How did you get into tattooing?
I was at a book shop going through the art section in search of some new albums when I found a photo book dedicated to the world of tattoo. I don’t know how much time did I spend standing there leafing through it, but by the time I left with this book in my shopping bag I was hooked, and knew that this is what I ought to try my hand at. Now, twenty and some years later, I still have this photo book in my collection…
Where did you learn the trade?
I’ve always been big on self-education. That included doing a thorough search, reading, observing others doing whatever I was trying to learn, and practicing all the time, so I can get better at it. With tattooing, I’ve spent countless hours watching my friends, tattoo artists, at work, asking questions, and taking it all in.
I’ve read as many books on tattooing as I could get my hands on. When it was time to start practicing, I’ve bought my first tattoo machine and, without thinking about it twice, gave myself the first tattoo. I needed to know whether or not I have the potential of becoming good at tattooing, and I wanted to feel what my future customers would feel being tattooed by me. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I have an easy hand, — I did not really feel much pain while I was working on my tattoo, — and that with constant practice I can get as comfortable with tattooing as I was with painting and drawing.
How long have you been in the tattoo business?
I have been tattooing for over 20 years, living and working in Israel, Greece, and now the US.
What styles do you work in, and do you have a favorite style?
I enjoy working in so many different styles. As far as a favorite, I don’t think I can say that I prefer one style over the rest. During the course of the same day, I could be doing a traditional tattoo followed up by a fantasy piece. With years of experience, I’d acquired a good knowledge of tattoo history and an understanding of various styles of tattooing. That allows me to blur borders between styles, which in turn, results in pieces that are as distinctive and unique as the personality of their owners.
What do you distaste in the tattoo business?
I distaste having to deal with the work of scratchers without experience and proper equipment to call themselves tattoo artists. They are mostly preying on ‘tattoo virgins’ who don’t know any better, or on those who are looking for ‘a good deal’ and end up with a piece that is below any quality standards, plus scars, discolorations and, sometimes infection. It usually ends up the same way: a laser removal or a cover-up, — both options cost way more than the original tattoo. I always try to educate my clients by reminding them that a tattoo is not something you can draw and then erase later. You want your tattoo to represent something about you, and to look good even ten years from now, so it shouldn’t be about the price, but about the vision and the quality.
If you could share one piece of advice, what would that be?
Listen to your feelings. Much like in marriage, there is a relationship to be built between you and a tattoo artist and to make it work you have to choose the right person. Trust and comfort are two main ingredients of a successful relationship with someone who is about to leave a permanent mark on your skin. Choose someone you trust, someone who puts you at ease, and always go after what’s best, not what’s cheap.