battle with motor neurone disease as inspiring as his efforts towards the betterment of our knowledge and understanding. A persevering genius.

It was 1988’s A Brief History Of Time that shone the public eye on Hawking. The book was full of dense scientific concepts but explained in a manner that had water coolers worldwide abuzz with talk of Big Bangs and black holes. From then on he became a beacon of hope for anyone facing conflict or adversity; his struggles echoing with disabled individuals especially – Hawking’s efforts towards improving the lives of the disabled were just a fraction of the charitable work he was involved in.

It makes sense that someone would want to commemorate the great man by tattooing his image onto their skin. People get portraits of their heroes, after all. In honour of the great man, we’ve put together a collection of some of the best Stephen Hawking tattoos around, these designs proving that his life’s work will never be forgotten. Even if you have no interest in science or the cosmos, Hawking lived to prove that anyone can overcome great difficulties and, as such, stands to remain as one of the world’s most celebrated survivors.

Hawking’s remains will be laid to rest alongside Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The great mind of our time belongs with other great minds of the ages. This is just one of many tributes made, and there will be countless more, but join us in remembering a mind that would not succumb to an ailing body and a human that always wanted the best for his fellow man.

“…however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine UK was created by Matt MacLennan
All photos and media used in this article were taken from the respective artist’s social media

MONKEY HIDE TATTOO - WARSAW

Monkey Hide Tattoo opened in the autumn of 2017. A new venture, founded by experienced tattooists and people involved with the local tattoo scene for years.

“Our studio was built on the foundations of friendly relationships and love of tattoos. At Monkey Hide there is no artificial laid back atmosphere. We’re all naturally laid back. All of us gained our experience in various places and it’s resulted in the creation of a place where we ourselves would like to be tattooed. No PR company backs us. We consider tattooing our lifestyle and we do not run a tattoo factory. If you want to get tattooed in a friendly atmosphere, where professional tattooists cultivate the tradition of the craft and translate it into contemporary trends, then you have to come down to the studio and visit us. See you soon”

Monkey Hide is a place born out of love for the tattoo; the result of incredible friendships and people working towards and sharing the same passion. A visit is encouraged not only by the great atmosphere within the studio but above all by the exceptionally talented people responsible. Let us introduce them to you.

Łukasz “Miskacz” Antosik
“I always draw inspiration from what surrounds me. The cartoon style in which I tattoo gives me unlimited opportunities to play with form and experiment. I also like to sneak things of the neo styles. I’ve been tattooing for eight years and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Tattooing has taught me, above all, patience and perseverance – traits that have also translated into my everyday life. It’s also fascinating to me that I can tattoo anywhere on Earth, giving me unlimited, priceless freedom”

Kordian Korsakowski
“My real tattoo adventure began about four years ago. This world fascinated me at an early age mainly due to it’s diversity. I am lucky to be able to participate in it, creating this studio with my friends where I gain new experiences every day. I’m inspired by nature and I especially like the rose, which I interpret in my own manner. At Monkey Hide, I deal with realistic tattoos, with lots of high contrast.”

Aniela “Horny Pony” Makarska
“I started tattooing about seven years ago but I have loved tattoos since childhood, seriously. I started drawing as soon as I learned to hold a pencil in my hand and that’s why my parents sent me to art school. Then the obvious continuation was ASP (Academy of Fine Arts). Between school and college, I started to tattoo. After two years of painting, I quit my studies to fully devote myself to what I wanted to do in my life – tattooing. My style is mainly black, classic style tattoos though I sometimes use colour. I’m primarily inspired by retro photography, old-school flash, the female body, plants, animals, and God”

Bartosz “Broda” Zieliński
Associated for many years with the Warsaw tattoo scene and a true citizen of the world, Broda loves travelling as much as tattooing. Always smiling and always positive, like his designs, Broda uses markers directly onto the body before creating one of his unique, colourful designs. His cartoon designs are eye-catching and instantly recognisable as a Broda piece. The most experienced of the team of Monkey Hide Tattoo, he’s as friendly as he is knowledgeable.

Bartłomiej Toczek
“I’ve been intrigued by tattoos since my youth. They decorated the arms of wrestlers and musicians on MTV, which I watched passionately in the 90’s. Tattoos have always been associated with counterculture and banishment from ordinariness. I love to witness, create and tattoo this kind of passion on myself and others. Tattoos are a passion that permeates through the greater part of my life. They are present in every moment of my day. At Monkey Hide, I try to use the several years of experience that I have gained working with great tattoo artists and managers. Earlier in life, I worked in many well-known Warsaw clubs, bars and “hangouts” – always close to people and their colourful stories. I try to sneak these stories and my affection for the 90’s into my tattoos, as a homage to my first days tattooing.

Monkey Hide Tattoo is one of the best examples that reputation and quality are not determined by the duration of a studio’s existence. Instead, they focus on the actual creation of fantastic, customer-inspired tattoos. We can wholly confirm that this talented team will not let you down.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Maria Śmigiel

Photographs of tattoos made available by Monkey Hide Tattoo

Interior photography of the studio by Patrycja Jędrzejewska

Interview with Marcin Łukasiewicz

From what I know you come from Lublin and please correct me if I’m wrong, that JuniorInk Niagorsze Studio w Mieście, which you work in, is also the first studio you started working in?

Exactly! I was born and studied in Lublin, my first introduction to tattooing was in my painting workshop where i had created a sterile corner to work in. I remember my first time tattooing being very difficult and my family and friends coming to my workshop for me to tattoo them. The sessions however were sporadic and it was hard to make any progress without anyone willing to guide me through the processes and correct my mistakes. At this time i had no idea that what i had started in my workshop would be what shaped my beginnings as a tattoo artist. I didn’t think that anything could compare to painting which at the time was how i made my income and was always my passion. I met Junior about the same time and Juniorink was the place where i finished my first sleeve. We got along straight away and our mutual interest was painting. I had some previous success within painting having had my work displayed at exhibits and Junior was first getting ready for his first exhibition at that time. At first the arrangement between us was simple, I would give Junior tips and share my experience within painting and he would be my first proper introduction into the tattoo industry. It’s not far from the truth to say that I found that I had a natural ability to understand tattooing and made quick progress, which was helped I believe by my education. Not long after this Junior asked me to join his team. Yes i did join one of the best tattoo studio’s as my first studio. I think that I was very lucky that Junior noticed my potential and was probably just in the right place at the right time. This year marks the 7th year since i started my journey with Juniorink.

In your case, art was not something that just happened. You studied at UMCS and graduated with honours with your specialty being painting. Like many of the tattoo artists I speak to you were doing a completely different profession before this one, so where did the idea to change from painting to tattooing come from?

Painting was a huge part of my life for a long time, in high school i used to sketch all over my work books, in college it grew into a backpack full of spray paints and i started to graffiti and attend courses of drawing and painting before I discovered UMCS. At university I could spread my wings, I was able to try out new painting and drawing techniques and as a result i realised my ambitions to become an artist and what i could achieve when i believe in myself and push the boundaries of my artistic capabilities. In front of the canvas i was sometimes ready to spend several hours, every hour i was spending on painting and on analysing new ideas for my paintings. Every penny i had went on paints, brushes and other materials. For the first time in my life i felt what it was to have a real passion and that painting would be with me forever. At the end of University as you mentioned before, i was recognised for my hard work and achievements and realised my worth as an artist, however i still didn’t know if I would be able to make a living off of painting. This type of “luxury” in Poland is very rare in spite of the fact we have many very talented painters. However even in my case i was lucky that my work ended up in a private gallery in Berlin where i started to work with the owner. We managed to organise a few solo exhibitions in places like Zurich and New York. The benefits to doing what you love as a career allowed me to progress as an artist and discover new ways i could express myself. It was this constant drive to find new ways to express myself that allowed me to try to break into the tattoo industry.

You were never a “sunday painter” as you already had exhibitions under your belt. The interest in your work was always high and it comes as no surprise-they are genius. I love your paintings and i dream about owning one, which i am sure is not an easy thing to do. When you have the skill is it just a matter of changing the instrument and transferring the ideas on to skin or is it a completely different thing all together?

I thought that it would be quite a quick change from artist to tattoo artist, however my knowledge of painting and drawing gave me confidence but i quickly realised i had a long road ahead of me. I had to re learn and drop some of my painting habits and learn about colour schemes all from the start again for tattoo compositions. I have to be honest, i was confident that it was just a time thing and getting used to using new materials however the truth was very different. Although my knowledge of drawing proportions and perspective definitely helped. Thanks to this i was always confident on drawing on skin free hand, i feel that when technical limitations dissapear, your imagination can carry you even further.

I will tell you that you are a total, total mystery to me…I looked through the galleries of your works and the more i analysed them, the more i realise how freely you move between such different styles. Your painting is very specific it has features of surrealism straight from the first half of the twentieth century, sometimes reminding me of Chrico’s painting, his prospective experiments, psychological layer, as in Hopper or Delvaux brings a million interpretations…The level of your tattoos also leaves no questions, you create amazing work on the skin, moving freely in neotraditional stylistics drawing from japanese tattoo art, which you also freely submit to stylish interpretations. Your search in painting and tattooing, however, seems to be completely different, tell me how you do it? What inspires you when you sit in front of the canvas or start work on living skin?

You know, human skin is a capricious material, and there is no such thing as an end result, because the tattoo changes all the time. The matter of colour matching and composition looks completely different, because the whole theme is not always visible. When it comes to inspiration, i usually move here in the world of oriental decorative art, mythology and floristics, sometimes it adds elements that are less obvious, to bring the tattoo out of the usual meanings and give it originality. Of course, the personality of my client and their anatomy is very important. I always try to match both of these elements and not duplicate this for everyone. What seems like a great idea for one person will not work for someone else. In painting, inspirations can appear unexpectedly, a melody heard in a song or a reflection of light through a window pane, books, games basically all stimuli can be fuses for someone to sketch. Unlike when I am tattooing I allow myself to get carried away in creating while painting. Often, therefore, sitting down to the canvas with a crtain plan and finding it change during the course of the painting.

Returning to “japan”, where did your fascination with Asian tattoo art come from, where did your love for these motifs come from?

Japanese tattoos have always fascinated me, tattooed from head to toe, the members of the Yakuza made an impression on me even from a young age. However, when I started my adventure in tattooing I did not think that this is what attracts me the most. In the studio colleagues took care of “comprehensive education”, so both realistic black and grey compositions, signs on the wrists and colourful mexican santa muerte were no bother for me to do. For a long time it seemed to me that I would take my steps towards the neorealistic tattoo, but “oriental” gave me the most satisfaction and it was easiest for me to compose. This is how it has been so far and I think that this fascination will continue for a while.

What does your cooperation with your client look like? I noticed that you are doing many “large format” works, preferring when the client gives you free reign (just like when you sit down to paint yourself), but are there any useful tips for collaborating with your customers?

I think that, as in many other occupations, with tattooing it is important to have an individual approach to the client. The first is a meeting and conversation, sometimes it happens very quickly and the person is determined on a specific topic, sometimes it seems completely on me. There are also clients who flood me with ideas so far apart that I take the initiative and ask them to trust me. I do not want to compromise, which neither side would be happy with. However, I must admit that at the moment I am lucky to work with really great people who trust me and are open to my suggestions.

Each tattoo artist emphasises how absorbing this work is and how little time they leave for all other activities. How do you reconcile it? Do you have time to still indulge in painting or has tattooing turned out to be a possessive passion as well as your career?

I don’t think my opinion differs from that of my colleagues. It is actually a possessive job, it requires a lot of time and exercise. Doing this profession and devoting a lot of heart and energy into it, I feel that I miss time for other activities. This is not a job from 0800 to 1600. If you want to be really good at this you often have to make difficult choices, look for inspiration and draw. However, giving so much satisfaction, both to me as an artist and to the people I tattoo i can justify this. You asked me how I find time to still paint. My first years in the studio I was so absorbed that the painting was pushed to the side. Slowly, however, I returned to the canvas with fresh, slightly different energy. For some time now I have been able to create new paintings in the studio. I now try to plan my time better and find time for my other passions as well. I am planning a lonely motorcycle trip. I hope to visit some really interesting places in the coming year.

Right, motorcycles….Apparently your studio combines not only a passion for ink, but also for two-wheelers, is it true?

Motorcycles have always been a very important part of my life, when I started in the studio it turned out that I am not the only maniac on two-wheelers. Igor, Novick and recently also Dominik have an interest in motorcycles. Suchy and Junior are still fighting on scooters. Every year, we take a studio team to Tattoofest in Krakow, we go, drive around, play and see new places. Sometimes it is Lviv, Budapest or Ostrava. At least a few times a year I try to go on a motorcycle trip, even for a few days.

This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel.
The photographs used in this article were made available by Marcin Łukasiewicz.

Marcin Łukasiewicz fan page: https://www.facebook.com/MarcinLukasiewiczTattoos

Marcin Łukasiewicz Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marcintattoo/

Juniorink Najgorsze Studio w Mieście fan page: https://www.facebook.com/Juniorink.NajgorszeStudiowMiescie/

Juniorink Najgorsze Studio w Mieście Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juniorink.pl/

Interview with Popek Monster

The phenomenon of tattooing in Poland is perceived more and more favorably. In the past, it was rather negative and was reserved for a “specific”, narrow audience, but now it has already become part of the mainstream. It appears more and more often in the media – commercials,, or on the skins of many television characters. Whether we like it or not, popularization of tattoos is favored above all by public figures representing various types of show business, sports etc. … Jurors of popular talent show programs in Poland, vocalists, breakfast program presenters are more and more often exposing paintings on their bodies. Those who work in their studies on a daily basis certainly feel the negative effects of this popularization. However, tattooing has already come out of the taboo zone and has become a frequent part of one’s image. It ceased to be an expression of rebellion, it does not deter, but above all, it adorns.

In the Polish media space – mainly on the Internet – there was a person who moved body modifications to a completely different level, the person who nobody would catch up with in the long term and whose “treatments” largely created his image. He’s covered with tattoos on a large part of his body, including eyeballs, the face “adorned” with scarification, and soon we will be able to admire him dancing cha-che in “Dancing with the Stars”.

We invite you to an interview with the most colorful character of the Polish show business, the self-proclaimed king of Albania, an artist signing the, how adequate, pseudonym “Popek Monster”. Whether you like this character or not – one thing can not be denied- he does not stop for a moment and anyone who comes across him at least once will remember him for a long time.

Where did the idea for your, definitely your most recognizable characteristic, tattoo come from – black eyeballs?

It came from the television program “Tabu”, in which I saw Kobra – my future executioner. After watching this episode, I knew I had to do it. It started with a smiley face, I saw him make a scarification and I knew I wanted one too. I made the first scar on my face. After talking to him, I learned that he was also doing a tattooing procedure for the eyes and I knew immediately what my next move would be. It was a very strange ride when it comes to the level of pain, it does not fit on any scale. After the surgery I was blind for a month … That’s why I turn to all my fans – to those who do not know what they will do in life – do not do it. In my opinion, you can decide on such things if you are financially secure for the rest of your life. If you do not have such a comfortable situation, I advise against. It can affect your future, especially when finding a job. But if you can afford it – the effect will not disappoint you. I had to do it to finally look like a man.

How did it all look, where was the procedure performed? How much did you have to wait for him?

In the UK. Kobra flew especially to me. I spent about 6000 pounds for the procedure. The procedure in my case lasted only a short time, about 40 minutes, although I know people who took up to 12 hours to build the courage to go through with it, mainly hitting their hands against the ground – it is very hard to break. You must be relaxed, have eyes wide open, and someone is touching you eyeball with a burning cigarette. At this point you must be relaxed and look at the point marked by the modifier on the ceiling without blinking …and this is where he puts the needle in the eye and the procedure begins.

I know a few Poles who have undergone such a procedure. One of them did theirself, and from her description I remember that for several months she tried to unlearn the blink reflex under the influence of an object approaching the eye. What did your preparations look like?

I knew immediately what to do, everything was impulsive with me. I did not wonder if it would hurt or if I’d end up blind. I was terribly horny for it, I did not blinked once. Once, during the procedure, Cobra coined me in the eyeball, instead of under it, but later gravity begins to run and mascara spills out for 24 hours. Then terrible pain and blindness for a month or so.

You wear glasses every day. Is this the effect of this venture?

Yes, by assessing as a percentage, my eyesight deteriorated by some 30%.

And you still do not regret the procedure?

No, not at all,  furthermore one “tattoo”  was touched up. For the second time, at my home, we performed the procedure again for one eye, because I started to cry from the cornea and woke up every morning with the whole green face. So, he made one more shot of ink after a few months. After that I stopped bleeding green.

In the case of eyes, there is nothing to talk about composition, but scarification … – let’s get to it. Did you have a specific plan or was it another impulsive decision?

The project was drawn by my friend Kamil Mocet from London, he did something that I did, I call it  “aggressive cut”. He drew it nicely through the whole face, the other I drew myself.

And pain? How do you rate it?

I found out that the mind can take over the body. I was so prepared for it that I did not feel any pain, I even knew how to cut my face. It lasted about 45 minutes, but the second time, at the second scar, I was not ready mentally. He called me and said, “Popek, go to the studio, I’ll make you a scar on the face for free.” Then I thought “ferrari for free” and I came, disappointed … The pain was so unbearable that I mentally prepared myself to the first scarification that I did not even feel one incision on the larger scar. You have to be prepared for this type of treatment, so those who think about it must be well prepared, because you can not stand this pain.

In the network you see a lot of people who are trying to imitate you. What is your official, specific position in this matter?

If they imitate, it is worse than stupidity. It is foolish to do what I do, but this is who I am, it is me, I’m real. These people pretend to be someone they are not, and that’s double stupidity.I do not regret anything, even one scar, even my slight blindness. One of the imitators, I wish you her a quick recovery. Such things. if you are not sure of this, your future and it is not really you, don’t do this.

The name of an amazing tattooer has already fallen [Kamil Mocet]. Tell our readers how your tattoo adventure began?

I got my first tattoo at the age of 16 on my right shoulder. It was created in a studio in Świnoujście. I made a skull through which a colorful cobra came out. I quickly realized that color is not what interests me in the tattoo, so I covered it. Then most of the time I was tattooed by an acclaimed artist, Robson from Krakow, then a lot of work was done for me by Kamil Mocet in London, also by neck. 30% of my tattoos were made by Kamil and the rest by Robson. Tattoos on my palms did Davee.

Most of your work has been done by two artists. What is the plan for developing this remnant of clean skin?

A portrait of my daughter will appear on my side.

You do a lot of things impulsively. How is it like with the tattoo – first comes the idea of ​​the pattern or do you go blind to a particular artist and give him total freedom?

It can be different it dependsI have various tattoos– portrait of Tupac, devil, tribal. I got along with Robson, he would design a large composition for me, go three times a week for several years to regularly tattoo to finish it. Later, when I finished in Poland, cooperation with Kamil in London was the same. I do not interfere, they know best what to do, some ideas were sent by me and that’s it.

The moment comes when there is not enough space for next tattoo, it applies to every tattoo collector. Are you sorry, any of them? Are you planning to cover up?

No, but I want to refresh a few things, overwhelm and recycle.

Are you planning to put something on your face, or is black eyes and scarification enough?

No, I leave it unchanged, I am a handsome Pole, I am one of the most handsome Poles in Poland and will not change anything for a long time. So change it?

At the end of one of the episodes of your “stodoła” (“barn”) you appear in a music edition that will appeal to Rammstein fans. This is a one-time prank, can your fans expect a whole album in a similar climate?

Yes, I recorded the entire CD with Denis. We have modeled ourselves on Rammstein, but we want to do it in Polish. This record is ready and will appear this year. Now I’m opening my publishing house and I’m going to release all things unrelated to rap. I want to promote young talents, I plan to release a CD in a funky, jazz and blues atmosphere. I have a lot of material and you will soon find out about it.

You’ve also made an autobiographical film. It ends with your return to Poland, you do not have the impression that this is just the beginning of your adventure and what is happening to you here is a good material for the screenplay?

The theme of “Popek za życia” was the return of the king, time and life will show if there will be another part. I do not want to rush, it seems to me that life alone will verify the need for the next film.

Finally, please tell me – what is your plan for the next 10 years? Who and where will Popek be?

I’d like to see myself in Hollywood, I suspect I’ll take the guitar and fly to space. I will be diverse, I will surprise you, puff up scars, and then I will show it to all on youtube haha.

On behalf of the entire editorial team, we thank Popek for the time devoted to us, while creating the Tattoo Fan magazine, we also wanted to educate on the plane of tattooing. We hope that the words that have fallen in this interview will discourage some people from undergoing such treatments. We keep our fingers crossed in “Dance with the Stars” – the crystal ball is yours!

The photographs used were made available by Paweł aka Popek

NOT ONLY CRIMINALS...TATTOOS IN THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITISH ELITE

Did you know that tattoos were extremely popular in the nineteenth century in England, where interest in them flourished, like anywhere else in Europe?

On the one hand, the Victorian era was a period of taboo encompassing numerous spheres of everyday life. At this time not only sexuality and death were taboo subjects One of the phenomena pushed to the margins was also a tattoo, which was certainly related to the still flourishing colonialism. Theoretically, tattoos decorating bodies of “savages” did not stop people from the “upper classes” getting them. However, as sociologists have long ruled, the inherent effect of tabooing is always the bum, the development of the phenomenon covered by it this is about that every time when something is taboo subject it arouses the biggest interest. And just as despite the seeming prudish, the nineteenth century was a period of great bloom of pornography, so also tattoos turned out to be an extremely attractive phenomenon. The reasons for the fascination with tattoos can really be seen in a few. Do you remember our previous article about the Razzouk studio in Jerusalem? His tradition dates back over 700 years and has been largely associated with the so-called “pilgrimage tattoo”. It turns out that not only we currently like to bring tattoo-souvenirs on the skin from various, unique places that we visited. For centuries, pilgrims to the Holy Land, including the British, have commemorated their journey through small tattoos – usually the Jerusalem Crosses. In the early seventeenth century, among them was also William Lithgow – a well-known, respected traveler and writer.

19th century societies loved “peculiarities” – people visited the so-called cabinet of curiosities, circuses, museums showing various kinds of anomalies. Otherness aroused enormous emotions and interest in crowds. Certainly also because at the end of the 17th century, William Dampier – the famous British explorer – returned from one of the expeditions, brought to England an indigenous inhabitant of New Guinea with a whole body covered in tattoos. Giolo, because that was his name, became famous as “Painted Prince” and became the cause of great sensation.

It is also claimed that tattoos among the British began to appear to a large extent with the first expedition of Captain James Cook – a sailor, discoverer, astronomer, cartographer, organizer and commander of three expeditions around the world – held in the middle of the 18th century. When he and his crew returned from Polynesia, the participants of the expedition spread the tales of the tattooed “savages”. The word “tattoos” itself came from the Tahitian “tatau” and was introduced to circulation precisely because of Cook. The sailors returning from the expeditions also often had skins adorned with exotic tattoos, characteristic of the peoples with whom they had contact. One of the tattooed persons in these circumstances was Joseph Banks – a botanist, participant in the first expedition of Cook, as well as aristocrat and president of The Royal Society (Royal Society in London). He was the first European who made reflections on the Polynesian tattoo tradition. Over time, the sailors themselves mastered the craft, and various patterns were created on skins. According to sources, from the mid-nineteenth century, at least one tattoo artist could be found in most English ports.

But someone could say: “sailors, sailors, tattoo was rather reserved for social lowlands, while in the upper realms it was still a forbidden fruit and one Banks does not change that”. However, we come to the point where it turns out that it is not necessarily true…

It would seem that this is no secret, but few people know that the royal family was tattooed. Returning somewhat to the topic of pilgrimage, in 1862, the Prince of Wales – son of British Queen Victoria and future King Edward VII – at the age of about 20 years, was sent by his mother to Jerusalem. In the Holy Land, the prince acquired his first tattoo on the shoulder – the Jerusalem Cross, whose author was Francois Souwan – a tattooist of pilgrims. As everyone knows, tattoos are simply addictive and this addiction has not missed even the king, who reportedly acquired many traditional tattoos in later years. 20 years later, the sons of King Edward VII – Prince Clerance and Prince of York later George V, were also tattooed while traveling to Japan. The author of their work was the legendary Japanese tattoo artist, Hori Chiyo. On the way back to Great Britain, the dukes also visited Jerusalem, where thanks to Souwan they acquired further tattoos. Apparently, the royal sons did not stop there and their later tattoos were performed by Tom Riley, or Sutherland Macdonald.

Although perhaps it was not Facebook or Instagram at the time, various kinds of fashion were spreading relatively quickly. Dukes of tattoos envied many people and officers, because of them, Japanese tattoos was very popular. Suddenly, among British soldiers, tattoos became something welcome, the army was encouraged to to own them. It was claimed that they may deepen the sense of solidarity among soldiers, as well as help in their identification in the event of death on the battlefield. It is also said that this fascination has spread to aristocratic structures, not only in Great Britain, but also in other countries.

Apparently, tattoos decorated the skin of Valdemar, the prince of Denmark, Olga, the queen of Greece, and Oskar, the king of Sweden. Certainly, many are also rumored that Jeanette “Jennie” Jerome, known as Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother had a tattoo – a snake around the wrist, which she covered with a bracelet during official parties.

The first British professional tattoo artist was named D.W. Purdy, who in 1870 founded a tattoo studio in North London. At that time, the tattoo could be read in the newspapers – in 1897 Strand magazine published an article by Gambel Bolton, which is a review of tattoos. In turn, the aforementioned Tom Riley – author of tattoos made on the sons of King Edward VII – was considered the most eminent British tattooer of the late nineteenth century. He took part in the South African war and the Sudanese campaign, and after the end of military service he became a legend of the British tattoo scene.

Although many people think that the modern tattoo was born in the United States, it actually spread there only at the end of the 19th century. This was largely due to Samuel O’Reilly – cousin of Tom Riley – who came to New York, and in 1891 invented and patented the first electric tattoo gun, which certainly contributed to the further, extremely dynamic development of this craft .

This short and probably quite intriguing story of tattoo in the nineteenth-century Great Britain, speaking not about the “social margin”, but elites, can serve you as an argument … I hope that, if you ever, during a Sunday dinner you will hear from your grandmother that tattoos are worn only by criminals, you will already know what to answer … 🙂

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Maria Śmigiel.

Sources of used photos:

http://www.independent.co.uk

https://resobscura.blogspot.co.uk

http://theappendix.net

http://www.thamesweb.co.uk

http://vi-ve.tumblr.com

https://fromthebygone.wordpress.com

http://irishamerica.com

http://irezumihorimonodesign.weebly.com

http://www.socimage.com

TOP 10 TATTOO STUDIOS IN EDINBURGH

Semper Tattoo Studio

The iconic David Corden’s first studio!
Located in the heart of the Scottish capital in the historic Grassmarket, David has created a beautiful looking studio that oozes class. He and his team of resident artists provide nothing but top quality work in a various amount of styles, be sure to have a look for yourselves!

 

Location:
7 Grassmarket
Edinburgh
EH1 2HY
United Kingdom

sempertattoo@gmail.com
https://www.sempertattoo.com/

Empire Ink

A new studio which was opened in 2017 by internationally award winning tattoo artist Alex Rattray in his home town. Through much hardwork, Empire Ink is a studio that stands out as a modern, relaxed and great atmosphere for artist and client. With comfortable chairs, TVs and even games consoles, when you get a piece here it is sure to be enjoyable.

 

Location:
11 East Fountainbridge
Edinburgh
EH3 9BH
United Kingdom

empire.ink.edinburgh@gmail.com
http://www.empire-ink.co.uk

Den Of Inquity

Est. 2010 Den Of Inquity is an excellent traditional tattoo shop that specializes in Bold clean traditional work, new school and black work inspired tattoos. The studio, which is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’, it is easy access with regular bus routes and near by car parks. If you love traditional work, then this studio might be for you!

Location:
47 Broughton Street
Edinburgh
EH1 3RJ
United Kingdom

doi.tattooparlour@yahoo.co.uk

Azazel Edinburgh

Est. 2015 Azazel Edinburgh is a branch of the Azazel Tattoo network and their first in the UK. They own 3 Tattoo studios in Poland and are the co-organizers of the Warsaw Tattoo Convention – the biggest international tatoto show in Poland! They have fantastic resident artists and have a strong line-up of frequent guest artists. A studio work looking at!
Location:

160 Gorgie Road
EH11 2NT
Edinburgh
United Kingdom

edinburgh@azazel.uk
http://www.azazel.uk

Studio XIII Gallery

Another old studio on this list! First opened in 2005, Studio XIII is located on the historic Royal Mile. The studios features original art (hence the ‘Gallery’) from some of the finest tattoo/graffiti/underground artists with notable names such as Filip Leu, Ami James, Robert Hernandez and Ed Hardy to note a few, On the tattooing side however, they specialize in custom tattoo work and can create anything to suit the client. They are an experienced team and have earnt their spot on this list!

 

Location:
3 Jeffrey Street
EH1 1DR
Edinburgh
United Kingdom

info@studioxiii.tattoo
http://studioxiii.tattoo

 

Inkdependent Tattoo Studio

Est. 2009 Inkdependent quickly became one of the best studios in Edinburgh and has only gotten better over time. Filled with award winning artists such as the realism wizard Marcin Ptak and the phenomanel Daniel Baczewski, they have some of the best tattooers in the country!

 

Location:
56 Dalry Road
Edinburgh
EH11 2BA
United Kingdom

INKDEPENDENTTATTOOS@GMAIL.COM
http://www.inkdependent.eu/

Insider Tattoo

Insider Tattoo is a beautiful modern open plan studio with stunning views of the Shore, its stunning studio is accompanied by equally stunning work produced by their artists. They also have some really great guest spots!

 

 

Location:
89 Henderson Street
Edinburgh
EH6 6ED
United Kingdom

info@insidertattoo.com
http://www.insidertattoo.com/

Red Hot And Blue Tattoo

One of the oldest studios studios on this list. Red Hot and Blue opened up in 2005 and was fastly established itself as a well respected studio, not only in the Scottish capital but in the country itself. Their resident artists that provide a whole array of styles to suit all types of customers and they produce high quality tattoos in a fun and friendly studio.

Location:
1A Brougham Place
EH3 9HW
Edinburgh
United Kingdom

redhotandbluetattoo@gmail.com
http://www.redhotandbluetattoo.com

Rock’n’Roll Tattoo & Piercing Edinburgh

The studio where it all began – The birth place of Rock’n’Roll Tattoo & Piercing!
We’ve included RnR on our top 10s before, and it isn’t just because they have a studio in many places, you don’t get to be this successful without doing something right. They have amazing resident artists, fantastic guest artists and are extremely easy to book with. And they almost always have some great promotion on! This top 10 HAD to include the original birth place of RnR!

Location:
13 E Norton Pl
Edinburgh
EH7 5DR
United Kingdom

edinburgh@tattoo-scotland.com
http://rocknroll-tattoos.com

Adept Art Collective Edinburgh

One of the newly opened studios on our list. Adept Art Collective was created by the talented Gordon Patterson and has two studios; their Livingston and Edinburgh branches. The studio is multi award winning and produces solid work on a consistent basis. It is located in Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’ and has great access to and from the studio. Nothing but great things from this studio!

Location:
51 Cumberland St
Edinburgh
EH3 6RA
United Kingdom

l.r.t@hotmail.co.uk

Rock'n'Roll Tattoo & Piercing Krakow

The Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing studio is definitely a sector phenomenon on a global scale. Probably no other tattoo studio can boast of such a dynamic development and broad range as it is. For 11 years, it has been operating in Europe, where as many as 13 branches have been found in three countries so far. The first Polish Rock’n’Roll studio was opened in 2012 in Katowice.As it enjoyed great popularity, also among clients from Małopolska – voivodeship on the south of Poland, in 2015 its next branch was established in Krakow.Its founders say: “We wanted to create a rock’n’roll place with artistic soul and mega atmosphere. We treat this studio as our second home, in addition to work often our artists meet here to paint, sit and talk;). We are all like a family, each of us has a different character and we just complement each other. We share a passion for the world of tattoo, for music, but above all for art in general. We strive to make our clients feel comfortable here and have a nice time visiting our modest thresholds haha;) “.

We, however, ensure that these thresholds are not so modest. The studio is located in the heart of the old city, and its modern, very stylish interior makes a great impression on all visitors. Let’s not forget, however, that its unique character and extremely high level are created primarily by exceptional artists. Let us introduce them to you!

Kuba and Kitty are the two managers who take care of everything in the studio every day. Their daily goal is to create the best possible working conditions for artists, but also to make customers feel at home and come back with pleasure.

Konstantin Bekker

“I work in a realistic style (colors & bng) I’ve been painting since my early childhood and I’ve always liked the opportunity to implement my ideas. Ever since I could remember, I knew that I would deal with creativity, but the fact that it will be a tattoo, I understood about 10 years ago, that tattooing is what I wanted to do. Life and coincidence alone led me to this profession in which I fell in love. Now this is the work of my life. It’s nice to see your work on other people, see satisfied and happy customers. Btw, I’m not as dangerous as I look, I like to attend metal concerts with my wife Anna in my free time, travel and spend time in the bosom of nature “

Anna Bekker

Piercer and laser operator with 10 years of experience …and lawyer!

“On the way to court, I turned left and got to know Konstantin. This acquaintance has resulted in my interest in modification and the world of tattooing. Tattoos and earrings are something that brings a bit of color into a gray reality. When I see that the client is happy with my work, it means I’m doing it right. This is probably the best praise for everyone. I deal with my favorite pastime with pleasure “

Dominik Mika / Hated

“Hey! I am Dominik, with tattoos better known as “Hated”. I’m tattooing by accident, I came to the studio and they kept me here haha. Previously, I mainly dealt with graphics, sculpture and occasional painting. Currently, tattooing, I am looking hard for my path and I am trying to enrich the “realistic” theme with a more powerful character, give it a unique expression … I’m still looking for something new. Everyone is shouting at me for making dark pictures haha. “

Kaśka Rundstuk

“The idea to deal with tattoos was born in my head in the middle of my studies. I studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and I wanted, in spite of the painter’s stereotype, to be appreciated during my lifetime;). Great teachers, helpful hands and legs that have been made available to me, I found in Krakow Rock’n’Roll, where I work now and I envy myself. We create a unique atmosphere together, which is one of the biggest advantages of this place. In the tattoo I try different solutions, I am looking for my own way and I am waiting for new challenges. “

Kamil Kurdziel / Boltan

“I am self-taught, I always liked to draw, I spent every free moment on improving the drawing. The idea for tattooing suddenly appeared and in this direction I decided to go. Now I would not exchange for any time that I devoted to it and the atmosphere that accompanied me in the studio while looking for style and continuous learning 🙂 “

Natalia Grabowska / Nat Grab Tattoo

“I finished painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, it was then that my tattoo adventure began seriously. I love to do colorful neotraditional and general feminine motifs. I am a person who likes to take up challenges, which is why during my artistic journey I decided to move to Krakow, thanks to which I could continue to polish my workshop and get to know many inspiring artists 🙂

Maciek Rogala / Rogalskytattoo

“My adventures with tattooing started five years ago. From an early age I was accompanied by a drawing, which I honed at home. Black and white realistic works are the style in which I find myself.

Ian Shakhmatov

I was born and raised in the east of Ukraine. I’ve drawn ever since I was a child, but at some point I decided that in my life there would be no place for art, and I would spend the rest doing “normal” work. Everything changed when I became interested in the field of tattoo seven years ago. I made my first tattoo in 2013 and I promised myself that this job would become my job. I started with ornaments and dot / lineworks, but after a while I wanted to put something fresh into my style. I began to be interested in other fields of art such as illustration, poster, graphics, sketch. All these topics influenced my work. I always try to make my projects one of a kind, this challenge is very important to me. 

Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing is a place that, thanks to an extremely talented and stylistically diverse team, will meet all expectations, even the most demanding customers. . In addition to resident tattoo artists, you can often find world-class artists from Poland and abroad. Be sure to keep them in mind when making your next “tattoo” choices!

The article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Maria Śmigiel

The photographs used were made available by the Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing studio in Krakow

Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing Kraków fan page: https://www.facebook.com/krakow.tattoo/

Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing Kraków Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rocknroll_tattoo_krakow/

The Customer Is Our Master?

Almost every article that has appeared so far in the magazine Tattoo Fan has highlighted the fact how much the perception of the phenomenon / art / tattoo craft has changed, how tattoo’s social position has changed, as well as the attitude of the owners themselves to the tattoo. Indeed, still, I think that a decade ago, when entering the “studio”, we could get a flash book at the entrance with ready-made patterns, probably a million times reproduced. Taking into account the absence of social media in our lives, and thus – a smaller flow of information, images, and thus less consciousness, the problem of stealing other people’s work, duplicating trite motives, making inappropriate patterns was not so much not existing, which was not so noticed and rarely ready mady available like these days via internet. People mostly knew about tattoos so much that they could be realistic, black-gray, colorful, you can get tribal or bio-mechanical, and although the tattoos were different, they were rather stylistic classifications not often used. The tattooer often received references from the client, sometimes a printed work or something graphical. Rather, it was approached less emotionally, the common approach was that almost everything was done and tattooers rarely refused. The skin of its owner was the only medium that allowed the tattoo to reach a wider audience. Currently, placed even on Instagram, it has the ability to circulate on the web, being subjected to the opinion of a wide audience. It will not be abrasive to say that this fact has revolutionized the worldwide tattoo industry. Although, of course, this phenomenon has its disadvantages and is much heard about commercialization of something that was supposed to be far away, this process also brought very good results. There is a very high probability that the next 10-15 years on the beach will not be accompanied by a sense of shame, it also changed for the same attitude of a tattoo artist to the job – an ambitious, responsible …

This introduction is intended to refer to a certain situation, but rather to prolong the discussion begun by the Hard To Forget studio in Lodz … Recently, it has decided to raise the issue of refusing to do some work, which can lead to a negative assessment in social media … Little penalty ? Not necessarily … We all know that there is no more effective tool to build a reputation or demolish it than the internet. In this case, the discussion was discussed on the basis of a situation where a young boy was refused to follow his beloved’s name, which resulted in his negative assessment of the studio …

Tomasz “Jelon” Rogowski – owner of the Hard to Forget studio – explains:Of course, we are not someone’s conscience, but each of us remembers what was in mind before the age of 20. The storm of hormones, emotions, and love to kill – these are not the best advisers, and certainly, these factors should not be a reason to mark yourself as someone’s property. Unfortunately, it’s hard to explain anything to people. It ends up usually so that they go somewhere else and someone else will make the eighteen-year-old name of his beloved. Later, of course, a problem arises, because at such a young age relationships tend to be unstable, but if the potential refusal to perform such an “act” can save someone from embarrassment in the future, it is worth not to earn those PLN 200-300 [polish currency] “.

This is where the most important question arises – whether a tattoo artist should have the right to refuse a client the performance of a given work, follow his or her own conscience and experience, or rather to accept the will of the client. And if you refuse, what then? Copies, the first tattoo in a very visible place, like a neck or a hand, worn stamps, which will sooner or later be passed on to the owner, inappropriate, controversial patterns? We asked Tomasz Rogowski to delve into the topic, and we also asked other people who seemed authoritative and whose opinion we wanted to know.

“There is a frame in our studio … In the frame there is a picture with popular motifs and the information that we do not do these designs are “out of stock”. I know that now a lot of studies are similarly decorated, but we have had ours for a good 8 years. People are visual. They find pictures of tattoos on the internet and are already sure that this is it. They often go to places where the “artist” agrees to make a copy, which results are deplorable. The red lamp should light up and there is something wrong when the tattoo artist agrees to make a copy. If he can not offer his own design then something is wrong. It seems to me that each client can provide several alternative solutions if he does not have his own interesting idea. As for the situation, I see no problem in tattooing the first tattoo on the neck. In our country, the perception of tattoo has changed a bit, it is no longer associated with a social margin. Many people work with visible tattoos, many tattooed people of these companies work as managers, or other high positions. If you are sure that the tattoo will not disturb you at work, nothing prevents you from having it “- adds Tomasz.

Bartosz Panas, founder of the Warsaw studio Caffeine Tattoo by Bartosz Panas, explains:” Everything depends on the person and the studio. In situations of this type, I personally always try to talk with the client. Finally, he stays with a tattoo for life, not a tattoo artist. If the pattern itself is not offensive to me and my worldview, and I have the chance to fulfill the client’s dream and to ensure the quality of work, I do not see any contraindications to this action. Individual taste decides whether a given pattern is liked or not and I do not judge it. If there is a situation of refusal, it is only through a polite explanation of my position and the indication of another place where the client will be satisfied with the cooperation with the artist. So we do not leave the customer on the ice. The second option is to explain the universality and repeatability of a given pattern and to propose some change, an alternative, but here also a problem arises – some customers do not care about originality, but only on a specific pattern. Improper patterns or inappropriate places are another topic, very relative to people starting their adventure with tattoos, especially nowadays, when you see so many people with tattoos in visible places. It’s all a matter of choice. Our task is to inform the customer about the consequences of a given choice, but we will not decide whether a given person will have a good or bad life with such an example. The whole matter Łukasz Sokołowski, the founder of the Katowice web, writes briefly: The matter is simple and obvious to me – the “Customer is our Lord” principle is definitely overinterpreted. The form of intellectual and ethical prostitution is for me to tattoo everything to everyone, because “the customer’s idea”, and must agree. Tattoo must always be the result of dialogue between the two sides, and each of them must feel comfortable with the final result. Nothing at all.

Also, Bartek Toczek, manager of the Monkey Hide studio in Warsaw, with many years of experience and extensive experience in this matter, says:” It seems to me that this issue will always arouse emotions and lively discussion. I see no other way than mutual respect. If the client wants to make a tattoo, which the tattoo artist considers inappropriate or in his opinion ill-considered and refuses – I note that in a cultural way – this should not get a bad review for it. You have to remember that a tattoo artist may refuse for various reasons. Perhaps he felt that doing such a tattoo would be contradictory to his worldview. Personally, I would not like a tattoo artist to make me tattoo under duress or against myself. Looking at such a pattern, I would not have the pleasure, I would remember that the person who made it sigh heavily and had a sour face. If I am placed in this situation, I always try to help a client whom we can not accept, no matter for what reason. I refer to one of my tattoo studios, where there is a chance to make the desired tattoo. Tattoo is a very personal and subjective matter. Mutual respect and understanding is the key. .
Mariusz Dzwonek, co-owner of Rock’n’Roll, founder and leader of the Frontside group, recently also a tattoo expert in the program Second Face, explains exhaustively:” Such situations are, of course, , in our profession daily bread, but here, unfortunately, there is no golden means”, which in a simple way which would make everyone happy.  In this matter saying “the customer is out master” does not promise anything good. If only we were implementing customers’ ideas, the art of tattooing unfortunately would not develop in so many directions. Of course, we are not foreign situations when the client inspires the artist with his own idea … However, we must admit that many customers simply do not know what they want. They also do not have – as understandably – such knowledge or practices as we do. It is not an art to agree on any customer idea. The trick is to convince him, using experience and ingenuity, to make the right choice. Sometimes you just have to be assertive. Let my own tattoos serve as an example of the above-quoted arguments – now mostly corrected or covered with new ones. At the young age, my idea of ​​a tattoo was really minimal … For the expectations were not discussed 🙂 If someone could explain their arguments to me many years ago or simply refuse, I would not have to covermi after many years … A professional tattoo salon should provide all the information at a high substantive level, which in practice is a conversation with the client, allowing him to dispel his doubts. The customer should know the arguments for a possible refusal. He should also consider other proposals regarding stylistics or space for a tattoo … At the end  u can always refuse … However, if the customer succeeds in the interest, certainly the prize will be mutual satisfaction 🙂 Little digression at the end … If I’m not a car mechanic and I have no idea about this profession, I do not teach people how to fix cars, what oil should he use and how to crank the engine. I am looking for a professional because the specialists do the work they know. Coming to the living room, customers sometimes forget about it … I also forgot about it years ago…;)
We also asked
Łukasz Smyk, Siemieniewicz, the founder of the Dead Body Tattoo studio in Włocławek:” Personally, I think that the tattoo studio, as well as a tattoo artist is not a nurse or a doctor so he won’t be penalised for refusing to perform a “treatment” if he considers the tattoo inappropriate, unethical, immoral. Of course, the tattooist / manager should try to guide the client on the right path, because we are here to advise you well, and the work we do will adorn the whole life. The mere statement of the client “I pay and demand” should apply more to the quality of the tattoo than to force the tattooist to do something against his will. “

So what’s the moral of the above statements? I guess it’s quite unambiguous … Dear customer, a tattoo artist, although it does provide services, and his work is dedicated to you, it should not be uncritical. When he refuses you to do the job, he usually does it out of concern for your good, your future … He follows the conscience, his own experience, as well as the experience of other clients, which he often saved from oppression, because earlier they made the wrong choice. By no means does he do it in to annoy you. As Łukasz “Smyku” Siemieniewicz rightly pointed out, the tattoo artist refusing does not expose someone’s health or life as if it were in the case 

of even a medical service employee. He has the right not to feel comfortable with the given subject of work, his character or style. Certainly there will also be a person who will respond favorably to your unwise choice, but I assure you that after some time you can come back to the one who refused you, asking for help in covering up what, after many years, causes embarrassment. Do not be tempted to copy someone else’s work. Remember that the original will always be better, and plagiarism means lack of respect for the author. For a general summary, let me take a little privatization let me tell you something about myself … One of my tattoos is the inscription “Je ne regrette rien” – the words of the song of Edith Piaf, meaning “I do not regret anything”. Tattoos made very technically correct, not to the point of being not ugly at all (there was and there is no reason to refuse to the client making something like that), but the most funny thing is – i regret that i’ve got this tattoo  😉

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was prepared by Maria Śmigiel

Opinions and comments from:

Tomasz “Jelon” Rogowski, Hard to Forget

Bartosz Panas, Caffeine Tattoo by Bartosz Panas

Łukasz Sokołowski, Pajęczyna

Bartosz Toczek, Monkey Hide Tattoo

Mariusz Dzwonek, Rock’n’Roll Tattoo and Piercing

Łukasz “Smyku Siemieniewicz”, Dead Body Tattoo

Interview with Alex Rattray

Hey Alex, cheers for taking the time out to talk to us! It’s strange as you’re the first person I’ve interviewed from my city haha.Growing up, have you always had an artistic background?

Yes, for as long as I can remember. I was always drawing when I was a kid. At Primary School I was always let out of class to paint banners for school plays and the likes. In High School I would skip English and Maths and just go help out in the Art class.

I remember reading a newspaper a good while back that was actually about you and it said you attended Edinburgh College of Art but dropped out. What led you to giving it all up and decide to pursue a career in tattooing?

I never felt like I fit in at school. I had hoped that Art College would be different but it turned out to be just more of the same. Edinburgh Art College was always where I wanted to attend but after about a year there it felt too much like a factory churning out the same artistic styles.  It also felt like there would be very few job prospects by the end of it all. I had lost faith in art as a career so I left to find something new.

I didn’t expect to find it in tattooing; that came along as an accident… a very happy accident.

Congratulations on the opening of your studio! It looks incredible. How does it feel to finally have that after all your hard work?

Thanks! It feels pretty good. I’m sure it’ll feel even better when I’ve forgotten all the stress involved in getting it there. It’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done so far. I’m now looking forward to watching it grow and evolve.

Do you have any favourite tattoo artists?

There’s so many that it would be difficult to list them all. There’s phenomenal artists the world over that keep raising the bar for tattooing; it’s hard to keep up, let alone pick the best.

I find myself gravitating towards the artwork of a lot of Eastern European realism artists at the moment. They have such a painterly style that is incredible to look at. The way Valentina Ryabova composes her large projects is amazing and the way that O’Kharin works on giant multiple day projects is something I’m particularly interested in at the moment.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

I get inspired by different people every day. Social media makes inspiration easy to come by. I’m always finding artists I’ve never heard of that are producing incredible work.

Besides tattooists, I also follow a lot of other forms of artists; sculptors and photographers are great sources of inspiration. Looking at the way they deal with lighting and composition helps understand things in three dimensional spaces which relates back to all forms of art.

Being ‘a bit of a geek’, do you get more excitement on projects that have the geeky element?

I wouldn’t say I get more excited for one tattoo over another. I get just as excited on days that I have a cool project based around skulls, tigers, or any other commonly used tattoo imagery. As long as the project is fun, I’m happy. I am fortunate that I get to pick and choose projects these days so every day is a fun day.

That said, I do love days that I’m working on something geeky; the client and I always have so much to talk about. We also play the films relating to the tattoos being done that day on the screens in the studio.

Is there anything that you would love to tattoo but haven’t yet?

I think there will always be new stuff I wanna tattoo. I’m always coming up with ideas of tattoos I’d like to create for the rare “Do whatever you want” clients. In this age of the ever increasing

of comicbook/sci-fi films, there are always new geeky portraits that would make amazing tattoos.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

At the moment I don’t seem to have a lot in the way of free time outside of work with the new studio. When I do get some down time I try and chill out as much as possible. Video games and films have always been a large part of my life so I play games and watch films whenever I get the chance.

What has been the hardest moment in your career thus far, and what has been your favourite?

Building the studio has definitely been the hardest. The stress and the setbacks took their toll.

My favourite moment would have to be winning a 1st place award at the London Tattoo Convention; it happened on the day of the 10 year anniversary of the day I started tattooing. The London Tattoo Convention has always been the pinnacle of tattooing to me. It was always a huge goal of mine to work it. To win a prize at it exactly 10 years to the day I started tattooing was an incredible feeling.

What would you say is the hardest part of being a tattoo artist?

Switching off. It’s a job born of passion so it’s easy to forget that it’s a job. I never take holidays and I’ve given up my days off to work on fun projects more times than I can remember.

You’ve been to your fair share of conventions, do you have a favourite?

London is my favourite but Paris is incredible too. These shows are massive though. Sometimes it’s the smaller ones that are more memorable. Randy Englehard’s show in Zwikow, Germany is always a tonne of fun; it always has an amazing list of talented artists but is still small and friendly

So new studio down, what’s next in the life for Alex Rattray?

I have a few conventions left this year: Montreux, London, and Venice. After that, I really just want to try and keep my head down at home. Keep the shop running smoothly and try and enjoy the place for a while.

Finally, what would be the best way to get a kickass portrait from yourself?

I’m pushing all my bookings towards the studio’s website contact form at www.empire-ink.co.uk to keep it all in one place. Fill out the form and Baz, our studio manager, will sort it out from there.

Thanks a bunch for your time Alex, we need to get a chair appointment at some point!

Cheers, I look forward to it.

Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond

Photos from Alex Rattray’s social media.

Alex Rattray Fan Pages: Facebook & Instagram

EMPIRE INK Fan Pages: Facebook & Instagram

TOP 10 TATTOO STUDIOS IN LODZ

OD ŚWITU DO ZMIERZCHU

From Od Świtu Do Zmierzchu is definitely one of the oldest studies in this city. It was founded in 2002 by Sebastian Wierzbicki and since then it has been constantly developing, gaining more and more popularity not only in Lodz, but also all over Poland. His stylistically diverse team certainly responds to all expectations and preferences of customers

Location:
Piotrkowska 82
90-430 Łódź
odswitudozmierzchu@o2.pl

KAMEA TATTOO

Kamea is a well-known studio all over Poland, founded in 2011 by Maurycy Szymczak, winner of countless awards at numerous Polish and international tattoo conventions. The cameo Kamea is constantly developing and expanding, recently they changed its location, from now you can visit them in a new, larger premises!

Location:
Piotrkowska 43
90-410 Łódź
kameatattoo@gmail.com

ŁADNE RZECZY TATTOO & PIERCING

Ładne Rzeczyis a name definitely adequate for this place. The studio was founded in 2017 by Aleksandra Kozubska, for many years extremely well-known in the tattoo industry, This place not only distinguishes the highest level, but also the charming climate and an extremely friendly atmosphere!

Location:
Piotrkowska 23/13
90-406 Łódź

GORAJ TATTOO

Goraj Tattoo is a studio founded in 2016 by Jarek Goraj Gorajek, an outstanding realist, winner of numerous prizes on international conventions. The studio offers the highest level and is an obligatory position in this ranking.

Location:
Piotrkowska 23/3
90-406 Łódź
studiogoraj@op.pl

SIGIL TATTOO STUDIO2

Sigil 2 is a new version of the studio, which in Lodz has been known for 18 years, and it definitely makes it one of the oldest branches of this type in this city! Despite so many years in the industry and great reputation, the studio has not settled on its laurels, but is constantly developing and expanding its ranks. The stylistically diverse team will certainly meet the expectations of even the most demanding customers.

Location:
6 August 1/3 lok. 7
90-606 Łódź
sigilstudio2@gmail.com
sigil.art.pl

HARD TO FORGET TATOO AND PIERCING

The studio was founded in 2009 and since then it can boast of great development – it is proved not only by the spacious, extremely atmospheric premises, but above all a versatile, extremely talented team. Hard to Forget is a very suitable name – you should definitely remember about this place by choosing a tattoo studio!

Location:
Piotrkowska 51
90-413 Łódź
info@hardtoforget.pl

ATRAMENT TATTOO STUDIO

Although Atrament Tattoo is a relatively new studio, founded in 2016, it was possible to get to know it very well and in this top 10 it could not be missing. This numerous, very talented team represents different styles, so everyone who goes there will certainly come out happy!

Location:
Piotrkowska 145
90-434 Łódź
studioatrament@gmail.com

WYDZIARANI TATTOO STUDIO

Wydziarani Tattoo is a studio that was founded in Łódź in 2007. It enjoys a very good reputation, and the stylistically diverse tattoo artists working in it are eager to take on the challenges posed by clients.

Location:
Białostocka 7B
93-335 Łódź
przemek@wydziarani.com
www.wydziarani.com

DOUBLE FIVE TATTO STUDIO

Double Five is a studio that was founded in 2010. They are distinguished not only by professionalism, but above all by a high level of tattooing. The tattooists making up his team represent different styles, which is why everyone will find something for themselves. It is worth mentioning that the Łódź studio was appreciated and visited by Marcin Gortat!

Location:
Piotrkowska 117
90-430 Łódź
double5tattoo@gmail.com

 

ZAJAWA TATTOO ŁÓDŹ

Zajawa Tattoo  is a newly opened studio in this city. However, it is not too early to be included in this list, because this is the fifth studio under this name in Poland. Considering the extensive experience, professionalism of the management and the team in which they form it, we can confidently recommend this place to you!

Location:
North 1/3
91-420 Łódź

Interview with Cecil Porter

Hi Cecil, thank you so much for giving me the honour of interviewing you!

Thanks for wanting to, it’s always a pleasure to share my story with people.

Tell me, how did you become interested in art and tattoos?

I think I have always been interested in art. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I was never encouraged to do it – you-know? It’s all sports and when I was a kid you were basically told you would grow up, go work at the factory, buy a house, have a family & then retire. It wasn’t until my Dad died when I was 12 that art became something I could do with no one trying to steer me in another direction.

My mother moved us to where her family was from, as a kid at a new school I had no friends. In the back of my class these kids always drew and as a way to get their attention I would go home draw some things then leave them out for them to see. My plan ended up working and they asked me to come join them and I haven’t really stopped since.

I had a rough childhood and as a way to escape my demons I did art. I tell everyone, fantasy and comics saved my life. As for tattooing that’s a little bit different…I wanted to be an illustrator, but had no idea how to do it. I was 16 living on my own and just trying to survive so I got a real job, I hated it but I had to live, you-know? It offered great benefits and so on, then the economy went to shit and they started to take it all away and I was thinking, that’s the only reason why I had a job like this so I quit. I decided if I was gonna struggle then I would do it on my terms. I would do any kind of art job I could and eventually I realized if I could only put what I do on paper onto skin that I would be alright. I had seen plenty of people make okay money doing them, so I figured why not.

I find that majority of great tattoo artists that have been around as long as you have are primarily self-taught. Are you the same or did you go through a formal apprenticeship?

I am self taught yes, though I wouldn’t recommend it. To be honest back when I got into tattooing the talent pool was more of a talent puddle. Great art was a rarity then, at least way more rare than it is now. It wasn’t hard to become a name, all you had to do was be decent at something. In today’s climate there are so many amazing artist and I mean kids man, just well trained in academic art and just hungry to get out there and kill it as a tattooist. That was not the case when I started. I would advise anyone today is to go to a good atelier and learn art, bring that to the medium and you’ll do well.

Do you think that getting an apprenticeship is the best way to learn?

I believe if you can get under the tutelage of any artist you admire and know to be great, then yes. I don’t think going to your local shop, paying a huge amount of money to learn how to make coffee and go on food runs for a year is going to do anything for you, except give you a chip on your shoulder. Just because someone offers you an apprenticeship doesn’t mean they should. Go to some kind of learning environment understand the fundamentals of art, then go find a good apprenticeship from a great artist.

If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what do you reckon you would you be?

I’m an artist man, tattooing is another medium I love to do. If I never learned this medium not much would be different as far as my work goes. I would however have missed out on some of the best parts of my life and because tattooing has given those things to me, I am always grateful to the industry, the fans, and the clients.

Did you ever experiment with a different style of tattooing before sticking to colour realism?

When I started I had no style. At first I believed art and tattooing to be two different things. So I did what I believed a tattoo was, you know the cherry creek flash stuff and things of that nature. Of course it was all horrible, it wasn’t how I drew. I was forcing designs that I didn’t like and knew weren’t sound. I tried new skool briefly, it’s fun but also not how my brain works. I love to throw around my crazy colors and I can bluff a decent new skool piece but it’s not so good when you compare it to guys like Jesse Smith or Frank La Natra, so I don’t try. Other than that I learned a long time ago realistic rendering is what I love, its what I’m best at so I have no other reason to do anything else.

In your opinion, what is the hardest part of being a tattoo artist?

Gosh that’s super hard. For me Its a few things, the ridiculous hours, the fact that it’s one of the few kinds of art there is no residuals to be made, and the egos you have to dance around. There was a time not long ago I was doing 18 hour days in the chair 6-7 days a week. I don’t screw around either, I’m not the ‘take an hour long break kinda guy’ you-know? It was rough on my body, my mind, and most importantly, my relationship. Now that I am a dad I only do a max of eight tattooing hours. Still with setup and breakdown it ends up being 12-15 depending on the stencil, sometimes more. And since no one is buying a print of a tattoo, I only make money while I work. So I work, a lot.

Your portraiture work is legendary and some of the best in the game. The way you make the colours blend and jump out the skin is unparalleled in my opinion, how do you manage to make them so unique and different from everyone else?

Thanks man that’s kind of you to say. The short answer is, I study. I’ve spent the better part of 10 years concentrating on teaching myself how to use color the way I do. It’s second nature now but it was a ton of work to get there. I would never do a portrait using dark brown, medium brown, peach, tan, white. Ugh, to me that’s not good. Skin isn’t any of those colors. We have different layers of skin, all absorbing and reflecting different hues of color. We have a circulatory system pumping blood though our skin. All of this giving us the illusion of skin tone. Atmosphere causing variations in that tone. Light, shadow, etc. I take what I see or what I want to see and I ramp up the saturation is some areas to get attention. I play with the chroma scale to lead your eyes where I want them. There’s a ton of other things, but you can see why I couldn’t limit my palette. Once you understand those things and where a color is on the value scale the possibilities are endless.

You have done a few guest spots in your time, do you have a favourite studio?

Yes Main Street Tattoo in Wishaw, Scotland. It’s owned by some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life and when I go there I feel more at home than anywhere I’ve ever been.

I’m absolutely loving the characters and their backstories you’re creating for the book you are working on, is there any information you can tell me about it?

I’m creating a whole universe, multiple books in multiple formats. I have one of my best friends Cig Neutron sculpting some busts and a former Weta artist doing the figures, both for the kickstarter. I have worked on this world for years and really want this to be my main Intellectual Property. Originally it was only going to be a graphic novel but it’s become so expansive now that it’s a graphic novel, art books, a lore book, and a trilogy, all in the works.

The first book will be told as though you are reading a journal of an alchemist who is traversing this world to rediscover and chronicle as much information as he can. It takes place 150 years after the war in the graphic novel that destroys the world’s technology. Along with it, their history, knowledge of species, races, topography and tons of other things. It’s really my lore book to introduce you to the world. It’s done as though the alchemist does an entry and paints an accompanying piece of art along with sketches to further tell the story of the land and its inhabitants. It starts out basic enough but quickly they anger an evil entity and it becomes more of him chronicling the band of explorers struggle to survive while lost in this unknown land.

As well as tattooing, working on your book and general life, you made the decision to attend the great art school, Watts Atelier. How has this experience been for you?

As hard as it is rewarding. I have no art training what so ever. Everything I know is self taught. To be in a classical environment learning art the way I should have all along is challenging to say the least. I have had to relinquish my current proficiency to acquire a greater proficiency. That’s pretty devastating to be honest. I’m drawing worse than I have in decades and it is honestly painful. I can look at my art I have done, pieces I have been hired and paid to do by various art directors and then I look at the crap I’m churning out there and it is heart breaking. It will really highlight and gaps you have in your knowledge and ability. However the track record of the school is insane. Every artist that sticks to the format just comes out of there incredible. Some of the guys I admire and want to paint like either went there or went there and now teach there. I know its a 2 steps back to take 3 forward and everyday is a small victory, I’m learning so much, I only wish I had done it sooner. The teachers are all so compassionate and really take a hands on approach to helping you improve. Eric Gist, Lucas Graciano, and especially Jim Hahn have all given a ton of time and energy to help me out. Jim has been a tremendous help with both my art and myself as a person. I admire his artistic ability and his dedication to helping his students, artistically and on a personal level. Honestly its the best decision I’ve made.

As a self-taught artist your artwork is already amazing, is there reason you sought out to learn art professionally?

I always wanted to learn art properly. I either never had the money, or once I was doing well as a tattooist I was caught up in traveling and enjoying life. I’m 37 now and if I don’t do it, I won’t. I want a more refined look to my work. Not a fine art look mind you but a look that only comes with a proper foundation and skill base. I want to learn edges and mapping, the kind of things that give you art that polished look that I can’t seem to get being self taught. I want to be the best artist I can be and with out proper training that’s never going to happen.

Is there anything or anyone who you take inspiration from?

Are you kidding, haha. I will list a few but man it’s pretty endless and always growing. A lot of Directors influence me, such as Guillermo Del Toro, any really visual storyteller with a good rhythm and pacing to their films. Artistically I grew up looking at a lot of UK comics. So guys like Simon Bisley were a huge influence, especially his Slain stuff. Glenn Fabry is another giant influence to me. His preacher covers amaze me, I have stared at them for hours on end. Rockwell and Leyendecker are amazing in there draftsmanship and storytelling. Drew Struzan was and is one of my first heroes in art and his composition and ability to nail a likeness is some of my favorite. Basil Gogos has been one of my biggest influences in how and why I use color the way I do. Paul Bonner is amazing at the level of detail he achieves and the frame in which he picks for his painting is always the one with the best visual impact. I have loved him since I was a teenager and his influence is probably the most evident. Tony Diterlizzi, what can I say, my first introduction to both D&D and fantasy art at 12 years old in the hallway of a schoolmates house were both because of him. His art will always occupy a special place with me. Jim Murray, I have known his work since Batman/ Judge Dredd but in the last 5 years or so I have become obsessed with him. I can’t get enough of his work, if there were a magic combo for me it would be him plus Bonner. Man if I could do art like that, that’s the dream buddy.

Safe to say you have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to comics! Haha, What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Neal Addams told me “There will be two styles of art in your life. The one you do well, and the one you want to do. Learn to love the one you do well and you will be happy and successful. Understand that the reason you want to do the other is because you can’t”…That was when I started to embrace realism as an artist and it changed my life.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing this career?

Ask yourself if this is the one thing you are most passionate about in your life. If you hesitate don’t choose this career. Art is a lifelong journey and its not an easy one if you want to be good at it and successful. If you are passionate you will naturally want to work as hard as it takes to become good. It takes sacrifice and dedication, if its not what you are truly passionate about then you are doing a disservice to the craft and yourself.

What has been the hardest moment in your career thus far, and what has been your favourite?

Hmmmm. The hardest was just probably taking the risk to choose art as a career. The favorite is choosing art as a career.

 

Blank full-body canvas, unlimited freedom- what do you do?

Shit myself.

Aside from tattooing, what are your other interests?

My family and my art are my life.

What do you see the next couple of years being like?

I just want to find a balance between being a great father, a great husband and honing my craft. I hope to gain a fan base that allows me to further develop my world. Mostly I just want to continue to make a living doing what I love.

Finally, what is your current wait list like and how would someone go about trying to get a tattoo from yourself?

It varies right now due to classes. usually between 3-5 months. The only way to get in is to E-mail me through the website. Ashley is amazing at really taking care of all my clients on a personable and professional level. I wouldn’t be half the artist I am without her. We really care about our clients and want to be sure they receive as good of an experience as they do artwork.

Thank you again, Cecil. It was amazing getting to know your story. All the best with your studies and your book!

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure telling you a little about myself.

Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond

Photos from Cecil Porter’s social media.

Cecil Porter Fanpages: Facebook & Instagram

http://www.cecilportertattoos.com/

Interview with Jurgis Mikalauskas

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist?

I started portrait painting when I was 13 years old, I never even thought about one day becoming a tattoo artist. I was making tattoos occasionally for friends aka a scratcher, until I migrated to the UK in 2010. It was then I decided to fully merge myself in to this wonderful world of art.

Why did you leave home and decide to move to the UK? Was this influenced by your decision to pursue a career in tattooing?

I migrated to the UK in hopes of getting a better opportunity at becoming a successful painter, but boy I was wrong! Nobody cared about painted portraits in the UK, they’d prefer to just hang a cheap printed photo on the wall instead haha.

You have your own studio, Ink Island in Peterborough, England – what was it like being able to open your own studio?

It’s an amazing feeling to have your own studio. Ink Island is my Island, where I am in my world and in my zone.

Are there any tattoo artists that you admire or look up to?

There are so many amazing young talents emerging everyday, the tattoo art world is really blooming at the moment. I love all of their work, it gives me energy to try harder everyday, Bob Tyrrell and Paul Booth are my heroes of black and grey and Dimitriy Samohin is my hero for his incredible colour realism.

How do you prepare for a tattoo?

I always prepare my stencil the evening before a session, it gives me some calm time to soak up the upcoming tattoo atmosphere

What interests do you have outside of work?

Oh I am just crazy about fly fishing lol, I could spend days hunting Trout. Catch, kiss and release – that’s my meditation.

What was the first tattoo that you ever did?

The first one was suppose to be a pin up girl outline on my friends calf, it turned out more like a bodybuilder, but we both were happy with our first one haha!

What’s the craziest thing someone has asked you to tattoo?

There was one time that I did a very small axe on the inside of the armpit.. no comments. I just did it without asking what the meaning was. That was hilarious.

My favourite pieces from you have to be your eye tattoos. The amount of detail and depth in them is absolutely incredible. Do you have any favourites from you work?

Yes, eyes are the gates of the soul, so they should be deep.

I never like my tattoos entirely…I don’t know why, I just want to make them better, but the Sadhu monk with that beard always brings a smile on my face.

What type of tattoos do you enjoy doing the most?

Naturally I love doing portraits, I love realism, animals, nature, sexy women’s faces and bodies!

If you could get a tattoo from anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?

I would be honored to get a tattoo from Bob Tyrrell and Dmitriy Samohin. It’s like getting an autograph from David Beckham on your t-shirt.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice was to slow down and take your time to do those details, because everything is in the details!

Is there any advice you would give to someone pursuing this career that you wish you knew when you started, if so what would it be?

My advice for the people who are wanting to become a tattoo artist is to get a proper tattoo apprenticeship. I am self taught and this was a long and stressful way to get where I am now, so please save yourself some nerves and precious time and invest it in to drawing and understanding the art, you can’t be a good mechanic without understanding how the car was built.

Finally, how would someone go around getting a tattoo from you?

You can contact me via my website jurgistattoo.com, my facebook page or even my email papinykius@gmail.com

Thank you very much for your time, Jurgis!

Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond

Photographs used in this article are from the social media profiles of Luke Sayer.

Luke Sayer fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/luke.sayer.54

Luke Sayer profile: https://www.instagram.com/lukesayertattoo/

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RAZZOUK - EST. 1300

Tattoo has always served something, it has served informational functions (even when its current role is mainly reduced to an aesthetic function, it also constitutes a manifestation, even the manifestation of our aesthetic tastes :)). Since the dawn of time, the tattoo has been present in many cultural circles. It emphasized, for example, belonging to a given tribe, in antiquity, slaves or soldiers were tattooed. Following this path, the tattoo was one of the ways of giving “identity”, in modern times also used by prisoners or representatives of subcultures. It could be a stigma, but it could also facilitate penetration into certain structures. From time immemorial, it has also served to emphasize religious affiliation – including Christianity. In the study of history, the origin of the tattoo, much attention (although still not enough) was devoted to the phenomenon of so-called Pilgrimage tattoos of the Christian Copts, Armenians, Maronites (Syria and Lebanon), traveling to the Holy Land, which were to act as amulets to protect against evil and bring prosperity. There are also reports that the crusaders have also been tattooed.

Despite such a far-reaching, fascinating and complex history of tattooing, as well as its constant popularization, research on it as a cultural, historical and sociological phenomenon is still not very common.

I always realized that I did not go through all the knowledge about the tattoo, its history, traditions in individual circles or representatives of this art / craft, but it seemed to me that it is quite large. However, recently it turned out that I could not find much more to discover than it might seem. I still wonder how it is possible that I missed the fact of the existence of the Razzouk studio, located in Jerusalem, or rather the whole family whose name comes from its name…

 

The history of the Razzouk studio goes back 700 years (yes, 700, no 70 – the second zero is not a typo), and the family, tattoo tradition, passed down from generation to generation, is still alive. It was through this family that tattooing appeared in Palestine. It all began centuries ago in Egypt, where the ancestors of Wassim (who now cultivates the family tradition), made tattoos – small crosses – on the wrists of the local Coptic Christians, which allowed them access to temples and practicing worship. Because of religious persecution, it was not possible for everyone to cross the threshold of the church. In order to make it easier, even children were tattooed.

Later, Jersuis, the Coptic priest and ancestor of Wassim, moved to Palestine, where he continued this custom. The tradition associated with tattooing was passed on to future generations, and so in the eighteenth century it reached Jerusalem. Numerous pilgrims were choosing patterns from hand-made wooden stamps from Egypt, used as stencil and tools to transfer the pattern to the skin. The tattooed Christian symbols, biblical scenes were supposed to be a testimony of a trip to the Holy Land.

The history of the Razzouk studio goes back 700 years (yes, 700, not 70 – the second zero is not a typo), and the family, tattoo tradition, passed down from generation to generation, is still alive. It was through this family that tattooing appeared in Palestine. It all began centuries ago in Egypt, where the ancestors of Wassim (who now cultivates the family tradition), made tattoos – small crosses – on the wrists of the local Coptic Christians, which allowed them access to temples and practicing worship. Because of religious persecution, it was not possible for everyone to cross the threshold of the church. In order to make it easier, even children were tattooed. Later, Jersuis, the Coptic priest and ancestor of Wassim, moved to Palestine, where he continued this custom. The tradition associated with tattooing was passed on to future generations, and so in the eighteenth century it reached Jerusalem. Numerous pilgrims were choosing patterns from hand-made wooden stamps from Egypt, used as stencil and tools to transfer the pattern to the skin. The tattooed Christian symbols, biblical scenes were supposed to be a testimony of a trip to the Holy Land.

Wassim’s grandfather, Yacoub Razzouk (also known as Hagop or simply a “tattoo artist” “tattooist”), owned a plant in which he created coffins and tattoos. He was the first tattoo artist in the country who used an electric tattoo machine as well as colored ink. The family interest in tattooing was taken over by Anton Razzouk, to pass it on to his son, Wassim, who, as he says, will pass the tradition to his children so that they can continue and cultivate the next generations. What I know from the story I heard during my visit at the studio, in the Razzouk family, tattooing was not only a male profession, it was also performed and performed by women, including Wassim’s Aunt or his wife from Poland.

Currently, Wassim Razzouk represents the 27th generation of tattooists and makes sure that this amazing, 700-year-old heritage of his family has not passed away. In the studio located in the heart of the old city of Jerusalem, you can invariably purchase a unique tattoo stamped with antique seals. To this end, people from all over the world come to the place. and I am the happy owner of one of them.

This article was created for TattooFan Magazine by Maria Śmigiel

The photographs used in this article were made available by Razzouk Tattoo Studio  – Since 1300

Razzouk Tattoo – Since 1300 fan page: https://www.facebook.com/RazzoukInk/

Razzouk Tattoo – Since 1300 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/razzouktattoo/

Star Wars Tattoos!

There are a lot of reasons to get things tattooed on your body for…your favourite quote, portrait of a loved one, maybe it’s something in the spur of the moment and has a great story to go with it. Others just get things that they think is extremely cool!

However arguably one of the most common reasons to get a tattoo is getting your favourite television or film characters etched in permanent ink. (baring laser removal of course), Star Wars in this regard might be the most recognisable, You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a film franchise that has inspired people to profess their everlasting love for a movie or television show. The films are just classic. They introduced so many people into the sci-fi genre. Even those who aren’t die-hard geeks are fans of the films – which is a great testament as to just how great they actually are. These films are in that special category of cinema. The Godfathers, The Lord of the Rings films, The Indiana Jones’, Marvel, Harry Potter. Even if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars, you cannot deny its importance to film.

George Lucas created something special. Not only did he create one of the most successful film franchises in history, He created a universe in which we could all engross ourselves in. A universe where we would could beat the shit out of our friends and family with lightsabers in the name of the force, or whatever your allegiance may be.

Do you choose the Rebellion? The Dark Side?

With such a large galaxy, so many characters, personalities and favourites to choose from. It can be pretty daunting if you’re planning on dedicating a piece of skin to this passion. Hopefully you can find some inspiration in these tattoos if you plan on joining the club, But remember, don’t be a thief from Jakku – nobody likes those who copy completely.

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Tim Drummond.

The photographs used in this article come from the artists’social media websites.

Interview with Sile Sanda

How did you get started in the tattoo industry? Have you always seen yourself as a tattoo artist?

Maybe it would be better if we started at the beginning and I can say firstly how I got into art. I was 2 years old on my mom gave me a pencil and a piece of paper and I replicated the headlines from newspapers. That was the moment when my parents realised I had a talent for drawing and they’ve supported me ever since then.

Did you do a formal apprenticeship?

I did loads of pencil drawings, late in my twenties I did some airbrushing as well. I think it all helped me to have a better understanding of what was going to be next.  There was no formal apprenticeship available for me at that time. I had to tattoo myself to learn.

What was the experience of tattooing yourself like?

I did my very first 6 tattoos on myself. I did one on my chest just by looking in the mirror then my legs and my arms. That’s how my apprenticeship and my very first steps in tattooing started.

How is the new studio coming along?

The studio is looking good, like every other studio during the beginning it is difficult but we are getting there. The team is great and they’ve put a lot of effort into it and I really appreciate that.

How did it feel to finally open a studio after all these years of tattooing?

To own your own studio, I think is the ultimate goal that you set for yourself.  Some people might not admit that but I personally think every tattoo artist aims for this. It is much harder to own a studio, more than I could have ever imagined. I have to run the studio and keep up with up with my waiting list, it’s really hard, but I am surrounded by an amazing team that make it all possible.

What are your interests outside of tattooing?

Once you enter into this industry you realise there is no life outside tattooing.  I’m constantly doing research once I see a new tattoo machine on the market, I’m always talking to my other artist friends and asking about opinions on needles, machines and inks.

After work I prefer to spend 2 hours in the Gym – it clears my head after a busy day in the studio.

You’re known primarily as a great black and grey realistic artist, is there a particular reason you prefer b&g rather than colour?

Since I was a kid I’ve been interested in dark art, I guess the older I got, the more I discovered, the more I started to develop my vision and my technique as an artist.

One thing I respect massively from artists are those who don’t hide their healed work and you would certainly fit in this regard. Do you think more artists should show healed work given the opportunity?

At this stage into my career my tattoos look better when they are healed versus them being fresh, where there are other artists that provide the opposite. We are all different, some are looking to have a big boom when they post a picture on social media and I am looking to see that tattoo in 5-1o years time and not not see any changes.

Do you have any favourite tattoo artists?

There are many great artists that influenced my views over the years, would take a day to name all of them.

In your opinion what goes into making a ‘good’ tattoo?

To be saturated, solid, have contrast and especially a good composition is the base of a good tattoo.  We all have different visions and maybe what I could call a good tattoo others might not.

Are there any tattoos that you find more challenging than others?

Every tattoo that I do is a challenge for me – doesn’t matter if they are small or big, I put the same effort into all my pieces and always work to the best of my abilities.

What is the most memorable tattoo that you have done?

I would say the family portraits category fits into the most memorable tattoos, many times my collectors have been in tears when they’ve seen the final results of the tattoo.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Work hard and you will always succeed. Believe in yourself and don’t let the haters tear down your goals.

Tattooing has progressed so much in the past 10 years, how do you see the next 10 years going in terms of advancements?

I embrace the new technology and I always purchase the new tattoo machines and needles to try.

What has been the hardest moment in your career thus far, and what has been your favourite?

As an artist you will always have ups and downs but I never gave up on my dream of doing art.  Just a small story related to this was when one of my collectors from Glasgow went to Holland for a weekend with his pals. While they were in a pub enjoying a pint a guy approached my collector and said ”Amazing tattoo, I know who did that”, my collector was very surprised and asked ” No you can’t know – who is it then?” and the guy said ” Sile Sanda”.  I felt very good because I knew years of work had paid off since I always wanted to put my signature in my tattoos and not be just an ordinary tattoo artist.

So recently you’ve opened your own studio, what’s next in store for Sile Sanda?

Yes, sometimes I can’t believe that 5 years ago I was looking for a studio to take me in and now I own one.

What’s next after this? I will do my best to build a good team that can be like a family and we can all enjoy doing art.

Finally, How would someone go about trying to get a tattoo from yourself?

I am not a superstar tattoo artist – You can see in my portfolio I’m covering a big diversity when it comes to the projects. I am very approachable, all collectors could simply visit my website, fill a form and within 24 Hours I will get back to them.

I am not able to help everyone as mostly I do Black and Grey work but I do my best to book in the majority of the people that are interested in getting a tattoo from me.

Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond

Photos from Sile Sanda’s social media.

Sile Sanda Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/SileSanda/

Sile Sanda Instagram: @silesanda

Dark Ink Gallery Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/darkinkgallery/

http://www.silesanda.com/

Interview with Zappa Razzi

I don’t know many Polish tattoo artists which can proudly say they’ve been tattooing for this many years as you. Please tell us, how many years have you been in this profession?

I am unsure if that’s good or not, but I’ve been tattooing for over 26 years. I am slowly starting to be afraid that my time to retire is coming with big steps, and soon I will turn into a legend.

It’s definitely a good thing you have such a long experience. Looks like I am younger than the time you’ve been tattooing, and this incredible opportunity gives me a chance to ask you a little how did it all start for you long before I was even into tattoos. How did it start, what did your first tattoos look like and why did you start tattooing?

Ever since I remember I’ve always been drawing, so tattooing was only a matter of time. Back in the time when I was starting, tattoo culture differed from now. It was more associated with growing subcultures and was more associated with old stereotyping. Growing need for freedom, individuals needed some way to express themselves. Next to alternative press and DIY activities, individuals needed to change their appearance in the way to show their. That is why tattoo became a good way to be different from others.

From as far as I remember, really, ever since I had any contact with this subject, I remember remember you from Cykada studio, which you are an owner of. I also know before that you’ve been working in Berlin. How did your road on getting your own studio look like, what was it like in Berlin and where are you based at the moment?

I started from my own studio in Kedzierzynie Kozlu, I run it till 1996. The next step on my road was Germany. Up there the tattoo industry was more developed. My dream was to keep on progressing, mainly that was the reason why I moved, to have a possibility to self-improvement. When I was opening the Cykada studio I had clear goals and knew what was the key for well perspiring studio. Which turned out not to be that easy!

I have a feeling that many polish tattoo artists are going overseas. You on the other side have left and returned to Poland, and decided to stay for longer by opening your studio. From many years, on different tattoo conventions you enthrone as a jury. I think you are the best person to ask how did the Polish tattoo industry change ?

I’ve asked myself many times, what is it that makes the Polish tattoo industry so special. We have so many great artist, which specialise in different styles, which are so creative and filled with ideas- this is not only my reflection on it, we are appreciated on many different tattoo conventions. This is a great feeling, being a part of it and being able to follow it for years. Additionally we have many great tattoo artists which became ambassadors of the tattoo art, promoting great work in Poland like also overseas. We have two great tattoo magazines and many really well done annual conventions. Looks like Poland did really good at expanding tattoo industry without the help of ministry of culture. Look at the artists like Junior, Tofi, Radek the owner of Kult, Marcin Paczesny, or Piotr Wojciechowski. There is many more which actively are promoting polish tattoos, representing it on many events overseas.

I think as with everything we still have a tendency to look at West- the effect of previous system, but I couldn’t agree more with the fact that we have some really talented tattooists and we produce an incredibly high level of quality work and I think it is worth mentioning. Surely not just one well known tattooist is looking up to you even now. Someone with so many successes, huge experience and ownership of a studio, you could easily slow down. However you still choose to work full time. It is clear that this is not only your job but also a passion?

I guess, Duracell batteries 😉 Running a studio and tattooing is like having two full-time jobs. This wouldn’t be possible to do without a passion. Unfortunately this has it’s down sides and due to work, I tend to have no free time for myself or my loved ones.

You are a comprehensive artist, with years you’ve worked hard on your workshop. You are creating new-traditional work, very bright and colourful, usually quite big compositions, but on the other hand you also do realism. What subject you enjoy doing the most?

I grew up from completely different tattoo school. When I was starting, tattoos were done from a catalogue and custom tattoo was still a ‘baby’. Not many artists back then was lucky enough to create their own designs and tattoo them. Additionally the promotion of the tattoo was going completely different way to what the tattoo represents nowadays. The only resource was a magazine and own designs which was send between the studios. Back in the day I was just a grey mass creating sticker-like-tattoos from the wall of a studio filled with pre-prepared designs. The only way to be was to become very universal, this is why I started learning different styles – realism, new school, ornaments, and Japanese. However after time I was able to create my own, semi- realistic style with thick lines.

Skin is not the only ‘canvas’ you create your art on, you also paint. Is it your favourite form of spending your free time or constant improvement of your workshop.

In 2016, tight schedule and many changes didn’t give me too much ‘me’ time. However this year I am hoping to go back to painting, especially now we have a new extra room in the studio which is meant for creating and painting.

The amount of people who want to start tattooing professionally, grows everyday, and think tattooing is their dream job. I personally think there is a lot of good sides however this profession tends to be very hard and time consuming. What would be your advice, based on your experience for those who are starting their career – I have a feeling, it seems to be easier and faster to become a tattoo artist.

Nowadays, thank to the Internet it got easier to learn any profession. Internet is filled with unlimited resources and gives an access to different forms of auto education, and tattoo- as a visual art and hand made craft- benefits the most. From the moment of purchase of the tattoo equipment, through learning the theory online by watching tutorial videos, to forums or contact with other artists- finding potential artists to look up to and ending on posing their ‘creations’ online. Theoretically everyone without the need of leaving their homes can become an artist. The quality and diversity of the tattoo machines nowadays don’t require any special technical and manual abilities. Twenty six years ago, back when I was starting this was not possible. The process of becoming a tattoo artist was long, and hard. Becoming an artist now is very effective. This almost reminds me of modern food, good looking, bright colours but lacks of vitamins or nutritional values. Sometimes it makes me sad, talking to fresh starters when I see their confusion when mentioning the name; Filip Leu- their paradoxical knowledge about Old School tattoos go back barely few months to the newest specialist of this style. Being here at this moment I know what we’ve neglected, I mean pioneers of Polish tattoo industry. All the hype went into promoting visual aspects of the tattoo, however we don’t have any backup form of the ethic in this profession.

I think this is the coolest conclusion I’ve ever came across with, without the need of adding anything. Thank you so much for your time, short story about Yourself and for creating something we now call ‘tattoo industry’.

The interview for  Tattoo Fan Magazine was  prepared by  Maria Śmigiel.

All used photographs have been made available by Zappa.

Zappa Razzi fan page:  https://www.facebook.com/zapparazzi

Zappa Razzi Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/zapparazzio/

Cykada Tattoo fan page: https://www.instagram.com/cykada/

Cykada Tattoo instagram: https://www.facebook.com/CYKADA.TATTOO.STUDIO/

TATTOOS ON THE HANDS

In today’s times we can observe the phenomenon of amazing popularization of tattoos. It comes out of the taboo area more and more and is no longer reserved for those “unruly”. The attitude towards and of its owners changes significantly and as such society has began to accept tattoos, not as the taboo that they were once thought of. And as a result you can find many people in public with tattoos on show for all to see, and even so much so in those with business attire in which you would not know unless their body was on show. Until a few years ago, a tattoo on the palm was reserved for people performing alternative, independent professions. Currently, there are many countries in which having your hands covered with tattoos actually do not negate the possibility of working in a serious, responsible position. In Great Britain, this is a view that can occasionally be seen, for example in banks or various types of public institutions. It is interesting, however, that in some Scandinavian countries, the act of tattooing the hand, neck or face is illegal. However, this prohibition does not apply to the holder, but to the person who will perform the work in this place. Apparently, failure to comply with this restriction can be severely punished. Although this is probably an exaggeration and somewhat at odds with the image of a highly developed, liberal society, it should almost definetly not be one of your first tattoos and should be a concious decision not taken lightly, but perhaps more final finishing touch – such as the crown of a sleeve? As apart from the face and neck – your hand is the one of the most visible parts of the body, it is worth choosing a good artist and a thoughtful design in which there will be no regrets.

With that being said, we present you some great examples of tattooed hands in different styles!

This article for Tattoo Fan Magazine was created by Maria Śmigiel.

The photographs used in this article come from the artists’social media websites.

Interview with Łukasz 'SMYKU' Siemieniewicz

Although I’ve been interested in tattoos for as long as I can remember – they intrigued me when I was still a kid – I began to explore any knowledge about it about 8 years ago. That’s when I was for the first time at the convention – in Lodz … Social media were not so obvious and probably did not yet play the role of such a major promotion tool, there was no Instagrama, I only fb founded two years later … There were several industry newspapers, in You could see the work of various tattoo artists – I remember how the tattooers I knew were waiting for them and when they appeared – with little effort – they quickly ran to the empik [a polish bookstore]. With this argument I am actually going to the fact that although the flow of information a few years ago was incomparably smaller, I perfectly remember that you were already a very well-known person in this industry. You are, Luke, probably an “old” stager, eh?

Festivals were a dream come true for me. I remember my first steps in the field of tattooing and as a guest I went to the convention. So many great artists and tattoos that they did, wow, there was just so much going on. And just then, somewhere in the head a dream came to be one of them…To be able to proudly represent your region as a tattoo artist. Back then it was a dream unachievable to me, more sighing and thinking how much I would like. Those times have taught me great humility and perseverance in what I do. It was simple, if you really want it, only stubbornness, determination and constant desire to develop will lead to this. As soon as I was able to open my own studio, I decided to make my dream come true … I think that conventions are a constant and indispensable element of a tattoo artist’s work. If you love what you do, you identify with it – with people who do what you do with the climate. If you create with your heart, you want to show it to people. Nobody would like to hide pictures in the closet if he would give them his time. As you have noticed, the style and atmosphere of those old conventions disappeared forever, but I am still addicted to them, I still love it and I will take an active part in it until my health allows.

Where did you come up with such an idea for life, the choice of such and not a different career path?

Since I remember, I loved to draw, especially characters, faces, people in motion, scenes from movies. As a 13-year-old, being on the holiday in Italy, I got a catalog somewhere in the kiosk with a review of Italian tattooists and their work. I was very impressed that such images can be made on the skin for so many years. Until the end of the holiday I wrote out of 5 felt-tip pens on the skin of my colleagues, making them “artificial” tattoos. When I returned home, a plan sparkled in my mind: to be able to do it one day, to be able to tattoo. I did not think about it as a job at the time. I just wanted to be able to do it. After many years, because only at the age of 18, I bought the first equipment for all my birthday money. Perhaps it lasted so long due to the lack of sufficient funds, perhaps because these were times when in Poland you could buy the machine in three places, and the needles had to be soldered by yourself. There was no information on the internet about how to tattoo, not to mention no tutorials. And this is how my tattoo adventure began with trial and error.

How do you really remember your beginnings? Currently, the profession of a tattoo artist has become quite a popular profession, many people at an increasingly young age are gripping the machine, certainly because everything is more achievable, even the equipment itself, many studios take apprentices, acquiring knowledge and experience in this area is simpler. I have the impression that the entire process has simplified itself, but formerly there was a need for huge perseverance to be able to perform this craft…

The beginnings, ah the beginnings, they were very difficult, and in my case lasted for a long time. Unfortunately, I never had a teacher, someone who would stand over me when I was making a shovel and explained what was wrong. If something did not work out, I didn’t even know why. I remember my shock when I went to the festival to look at something. What was my surprise seeing the work of excellent tattoo artists live. “CAN YOU PURPORT IT?” Sticking ink, the angle of the machine and the weight of other items that I had no idea about before. I remember this festival well, I wanted someone to tell me anything. And so I went to a tattoo artist, whose work I liked and asked him to look at the photos of my tattoos and advise something – what can I improve, do better. He flicked through 4-5 pages from my binder and closed it… He looked at me and said calmly, “you know what? go to something else. You are not cut out for this!”. As you can probably guess, it was the end of the festival for me. Everything crumbled. My dreams of tattooing and being good in this profession have fallen apart. I came back home, broken … I think it was a crucial moment for me, because I still did not give up. I had my goal and I had to achieve it! Sessions gave me a lot when I was sitting on my first tattoos as a client. It was then that I was able to observe how exactly professionalism looks like, of course I did not spare any questions Fortunately, I came across very positive tattooists, such as Tofi or Panas, who willingly answered technical issues that bothered me. Today I try to help young people who want to start or have already started the adventure with a tattoo and once in a while I organize courses in theory and practice, during which I try to explain everything, suggest, show, so that they can tattoo under my supervision, and they did not have to learn from their mistakes.

For as long as I can remember, you’ve done realistic tattoos and you probably like a sizable composition. You are also known for the incredible pace of your work, it happens that work that someone else could even pick up on a few sessions, you create in a couple of hours … How is this possible? Years of experience? Accurate planning of the entire process? Technical patents?

Regarding my pace of work, I think that in part each of these factors matters. However, I can not answer this question exactly. Once asked about it at festivals, I laughed that I am giving engineers tuning machines for increasing power, he he. Of course, it’s such a joke. I work on standard equipment. However, I think that in part my work has gained momentum after switching from coils to rotating machines. I just can not do it differently. I do not hurry up with tattooing and I can not artificially slow down my pace of work. This is just how I work.

Once, already participating in many conventions, I thought that since it temporarily looks ok, why not make someone a bigger piece? And so I did: I took my colleague, who was very resilient, he even liked the feeling of tattooing, to the convention to in Poznan and there I made my first half-sleeves at once. I think it was another crucial moment, because today many people associate me with large compositions done in one day. Today I can tell you that I love such big works, because I know that I went to the convent and I gave 100% of myself, that I managed this day to the max. I am constantly trying to raise the bar. And so at the Warsaw festival in 2016, together with my model, we took on the challenge that I would make him a half-leg in one day of the convention … After 8.5 hours it was finished. And the comments of people, when the model came to the stage and showed the tattoo, that it was FAKE, a scam and half were certainly made at home, they give me even more energy to continue to this ‘act’.

You do both black and grey and colourful works, which do you prefer to do more? Or do you work with every palette equally?

I do work a lot more work in blacks, This is due to the demand of my clients. Personally, I probably would not decide if I had to choose whether I prefer to work in colors or blacks. Both of these techniques give me great fun. I think that a lot depends on the client’s skin, not every one is suitable for color. If someone is very dark complexion, I often suggest that it will be better to do it in black. Another time someone gives an idea for a project that he wanted to do in blacks, and it turns out that in color he will play a lot better.

And how do you and your clients help mould the idea? Do you prefer to have a nice back-and-forth or having as much freedom as possible?

Very often my projects are created in consultation with the client. Of course, it is much better for me when I get a free hand. When I can rip everything together in a project as I feel it when nothing limits me.