Artists: Mark Wosgerau
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2009. I was working as a chef and tattooing on the side, but quickly my passion for tattooing turned me away from wanting to do anything else, and 6 months later I was working full time as a tattoo artist.
What was your first shop experience like?
My first shop experience was opening my studio. I was 20 years old. My close friend Jakob helped me set up everything, and is still working by my side. Over the course of 5 years, we went from one artist, myself, to now having 7 resident artists in a new, bigger, studio than the first, as well as having multiple guest artists flying in from around the world, with names like Matt Jordan, Oscar Akermo and Q-tattoo among them. This is my life, and I dedicate it all to this, and my family. My friends are my co-workers, so I see my friends every day.
Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
No. I started with nothing, and I am completely self-taught. I would never recommend doing it this way to anyone. My apprentices, after working 6 months, were already at a higher level than I was after my first 3 years. After these three years is where everything turned around: I started meeting great artists from the industry, working along with them, making me able to evolve my skills watching them, getting tips and tricks. For instance; Cris Gherman was a big help to me in my early stages. Robert Zyla and I then started pushing each other everyday when he was guesting at my studio. Working side-by-side with Oscar Akermo for around 4 months helped me push really well from color realism into black and grey realism. These are the 3 ”keys” I remember as most important to my evolution as an artist.
What made you decide to open your own tattoo shop?
I think I made the decision of opening the studio because I love responsibility, and I love to create. I couldn’t see myself not having a studio. The studio is my baby, and I love it. I designed everything down to the smallest details, and I can’t imagine it being any different now. The feeling I get when I walk in the door in the morning is just like coming home. It’s mine, it’s something I worked hard to get. Our studio is different from many others, I would say. We run it like an art collective. It’s all about doing the best you can everyday, and improving your skills, taking your game to the next level. It comes natural to me, doing these things. It is something I cherish, and I really want to make the best possible stage for the art of tattooing in Denmark. That is why I am hosting one of Denmark’s biggest tattoo conventions; Aarhus Art Convention this year. We will be hosting around 150 tattoo artists, and 25 graffiti artists, along with oil painters, and other art forms. Every year at Aarhus Art convention I set up a seminar of 6-8 artists to push the Danish tattoo culture to new heights. This year will see seminars by Benjamin Laukis, Frank Lanatra, David Tevenal, Sixonethree, Tofi, and Steve Butcher. I can’t wait to hear for myself what these great artists will talk about.
A lot of your black and grey work has a touch of color in them, why have you decided to do this?
Actually, if you go back maybe one year, I was doing color realism everyday, but fell in love with black and grey later on, which I’m doing everyday now. Sometimes it’s just great fun to combine the both of them, and create huge contrasts by mixing minimal colors in the background with black and grey pieces.
You take a lot of your own reference photos, when/why did you start doing this?
With portraits I always prefer to take my own reference pictures. Photography is an art. Taking my own photos allow me to create my own light sources, and do much more dramatic pictures. This is especially important to me when doing child portraits, which are typically bereft of the textures and details of an older person, having only soft skin.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I look forward to keep doing more black and grey tattoos with high contrast. Especially more feminine designs, backpieces, and more full sleeves. I love doing bigger compositions, with flow and matching design. I’m looking forward to do more realism mixed with elements like geometric stuff, lines, and other effectful additions.