Designing skateboards completely changed my mind of how I should be tattooing.

Designing skateboards completely changed my mind of how I should be tattooing.

When I was younger, I studied art in Stockholm and, by then, had many friends who worked as tattoo artists in the small Swedish city of Tierp. It was around then, at an after party in a studio in Tierp, that I attempted my first tattoo - on my own leg. The result was terrible, and I decided there and then that I wanted to properly learn this craft.  That was the start of it for me. I finished my studies and moved to Tierp to work as an apprentice at Crazy Fresh tattoo. It was located on a huge farm, so we felt like a hippie collective, living on this farm, working with tattoos.

As an apprentice, I wasn’t permitted to work on any of the studio’s customers, so initially I just had to observe and figure it out for myself. My friends from Stockholm came to visit me during the weekends, so they became my customers. I was around 23-24 years old at the time, and have honed my skills in the six years since.

 

My preferred style was traditional/old-school, and that’s probably because of my background in graffiti. Thick lines and lots of colour - it felt natural. I actually carried on working there until last year, for five years in total. To gain further insight into the industry, I frequently visited Stockholm over the years, and attended different studios such as Zoi Tattoo, Huckleberry, and Blackbook.

 

The plan to specialise in the traditional/old-school tattooing style did not pan out as I expected. I started by designing skateboards for a brand in Tiarp as a side project and, to make the burning mark with the pencil, I had to dot the pencil, not drag it, and that’s how my idea for tattooing “dotwork” began. From there, a totally new idea came to me, and I started to create portraits on the skateboards - by using only dotting. 

I had a friend in Uppsala that did some blackwork, so I attended his studio to study his work. I started to save a lot of tattoo-inspired pictures on my phone and set-up an Instagram account called @blacktattooart, which now has over 300,000 followers. As the page grew, I became increasingly inspired and motivated, and started using the platform to share my own designs. From this, studios and artists in Stockholm found out about me. 

 

I love tattooing, and the studio where I work has such a cool atmosphere - customers can expect to come here and listen to some 90s music, surrounded by walls painted heavily in black. It’s crazy to think that we put needles in people and get paid for it. I don’t think about the blood when I tattoo people at all, and most people don’t cry because of the pain. In general, I find that girls tend to bear the pain better than guys do - or perhaps they just hide it better!  At the end of the day, my clients love tattoos and have come to me because they are excited to get one -  so I think about that instead of the pain they may be suffering.

 

Over the years, my personal style has developed. I said when I started out that I would never get a colour tattoo, and now I have only colour on my body! I have started to cover all of my own tattoos in black ink - my arms, my chest, and probably my neck. I want to do them all again, but I’ll do it right this time. Black “ground”, with linework in white. Eventually, it will look like an old chalk board.   

 

I am always striving to advance and better my tattooing skills, so my plan for the future is simply to keep on going, find new angles, and see where it takes me.