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?
Liss Eulenherz [Liss]: I got my first tattoo on a Friday the 13th a few months after I turned 18 around 2012 and couldn´t wait for it. It was a key on my forearm. It was planned to get much smaller and only fitting on my wrist but as I adore tattoo art especially for the art part, I gave my tattoo artist the possibility to sketch it however she wanted. She also included a note in the bit as I always had bands and music in my life. I had an appointment, fell in love with the sketch and got it tattooed. My mom´s reaction was like: well, it´s pretty, but why is it supposed to be on YOU? The key has a special meaning for me, as most of the “first tattoos” people get. I am not that self-confident as I may look like and I just wanted to remember that I have the key to my own success. It was planned for years.
RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Liss: I can´t tell in numbers absolutely because my left arm is a tattoo sleeve and more a kind of composition of single motives but if I had to count: around 17. Nearly all my tattoos are a symbiosis from meaning and aesthetic and personal aspects. My own band logo as also a tattoo of friendship ( all SONORUS7 bandmates got it!), family tattoos, tattoos for self-confidence and strength, true fandom sleeve (Harry Potter: but only the dark side with a dead Patronus, a Draco strangled by Nagini, Voldi with the elder wand and (SPOILER!) a dead Dumbledore who sacrificed itself, Dementors around him catching for his soul). Fandom also: my only coloured leg tattoo: the barn owl with the skull (mask), the watch with 13 hours: yes, it is not only my affection for owls speaking here but my pure love for ‘Labyrinth’ with David Bowie which was a huge part of my childhood. The AMENRA Logo for their idea of soul touching music which had a concrete impact to my own art(works). One thing is not only tattooed once on me but in different ways: as above so below. Alchemists will remember.
RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Liss: Project temple isn´t finished at all. As I see tattooing as the most enlivened form of visual arts I still want to be the canvas. Also I feel so much more complete with art on my body. It’s a privilege and freedom. There are a lot of plans in the near future and of course some tattoos will be more personal than just art. Some may have to do with new music.
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?
Liss: My tattoos are done by different artists; my first tattoos all got inked by Amy Malt (Ink and Pain / Buntes Alatau Leipzig), my wonderful Cornish rex cat with the Ank got inked by the lovely artist Eliza Bathory (Sinnträger Leipzig). Jenny Semper from Serbia got me a wonderful interpretation of “as above so below” in symbolic form on my leg and in her own wonderful style but the main part on my body was done (and still will be done) by my dear friend and artist Micha Grubert (Ink and Pain / Tattoo Parlour Leipzig). He is one of the best realistic skilled inkers I know and also continuously working on woodcut, acrylic paintings and wood painting in his own style. Much love to all of them. I choose the tattoo artist by its own style, skills and of course if they are also artists beneath the tattooing itself. I got my ideas, bring them up but always let the inkers decide in last instance if and what is possible on my body and with my skin and in their style. The art is focused every time and I love to include new ideas to the motives by the artists. Sometimes my ideas are very concrete like on my sleeve and Micha had to reduce or create a form of making it possible on my small arm, where I came up with sketches.
RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Liss: One day it hurts, one day it doesn´t, one body part more or less. That´s the game. Before the session starts, I have a good meal or at least sweets. I drink enough and also carry both with me to the appointment. For me, lines are more painful than shading or realistic parts but above all the needle stuff there is the evil cold wet cleaning sheet. That hurts :D Most of the time I am listening to music (thanks Micha for introducing me a lot of good bands) or just speaking with my artist if I am allowed to.
RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Liss: Only when the wet sheet touches me. Oh and my white ink around the key which was added years after hurt badly and I needed to get a completely new care routine. But for real: I do not regret a single one.
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?
Liss: I mean there a people only having one tattoo but as I also had dreams (as a kid) of me fully covered in tattoos, it is no surprise that I will not stop covering me in art. I also have other body mods like dermal anchors or stretched ears but also got rid of some others like around 10 ear piercings. A decision for a tattoo is a final one what makes it different to piercings and takes responsibility for your actions. Passion is the word I think.
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?
Liss: Your body, your choice. Who am I to judge about others. And also: who says that all tattoos have to have a meaning. I love the idea of aesthetic transforming yourself for more self-love. There are also artists perfectly imitating nipples for breast cancer patients or do wonderful covers for their chest. There are artists covering scars. There are also artists giving back control and freedom to a person´s soul. Not every painting is just for fun not every pain is seen on the outside. Some people like to get fun tattoos and some just want to feel more comfortable. Why is this even a topic as people also got their lips or buts done. We live in a time where hopefully everyone can decide who they want to be, how they want to express their self and how they want to look and live. That is still a cultural privilege and I hope everyone who wants to change their body can do that without fear or judgement. The only advice I want to give: think about it, watch the artist´s quality, check for their hygiene and you´ll not regret your experience. BTW also artists sometimes just want to get their wanna do´s or small works done or just enjoy the chance to work with customers who have no long-time appointment while they´re booked out for months or years, that´s why some do walk in days.
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?
Liss: Before becoming a freelance artist I studied to become a teacher and taught. It never ever was a problem at a school not even at expensive private schools. There are still some cultural or geographical areas where people with tattoos are seen as the junk of society (try to teach in some Bavarian places with tattoos) and also some special jobs where people don´t like it but as I have seen adverts from bankers or costumers from bankers with tattoos there seems to be a change. First of all: competence before appearance.
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?
Liss: At first you should know what you want to get. Search for an artist which is working in the style you prefer. Speak to that artist and check for references, hygiene and knowledge. And of course you have to trust your inker. Explain your fears or ask whatever may feel important. Get a sketch. Maybe hang it on your wall and look at it every day. You still like it? Great, get it done by the same artist. Prepare for the aftercare and speak to your artist for a great healing and caring process, If you want your tattoo to look good forever you have to take care forever.
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daniela Vorndran
Pictures by EulenherzArtwork/ Danny (http://www.eulenherz-artwork.com / https://www.facebook.com/eulenherzartwork)