Artists: Guy Labo-O-Kult
What year did you start tattooing?
I’ve been into tattooing for about 20 years.
How did you get into tattooing?
As child I was fascinated when I’d see somebody wearing tattoos, which was rather rare to see back in those times. Then, the day I got my first tattoo, it was like a revelation, knowing instantly that tattooing would be my vocation. So I started to interest myself and I began to draw seriously. First I did simple tattoo flashes, then copying and re-creating designs, motifs, and tattoos out of magazines, developing my drawing skills. Thereafter, I made my way to know some tattooers, who gave me a few hints. I bought and built my first tattoo material. At that time a lot was DIY—you had to solder the needles, build up the tattoo guns, and even sometimes produce your own ink. You can say I’m a self-taught tattooer.
What was your first shop experience like?
You have to know that until a short time ago there were no such big professional tattoo studios employing several tattooers as you may know in the U.S. Here most of the tattooists were working independently in their own small shops. That was also the way I did it. After my first autodidactic practice I opened my shop together with another tattooer. After such an experience I preferred to go along alone, which is the reason why I’ve opened and worked only in my own private shop until two years ago.
Do you have any special training?
I’m an old-style self-taught and self-made man in drawing as well as in tattooing, yet I’ve really learned a lot of this trade by meeting, discussing, and observing other tattooists and artists.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
For five years, we’ve done about 10 conventions a year, such as Switzerland, France (Mondial du Tatouage, Paris), Germany (Tattoo Ink Explosion, Berlin and Frankfurt Convention), Austria (Bregenz), Belgium (Brussels), and once also Romania (Transylvanian Convention), and others. Effectively, I have won some awards in different categories and at different conventions. One of my favorite conventions is Bregenz (Austria), as the venue, at the border of the Lake Constance, is just gorgeous, the organization is perfect, and the ambience is very friendly and pleasant.
How do you describe your style?
Being someone extremely attached and devoted to detail and coherence, I’m trying to create a realistic dark romantic style, something we called “passionate vanity style,” as it is linked to the arts of vanitas, which were common in medieval funerary art and later in the Renaissance. This is also an explanation of why skulls have a preeminence in my art. As of late, I’m also inspired by the new graphic style.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’m inspired by paintings; I love to visit museums. I’m also excited about good graphic design, modern arts, and street art. Also, movies are a good source of inspiration, as well as architecture, and in general, nature.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I’m scrupulous about details, so I’m always aiming to create a well-balanced, harmonic, and above all coherent ensemble with my particular love for the tiniest details. It’s not commonplace for tattooists to draw as much as I do just for my personal pleasure and my customers.