interview with Anrijs Straume

  Hello Anrijs Straume! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself, what inspired you to start tattooing? Since I can remember I was always into drawing. I have still lot of comics I used to draw as a kid, but my biggest influences were metal/alternative music, I always wanted to get tattoos. Band members always had a lot of tattoos and I thought it looked so cool. I started drawing lot of metal band logos, lead singer's tattoos and some artwork I’ve seen on their cd covers. I was drawing tons of stuff I would love to get tattooed on myself. After I started to getting them on myself I felt in love with tattoos more then ever - That’s when I thought that it would be great to start tattooing. Was dreaming about it all the time for few more years, I couldn't even
imagine how it could turn out.

Q: How long took you to figure out your creative direction?
A: I think anything anyone creates is an art. Even when I just started, I still tried to create something fresh for every customer. I also had a lot of sketches with my own characters. It took me good 5-6 years of experience and trying many, many techniques and styles to find what suits to me the best.

Q: How long have you been tattooing?
A: I started tattooing in 2008. That wasn't really professional or anything. I save up some money for machine and stuff and started tattooing from home. More like a hobby, few times a month I did some small tattoos on friends. Never ever I could even dream that one day I will be able to do good quality tattoos like in some tattoo magazines. It wasn't easy with no knowledge and no one to help and the way I started wasn't the right way, but that was my only option at that time. Later on I realized It can't continue like that and I was searching for some studios to finally get some real experience and knowledge. I manage to get apprenticeship in 2009 and I would say I started tattooing around 2010 working in a studio.

Q: Your style is really unique. You call your style "Dark Trash Realism" tell me more.
A: I was always a huge fan of horror art. I love ghost stories, horror movies, atmospheric dark music and photography. I try to put some of those feelings in my tattoos. I came up with it around 5 years ago. I was learning new techniques, more black and gray type of work with high contrasts. Experimenting with new approach on my designs and trying new things, somehow a mix of million things made something like that. I realized I had never seen anyone doing this mix. I fell in love with the way it can be done. That's when it clicked and I continued to develop this style further. I started to see many other artists are inspired and start using some of my artwork motives/signatures for their tattoos and drawings. Customers and artists started to call it - Anrijs Style or some other weird names, so I wanted to name it myself, so that there would be real name for the style. I decided to name it - Dark Trash Realism. Dark - for more dark atmospheric feel in the designs rather than just Horror style. Trash - I like to do work messy/sketchy, dirty. Realism - as I use photo references for most of my work.

 Q: Famous characters, singers etc are part of your portfolio but there is that dark note in each of them. Is the human nature inspiring? Almost all of us have some "dark" side, sometimes it's better to confront it? At least it looks dope on skin for sure! :)
A: Us humans are the worst of the kind of evil in this world anyway, doesn't even need to be horror style or with horns to see that. I try not to put any huge story or any negative energy to my tattoos. I see characters I crate as Demons, but more like fantasy or from other dimension.

Q: How much rebellion is necessary for creating good art?
A: When I first started tattooing then yes. I had lot of artists who were really big influences - Tim Burton, Joshua Carlton, Tommy Lee Wendtner, Buena Vista Tattoo Club, Eckel, Nikko Hurtado and many many more. Everything is influence to me. Music, movies, stories, memories, thoughts, all artists around the world. It's  everything and from everywhere.

Q: Do you draw sketches for each client?
A: Most of my clients already know what character/person they want to get tattooed and they send me some photos before the session. I usually check for some references myself too, to make sure I can find the best reference. I work with portrait tattoos most of the time. I don't draw the whole design, I print out references and sketch what I have on my mind right away. I add elements I use + some lettering what goes together. Then I always send the sketch to my customer, so they can have a look. Sometimes they don't like it and ask for some changes. I always try to be open minded to any changes as it's going on their skin not mine. But after we agree on the design, most of the work (textures/background/details etc..) I do straight on the skin. Some designs can take up to 10+ hours to prepare from start. Talking about the ideas, finding the references, drawing some sketches, checking with customer, more sketching and sometimes even start it all over from nothing.



Q: Any favorite characters?
A: I like tattooing characters I've seen myself from movies or tv shows. I have a lot ideas and it's easy to find the good references. Sometimes I get asked to do characters that I've never heard in my life. That makes it little harder as I don't really know where to start and It can feel like I'm tattooing just portrait of someone's family member. With no background or no idea what photos will show strongest facial features.

Q: Would you draw a portrait of yourself? :)
A: I would draw lot's of portraits of myself and everyone else if I had time for it. I already tattooed once portrait of myself on other artist. I really inspired her in her tattoo journey and she wanted to get my portrait tattooed on her in my signature style. That was really fun tattoo, I really hope to do few more of them in near future.

Q: All black & gray, have you ever thought to try color tattooing?
A: Actually for the first 4-5 years I did mainly color tattoos. My favorite tattoo styles were cartoon and new school back then. I was really pushing that. I remember I really didn't like black and gray tattoos and I was thinking why would anyone have black and gray tattoos when it's not 80's anymore and we can have all these awesome colors. Right now I really love black and gray work. I don't think I will do full color designs in near future, but I have few cool ideas to include color for some of my work.

Q: Keeping up a busy schedule is hard, how do you manage the appointments? How long clients wait?
A: I try to take only 3-4 months of appointments at the time. It gives me little more freedom to plan my time around and shorter waiting time for the clients. Usually I just post on my social media what day I will be taking new bookings and then everyone who is interested can email me. I try my best to get all of them in. Sometimes clients can book in with me in 1-2 week time, if they email me in the right time. Other times customers can wait more then a year if they miss few times to email me on a day I take bookings. Instagram -  email -


Q: Every day new clients and some old coming back for another tattoo... It must be fun.
A: It blows my mind that people want to get tattooed by me and are willing to travel from different cities and even countries just to get tattooed. I work in a private studio now and It's really special. I love meeting them all, spending day with customers, hearing their stories about life, job and other interesting stuff. I just love when they are happy to carry my art around the world. I wish I could tattoo everyone who wants to get tattoo from me, but unfortunately I do run out of time to get everyone in.

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: If anyone feel like could try tattooing, then it's not for you. You need to know that's the only thing in the world that you want to do and - GO FOR IT! Good luck for everyone in this journey! It's fun and It's hard work. Never stop learning.