May 01, 2011

Tattoo Special: Helsinki Ink 2011

Helsinki Ink 2011 is the most extensive ink event happening between the east and the west. The artist roster for the Helsinki convention is more skillful and large than ever before. The event is being held at the comfortable Kaapelitehdas, where a tattoo enthusiasts can get to know the art in many ways.

The festival lasts for three days, with constant action on the stage with competitions, performances and so forth. If this doesn't satisfy your need for the art you'll just have to go and cool off in the hottest place downtown where you can gain entry with the same ticket.

Varied and carefully selected artists provide the visitors an opportunity to view a wide range of tattoo styles of different artists. The guests also have the opportunity to bring their own tattoo ideas to life by scheduling a time from artists on spot. Tattoo trends that are emerging latin styled black and grey with family-centered images without forgetting the continued strengthening of the style of tattooing based on Japanese tradition.

During the three days of convention there will be diverse activities from competitions to live music and variety show formats. Each day the convention also selects "The Best of the Day" tattoo.


Why did you attend Helsinki Ink?
Just to come see some tattoos and the atmosphere in general, I’ve never been here before. (R)
I’ve been here every year. I usually come here to see some people from, tattoo artists, and what’s the culture like worldwide. (L)

How about your tattoos, have any yet?
I’m a tattoo artist trainee so everything on my leg I’ve done myself. (R)

Oh, so are you here to also fuel yourself as a tattoo artist?
Yeah, to get some inspiration! (R)

Do you have any specific meanings behind your tattoos?
I have this skating tattoo. (R)
And I have this dedicated to my mom. (L)

How important do you think is the meaning behind tattoos?
Well, it’s kind of important to me personally. But in the other hand tattoos are just pictures on your skin, it’s not that big of a deal. (R)
Yeah well, my wrists say “left” and “right” so it isn’t that important. I take a lot of spontaneous tattoos, things I like and that will remind me of my youth. (L)

Do you regret your first tattoos?
No. Most likely in few years I’ll have so many tattoos that the first one doesn’t even matter. (L)
The one in my ankle is my first one, I was told that I should try a bit how it feels like to tattoo yourself so I tried and it was my first tattoo. I just did something, but it’s my first tattoo it shouldn’t get covered so I won’t do a cover tattoo on it. (R)
A tattoo should arise some feelings, even if it doesn’t have a specific story behind it you’ll remember what happened around the time you took it and it will remind you of that period in your life.


How did you decide your tattoo artist?
I searched online for a best tattoo artist in the country, sure it depends on the style but he’s the best of realistic tattoo. I noticed that he has booking day coming up (popular tattoo artists often have a specific booking day when you can go schedule your appointment) and it was in the fall of 2009. I went there that day and stood in line in the rain, I was somewhat in the middle of the line and I got my tattoo appointment scheduled a year from the booking day. I’ve been doing sittings in November, December, January and in March now. So it’s been quite a long process since I booked my tattoo one and a half years ago.

What’s your first tattoo?
When I moved to the big city from a small town I took the reindeer to not lose my Laplander identity, so it’s a reminder from that time and I don’t regret it.

You’re sitting on the tattooing bench right now, how did you come up with the idea for this tattoo? Was it entirely yours or how did it develop?
The forest is an important element to me because I was born and raised near it so my idea was a fairy forest, and the motif could be a big tree. We started to create the tree, and a day before I was going in for another session I grasped a magnet from my fridge door, the image in it portraits painting of a guardian angel watching over two kids crossing a bridge. I got it from my mom, I’ve been raised in a Christian home and I’m a believer so it’s an important subject for me. So I figured out that’s what I’d like to have instead of some fucking fairies.
My tattoo artist fit the angel beside the tree really well and he even made the other kid look like my sister, who’s the most important person in my life. Today he’s adding some roses and birds and so on, so he’s the one who fits it all together.


Why are you here?
Well, we were here last year just staying in Europe, partying and all that and it was just fun.

Do you prefer working here?
I prefer working here. There’s not much stuff to do in Helsinki but the convention is really good. Yesterday was full booked.

When did you start tattooing?
I started three years ago so I’ve basically been travelling the world.

What’s your favorite place been so far?
Like conventions? Maybe Germany actually, there’s this big convention in Berlin that was really fun.

What’s your first tattoo and do you regret it?
No. There’s a good story behind that one too! It’s a band logo, my favorite band, still my favorite! It’s a black metal band from Sweden. The tattoo is still one of my favorites; it was my 18th birthday and I actually managed to book mine on my birthday.

How important do you think is the meaning behind tattoos?
For me it’s more about doing a really cool tattoo than to think about the actual meaning behind it but it’s always cool to hear a story from the customer. There is always a meaning behind it.

Do you have any specific stories behind your tattoos that you’d like to share?
I always have a good story! Actually I have this 13 here, it was done by a friend of mine who actually taught me everything and we had a little party at the studio on the Friday the 13th and she kept saying “oh, I want to tattoo you, I want to tattoo you!” and I was like “ok, cool, just tattoo me”, and he died like three weeks later so right now it just means a lot to me. Before it meant like, nothing, but now it has a pretty important story behind it.


How did you end up having an art booth in Helsinki Ink?
I put together art exhibitions and I was interested in seeing how modern art would work in a tattoo environment. I got the idea from a convention at Berlin in December where I met other artists with similar material. I thought I should try it out ant seems like it’s gone pretty well!

Do tattoos have an effect on your work on the canvas?
Well, yeah kind of; I think that all experience has an impact on what sort of creative material you put out. I take deep interest in tattoo culture and many other subcultures so maybe there’s some sort of concealed visual world that might shine through on canvas as well.

You have a lot of tattoos yourself as well. Do you have a pet artist or do you like to collect art from different tattoo artists?
I’ve been getting tattoos for so many years that over all I’ve been to maybe five artists overall, but the latest ones have all been made by Leena Lumilampi and I won’t go to anyone else anymore.

How important is it for you to have a meaning behind your tattoos?
Very. The latest one I’ve gotten done is the full sleeve on my right arm. In the picture there are lotus flowers and carps. Do you know the story behind lotus flowers? It grows below the mud and when it will get to the surface it will become oh, so beautiful. It’s the same thing with carps, a “no pain, no gain” sort of thing. I think everything related to the creative field needs a lot of faith in what you’re doing.
Inside the sleeve there’s also an old tattoo, taken at 17 years old and it says “trust.” There’s also a sign that means family and home so there’s a lot of different meanings behind my tattoos.

What do you think about the age limit of 18?
I think it’s good... But sure you should think about your tattoo and all my tattoos have a meaning behind them but it doesn’t necessarily have to have a deep meaning behind it if you just see it as an aesthetic element. But from what I’ve seen, the more meaning you have behind your tattoos the less likely you will regret them in the future. Tattoos aren’t taken to regret them later on.
Tattoos are signs and memories of your life just like birthmarks or scars and the remind you of something special.

Do you regret your first tattoo?
Not at all. I was 16 years old and it’s a pair for the “Trust” in my other hand. It says “Faith” but it doesn’t really mean faith to the upper skies as much as the faith you should have in yourself. There’s not a day that I would regret it. And it’s been there a while after all.


Is this your first time in Helsinki Ink or have you been here before?
This is my first time as a part of the staff, as a tattoo artist. I’ve been here as an attendee for years. I wanted to have my booth here because I work as a private enterpriser in Helsinki and this is the best place to advertise your skills amongst your peers.

How long have you been tattooing?
I’ve been tattooing for four years for a profession but a bit before that as well.

How long have you been tattooing overall?
It’s hard to say because I began tattooing when I was 15, then I quitted and studied to be an art therapist and did other pointless things, then I returned to tattooing.

How important do you think is the meaning behind tattoos?
I don’t think it’s possible to take a tattoo without a meaning because there’s always something behind it, every single time. It doesn’t have to be anything deep and I don’t believe in bounding on to meanings too much, if you tattoo your opinions on yourself for example, those opinions can change over time.

Do you have any specific meanings behind your own tattoos?
Well, yes and no. They’re more about the tattoo artists who’ve done them.

What’s your first tattoo and do you regret it?
My first tattoo is a tribal dog on my scapula and I don’t regret in any way at all.

What do you think about the age limit of 18?
I think it’s good because it’s the age limit to do pretty much everything else as well. I myself have taken most of my tattoos at 15 and at my 30’s I think differently from a lot of things than I did back then. It’s pretty personal, I’m not going to say who is dummer and who’s smarter but thinking about my past I think it would’ve been smart to take my tattoos ten years later for example.

It seems like there are a lot more male artists in the field, have you struggled being a female in the industry?
No, I think women get more publicity more easily. Sure there’s a lot of "girling around" but I think that the people who have been shitty to me have been shitty to everyone else as well, I don’t feel like I’ve been specifically treated worse just because I’m a woman.

You said you’ve educated yourself to be an art therapist? Do you think it has an effect on you as a tattoo artist?
No, not in any way. The most important thing I learned from school in my opinion was that a person should do what she wants and nothing else at all. Because there is always a way to do exactly what you want if you just try hard enough.

WHAT? Helsinki Ink is an international tattoo convention held in the heart of cold Helsinki. The artist roster is more skillful and large than ever before and tattoo enthusiasts can get to know the art in many ways.
WHERE? Cable Factory, Helsinki, Finland.

Text: Joanna Tzortzis
Photography: Nelly Tatti & Joanna Tzortzis
Camerawork: Pete Janas & Joanna Tzortzis