Jacob Mini; A.K.A. Tattoo-Mini:
Jacob Mini – All Ink Tattoo Jacob a.k.a. ”Mini” from All Ink Tattoo, a shop placed in one of the more affluent neighborhoods of Copenhagen Denmark. He has been an established and very popular tattoo artist for many years now. When he started in the middle of the 90’s, he was right on the verge, of the birth of the new wave/generation of modern tattoo artists, that we see so many of today.
How It All Began:
Mini himself, had a very early start to tattooing at the mere age of 17, however he had been bitten by the tattoo bug 3 years before. Mini got his first tattoo at the mere age of 14, something he wouldn’t recommend that anyone ever does, though he does not regret it. But from his first tattoo at that young age, he already had a feeling that he would want to work in the tattoo industry.
Having had an early start as an artist, beginning with graffiti street-art at the age of 11, artistry had been a part of his life since he was very young. So for Mini it felt like a natural progression to become a tattoo artist. Though he wouldn’t recommend that anyone gets into the business the way he did, he does not regret it, both because he feels that it taught him some valuable life lessons. But it was also because there was no other way for him to get into tattooing, with how the business was set up back then.
Bitten by the tattoo bug:
Even in the 90’s you couldn’t just get an apprenticeship, most artists would tell you to fuck off, maybe even give you a fist up the side of your head back then, if you even asked them to teach you. So Mini saw his only option, as having to teach himself, not that he really minded that but it was tough. You had to do everything yourself back then, and as he had no master to teach him, he had to learn all that on his own; how to wire machines, how to maintain needles, mix colors and so on.
But Mini was as already mentioned, bitten by the tattoo bug and wanted to become a tattoo artist more than anything, so he saved up all the money he could (16.000 DKK back in the day), and ordered all the tattoo equipment he could, through an American tattoo supply magazine he had gotten his hands on. “I didn’t really know anything about tattooing yet, so I just ordered a bit of everything”, as Mini says while he chuckles through his story.
Ups and downs on the road to becoming a tattoo artist:
But as luck would have it, it would not be that easy, Mini hit his first hurdle already at this point. None of the equipment he bought was built to be plugged into Danish circuits, so everything had to be modified by hand, by him and one of his friends, before it could be used.
But he had people who already liked his graffiti art, which he believes thought; “well he does good graffiti, so he will probably be a good tattoo artist as well”. Which in Mini’s own opinion, was not the case to begin with, but it wasn’t for most guys starting out the way he did. But those friends helped him get started and learn the trade. A trade he took with him when he went and served in the Danish Navy for a bit, where he would tattoo other guys from the navy, when He was home in Nyboder.
So he quickly developed a following and got started through that, as a full on tattoo artist. He also thinks fondly back to his mother, who raised him by herself since he was 5. She always supported his dream of becoming a tattoo artist.
From The Old Days To The New Ways:
“It’s nice that everything is so much easier today, buying equipment and getting a proper apprenticeship, so young artists can focus on the art and tattooing”, as Mini admirably puts it.
Though he does look back fondly, at all he learned throughout the rough journey he has had, to becoming an artist, not regretting a single thing. However, he contributes the new tattoo culture, to how young artists can become as talented as they are, in as little time as they do it.
The great new changes and improvements brought up by the times:
Mini can sometimes be a bit jealous, of the youngsters and how they get to get into the business today. But even so, he wouldn’t swap his story for theirs. He loves the charm and grit of his own story.
He loves how the tattoo industry and culture has changed, from something that was closed off where no one cared to share what they knew, not many artist was nice to customers or that friendly at all in the business really.
Today both the clients and the artists are a lot more knowledgeable and communicate more. Both the artists with the clients, but also between different artists. It makes the whole industry evolve and become better. He loves having been a part of the generation of artists, right in between the real old timers in Denmark, such as Svend Kukkerig, Henning Jørgensen and Frank Rosenkilde, and the amazingly talented youngsters that pop up today; mentioning young artists like Ruben Langsted, Christoffer Henriksen, Henriette wilkendorf, Kenny poke and others.
Noticing the innovation and talent of both those that came before him and the newcomers:
Indeed Mini admires both the newcomers who reinvent tattooing, the youngsters that keep on impressing him with their work. But he also has a soft spot and great admiration and respect for the generation before himself. Like Henning Jørgensen, the world renowned artist from Royal Tattoo Denmark. Who is at the top of his game.
The best at Japanese and Oriental tattoo here in Denmark ,in Mini’s opinion, and an all-round cool guy. Despite the two, having different genres/styles of tattooing, Henning keeps on impressing Mini with his flow and the way he creates the whole body into one piece.
A downside to the modern tattoo culture:
But when we get back to how Mini views the tattoo culture and industry as it is today, there are some downsides, despite his great admiration for the new culture and artists. It feels like becoming an artist has become almost too easy today, not becoming a real artist though. But there are a lot of kitchen magicians that just buy tattoo equipment online and set up.
They lack any passion and talent and often end up hurting, disappointing and mistreating customers. However, Mini is not too worried about these guys, because he believes as the industry is today; you burn out quickly if you don’t have passion for the craft. “It is like in the old days, where there was a lot of gangster artists and hustlers, who just got away with it because people didn’t know better”, well today, people do know better, or can at least find out easier, who is good and who is not.
The need for passion is higher than ever!:
With the amount of artists that there are today, you have to put your own spin on things. Do something unique to you and have real passion to be the best artist you can be. Else you burn out behind all the great talent that is out there, who show passion and reinvent styles. Even the old timers, have had to reinvent themselves and learn new ways to tattoo, and run their studios, else they wouldn’t be able to stay in business.
You got to have passion for the craft today that is alpha and omega. You have to put your own spin on things, to make your style unique, else you won’t be successful, because there will be a 1000 other artists able to do what you do. Those that couldn’t and can’t do this, die in the water.
Even the clients have changed, for better and worse:
But the customers have also changed today. A lot of them have become a lot better at listening to their artists. Just as the artists have become a lot better at listening to and guiding their customers. But that the client/customer is better at listening, that makes it way easier to actually guide them through the whole process. However, they are also a lot more naive today.
A lot of them sadly, think things will be just like it is on TV in the popular tattoo shows or even worse, that an artist is a good artist, just because they have been on TV. But Mini has a chuckle when he thinks of a certain way the tattoo culture has improved. Because in his opinion it is not necessarily as clear cut as it seems. When talking about the acceptance of tattoos and tattooing, Mini explains: “I have heard it every year; tattoos have become more accepted in society”.
The medias effect on tattoo acceptance:
They probably have, but in Mini’s opinion, society has had to accept tattoos more as they become more popular. As Mini sees it, tattoo shows on TV didn’t do much for the acceptance of tattoos. But reality shows, TV and Movie stars, all featuring, sporting and showing off tattoos for the public to see, that has helped a ton.
So even if we hadn’t had tattoo shows, the acceptance would still have come. Perhaps slower, but it would have been inevitable either way. Though, it is a sad side effect that some people think, that just because an artist has been in a tattoo TV show, they are a great artist. But there is little that can be done about that.
Another side effect, that comes with the reality stars and movie stars etc. getting lots of tattoos, which makes Mini laugh a bit. Is all the tattoo trends they create. People want stars like Rihanna, or a face tribal like Mike Tyson, or finger tattoos like Johnny Depp, whatever. Though Mini is pleased, that most customers he gets today, are a lot more creative and imaginative when it comes to their tattoos.
The need to always strive for more improvement:
They think of personal motives and artwork for their tattoos. Even giving him free hands to put his own spin on the art. So all in all Mini is very happy with how the tattoo culture and industry has changed, it is more than anything for the better as he sees it.
He looks fondly back at his own generation and those before him. With admiration at what they laid the groundwork for. But he can’t help but be incredibly impressed with how the new generation is doing things, both the customers but especially the young talented artists. Though he warns everyone, that the only way you can stay on top of your game, whether an old timer or a newcomer. Is to remember, that there is always room for improvement and you are never done learning.“As soon as you come into work as a tattoo artist thinking, well I can’t learn or improve anymore, you might as well put your tattoo machine up on the wall and quit”.
It is not about being a rock star:
He is tired of people that thinks being a tattoo artist, is all about rock star status, to him it is all about the art. He sees far too many who just fall into a rut and who do not impress him at all. Because they are not passionate enough about the art side. Luckily though, there are many youngsters who keep on impressing him every day.
Just remember, it is not about prizes or getting on TV and being a rock star. Of course all that admiration is nice.
But in the end it is not all that important. It is better to remain a bit humble, so that you keep improving.
Final Comments and Gallery:
But Mini is when all is said and done, still in love with tattooing. He loves the culture and industry more than ever. “I will probably keep tattooing till my eyes don’t work anymore”, as Mini very passionately puts it with a smirk. Though when he gets a fair bit older, he might do a bit more painting on the side. He still also loves painting airbrush , oil, acrylic and of course graffiti. But he will always keep tattooing as long as he is able.
We hoped you enjoyed this article, our first installment in our series, to showcase some great tattoo veterans.
For more info about Mini, check out his website, as well as his Facebook. Else you can also read more about him in the Ink Slingers book. Please keep your eye on Mediazink for more awesome articles. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (@Mediazink_Official), for more awesome articles and other content.