How did you get into tattooing?
Since the first time I saw one of my older friends with his freshly made tattoo I thought to myself that I wanted to do it someday. I’ve always been strongly connected to drawing since I was a child, and the idea of being able to put my artwork into somebody’s skin simply blew me away. It was only about five years ago I made the decision to actually go for it. I had just finished my five years studies in graphic design, but since I grabbed my first machine I couldn’t help to throw my years of studying out the window, and I started tattooing and never looked back. Best decision I’ve made in my life!
Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
No, I’m self-taught. From the start I always wanted to get a proper apprenticeship but the opportunity never came. So I learned things the hard way, by trial and error.
You started your tattoo career in Portugal, why did you decide to make the move to Denmark?
About two years ago I got an offer to guest spot at H.O.I. in Esbjerg, Denmark. I had the opportunity to work with custom black and grey work on an everyday basis, giving me the possibility to progress a lot faster as an artist and start to develop my style. Developing my style was difficult in my hometown where the tattoo business and scene was totally limited. I got the chance be working everyday among really talented tattoo artist from all over Europe, getting the chance to make some good friends and learn a lot with each other about tattooing. After two years of traveling back and forth I decided to settle down in Copenhagen. It’s an amazing and beautiful town full of opportunities. The only downside is the weather in the winter.
How long were you tattooing in Portugal before making the move?
I tattooed in Portugal for about three years. The first year I was basically tattooing my friends and trying stuff out, so I only tattooed once or twice per week. Then I started to work at a local shop, but 80% of the work was walk-ins and commercial stuff. I was doing everything—black and grey, traditional, Japanese, Maori, lettering, color work. But my passion has always been black and grey, and I only got the opportunity to specialize once I started working in Denmark.
How is working in Portugal different from tattooing in Denmark?
I think the main difference is economical. People in Portugal don’t have that much cash, and with the crisis it just went downhill. Although people like large pieces they really have to save a lot to do them. Denmark is a wealthy country, so it’s common to see 18-year-old kids coming into the shop to book a full sleeve to be done in three months. Another big difference is the canvas; I started in Portugal where people have darker and tanned skin and that makes the job more difficult. You have to work with more contrast and the subtle tones are less visible. When I started to tattoo in Denmark I felt I was in paradise.
What drew you to black and grey?
I always had a preference for black and grey aesthetics in general way before I started tattooing. I felt more connection to black and white photography than color photography, to charcoal more than full color oil painting and the list goes on. I’ve always been totally blown away by the dramatic and intemporal atmosphere that a black a white image delivers. The same goes for tattooing, it’s just another form of art expression.
What is your artistic process? Do you freehand your designs?
I start with researching the theme and gathering good references that I can work with. I don’t like to reproduce exactly what I find on the web because everybody is getting images from the same source, so the same image gets reproduced a lot of times. I think it gets boring. If you want to stand out it should be with creative designs. I cross and manipulate a lot of references and draw creating my own designs. I take a lot of pictures of old architecture and strange objects to use as my own library of references.
What other mediums do you work in?
I’m into charcoal drawing, traditional pen and ink illustration, and digital painting with my Wacom tablet. I would like to focus more on my drawing and painting in the future, to develop as an artist and to bring new ideas to my tattooing style.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
My biggest influences when I started were Victor Portugal and Robert Hernandez with their dark surrealistic style. Today there are so many incredible tattoo artists popping out of nowhere. The tattooers that I admire the most are the ones that put their personality into their work.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I like to mix up strange concepts and throw in crazy ideas, to make a blend between the beauty and the grotesque.