Artists: Little Swastika
What year did you start tattooing?
Nine years ago.
Did you have any special training?
All comes natural. Never planned to go in that direction or wanted to learn it.
Why don’t you participate in conventions?
I really hate all this hype around tattooing. Especially since conventions are a place of mainstream. Heaps of people battle around who makes the coolest stuff and shit like that. Tattooing should be for you and your client, somewhere in a quiet space where no one bothers me and I have the best options in any way to make the best out of a tattoo.
Where did you apprentice?
Life and myself. I just experienced most on my own, with an open mind and bright eyes. I never was thinking that the most common technique is the best, and so I tried all with anything, and I figured out what’s the best for me and for what I want to do. Later, I got deep into machine building to have faster machines so that I can make bigger tattoos. I normally never take more than three sessions for my back pieces, and so heaps of people are motivated to get even bigger work. I love to make big and heavy tattoos.
What artists and tattooists do you admire?
I never get inspired heaps by other artists, especially not tattooists. I like super heavy tattoos, and in a similar way, super technical geometric tattoos, bold black, abstract—I just create a mix of what I like and try to go as far away from tattooing as I can. I want it to look like a painting, not a tattoo.
You also work in other mediums, like body modification. How does that fit in with your artistic style?
Doesn’t need to fit in. Most of my art is not really related to body modification. But in another way it’s a lot related to it because that’s my life, and all my inspiration and creations come from my life and from influences out of it.
What’s been one of your favorite pieces to tattoo?
I always start with back pieces. That’s the only way to start with me. And then I love to continue, making the tattoos even bigger. The bigger the better. That’s why I started expanding over people. Two years ago I started with my first double back piece, and I do a lot of them now. I just finished my first tribal back piece, and now I am planning a project with four people’s backs. So there is something bigger possible than just a bodysuit. So for heaps of people, it seems strange that I do not take sleeves or legs because I say that’s too small. But when you work only over backs and even bigger, your relations change. And for sure I make sleeves—I love to add two sleeves to a back piece to let my tattoo grow. I just do not publish it and I do not take sleeves to start a project. So a back piece is never something to pose or to show; it’s always just for yourself. I don’t want the people who get my work because it’s cool; I want them to get my work because they like it for themselves and no other reason.
What drew you to your particular style of tattooing?
It just happens. The more I got freedom from my clients, the more it was going in my direction. And the more I went in my direction, the more people wanted it. Over the years my tattooing skills got better and better. I got way faster and built my machines even faster and with more power, and so my style was changing over the years. But there was never a plan of, “I want to do this or this.” I just paint, that’s all. I create all my tattoos directly on the body—no plans, no sketches, nothing. I just speak with the people and create the design out of their ideas. I never know exactly how a tattoo will look finished or what will be my exact next step.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Sure. When the day comes and I’m at the end and I have no new inspiration, no new goals to reach or bigger projects I want to realize, I will quit tattooing. I don’t know yet where the limit of possibilities is in tattooing in size and the ways I want to do them. There are still painting techniques I would like to do on skin or otherwise.
How has building and modifying tattoo machines helped your tattooing skills?
You are just as fast and good as your machines. Sure, a good tattooist can also work with bad equipment and still make good stuff. But with equipment that is perfect for him, he can reach much more, and in an easy, faster way. For me, power is all. Most of my tattoos are made with a 15 magnum or bigger, and that needs power to use.
What made you want to represent the positive aspect of the swastika, going back to its original meaning, given that it’s such a risky symbol in today’s culture? Does the symbol appear often in your work?
I was fighting for the reclamation of the swastika many years ago and was using it a lot in my tattoos. But nowadays a lot of people know about swastikas and do the same. I do not make a big deal out of it anymore. I got my name from friends many years ago, and I still keep it. There is nothing negative about a swastika when you know about it and have an objective look at it, so it’s nothing bad.