Artists: Cris Gherman
13 Fat Catz Studio
Currently Traveling in the United States
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing back home in Transylvania in 1995. I was living in Budapest, Hungary, at the time and my friend asked me if I wanted to join him to go to a friend’s house to get tattooed. At that time tattooing in Hungary and Romania were still virgin territories, unless of course you count the prison tattoos. We went there the next day and the guy was an old-school biker tattooing from his home. While he was preparing the tattoo, I started asking him questions and kept a close eye on everything that he was doing. I was very curious about the whole process. After two hours of tattooing, and after a few beers, I got the courage to ask the tattoo artist if he would let me tattoo for a few minutes. He said if my friend did not mind then he would go have a smoke while I tried my skills. I got the shakes and started to sweat profusely as soon as I touched the machine, with its weight and vibration and a bleeding arm in front of me.
I rigged the needle in and attempted to do what the tattoo artist had been doing. But after digging the needle in and moving my hand, and then cleaning up the blood, I realized nothing came about. Of course, I had no idea about skin stretching and how fast to move my hand. That was my first experience, and I fell immediately in love with tattooing. To celebrate I got super drunk that night. The next day I woke up, still drunk from the night before, and I had the bravest idea ever: to buy tattoo equipment. The biker directed me to a shop I would never forget: Dark Art Tattoo. I spent all the money I had saved in the three years I’d been working hard in Hungary, and I bought the best and most expensive equipment they had.
I have never regretted it and never looked back since.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was a mess. I was doing an intricate Celtic design and I screwed up the stencil as it washed away. Because I did not have enough experience, I didn’t know what to do. I panicked but was trying to act cool. I asked my business partner to freehand it for me. Lesson learned: Do not mess up the stencil, and do learn how to draw. At that time I did not have any artistic skills, aside from dancing, but that was no help in a tattoo shop. The following year I joined art school and finished two years of classic animation.
What is it like owning a tattoo shop like 13 Fat Catz?
I think owning 13 Fat Catz Studio was the beginning of my tattoo career. Previous to that I had owned another shop with my business partner from 2002 until 2007. I took a year off to do one year of sound engineering. My motivation was killed because I was fed up with bad requests from the customers: stars, tribals, Irish flags, shamrocks and the Fighting Irish, unicorns, tramp stamps, and the mighty “Mom” and “Dad.” So I took a year off and spent all the money I’d saved on a musical adventure. After realizing that music was not what I wanted to do, I decided to open up my own tattoo shop, 13 Fat Catz, and do it my way. I would only do what I wanted and refused to do any more of the stupid and mindless tattoos. Soon after I was able to practice and develop my own signature style and I became known in the area.
What is the tattoo scene like in Dublin?
Dublin’s scene is pretty slow, unfortunately. The mentality is still a bit behind, but it’s picking up now with all the tattoo TV shows. Luckily, I had customers who trusted me, which allowed me to develop my own style.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
My last conventions were in New York and Chicago. I plan on starting strong in January 2014: the Argentina convention, in Mar del Plata, where I will also be doing a seminar. After which I will be flying to Belgium for another convention, and then I’m off to the Milano convention in the beginning of February. I will also be doing some guest spots in Switzerland, Spain, Germany, and Dublin. I should be back in New York City by the end of February. My plan is to do at least 15 conventions in 2014 here in the USA and in Europe, and hopefully a bit further.
How do you describe your style?
My style is hyperrealism.
You’re known for your eye tattoos. What made you want to tattoo eyes?
It happened purely by mistake. While I was having a discussion with a friend under the influence of some beers, we started a debate on what has been done and what has not been done in the tattoo industry, and how to make yourself known. I knew that the eye scene was missing and what had been done so far did not have a powerful impact for the public. So I asked him if he wanted an eye tattoo. He said yes. And from that one eye tattoo, I was asked to do many more.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything around me, especially nature. I take loads of photographs for my references. But then again, any kind of art is an inspiration, like trips to museums, and especially the architecture of places when I travel.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think my background. I started tattooing in a country where it was virtually nonexistent and did not quit.
What other mediums do you work in?
Painting and digital painting. I would love to try sculpture one day.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I definitely would love to do a leg sleeve with all the eye expressions from young to old. Actually, I had that planned on a friend but I left Dublin before I could start.