interview with Tomasz Tofi Torfinski | INK-OGNITO TATTOO Pl 26/09/2016

Hello Tomasz Tofi Torfinski! Thanks so much for taking time to answer some questions for our magazine. I feel honored for having the chance to share some of my thoughts with you. To be honest, I've seen a lot of tattoo artists in my life, a lot of different styles form many tattoo artists out there, but you're definitely one of my favorite! Your style is something that sets you apart from many artists out there, I bet many out there look at you as their idol and many self-proclaimed artists copy your style hahah but hey, maybe that's also part of this crazy job-being a pro tattoo artist. Let's start with some basic info about you...

Q: What made you to become a tattoo artist? Do you have any art background?
A: I had no artistic background at all. It all started when I was 17, I started to draw in the same time when I got my first tattoo done by a friend, that's how it started. I thought to learn how to draw to be able to work in the tattoo industry. Since than I draw everyday as my daily routine. When I was 19 I started to study art at my local university and really at this point it was most strategic point of my life.

Q: Your style is really unique. No matter the technique, black & gray or color ink, your designs are always mind-blowing! Could you please give me a little description of your style?
A: It's easy to describe basically it's surrealistic style that use to be very popular in painting world a while back. When I look at my carrier few years back I did half of my works as a realistic portrait works and the second half was a custom designed stuff. At this point it's just a combination of my custom designs and realism, my 3D designs give me the illusion or realistic form lightning and perspective, from concept to final tattoo.

Q: Something that I really like about your style, is the symmetry, the details, the amazing color mix, the textures you do... Which makes every piece absolutely unique. I bet you spend a lot of time working on the designs, before the tattoo session. Tell me more about the technical parts.
A: Actually that's the best question from this interview (questions are really clever and shows that you really know what you speak about)

So speaking about the designing... for me it's the most important phase of my work, because it shows my personality the most (tattooing is just everyday routine that doesn't change too much over the years) but when it comes to a designing it's an essence of this job that after 16 years in the industry gives me a lot of emotions and feelings. It's always one way road from idea to illustration, that show the way of thinking. My designing is basically all of my skills I've got, my whole artistic life concept, drawing, 3d modeling, postproduction in photoshop all together gives me ideal tool for expressing myself. I always do the list of ideas for tattoos literally I write them down in my notepad on my phone, later I draw them everyday as a basic sketch that represents my quick idea and catching the moment, it's just a connection between my idea and visualization. Later on, I do 3D modeling of a subject that was drawn before.

Around 6 years back, I realized that no one in the tattoo industry does use the 3D Software to prepare their designs, so I started to learn how to use it to be the first one who does it on large scale in tattooing. Now after few years my gallery is full with tattoos based on those designs and is still growing up. 90% of my tattoos are based on this and percentage is getting bigger and bigger every year. This way of designing gives me realistic lightning and perspectives and proportions. I do many seminars about my designing on a conventions or private courses. So the most important element of my work is the quality of my designs.

Q: Some tattoos look like they don't have a bold outline. It's all about finding a great balance between the inks that make the final result so good. The final result actually look like there is a painting on the skin haha marvelous! Could you please give me a short description of this technique?
A: Yes of course, basically I don't do the lines cause I can’t, technically I never learned how to do proper outlining so I was avoiding it since I started tattooing. Right now the form of my tattoos is designed by black areas that describe the lighter ones if you know what I mean. This let me to avoid outlining and gives me more realistic effect of my works. About the painting effect is that I always wanted to reach being grown up by artistic school, I always wanted to reach the proper level of painting style of my tattoos.

Q: Big tattoo pieces, a lot of sleeve designs too... How long could take a back-piece or a sleeve for you to finish? How usually the clients react when it comes to long tattoo sessions? How do you cheer them up? hah
A; Yes that's true most of my tattoo designs are sleeve pieces, it's only because naturally, large scale compositions that flows through the difficult surfaces like leg or arm sleeves are the most problematic to design by most of tattoo artists around. For me composition is the most important element of my tattoos just after the clarity of design. Generally I'm able to complete the arm sleeve piece in 4 sometimes 5 sessions, and when it comes to back piece its also 4-5 sessions, leg sleeve is around 5-6 sessions. Client's reactions are always good cause I work really fast because I know my designs very good so it helps me. Generally I do 5-6 hrs sessions to complete around A4 size surface.

Q: You're so good when it comes to 3D design and digital painting. I've seen a lot of designs from those artworks on the skin as well. This makes me think that every tattoo piece, was (first) a digital artwork. Do you also work on customs for sale?
A: It was the most difficult to prepare good digital illustration that will work good on the skin, it took me a few years to polish it and reach the biggest quality of design. Yes all of my tattoos are based on my own illustrations, I like to show that I'm professionally prepared to this job, especially when I see many tattoo artists without using the brain do their tattoos based on a google images, it's easy for someone like me to become unique and in the future it will be even worse because young tattoo artists see that industry is based on stock images so they don't need to present something more and again person like me will be more visible and unique in this mess. Yes I sell the prints of my favorite works and also I do paintings for sale right now, so you can expect some exhibitions within few months.

Q: If anyone ask me where is the best place to get a tattoo, my answer will be Poland! That country is the birth place of tattoo masters. Seriously, some of the best tattoo artists are from Poland, oh including you of course. ;) Where are you located now?
A: I know and I'm very happy about it, in general eastern Europe spread the cards at this moment. It's because of art education system that we have. it gives us advantage in the tattoo industry.

I'm located in Rybnik for 16 years since the beginning of my career. It's the best place to stay to be honest. I was traveling all over the world and decided to stay here together with my family in my own house. I've seen many places and my studio still gives me the best place for work, it's huge around 250 square meters 3 floors, my room is almost whole floor only for me and my manager. It's a brilliant environment for creation. My city is clean, safe, beautiful and located well to Krakow and Katowice (around half hour of drive) airports so my customers fly frequently.

How long usually takes to get an appointment? What's the procedure?
Since last few years the waiting list is around 2 years ahead. The procedure is to write me or my manager. It's easy. The only condition is that I decide what to do. Most of my tattoos that I do are based at my own designs. It means that I do the designs for customers without asking them what they want, I don't want to do the service for them, I want to sell my art in a tattoo form, so basically I spend one month for designing and another month for tattooing those designs. Sometimes I do what the customer ask for if he has a good idea. The reason of doing this this way is that I was jealous of painters way of life, that they wake up everyday and spend this day with their art transferring their personality onto some visual creation. So I do the same, that gives me a lot of happiness.

Mostly when someone ask me for appointment I sign him into my book and soon before the appointment I'm sending him a concept drawings representing few of my ideas that they can choose from, after they decide I prepare the illustration and put it on the skin during the session. I know it's different than the most of tattoo artists do, but believe me it works since many years, so I'm happy that I was able to organize it this way, because all of my works are based on my own ideas of forms subjects sand color schemes. So basically I control everything from beginning to end. This is what gives me so good final effects.

Q: You're well know all around the world. Your tattoo works can be seen in almost every tattoo magazine. You also visit tattoo conventions. How much those things help you when it comes to art progress, gaining more experience and just share some good energy, maybe learning something new etc?
A: At this moment I do around 25 conventions every year, just to spread out the 3D style I've invented, it keeps me motivated and I can do it mostly around the Europe to be sure I catch as many future customers for my art as I can. To be honest conventions are killing the art in this industry, it only gives a reason for most tattoo artists for gaining the money and fame in my opinion, most of them are focused on the awards only they don't want just to do good tattoos, they want to do the tattoos that win and give them fame. For me those are just good because big audience can see and understand my specific and unique style, and after the customers visit me in my studio to do big and nice compositions. Doing so many conventions gave me also big progress with fast and precisely designing and making fast good decisions, that helps me a lot in everyday studio designing routine.

- Any favorite convention memory?
Krakow Tattoofest because it was my first one in my life and as the only one Polish artist I was present on all of last 10 editions and I was the only one who was awarded every year since the first edition till the last one.

Q: What are some of the current projects you work on? Do you have some new challenges ahead?
A: My whole professional life is a big challenge. First of all I'm in the middle of creating new 3D designing process since last few years and it's the most important since I'm the first person in the industry. Apart of that I've created my own custom Tattoo Experiment few years back (many different tattoo artist do one tattoo based on one line work and present their own style in this experiment) it will be my every year event that I will organize in biggest Europeanian countries that will involve their biggest tattoo artists names. Also I will be part of a large tattoo academy as a 3D designing and tattooing teacher.

Also I've started the INK-OGNITO You-Tube channel with the tattoo artists interviews. I've published d a 3D revolution book around a year ago and plan to publish the next one at the end of this year and I started to do the series of large scaled paintings based on my own 3D illustrations.

Q: Do you like the global tattoo scene right now? How much we have accomplished since the old days when tattooing was only a butterfly tattoo? :))
A: No I don't like the scene in general cause it doesn't go into the self expression form, instead of that its based on google images, as well as artists- customers aren't expecting too much from a so called tattoo artists. Of course I generalize. There are few of us that control the designing process but its like 10% of whole scene rest are just google artists.

Q: As an experienced artist, what would you say that is the biggest art mistake? What the artists should know before getting their name out?
A: The biggest mistake is that tattoo artists are not art educated mostly, they don't understand what is a concept design, contrast, composition and perspective and because of it they don't use it in their work. New artists should build their names on strong fundamentals like strong art background and strong tattoo technique connected with strong social media relations. This will give them strong industry name.

ul.Sobieskiego 4
44-200 Rybnik
tel. 785 343 605