Artists: Andy Engel
Andy’s Tattoo & Piercing Studio
97318 Kitzingen, Germany
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 1995, when I was 23 years old. I was playing as a drummer in a band and was a huge fan of the tattoo and hard rock scene long before, so I’d had the dream to start tattooing for quite a long time.
How did you get into tattooing?
I had some good friends that were tattooed and interested in tattoos. Once a friend of mine did a one-week apprenticeship in another shop, and he shared those first insights with me. Unfortunately, the training there was really bad, and we paid a lot of money for it. Nevertheless, it helped us to start and was the first step toward doing what I love to do now and have been doing for more than 18 years. Damn, I am getting old.
Where did you apprentice?
After getting the first insights shared by my friend Andreas Mersch from Munich, I was sure that this would be my profession. So I reduced and later stopped playing in the band and started my training in a small shop in Kitzingen alone with my wife, Heike. It was a lot of hard work to get better and build up the skills to deliver the quality that I’d like to see once a tattoo is finalized.
Do you have any special training?
No, I wish I had! All my training was working hard, getting experience, and watching other tattoo artists. For example, I met Bob Tyrrell in 2007 at the London show, and he really helped and inspired me to do the next steps! I’m really thankful for that, Bob!
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
Well, after getting into tattooing, I was motivated to learn and see more. So I started to travel—more or less through the whole world—to visit conventions, work there, meet friends, and have a lot of inspiration. Some of the biggest and hottest spots were London, Milan, Las Vegas, New Jersey, and Frankfurt. Conventions are always great to meet up with old friends and fellow artists, and, of course, to meet new artists and people from all over the world! One of the best memories of 2012 was playing in a special “tattoo band” at the Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth in Las Vegas, live onstage with Bob Tyrrell, Mario Barth, Horitoshi I, and Evan Seinfeld! In terms of the awards, honestly, I can’t really remember how many or what awards I have won. I still feel very honored for each of them, but it is too much to count them. Nevertheless, I try to find some special places all over my house for them. 2011’s award from the tattoo convention in London, for example, is placed next to my drum kit.
How do you describe your style?
I like the realistic style in black-and-gray most. But I’m doing more and more realistic work in color too. I’ve been doing portraits since I started tattooing. It was always my favorite, and 17 years ago the clients were really into Native American portraits. So it was a good chance to learn and get more and more experience in that style and the details. That gives the results a bit more “soul.”
What inspires you as an artist?
To watch the work of great tattoo artists like Bob Tyrrell, Jack Rudy, Liorcifer, Benjamin Moss, Robert Hernandez, Steve Soto, Carlos Torres, Carlos Rojas, victor Portugal, Nikko Hurtado, Shane O’Neill, Mike Devries, Andrea Afferni, Alex de Pase, and Tin-Tin, just to name some of them! They are all great artists, and everybody is different from each other in style, and that inspires me a lot! Also, watching the internet for good references and drawings of Salvador Dalí, Michelangelo, Leonardo da vinci or Raphael, and Michael Hussar.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I don’t know! Probably you should answer that question!
What other mediums do you work in?
I try to find the time to do drawings with oil, acrylic, coal, or pencil. I really like to get experience with other mediums. It’s mixing up the skills you’ve learned so far with new aspects and techniques. I, for example, painted a wooden cross with a Jesus inlay—quite tricky, as the material is completely different from paper or human skin.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I drew a t-shirt design for Sullen Clothing in California. They make really nice shirts and I’m really proud to be a part of that. Then I did a rosary line in different styles with my brother and my wife, Heike. My drawings are featured in different book projects, like Black and Grey’s Finest Tattoo Book from Big Gus and some other tattoo art books.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
In the first few years of my tattooing, guys like Jack Rudy, Brian Everett, Tom Renshaw, and Tin-Tin influenced my work. There are so many great portrait artists all over the world, like Mike Devries, Nikko Hurtado, Robert Hernandez, Shane O’Neill, Carlos Torres, Carlos Rojas, Benjamin Moss, Liorcifer, Steve Soto, Alex de Pase, Boris, and many more. But my favorite portrait artist is Bob Tyrrell, by far. He’s been my biggest inspiration the last few years, and he is the nicest guy I know and one of my best friends as well. By the way, Bob is a killer guitar player!
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I like to do all kinds of realistic work, and I think it’s important to be flexible. But my favorites are portraits, skulls, and demons—no matter if black-and-gray or colored.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
It’s very important to look for the style you like. There are so many different ways, and there are so many great artists out there! Take your time and you will be happy for life with the tattoo!
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
There are so many different pictures I really want to do in the future. I can’t make a decision on one! I always thought about tattooing a great Salvador Dalí portrait—but in the end, it’s important that my clients are happy with their tattoo and their motive.
You are sponsored by Intenze. Does using their ink help better your work?
Yes; I exclusively use Intenze colors. I love them all because these colors are super easy to use, and the healing is really good. I think it’s important to use materials that support the result of the tattoo in design, and therefore in health aspects. We are also working on a 19-color Andy Engel set, with special colors for portraits. You can find a picture of my first tattoo only using the set on my Facebook page posted a couple of weeks ago.