Our today’s guest comes from wonderful Athens in Greece. Billy Vass is singer and songwriter of progressive Heavy Metal band TERRA INCOGNITA. In 2018/2019 came the second album of this band, ‘Fragments of a Ruined Mind’. This year, the band has made an amazing adaptation of the song ‘Stranger’ from George Dalaras. But we have of course spoken not about music but about tattoos. Billy was generous to show us all his beautiful tattoos, so let’s have a look.
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?
Billy: My first ever tattoo is the design of the Greek Key, (Meandros), which I have on my left arm-bicep. I had it done over 20 years ago. It’s an ancient Greek symbol. Born and raised in New York, I felt the need to represent my culture in this form, so it did not take long to decide to get it done.
RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Billy: Oh, wow! Um... it depends on how you count the tattoos. I have full arm sleeves, a back-neck piece, a stomach piece, and a full calf piece. My left arm sleeve has the ancient Greek King, Leonidis, the Meandros, a Spartan sword, shield, and head-dress, full-black flames, my personal microphone, (since I’m a singer), and the name of my 1st born son, Anastasis. My right sleeve has the ancient Greek demi-god, Achilles, with Troy and the Trojan horse, three stone roses, a scroll with my wife’s name, the ancient Greek ocean tide, and the name of my 2nd born son, Angelo. My stomach has the word WICKED. My back-neck piece is the sign of N.Y. My calf has a full coloured, naked fairy.
RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Billy: With tattoo’s, never say never!!
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?
Billy: I chose a different tattoo artist for every one of my tattoos. Every artist has his strongest points. The sketches where done by the artists, themselves. I would tell them what I wanted, and they worked on it.
RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Billy: After the first 15 minutes, you get used to the pain. No problem... I would drink some beers during the break time, and that helped me deal with the pain. Hahahaha!!!
RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
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?
Billy: Just like everything else, when something becomes a trend or “in fashion”, it gets destroyed by addicted consumers. The true believers of something deep, and transcendent, always shine...
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?
Billy: It depends on which country you live in. If you’re in England, or the States, Germany, etc., tattoos are accepted and passed over, therefore, it doesn’t reflect on you in a negative way. In many other parts of the world, they still represent a radical way of life, which means the stereotype, is in full effect.
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?
Billy: Make sure you don’t choose something that is “the current style”. That fades, and you will regret it. Put something on your body as if it’s your Identification card. Something that represents YOU, and your inner beliefs. What you hold true to your heart, and soul. ...and ALWAYS say to yourself, “will I still think this is cool, when I’m 85 years old”?
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Title picture by Dionisis Partheniadis (DP photography), other pictures by Billy Vass
Special: Artists and their Tattoos - Billy Vass (voice) from Terra Incognita
- Written by: Daria Tessa
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