Emils Solmanis

finding yourself a tattoo artist

I've recently found a tattoo artist to do my back. It only took me about a year of somewhat passive looking. Today I want to tell you a bit about that part of my world and why it can sometimes take ages.

the few and the many

While people less familiar with the scene might not know this, there are quite a few good artists around London. Too many to highlight any particular names. If you're looking for a really good quality palm-sized piece, you can easily get it done, probably without much waiting either. I won't be naming any particular artists here. Most good tattoo studios have good resident and guest artists at any given time, some of the ones I follow would be Old London Road in Kingston, Rock'n'Roll and Hammersmith, but that is by no means an exhaustive list.

There are, however, a few that are truly spectacular in their genres. Getting appointments with these artists is a whole lot trickier. They're at a stage where they can afford to do only ideas they have themselves, or only do ideas that you propose and they like. To mention and showcase a couple of my favourites who continuously blow my mind:

Edgar Ivanov One of the best black & grey artists around, at least in my opinion.

Kamil Mocet One of the best colour artists around, potentially in the world, and not just in my opinion.

These are just the ones based in London. To give you another example of what's possible and an artist I love, A. D. Pancho

He's based in Poland though, but given you're likely to drop anywhere around the order of £2000 – £4000 on something that size, might as well make a (couple of) trip(s) out of it.

finding the needle(-wielder) in a haystack (or city)

The reason it takes such a long time to find someone to do a big custom project like a full back is because the artist is going to design the tattoo. Since that means hours of work — think detailed A2 format drawing — that are usually unpaid, you want to find someone whose style you absolutely love. If an artist creates a massive design for you, and you then decide that you want to completely redo it because you don't like it, that's very disrespectful and just plain silly. I wouldn't expect any artist to actually do that, and you've probably just made a name for yourself as a grade A dumbass, and neither they nor anyone they know will ever work with you again. You do usually give a deposit, anywhere between £50 to £200, but that hardly covers the hours of work that went into the design, so that's why I consider it essentially unpaid.

Needless to say, finding a good artist whose style lines up nicely with your idea, who's available and willing to do work of that scale then turns into quite the adventure. You're in some luck, because the artist community is quite tight, i.e., all the good artists know all the other good artists, so what you do is find an artist you like, and check which artists they like and follow. Filter, rinse, repeat. If you need some initial seed, find some good studios, see who their residents are and go from there.

To give you a couple of other great names, I personally have art from Emil, Agat and Sandra Daukshta. Can you guess I'm kinda into horror? 😉

what my tattoo is

Now for the big reveal. I'll be working with Pawel Stroinski. You don't get to find out exactly what the idea or design is, for various reasons, including designs getting stolen and copied, people using your idea for their own work, etc. You'll have to wait some 6 or 7 months and get me to strip. Probably buy me a pint first too, I hear that's the polite thing to do.

The reason I've chosen to work with Pawel is because I absolutely love his style, my idea has some bondage / sexual undertones and is in black & grey, and that's exactly his cup of tea. We start work at the beginning of October 2016 and needless to say I'm super excited to see how this turns out!

What about you? Any ink of your own? Any experience getting big custom work done? Let us know in the comments!

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