By Hanna Mathis
Tattoo lovers highly value the craft tattoo artists are capable of creating. Often customers are looking for a long time to choose their artist, depending on their style, experience and availability. Not to forget that a proper artist usually has to undergo many hours of training and learning before he or she will receive first customers.
A tattoo artist traditionally earns the title by completing 1 to 2 years lasting apprenticeship under strict guidelines from an experienced senior tattoo artist. Potential artists are generally expected to be excellent at drawing with an ability to customize design ideas and create own tattoo pieces. During the internship, the artist gains all kind of knowledge about sanitation and tattoo styles, in order to grow and develop as an artist.
Tattoos are made by injecting ink in the skin by using a needle, either handheld or through a tattoo machine. The needle gets into the skin about one millimeter deep and stays in the second layer of the skin, the Dermis, because its cells are much more steady than the first layer, the Epidermis. The sterilization of the entire process is fundamental as any kinds of wounds have a high risk of infection and diseases transmission.
“Tattoos have a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul.” – Michelle Delio
Madrid and it’s Artists
Madrid is a very cultural and artsy place and also home or origin of some great tattoo artists.
Burgsdorfstraße 4, Berlin
My name is Francisco Javier Navarro Romero, I am 28 years old and I am from Madrid.
I am tattooing in Berlin for two years now. I became a tattoo artist because I have been working as painter and sculptor for a long time and I wanted to try something different. Through my previous job experience I know how the human body is structured and where the muscles are – that helps me a lot with finding the best position of the tattoo.
The best aspect of my job is that I can make people happy through my art and that they have it their entire life. The Spanish culture has influenced my style due to the different lifestyle in my country, which I reflect through colourful and bright works. I developed my style by trying to understand myself, so it’s a never-ending process.
Unfortunately, tattoos are perceived more from an aesthetic way than an emotional way. I think that the perception of tattoos depends on where you are, because each country has a different culture and society and it also depends on the personal experience of each person. I myself have four tattoos and my favourite one is my first tattoo, which I did on my own during the transition of what was was on my mind and what I wanted to create with it. Every challenging tattoo I tattooed will stay as my memories forever.
True Love Tattoo
C/ Velarde nº22, Madrid
My name is Ricardo, I’m 27 years old and I’m from Madrid.
I had an apprenticeship for 1 and half years here at True Love Tattoo Studio. After 8 months I was allowed to tattoo my first customer, actually my best friend. He wasn’t really happy but yeah, he knew what he would get. I come from the music business and all of the band members also had tattoos, so I got my first tattoo when I was 18 years old. What I like most about my job is that I can be so fucking cool all the time. Just kidding, I love my freedom. It is a hard job and you have to work a lot of hours, but I really like to do it and I can be my own boss and decide how long and when to work.
In my opinion, there is no tattoo culture in Spain. I developed my style through taking designs I like, coping things and adding my own touch to it. Basically how every artist works. I started with the traditional tattoo style and I’m still sticking to it. I can do everything, from black and white to color, small and big, whatever the customer wishes for.
Sadly, tattoos are starting to get more accepted. I mean it’s good that the demand is higher and we are earning more money, but they are also loosing its magic. What I like about tattoos is that they are kind of forbidden, something for criminals, prostitutes and sailors. I think the moment when tattoos get completely accepted, they get like h&m t-shirts and are not special or different anymore.
My favorite tattoo is my newest one – I got it drunk together with my best friend Rafael. He tattooed mine and I did his. It is the “dignity” sign from one of the Simpsons episodes. We didn’t use a stencil, so it’s not exactly the same, but it’s about the funny memory.
I did plenty of weird tattoos for my customers. The one that is still on my mind is when I tattooed coordinates near the butthole of a girl. I want to think that they are the coordinates where she had analsex the first time, but who knows.
I don’t want to stay in Spain. Madrid hasn’t anything to offer me anymore, I’m kind of tired of it. The plan is to move to Scottland, more precise to Glasgow, together with Rafael to continue tattooing together.Shitty weather, but I like that!
My name is Rafael Gonzalez Martin, I’m 27 years old and I’m from Madrid.
This June, I’m working as an tattoo artist for 4 years now. I started to work as an apprentice 3 and a half years ago in Barcelona and came here 6 months ago. Before I started studying fine arts in Madrid but I didn’t finish it. My job makes me free. I do whatever I want and I do my best – my best is drawing. I can meet many new and nice people, the only thing I always need are my hands.
When I saw the work of Bara, the owner of True Love Tattoo, he inspired me immediately. Other influences are Javier Rodriguez and I suppose I also have collected knowledge from my art studies, how to draw and use colors effectively.
The tattoo business changed and you have to react to the change. If you want to express something you have to create your own interesting language.
The funniest tattoo I got is also the one I did together with Ricardo. But my favorite is the one on my back: Bara did it and it is my biggest and most painful one too. I guess the more pain I experience the more I like the tattoo.
If people suffer from the tattooing process, we don’t really feel for them. They want to have them so they also have to endure the pain. We know how it feels and everyone can survive it! That’s also a reason why we think tattoo artists should be tattooed themselves – so they what kind of pain the customer handles. We can get annoyed if we can’t work properly. The only exception – girls on their periods. Because then the pain is way worse for them.
If business is not working great you have to change something, because it is your fault. Work harder, get other clients, change the city. You have to sell yourself and the work. We are not talking about being talented, but working hard. Even though we are talented, we are working fucking hard. But we also love to do it.
With our experience and portfolio we are able to travel and do tattoos all over the world. And I am always looking for adventures.
You have to try to improve and learn everyday. One should never be satisfied with the own art and always strive to get better.