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tepporistola introI am really happy that we have started our Special Tattoo Project in 2016. In all those years I had so many interesting conversations and have met so many amazing personalities… and I am happy that still each day a have a new chance to do it again. My guest today, Teppo “Warra” Ristola, comes from Finland. He is a multi-talent. Teppo is drummer of PAARA, LOST IN GREY, KAIJA K. KOJOOTTI, THE TOP GUNS, session drummer of WHERE’S MY BIBLE and solo artist of WAARA - he is songwriter and producer. It I would try to provide some info about each listed project now, then the introduction promises to be longer than the interview. So, I leave you the possibility to learn more about Teppo by your own and come back to my favourite topic - tattoos.

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?
Teppo:I took my first tattoo when I was sixteen. My parents had to sign the permission for that because I was a minor. My horoscope sign is Scorpio, so for me a scorpion was an obvious choice for the first tattoo. I don’t remember exactly how long I had to think about it, but I guess I took the tattoo pretty soon after I made the decision.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Teppo:I think I have over twenty tattoos. It’s kind of difficult to count because some of them are separate tattoos which together form a bigger entity. I have noticed that the older I get the tattoos gain a bigger meaning. When I look at my skin, I see my life. Happiness, sadness, love, loss.. Every tattoo which I have tell a difference story.
Some of them remind me of who I really am.
Some of them show me the way. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.
Some of them has been taken for a loved one.
Some of them have helped me over divorce.
Some of them tell a story about backstabbers.
Some of them respect my bands, past and present.
One of them was taken totally intoxicated. I don’t recommend that for anybody but to me it’s a very funny memory. My brother took same tattoo so it’s important.


RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Teppo:I think this is never ending story. So I will definitely get more tattoos - sooner or later.

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?
Teppo:I have tattoos from five different tattoo artist. When I was younger I didn’t think about the outcome, only how much the tattoo costs. Now I’m kind of an adult so I realize that I’m more than happy to pay more for a better tattoo than a cheap one with bad results. I hope everyone finds a good artist who can make great art on your skin. It’s on your skin for the rest of your life so.. Normally the artist who is going to make the tattoo also makes the sketches from materials I send to them. I also have a very personal tattoo which was made by the awesome Niko Anttila. He drew it for me for my solo album cover and made a logo with oil paints.

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Teppo:It depends a lot where on your body you are taking tattoo. The only places for me which really hurt was my chest and calf. If I can I listen to music or watch Netflix. For me it’s like meditation sessions. After the pain and new art on my skin I feel like a new-born. It’s kind of a weird feeling and hard to explain better.


RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Teppo:No, never. I have some really awful tattoos but I don’t regret them, they are a part of my life. I took one cover tattoo but the only reason for that was that my first tattoo (the Scorpio on my shoulder) just didn’t fit the outcome of the full sleeve.

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?
Teppo:I don’t care what other people have. If someone wants an awful spot on their cheek or under the eye, it’s their choice. I hope people take tattoos which have real meaning for them, and not only to say ”Hey look, I have a tattoo”. Nowadays especially youngsters want a tattoo on top of the hand, neck or face. If you take your first tattoo, take it on a smart place. One may think it’s cool to have one tattoo on your face but I think it’s often just stupid and embarrassing.

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?
Teppo:It depends on the people. It’s like asking from an alcohol or drug abuser if it’s hard to stop.. For most of them it’s impossible. For others it’s possible. For me tattoos are a passion. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to stop taking them before my time is done.

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?
Teppo:For the business it’s of course a good thing, but like art and tattoo artists it’s a difference story. Nowadays tattoos and their meanings are so important for me so I’m never going to take a tattoo from a ready draft from a book. But if it’s ok for someone, it’s not my business.


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?
Teppo:I despise people who judge others based on how they look, especially if the reason is the tattoos. I never had any bigger problems with my tattoos. It’s 2020 so people understand and tolerate tattoos better. Couple of times people ask from me how many years I was in prison or when I’ve been sailing... haha... The answer for both of those questions is zero.

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?
Teppo:Start from something small. Don’t start with your face or neck. Search the internet and magazines, and find a good artist. Also talk with your friends who already have tattoos. Don’t choose the cheapest artist, choose the best. I can’t say anything about that colour thing, everyone has to make this choice by themselves. Usually I get a gut sense or somehow know which one I want, colour or B&W, and make the choice based on that feeling. Remember that tattoos are art, they tell a story.

Paara: /
Lost In Grey: /
Kaija K. Kojootti:
The Top Guns:
Where's My Bible:


Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Portrait picture by Teppo Ristola, Sleeve Pictures: Henri Jankola(Teppo Ristola), other pictures by Ruuhkamedia

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