Photo above by Kamila Burzymowska
Piotr Trager (Zwierzak)
I have been professionally tattooing since I opened the TILL DEATH TATTOO studio in 2009. However, I had a contact with tattoo before – in high school. Since then I have been fascinated by this kind of art. In the 1990s, it was difficult to contact the phenomenon of professional tattooing in Polish realities. The main factor was age, lack of money, and a small amount of professional tattoo studios. In the 90s a tattoo made in a studio was a considerable expense. That’s why I was looking for cheaper ways to explore the subject of tattoo art. Probably some people still remember tattoos made with “innovative” rotary machines, made of a walkman motor and guitar strings 🙂 Anyway, I had a similar invention on which I took my first steps. I have several acquisitions from this period on my own skin. Then came the time for the first professional tattoo machines and I was slowly developing in this field.
I don’t remember exactly which tattoo was the first. Certainly the first tattoos were made on the skin of boys from the estate, homies from the band, etc. At the time, tattooing consisted mainly of copying designs from catalogs. Mainly there were tribals, butterflies, inscriptions, etc.
In fact, I was fascinated with the traditional tattoo from the very beginning, which in time focused on the neotraditional tattoo and I mainly tattooed in this style. Compositions with animals are my favorite theme 🙂 (I am a animal after all)
I think that man develops and learns throughout his life, that’s why I’m constantly looking for new themes, solutions, equipment. Currently, the tattoo market is colossally different from the one from 15-20 years ago. All improvements, ever better equipment, both for tattooing and designing, makes our work easier.
My attention should be focused on artists creating neotraditional works, but I do not limit myself to only one topic. I respect and admire many artists, not only associated with tattoo, but also with painting or architecture… The figure of Carravagia, his hyperrealism, technique and also his biography make a great impression on me. Gaudi’s architecture and his idea of innovation arouse my admiration. When it comes to tattooing, the space in my head occupy Spanish neotraditionalists. In Poland, focus my attention on the work of Fabian Staniec and Piotr Gie.
There are so many that it will be difficult for me to name a few, so I will leave this question unanswered.
Do you have any memorable tattoo story or a customer that has stuck with you through all the time you have been tattooing?
I once had a funny tattoo story. It was during one of the guestspots in Norway. A client, an old lady, told me the story of her cat, whose portrait I was of course tattooed. The cat came to her from friends from the US. For three hours she told the same story in which she constantly woven new threads: Indians, Indian pipes, spells, magic and of course cats 🙂 It was so strange and surprising that I will never forget it 🙂 One story with a million threads and one little cat. Fear to think what would happen if the tattoo lasted longer.
Is there any art form that fascinates you also except tattooing? Maybe do you have any other passion or something that you really enjoy doing?
I used to be fascinated by sculpture. I’m talking about a classic look at this kind of art. Especially stone sculpture. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to be able to realize myself in this type of art. It happened that I make smaller forms in clay and later make various types of casts, gypsum metal imitations, etc. I am a conservator of monuments with education, hence contact with the subject in this matter.
Of course, tattoo conventions are always present on my calendar. Mainly those from our yard due to clients from Poland. I happen to visit European ones too. Certainly conventions are a very good place to meet new artists: exchange of experiences and meetings with tattooists, studies, etc. From Polish conventions I can reccomend Tattoofest in Krakow, Warsaw Tattoo Convention organized by Junorink and Azazel and Tattoo Conventions organized among others by Marcin Paczesny. If someone was looking for impressions, I recommend the London Tattoo Convention.
I used to have a plan and a list of people I would like a tattoo for. Over time, it changed a bit. Now it is more spontaneous. There is still some space left. We’ll see what time it brings. I have several tattoos from Edek (drinkingnectar) in his old style 🙂 I have a large composition from Bartek Panas, Viatalia and many others from prehistory 🙂
Well. I will probably continue tattooing as my health permits me and will continue to live with my family in a gingerbread city. Or I’ll get out of Poland to some warmer corners of Europe. I do not make far-reaching plans, the last time has shown that you need to focus what is here and now. However, there are a lot of dreams to come true and I don’t give up on them.
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