In life, there are times when an opportunity doesn’t directly present itself and you need to forge your own destiny by creating your own path. Avihoo Ben Gida grew up in a small town in Israel and when he started tattooing, he realized his teacher wasn’t able to expand on his potential. Instead of playing it safe, Gida flew to London to learn from the masters and opened his own shop in Tel Aviv with the skills he learned abroad. Today, Gida Tattoo is one of the most renowned and successful shops in Israel.We sat down with Gida to learn why he gravitates to black-and-grey and how he plans to pass down his knowledge to the next generation of artists.

How did you become a tattoo artist and come to own your own shop?

I grew up in a really quiet city with one tattoo artist that I really wanted to work for but wouldn’t have me. I used to do wall paintings, airbrush and graffiti all over the city, that’s what people knew me for and how I made my money growing up. Once I got out of the army, I went to Tel Aviv and started working for a tattoo artist. Then I flew to London for a two-week seminar and that’s how I learned to tattoo. I felt like the artist I worked for was putting me in a bubble and didn’t really know how to make me better. Then I opened my first shop alone and once I saw how successful it was, I moved to another shop which has 13 artists under my name.

Why black-and-grey?

When I was young and drawing, airbrushing and wall painting, it was always in black-and-grey. That’s what I know and what I feel. Also, since I’m doing big pieces that flow on the body, I think it looks better in black-and-grey, especially on Tel Aviv skin. We’re all tan over there, so black-and-grey is better.

What are some of the rules you follow as a black-and-grey artist? There’s a lot of rules in black-and-grey, first not starting with solid black. I try to start with lighter greys so that the skin won’t swell. Then you have to remember that if the piece takes a couple of sessions, you need to plan in advance and be ready to continue the flow.

What about the rules that you break?

I started doing Da Vinci inspired script and combining single needle with blackwork, which is something that I haven’t seen in the tattoo industry. It’s cool because you have the contrast of super delicate, straight lines with heavy magnum shading. But it’s not just the color contrast between lights and darks, it’s also design contrast.

What’s up next?

I’m starting a seminar when we go back to Tel Aviv. The seminar will be a month and will have 25 students from around the world. They’ll learn how to tattoo in black-and-grey and it’s something I’m really proud of. There’s already a huge waiting list of people who want to learn how to tattoo and it’s a great way to share the things I’ve learned abroad that we think the people in Tel Aviv will be blown away by.