Artists: Victor Portugal
Victor Portugal Tattoo Studio
+48 12 341 54 45
How long ago did you start tattooing?
I think my first contact with tattoos was 1996, when hippies came to my town. They were tattooing in a tent with a homemade machine, and the idea fascinated me. Really, I’m in this because once when I opened a magazine and saw a tattoo by Paul Booth, I said, “Wow! This is what I should do.” It was nothing like I had seen so far. It was amazing. I started to travel to Brazil, where there was a very large tattoo movement and the tattoo artists were very good. I always felt fascinated by black-and- gray, and what fascinated me most is that only some black ink and water could achieve that magic.
Which culture do you think has been more of an influence on your art?
Around ’98, I began this adventure. I began to travel to Argentina and Brazil with many tattooist friends, exchanging ideas, techniques, theories, etc. In the beginning I tattooed just about anything, but I always felt inclined towards the dark art. I think when I moved to Europe was when everything changed—architecture, seeing buildings and Gothic cathedrals and baroque Italy was incredible for me.
You are one of those artists that changed the game. Your style is very strong, and we can see how many artists have been influenced and inspired by your art. Do you feel some kind of pressure, knowing that many expect a mind-blowing piece from you?
As I said before, black-and-gray excites me; I’m always open to other styles but always return to my roots. It’s hard for me to describe my style; I try to raise the contrasts to have a greater legibility at a distance, and that also determines its durability. I’m really very happy that people like what I do, but I feel I can give a lot more. So you could say I’m in the evolutionary process. I am proud to see that other artists have referenced my work.
When you are looking for a new tattoo approach, where do you search for inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. At first I looked at many magazines, but I was unconsciously influenced by other tattooists and that started to bother me. Anything can be an idea for my next tattoo. It depends on the moment. One must stay perceptive: a light at a concert, a sunset in the forest, branches, sunlight, humidity in a wall! Anything goes if you have the right light and know how to interpret it.
Even when your approach is dark imagery, it appeals to the general public. How did you come to this style?
I always try to find a balance; I used to draw and to tattoo darker things— skulls, demons, devils, etc.—’til I got bored. To me that was very boring, to see a mass of demons in gray on a sleeve. Then I started to apply the “contrast” key and discovered that those dark and evil skulls were miss- ing something soft. I began to combine it with female faces, and add a little color, flow, harmony, etc. Since having too much gray in large tattoos was looking very heavy, I started to put in some red and warm colors.
What goes through your mind when you are about to create a new piece? How do you determine how one thing flows well with the other?
Composition for me is first; the harmony in the body is everything. Maybe that’s why I feel better tattooing bigger things that cover large parts of the body. I find it more difficult to do small tattoos than to do an entire rib! Free-hand is what helps me integrate the design into the body, taking advantage of muscles’ ways; but when I make things symmetrical or clock gears I need to make a stencil. For me the most difficult and stressful part is getting started. The first hour is crazy. Then, when it takes shape, I feel more relaxed!