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ketstansen introWithout no big possibility to travel in times of Corona, we will take you on our digital tattoo trip. Our guest today is Ket Stansen from the band S.T.A.L.I.N. from Oakland, California. On January 11, 2021 the band has released a new song, ‘Stir Crazy’, on Bandcamp. To find more info about the band please check the links below and we come back to our favourite topic for now.

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?
Ket: A couple of years back - it’s the symbol of my band S.T.A.L.I.N. (www.stalin.org and @stalin1144 for all socials). It was a random decision and was shot by an amateur tattooist in the house I was living in and was touched up by a pro sometime after.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Ket: I have five. Symbol of the band as mentioned. Then three Nordic items - a lion, set of ravens and the Vegvisir. Last one is a neo-traditional wolf. I have partial Nordic ancestry and in general like Nordic imagery from an aesthetic standpoint. Got the lion because I’m a Leo, the rest of them are just random decisions.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Ket: 50/50 undecided on it - sometimes I think I’m done with ink and then sometimes I think I will one day finish out a left sleeve.

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?
Ket: Three different artists. I just look up their work and then contact them with an idea I have. The artist draws their own sketches.

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RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Ket: Really not that bad, aside from the one on my lower left leg - that one was annoying - make a few pain-faces when it hits a nerve and it’s all good.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Ket: No. But, then I’m not sure I’d do a few of them over again in the same right. Would maybe get something different or none at all.

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?
Ket: Anything hateful or truly aggressively disgusting towards others.

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?
Ket: Depends on the person. I’d say it fails to meet the true definition of addictive in comparison to substances and so on - but people can get addicted to anything that releases endorphins and makes them feel good about themselves - so it’s subjective.

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?
Ket: If they are doing high quality work, no matter the meaning or thought behind it from the perspective of the person getting the ink—then of course the artist is an artist. If it’s flash for example, then they still have accurately lay it down on skin and most really talented artists if they deal in flash design their own. In the Bay Area, California where I live though and in particular San Francisco - a lot of high reputation artists only deal in completely custom work.

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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?
Ket: No prejudices where I live, but elsewhere for sure it exists. Though nobody would advise tattooing your face if you want a nice white-collar gig.

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?
Ket: Do some research on artists - find ones who have a really good portfolio in the style that you want (colour, black and grey, traditional, new school etc) and contact them and talk to them about what you’re looking for. That’s the best way to start and don’t do what I did and let an amateur do your first one even though that’s my fav tattoo.

Links: http://www.stalin.org / https://www.facebook.com/Stalin1144

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures of tattoos by Ket Stansen, title picture by Wyman Choy Photography (https://wymanchoy.portfoliobox.net/liveconcertphotography)