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?
Chris: Wow I wish I remembered when that was. I think that was exactly twelve years ago. I’ve been wanting to do that for much longer. But then, as I made up my mind, it took me three months to decide, where and what exactly that tattoo would be.
RoD: Ok, and where on your body was it?
Chris: This was on my arm and forearm. And then we had to go on.
RoD: It is hard to count them in your case, but how many tattoos do you have?
Chris: Oh, I cannot tell exactly. Because what do you want to count as one tattoo? If that’s one, say, OK, that’s five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen.
RoD: Is there a story about them that you can tell us?
Chris: Actually, all the stories are very similar, because I think I would have rather become a sailor.
RoD: Yes, I have realized that already based on the type of your tattoos.
Chris: That’s why they’re all very marine, but unfortunately all we have in Munich is small lakes. That’s a bit like expressing my yearning for the sea. That’s what all of these are. Except for this one here. That was a Russian souvenir on my thigh. But everything else pretty much follows the marine theme.
RoD: But isn’t there something else on your feet? ... Or are these sailors’ tattoos as well?
Chris: Yes, those are a pig and a rooster. If you’re a sailor and you have these, you can no longer drown.
RoD: Oh, right. I did not know that.
Chris: Now you know.
RoD: Do you already have all the tattoos that you wanted, or do you plan on getting some new ones in the future?
Chris: No, no, there will certainly be many more. I would like to get more.
RoD: Were all your tattoos done by the same tattoo artist or by different ones?
Chris: All different ones.
RoD: And by the way, who does your sketches?
Chris: That would be the same tattoo artist that did the ink. But I think I’ve had five different tattoo artists.
RoD: How long was your longest session?
Chris: I think that was eight hours long.
RoD: Kudos to that! Because for some parts of the body, it is just impossible to stand the pain for too... That simply doesn’t work for me.
Chris: Yeah, if you’re fit, you’ve had enough sleep and the week is going well, then you can handle it. If you have not slept much, then yes, it’s a bit more challenging...
RoD: Getting tattooed hurts. How do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Chris: As I said before, that depends on the day. It means that sometimes eight hours is fine, and from time to time staying for four hours would be pushing it!
RoD: How do you distract yourself from the pain?
Chris: I think I just do that by controlling my breath. So just focus on your breath, and then you’re almost out of the woods.
RoD: Ok, because I have already heard different answers. There are people who can fall asleep during a session.
Chris: I also know people who have fallen asleep at that time. Unfortunately, I haven’t been so lucky yet.
RoD: Have you ever had any regrets about getting tattooed?
Chris: Well, not really - maybe for a little while, but then it went away.
RoD: Do you think there are any taboos when it comes to tattoos? What image would you never get yourself and what don’t you like seeing on others?
Chris: What other people do is their own business. But I do not like realistic portraits or things like that.
RoD: So baby photos or something like that are a no go.
Chris: If someone is proud of their baby, they can get their portrait inked. I don’t think it’s bad to have it. But that is certainly not a thing for me.
RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire new body art is addictive while others say that it fails to meet the true definition of addiction, simply calling it passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Chris: It is like that with me, if I think of a nice theme with a good idea behind it, then I’ll want to have it inked already. But it’s not like I go to a tattoo artist every week. I do not want to be addicted.
RoD: Tattoos have become a fashion trend.
Chris: I don’t think it’s fashion anymore, don’t you agree?
RoD: No, but what upsets me in this whole deal is that people just want to be cool and don’t think too much about the fact that they would have those same tattoos for the rest of their lives. Those people often just go to a tattoo salon and ask to see the sketches that they have available. Tattoo artists are not artists any more - now they produce commodities.
Chris: I wouldn’t put it like that. Many tattoo artists have times when they do not tattoo and use that time to be creative. Of course, they have many nice templates. I don’t mean that everyone should get a heart or something like that tattooed, but his portfolio just shows: I’ve tattooed this, and I did it only once. And that’s why I think many tattoo artists can surprise you. I would say, you should like the fact that they have portfolios.
RoD: But what do you think of tattoos as an actual fashion trend? Wouldn’t some people later regret succumbing to it?
Chris: I do not think that people would regret that later. If you touch a hot stove, and you end up with a scar on your hand, you would not regret it either. And a tattoo is a little bit nicer than that.
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?
Chris: You already said it yourself.
RoD: Yes, but do you think these prejudices still exist today, or has that changed over time?
Chris: Some occupations are certainly still affected by it. I don’t think any boss would favour a bank clerk with inked hands. But what about the others? I’m a performer, and in this job it doesn’t matter, whether or not you have any tattoos. But then you also live in this scene, and it affects you - here’s the result. Therefore, there are certain jobs where tattoos are a taboo.
RoD: I’ve heard from some bankers that some of them got tattooed as an act of protest. The tattoos end where the sleeves of the suit jacket end.
Chris: Or you can get your hands tattooed first to say, “I won’t be like them”.
RoD: What would you tell those, who are going to get their first tattoo? How should they choose a tattoo artist? Should they get it done in colour or in black and white? Can you give any practical advice?
Chris: I picked my first tattoo artist by looking at my friends’ tattoos that I liked. I asked them “where did you get those?” and then I just went there. Then you can take a look at the artists’ portfolios. And then you can see if those artists always work in that style you like. You have to search for a long time to find the style that is just the right for you. So don’t go to the first artist that you find. But I think that is already clear to everyone.
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Daria Tessa (https://www.facebook.com/tessaswelten)