Iver Gørtz; Danish ”Old-Timers” Vol. 4

Iver Gørtz; Danish ”Old-Timers” Vol. 4
October 02
13:25 2017

Iver Gørtz; Twillight Art Studio Copenhagen:

Iver Gørtz, surrounded by work and some of his art.

Iver is 43 years old these days and originally he started his career back in 1991. Back then, he started out with another Danish old timer named Hans, whom we will be publishing an article about later on.
Iver began his apprenticeship at the mere age of 17, neglecting to tell Hans about his age.

He had to do this he felt, as he wanted to learn so badly, yet Hans wouldn’t teach anyone under 18.
Had Hans known Iver was under age back then, his career would have been cut short there, luckily he never found out before it was too late.

You were however, constantly nervous back then. You constantly had to perform and proof yourself. Yesterday’s hero, was tomorrows fuck up, that was the mentality you had to embrace.

The Story of Iver; A Story of Struggling With The Artform:

In the following 15 years, from time to time, Iver would lose the interest in tattooing. He had no idea why he kept having periods, where he fell out of love with it. However, one day when he was tattooing an old biker, who was fresh out of prison, the biker gave him the answer.

“You have cell fever”, he told Iver, before he explained further. Simply put, Iver had stayed put in the same place for too long, and it had made him fall in a rut. If Iver changed his scenery, he would fall back in love with tattooing.

Iver wasn’t much for listening to the advice at the time. But he thought that he might as well try it and what do you know, the biker was right. Iver moved from Copenhagen Tattoo Center that he had stayed in for 15 years, and he fell back in love with tattooing almost instantly. After moving to the studio Color Blind, he was soon back to loving his job.

From A Territorial World Of Secrets, To A World Of Support:

Back in the day there was a constant threat of loosing both job and perhaps a teth or two in the process, if he send a client to the competition.
Even if it was because he didn’t feel like he could do the tattoo, just the way the client wanted it. There simply was too big a culture of competition and not enough clients to go around back then.

Today however, Iver feels like he earns more money, if the competition and he both do well. Because if all artists make great tattoos that people love, then people become more comfortable with tattoos and that improves the business. Because then more people dare to get a tattoo.

So today, you will happily send a customer over to a colleague. If you know the colleague is better at the style the customer wants. It is not as much sending money out the door, as it is building a good reputation of integrity. This is a change Iver loves, that happened with his generation of tattoo artists.

It is a positive minus, as Iver calls it. He gets a lot more skilled competition. But the more skilled the competition is, the more skilled Iver needs to become himself. So it all just serves to keep him in the game, and to keep him from stopping improving.

From Travelling the World; To Slowing Down and Finding Contentment With The Art:

Back in the 90’s Iver used to travel all over the world, a thing which he has long since stopped doing so much. However, he still finds it important to get out of his shop now and then, to learn new things and get some inspiration and “fresh air”.

He also still has guest artists coming to his own studio Twillight Art Studio in Copenhagen. At least one month of the year, he has an old friend as guest artist. Else he mostly sits by himself, working solo in his studio.

He is even in a small community with some friends, which is all about artistic stuff and that. But he likes that this community is small and exclusive. Gives him more drive when he is there and he feels that all the members both teach and learn.

How Iver got into tattooing:

Originally he had no idea that he would ever get to be a tattoo artist. He literally had no idea, until he was right in the thick of it. But he knew since the 6. Grade, that he would someday live by drawing.
However, it was just not something people thought was a proper job, for anyone to do back then.

Iver got his first tattoo at age 16 in the legendary Nyhavn 17 Studio. Then he went home to his mother to show it, and all she said was: “It’s lovely, but don’t you think you would be able to draw it better, in 2 years’ time?”

Getting The Apprenticeship:

Later,  Iver went into Hans’s shop, Copenhagen Tattoo Cetner. Hans had tattooed Iver before. He thought that perhaps Hans might at least buy his drawings off him. But instead Hans, after having a loud argument about it with his associate, told Iver: “I don’t want to buy your shit, but you can become my apprentice”

That changed his life and it swallowed his life up. He had to be available Monday to Saturday, all day long.
But this was the start of his career as a tattoo artist. Iver learned all of the basics and more, under the strict tutelage of Hans. From how to fix tattoo machines and mix colors, to tattooing itself, even doing freehand custom work, which Hans was one of the first ones in Denmark to do.

Passion is still the name of the game!

Luckily, despite all the changes and innovation making things a lot easier, you still need to have passion.
Without passion you won’t make it as a tattoo artist in the long run, not even today. However, it has become far too easy to become a tattoo artist. But the asshole that is just tattooing, hustling and earning quick cash, he might be able to keep himself going, but he will never have any real long term success.

You learned different things back in the day, when you became a tattoo artist. But a lot of those things are irrelevant today. A tattoo artist doesn’t need to know how to weld needles and such today. But because of this, the new artists today, can focus on become great tattoo artists instead.

However, there were some needles that they welded back in the day, that seem better than some of the products you can buy today. But Iver is satisfied with being able to buy the tools he needs, for his job.
It is more relevant today, that the youngsters today know how to repair the machine, should it break down while they are tattooing.

Positive Improvements; at a cost:

Today, we have really seen an incredible improvement, when it comes to hygiene and the industry, as well as the technology of the trade. However, all this great improvement does come at a cost. Everything that improves in the world always comes with a cost to what was there before though.
For example how tattoo artists, no longer need to learn all the basics of building a tattoo machine etc.
But sometimes the cost is too great, other times the improvements outweigh the cost.

It is pretty awesome, that new artists don’t have to go through all the same shit; the old timers had to go through. You can’t prevent or stop change and improvement anyways; you can just do your best and keep up with it. You don’t achieve anything from being angry at the changes anyway; rather concentrate on still creating great tattoos then.

Also influencing ones’ clients positively and guiding them properly, doing your best, to ensure that the client leaves your studio, feeling awesome about their new tattoo and the experience.

Tattoo Artists; From bad asses to Nice Guys:

Back in the day, tattoo artists, weren’t all that nice. Today however, they are open and guide their clients, so they remain happy with their tattoos in the future. Because they know how to take care of their tattoos and the artist is able to tell the client, how their tattoo will probably look, when healed.

Iver loves how open the tattoo community has become, the artists especially. He will even, as mentioned previously, happily send clients to another artist, if he knows they will do a better job on a specific tattoo than him. Sharing with other artists he knows, both clients and experiences, learning from each other.

It is way better than the past, where you could get punched in the face. Just for telling another artist how he might better use his needles or keep them clean.

Tattooing is the only thing for Iver:

Back in the day, before being offered apprenticship as a tattoo artist, Iver tried his luck at a technical college. He wanted to learn how to be a blacksmith. Despite having a great teacher at his college, there was nothing that could be done to catch his interest and neither could he find an apprenticeship as a blacksmithsmith.

But he ended up figuring out, after trying his hand with odd jobs with manual labour when he was 16, that tattooing is where his passions lie. But the fact that he has tried other jobs, has given him a deeper respect for what the client goes through. In order to gather the money together for their dream tattoo, they have to work their asses off, often at jobs Iver himself would hate to do.

So he tried his best, to show every client the respect they deserve. As they enable him to do what he loves, through their own hard work. Then allowing him to use their body as his canvas and paying him, to do what he loves.

The New Generation of Artists:

Both old and young artists, everyone has their own style and their own way of doing things today. You cannot possibly lob everyone together in the same group; the variety is just too great.
There are some hat a super talented, but awful people, others are not that talented but nice people and others yet again are super talented and nice people too.

Iver would even, to certain among the new generation of tattoo artists, whom he likes and finds really talented. Happily entrust his clients, should he fall deathly ill. Especially to the ones that are passionate, nice people with skill.

The main difference between the generations really; is that back in the day you needed passion to get an apprenticeship and become an artist. Today you need passion to succeed as a tattoo artist.

Staying in love with tattooing; How Iver did it:

Iver has had his problems, staying passionate about tattooing. He had them earlier in his career as mentioned above, but also in the later years. Here and there he would fall out of love with the job, and stop feeling like tattooing people.

However, Iver found the solution for him, how he can keep on loving what he does every day. The solution for Iver, was slowing down the pace of his business and ensuring that he can do things the way he wants to.
Instead of taking in loads of clients, how Iver used to and even doing walk-ins. He now no longer does walk-ins and only takes in clients with projects that he knows he will like doing and can do perfectly.

He loves being able to keep on immersing himself in his projects, as well as still improving himself every day. Polishing his techniques and finding new inspirations and so on. He knows what he is good at and what he isn’t good at, so he prefers to stick to what he does well.

Iver’s new feeling of success:

When Iver was a young man, he constantly measured his success in how much money he had. This resulted in him working till he was ill with stress and got sick of his job. However, today he measures his success, in his feeling of satisfaction with what he does. Both his satisfaction with his work, the tattoos he creates on peoples skin. As well as how satisfied with his art, the paintings he tries to make time for, on his many canvasses.

But working with this I mind, not taking on too many clients. Also makes Iver able to treat the clients better, like they are special. So each tattoo he does, gets the time it needs. He stays open till he feels the job is done, because he knows he won’t have to close down, or stop because another client is coming in that they.

He gets to plan his work, so it fits with how he wants to do it, and with the clients schedule as well. So in the conflict that most people have, between taking care of yourself, the client in the chair and the potential client waiting, Iver has done all he can, to balance it all the best way possible. So that he keeps being passionate about tattooing.

New Times and New Clients:

As mentioned several times already, there are a lot of good new improvements, within the world of tattooing. But for a guy like Iver, who wants to stay passionate about tattooing. One of his favourite changes, is the growing selection of clients who also have much more particular wishes and demands, of their tattoo and tattoo artists.

This pushes Iver to improve and develop his style still today, while also providing him with a greater variety of projects to work on; everyone that comes to him. wants a custom tattoo, unique to them. Back in the day, they used to dream of being able to design a custom piece for someone, instead of just tattooing flash off the walls.
Whereas, today many artists are living that dream, precisely because the clients have become more demanding and creative.

So the clients are definitely the best thing, about being a tattoo artist today. They are the main reason, that today as a tattoo artist; you can actually make art on people’s skin. Art that fits with the individuals ambitions, dreams and plans etc.

Piece of advice for the new artists out there:

Back in the day,  the first person you were allowed to tattoo was yourself; not only so you could empathize with your client and know their pain but just as much to follow  the fulle circle of your own work from sketch to healed tattoo, knowing each part of the proces and to determine where the fuck ups happened, if any. That should also be the case today, so that new artists carry their own beginner mistakes and experiences intead of scarring others with them.

The Future for Iver:

Iver is a realist and knows that he will probably stop tattooing someday. Preferably for him, before people start to think he should quit. He would rather stop, while people are still sad to see him go. But he will probably work till the day he dies, but he will only tattoo until he can feel his body can’t take it anymore.

But he wants to always work with art, as he has always been and always will be an artist. The future for Iver for now though, is all about making work fit with his passion, so that he will keep being passionate about tattooing. He doesn’t have great economic ambition, he just wants to be able to be satisfied with his work and loving it, every time he leaves his studio.

Perhaps, someday when he can’t tattoo anymore, he might open up a workshop, where other people tattoo and Iver manages it. But he looks forward to seeing the next big leap for tattoos. He believes it will be all about, making tattoos fit the body’s anatomy better.

Final Comments and gallery:

The youngsters out there, need to remember that listening to the old timers out there. Is still worthwhile, because they can learn from their experiences.  Even though tattooing has improved so much today, it’s still ink in the skin. You can still learn a thing or two from those that came before, who build the foundation for what tattooing is today. After all, the lust for knowledge among tattoo artists, is what started the improvements, so keep it going.

























We hoped you enjoyed this article, our fourthr installment in our series, to showcase some great tattoo veterans.
For more info about Mini, check out his website. 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.

About Author



Mads W. K. Masters of science in Sociology (Cand. Scient. Soc.), from the University of Copenhagen, who specializes in embodiment sociology, but especially in tattoos and tattoo culture etc.

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