interview with Phatt German | tattoo style | sweden 25/03/2014

Q: What got you into the world of tattooing?
A: I grew up with tattoos, they were all around me. My mom took me with her when she got tattooed by Henning Jorgensen at Royal Tattoo in Denmark when I was 4, that's 26 years ago... I started to get tattooed very early and that sparked my interest in tattooing and to tattoo myself, it took me 22 years to realize that actually, anyone can learn.

Q: Who is the person you're most grateful when it comes to inspiration?
A: My wife and my sons, knowing that I have to provide and put food on the table is my greatest inspiration.

Q: What type of art interested you?
A: I've always loved art and any form of it, my grandfather is an amazing man and an amazing artist, he does breathtaking mathematical, psychedelic paintings, very similar to Vasarely and Anuszkiewicz. He taught me early on how important art is and how important it is to be creative. I appreciate any art form as long as it's creative and the artist put some thought into it. But I think my personal style has always been rooted in tattoos, when the other kids drew bowls with fruit in, I drew skulls with daggers through em.

- Do you have any formal art training?
No, no formal art training, I'm not sure what to make of art schools really but it wouldn't suit me.

Q: You're a very talented artist. I guess tattoo realism is something you most enjoy. When the fascination for this style first began?
A: I go through phases of enjoying different styles of tattooing all the time, at the moment I really enjoy color realism. I do find Japanese and traditional a lot harder to do well though, with realism it's more like paint by number, the end result is already there in the reference photo, you just have to translate it to the skin. With Japanese, traditional or styles like that, you have to make up your own light sources, shades and shadows etc. I find that much more difficult.

Q: You do lots of crazy color mixes when it comes to portrait tattoos. How do you develop your basic ideas to the final one?
A: If I do a portrait but in wacky colors I just make it up in my head, most color portraits I do from a black & white reference, especially the wacky ones. We all got different ways of approaching a tattoo and I prefer to be quite loose with planning color schemes to set in advance. I always have three or four full ink cups left untouched after I've finished a tattoo, I change my mind and go for some other color rather than the one I first thought of. I like my tattooing to be organic, and evolve whilst I'm doing it.
From stencil to finished tattoo, the look of the tattoo changes so much, so everything around it has to change with it.

Q: How do you usually cheer up yourself when there is lack of inspiration?
A: To be honest, I never really feel uninspired nowadays, I don't know if it's experience or that I have great customers with really
inspiring ideas. I work 6 or 7 days a week most of the time, 8-12 hours per day and I've been doing this for years.
I really love to tattoo and to draw, so inspiration is never an issue.

Q: To be a tattoo artist must be fun. You meet lots of people with crazy life stories... Have you ever learned something about life from your clients? If so, what was the most memorable story you've ever heard?
A: Yes, you do meet some interesting people, crazy characters some times, but also a lot of "normal" ordinary people. Some things you hear are just heart breaking or heart warming, personal loss or gain and things like that. One of my customers, I tattooed him quite a few times and I asked why he got the tattoo he did, and he told me a few years ago he got diagnosed with cancer, when he told his wife she took the kids and left him, divorced him and wouldn't let him see the kids, just left him to die alone..  He beat the cancer, met a new woman and got custody of his kids, he's a hero. And it made me realize how good and bad life can be, just never give up. (This came out a lot cheesier than I intended...)  


Q: People nowadays make lots of mistakes when it comes to choosing a tattoo design, so later on they are looking for cover ups. What's your best advice when it comes to cover up tattoos?
A: Best advice, find a good laser clinic, fade the tattoo and then cover it with a good tattoo.

- Is there any reasons to avoid getting a tattoo?
No, everyone should have at least one.

Q: Are there any tattoo designs you simply don't want to tattoo? Are you always supportive to your client's idea?
A: I won't do anything political, ideological, something that won't look good or touching other artists work.
It's the same when it comes to tattooing as everything else, you don't go to a garage and tell the mechanic how to fix your car,
or tell the doctor how to cure you etc.

I support my clients ideas if they're good and will translate well into a tattoo, I'm quite picky with what I take on now to, if I think
that there is someone who would do the tattoo much better than me, I'd ask the customer to go and see that artist instead.
This is why the consultation is such an important part of the tattoo, you need to spend some time with the customer sometimes, just so you're on the same level with what they want and what you can do.

Q: How much time you clients wait for their appointment, since you're busy all the time? hehe
A: At the moment I'm not taking on any new appointments, I have about 10-12 months booked up and I don't like to be booked for that long. It's just awkward for your customers to wait that long, so I'm trying to finish of what I've started and shorten down my waiting list till around 3-4 months tops.


Q: Getting a tattoo could be painful at times, especially on some extra sensitive parts of the body. How do you usually cheer up your clients when they are afraid to get tattooed?
A: I rarely have people that needs cheering up, I think most of my customers know what they want and they are really good at dealing with it. It's not THAT painful anyways.

Q: Every creative work requires dedication and love, especially tattooing. What's the biggest mistake when it comes art progress?
A: Biggest and most common mistake, not spending enough time on the piece, some people rush, sometimes your run out of time or the customer can't sit long or well enough, always time.

Q: Would you change something in your style, or you love to keep it "simple" and improve even more?
A: I always change my style, or it evolves into something else, I get bored very easy if I do the same things over and over.
I'm not competitive but I always want to improve and be better at what I do.

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: Don't run before you can walk and don't do a shit portrait when you can do a great tribal.

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Phatt German / No Regrets Tattoo Studio