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In just over a decade, realism tattooing has gone from an anomaly attempted by only a few to the dominant style around the world. Today, artists like Homandski are constantly pushing the envelope and redefining people’s expectations of what a tattooer is capable of on a daily basis. Hailing from Sweden, Homandski executes stunning realism tattoos in both color and black-and-grey. Much like how the style has grown exponentially over the years, so too has Homandski. We sat down and chatted with him about how he began his career before he could even drive, what made him fall in love with art, how he developed his realism skills and much more.

Tell us how you developed a love for art.

When I was four, I used to bite my nails with my teeth. So my older sister asked my dad to buy me some pencils and since then, I’ve been drawing. I started tattooing when I was 15 and I’ve loved it from the very first moment.

How did you go about learning how to tattoo?

Did you have an apprenticeship or are you self-taught? I started from home tattooing friends. I made my own machine and my own needles. I consider myself self-taught.

What drew you to realism? 

In realism, I have so many options. I have the freedom to express myself. It’s so challenging and eye-catching.

How does a tattooer become skilled at realism? What’s some of the best advice you’ve received on this?

Practice makes any skill improve, but in realism it all depends on how the artist sees the reference picture and how much information they take from their own imagination. I’ve learned to be open to new ideas and to never rush.

Do you prefer tattooing in black-and-grey or color? 

I prefer color because, in reality, we see everything in color. But I love black-and-grey because any time I do a color tattoo, I always start with a black-and grey base.

What does your design process look like?

I never rush it. Sometimes, my design process can take more time than the tattoo itself.

What are some of your favorite images to tattoo?

Portraits, statues, animals and nature.

How do you go about finding references for your designs?

I mostly freehand my work or I use Pinterest.

What role does composition play in your work?

For me, the composition is like the foundation of a building—if it’s not made strongly, it collapses.

How do you ensure that your work will heal and stand the tests of time?

I’ve tattooed myself several times for this sake. So I know when to shade or pack color, how to use the voltages, how much ink should be in my greywash, how clean the needle is when I change the tune and how long the needle should be.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve done and why?

I made a portrait of a client’s daughter holding the planet Earth with a brilliant smile. I like the idea of the tattoo having meaning or sending a message. Another one, which I made yesterday, was a coverup of an old scar on my client’s breast. It totally changed her life.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To focus on what I’ve always liked, trust myself more and to never depend on others.

How do you think that you’ve evolved as a tattooer and an artist?

I do everything with love and accept inspiration from everyone.