Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Krummi: I got my first tattoo on my 16th birthday. It is an old English typography of my name Hrafn in English as in Raven inside of my forearm. I really didn’t think too much about it. I remember walking into the tattoo shop hearing WHITE ZOMBIE blasting out of the stereo speakers and all of the tattoo artists were drinking Prins Kristian beer with long hair and cowboy boots on. I’m very good friends with these artists still to this day and one of them has done a lot of work on me. One of the reasons I got so into tattoos at a young age was because my grandfather has a swallow on his forearm that I loved to stare at and he had this way of moving his arm so the wings would flap. I was always asking him to do it when I saw him.
RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Krummi: I have never counted them to be honest. It would be tedious thing to do. They tell a lot about my life. Some have meaning some don’t depends where I was in my life at the time. To me my body is a diary of my life so to speak. I have a raven that covers my whole back, a permanent war paint manifesting my identity with ink under my skin. I also have a lot of roses because they can be dangerous but also very beautiful even when they wither. I got one of my bands name MÍNUS tattooed on my inner lower lip. That was kind of a gang tattoo. We are a band of brothers and this was a way of showing our loyalty towards each other at the time. I really care for the Mamma tattoo on my neck and my sisters name Svala on my chest to show my love for my family. But my most cherished one is a hand poked severed unicorn head which is a matching love tattoo that me and my girlfriend had done on us to signify our love and friendship.
RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Krummi: I still have a lot of work to be done on my body. I never really know what I want until it’s time to get tattooed. Of course you play with a lot of ideas beforehand but that can all change when you work with your tattoo artist. That to me is very exciting and separates this art form from many others. A collaboration that stays with you all your life in a picture on your body.
RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist? In addition, who draws your sketches?
Krummi: I’ve been fortunate to have some great talents work on my skin. It’s good to stick to one artist if you’re going to have one style on your body but I have loads of different styles on my body. I sometimes to a rough drawing of what I want and then the tattoo artists will fix it up and make it better. Follow your instinct when it comes to choosing a tattoo artist. If there’s good chemistry between you and the artist then you’re in good hands.
RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Krummi: I chew gum and do diaphragmatic breathing which involves taking smooth, slow regular breaths. Listening to music helps a lot and bring some snacks with you.
RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Krummi: Not really. I have many shitty tattoos but they become a part of you so you really don’t think that much about it. I’ve had one cover up done on me. It was on my ass cheek. Trust me you don’t want to know what was tattooed on my gluteus maximus.
RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Krummi: Any kind of hate mongering tattoos. Symbols that have been used in the name of racism, fascism, Nazism, sexism etc… should never be inked on anybody. Anything that would lead me to believe that it harbours any views in line with these ideologies. Nazism, fascism and racism are disgusting, small-minded, irrational and factually incorrect ideologies that belong on the trash-heap of history.
RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Krummi: I guess it’s a little bit of both. If it’s more passion then you would probably become a tattoo artist yourself so I think it has a lot to do with individualism then addiction. You can’t stop adding more patterns/designs to your pre-existing tattoos and always work on your body art until it becomes whole. You keep adding things to your living skin diary.
RoD: Currently, tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Krummi: I really don’t care much about it. It’s good that artists get paid for their work so they can keep on creating in an environment that helps them to excel. You can also be homeless and make an amazing art, probably better art then most because it would come from a more real place. You should never get too comfortable. All artists produce consumer goods as soon as they start selling their art. Unavoidable capitalism. There are always going to be people that are impressionable and follow trends and in the end destroy something that was pure and beautiful with their materialistic vain minds.
RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a “good” job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Krummi: It has changed a lot for the past few years. I remember being frowned upon back in the day because I had a neck tattoo. They either thought I was a foreigner, convict or a crazy artist. I got to say it was cooler to have a tattoo back then when it was dangerous and on the fringe. It’s too commercial now but I still cherish this form of art. The prejudice is one of the things that make tattoos special and not for everybody to understand but at the same time it’s such an amazing form of art that it should be huge. That’s the dilemma.
RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Krummi: Remember to eat a full meal before you go to your appointment. If you like the artist’s work and the person is a decent human being then that’s a great beginning of forming a long lasting relationship with your tattoo artist. Don’t be cheap when it comes to your tattoos but also don’t think too much about either. Just go for it and decorate yourself.
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Daria Tessa (https://www.facebook.com/tessaswelten)
Special thanks to the Amphi Festival for supporting the project and for giving opportunity to take pictures.