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ennlfrdeitrues
thomaswinters12017 summer festival season was a very busy time both for us and for the project. As I was watching CHROM perform at Amphi, I noticed Thomas’ tattoos. So as soon as I had an opportunity to talk to him, I suggested that he should become a part of our project. I took the photo right there at the festival, after having received his consent to participate, but the interview took a little longer. And now I’m happy to share it with you.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? How long did it take you to decide to get it?
Thomas: I did my first tattoo myself, quite spontaneously. That must have been around 1987 or 1988. I did it using quite a classic set of tools - needle, thread and ink. At that time, I was a fan of ALIEN SEX FIEND and I really wanted to have their logo on my forearm. But because of various circumstances I did not manage to finish the whole thing, so for years only a rough “alien” graced my arm... or spoiled it...

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Thomas: I had or have a total of five tattoos... you already know the story of the first one. The second tattoo was a Grim Reaper, which my brother did on my left upper arm using a homemade machine. The tattoo machine consisted of an old electric shaver and used a pen as a guide rail for the needle... we did not know the meaning of the word sterile... In the middle of 1990, I had this Grim Reaper covered up, but the result was a failure. It was supposed to depict a skull flying out of a large skin wound... but this was barely noticeable. Thus, I have had this botched work covered up once again with biomechanics based on the works of Giger, because I greatly appreciate the art of the aforementioned artist... Last year, I spontaneously came up with the idea for tattoo number five, a Stormtrooper on my right forearm... The tattoos have no special meaning for me personally, so I don’t have any with which I would associate a special story. I wear them as decorations...

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted, or will you get some new ones in the future?
Thomas: After getting the Stormtrooper last year, I think about filling my whole arm with Star Wars motifs...

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RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose a tattoo artist? And finally, who draws your sketches?
Thomas: Well... as I said, my brother and I did my first two tattoos. I had the skull done in Euskirchen, but I heard that this “artist” has died many years ago. The template came from a magazine, I simply liked it and I wanted to have it. The biomechanics was done by a man named Pit... Pit does not work at a studio, he only works at home. He tattooed my entire arm without using a template. The Stormtrooper was done by one of his former students, the dear Rene, who now has his own studio in Düren with the telling name Freakline Tattoo (http://www.freakline.de/).

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts. How do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Thomas: I can say that I am relatively brave, and I just keep thinking about the final result... I always think it’s worth the pain. Although I am also partially pushed to my limits... I remember that when the good Pit was doing it, I smashed the wall so hard I almost broke the tiles on it...

RoD: Do you ever regret getting tattooed?
Thomas: No, everything happened at the right time and it always felt right at that moment... maybe at some point one might have been a little more proactive... but well, you learn from your mistakes... or you do not.

RoD: Do you think there are any taboos when it comes to tattoos? What would you never tattooed and what don’t you like seeing on other people?
Thomas: Oh, I’m actually relatively tolerant... because everyone should be able to do what they like and where they like it. Personally, I would never have my face tattooed, I find this strange... I cannot explain why.

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire new body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of addiction, simply calling it passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Thomas: I cannot say for sure... but once you’ve started and the first tattoo is done, you start thinking about the next one... That’s how I feel... Whether that is an addiction or not... who knows?

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RoD: Tattoos have become a fashion trend; many people do not care about their meaning, they just want to have something colourful on their skin, to be trendy. Those people often just go to a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they are kind of like production line workers. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Thomas: I cannot comment on this, it would be interesting to hear an artist answer to that question from their point of view. He would probably say: I have to make money somehow...

RoD: I would also like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos. Back in the day, many people believed that if you had a tattoo, you would never be successful and would not find a “good” job. Has this mind-set and people’s perception changed or do these prejudices still exist?
Thomas: I think that a lot has been done in recent years, tattoos have become socially acceptable and are recognized as a form of art. You can now see tattooed people everywhere - in sports, every other football player has tattoos. Even in my industry - healthcare, many nurses have tattoos and they no longer have to hide. Sometimes you can encounter prejudices... but they have become much rarer.

RoD: What advice would you give to the people who are going to get their first tattoo? How should they choose a tattoo artist? Should they get it done in colour or black and white? Perhaps any practical advice?
Thomas: First, you have to be aware of the fact that you will have this tattoo for the rest of your life and therefore you should also think about your motivation to get it. If your mind is set on it, the choice of an artist is important... Look at the tattoo artist’s works. Do you like what he does? What does the studio look like? Does it look clean? Does he pay attention to the state of his tools and sanitize them? It’s important, so do not rush to a random studio next door on an impulse to get inked as soon as possible... The choice of colour always depends on personal taste, in my case it is always black...

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Daria Tessa (https://www.facebook.com/tessaswelten)

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