Photo above by Kamila Burzymowska
Tomasz TOFI Torfiński
I’ve been tattooing for about 20 years so far. I’ve started coincidently at the age of 19. After I’ve got my first tattoo done by my friend since that time I realized it’s something I would like to do. As my career problem was I couldn’t draw so I just started to learn. Basically, since day one I got my first tips from my classmate regarding tools and techniques (he’s been already an amazing comic book artist). After high school, I have decided to reach for academic knowledge in art school so I decided to sign myself into art education Studies. After the first year, I started an apprenticeship in my local tattoo studio in my hometown Rybnik. There was no artistic background in my family as far as my memory tells me so I’ve been the first one. I wanted to prove myself in my own environment that is reasonable and doable just based on the vision and ambitions led me to my current position.
Of course, I do remember. It has been a joker face on the shoulder done on my friend the one who did my first tattoo on me at my age of 17. He asked me to be the first customer of mine just because of the old history of him doing a tattoo for me. It meant a lot for me and was really symbolic to start my tattoo career this way. I really appreciate this opportunity from him.
The current title style I represent is surrealism based on my own 3-D designs created in 3-D software based on my own custom drawings, ideas and concepts. Basically I just mixed all of the styles I’ve been using for years of my career and blended them in the way it helps me to express myself on the level that nothing limits me anymore. That was the idea since the beginning of my educational process. Since the beginning of my tattooing, I’ve been using realism as my main tool in my style on the skin at the same time I’ve been drawing a lot of my own ideas. So in the end I just mixed both of those techniques together so you can see the essence of my skills in my current portfolio. It has been changed all over those years but the atmosphere of my works remains the same. Just the style of expression became more realistic and includes more depth as well with form and meaning. At this point in my carrier, my goal of designing is to create clean readable forms with high contrast and vivid colors. Obviously with the unnatural scaling that has been my significant element for ages that will be even more expanded in the future.
Of course, there’s plenty of things that inspire me. Recently I tried to be my own inspiration mainly because I don’t want to be compared to any other artist. I want to offer my customers my own unique point of view for techniques, stories, subjects. In the past, I’ve been inspired by painters, sculptors, and a large number of tattoo artists from around the world. One day I realize that choosing my own path and working in my own shoes is going to work for the second part of my career. So at this point whenever I stuck artistically I’ll try to remind myself of my best artistic solutions subjects and color schemes I’ve used before and try to be inspired by that. Also, my biggest inspiration is the waves of popularity in the tattoo industry the only difference is that I want to go in the opposite direction than that,. I want to offer my own thing in the ocean of brainless copying. I want to be honest with my customers but trust me and rely on me with my daily designing and tattooing process. I want to give them the best part of me because it means a lot for me when I get the blank canvas to cover together with complete freedom regarding the tattoo size and form.
At this point, there are many artists that inspire me but there are different things I admire. For example, AD Pancho which his whole career looks brilliant and is a perfect example of motivation and technical perfection. There’s also Kamil Mocet that artistically kills most of the tattoo industry at this moment and the way he creates his own rules in this game inspired me a lot,. There’s guy Aitchison that is a visionary artist created one of the biggest tattoo movements in history which are biomechanical. Also, his educational part of career inspired me a lot in my own seminars and the way I create my style and try to develop its peak. Another one is Robert Hernandez which is a living legend who stepped over entire industry years back created his own way of expression on the skin that nobody did before. It belongs to him even there were many copies of his style in the game that didn’t survive that much till present times. So as you can see those are my inspirations in completely different elements puzzle pieces I am inspired by and I use the best solutions for my career.
Do you have any memorable tattoo story or a customer that has stuck with you through all the time you have been tattooing?
There’s the first part of this answer that was my biggest milestone in the career it was developing the 3-D designing years back. Of course, I didn’t develop that entirely but being the pioneer in this Field in tattoo industry was my biggest success through the entire career. It helped me completely to redevelop my way of expression style and form of my artworks and it completely changed the way I saw things before as well as things that were about to happen.
The second part of the story begins around five years ago in London. I’ve been guest spotting at Kamil’s studio and I’ve met my customer that has the appointment for forearm tattoo. After the session, he asked me to get his bodysuit tattoo completed. Within the years at this point, we are about to complete his composition and is going to be the most important work I’ve ever done. I’ve been able to complete his entire body with my own custom design compositions that describe me completely. I’m totally grateful for him for trust and giving me the blank paper to cover his entire body without even telling me one single subject to realize. So basically I was the one choosing the subjects and form of his upcoming pieces so far. Is the most advanced artistically work I’ve ever done. Basically is easy to mention that as well of my most important works.
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?
Yes of course since high school I’m interested in electronica drum and bass music as a listener. And recently I started to take classes about how to produce drum and bass music as a side activity. It’s just one of the few things I promised myself to learn in the future and the future is now so I just started. It’s just basically beginning but I’m super happy to learn new things and new tools the way I did before with 3-D stuff. The only difference is I don’t want to do it professionally just for fun. From time to time I’m gonna add my own soundtrack for YouTube movies on my channel. Another thing is snowboarding. I started to learn last year and it became my passion as well. Of course, riding at the basic level is all I need to have fun and sort of adrenaline.
Yes, of course, I do! This is a part of my professional road and I really enjoyed it even if I did already around 300 of them. It’s still not enough because it’s a place to meet friends, exchange the knowledge, experience, and get inspired the way I did in the beginning without social media thing. I really enjoy that I can judge the life quality of the best tattoo artists and compare it to the Internet portfolios. This is also a good place to meet completely new artists’ upcoming stars! Just shake their hands, congratulate talent, and wish all the best in the carrier. I enjoy a lot meeting my idols and spending time with them enjoying conversations about art life and tattooing. It’s really inspired me a lot and honestly, I want to do as many conventions as possible. Choosing the best ones of this moment forme are London Brussels Krakow Warsaw Hong Kong etc.
Also, like judging on the conventions so that from the point of you I’m able to see directly what is the life quality after toes done on the date of the event. Of course, I’m tired of doing around 25 a year last year’s. But with the proper reduction is going to be super fun again plus we are limited at the moment because of the pandemic. Cause of which I really hope that we’re gonna go back to perfect shape all the conventions and the way I started visiting them. I hope to see a lot of passion again and tattoo enthusiasts which I saw at the beginning of my career. Unfortunately recently the tattoo scene has changed and became less inspiring during last year’s than it used to be before. Hopefully, everything will change for the better. From this place, I would like to thank you for this interview and the opportunity to share my thoughts I wish you all the best to see you guys in the future.
At this moment I have a break of tattooing. With age came quite annoying when it comes to pain but my future plan is to get a back piece by Doktore Tattoo. He used to be one of my students and recently opened his own shop that I’m super proud of. I’m not in a rush and I know that one day we’re gonna do it. Currently, I am super focused on my own stuff designing and my own ideas transferring them on the skin. Having fun and enjoying being in such a wonderful industry that helps me to express myself.
At this point in my life actually all of my plants and dreams came true. I’m super happy to be on the position the way I am I’m the owner of a big tattoo studio that contains a lot of talents and super nice artists to cooperate with. Training them and watching the way they raise up with the quality of the tattoos and self-consciousness is priceless. No matter what, I will always have the power to share my knowledge for younger artists to exchange ideas and motivations. Hopefully, nothing will change within the next 10 years. I just want to realize a lot of personal art projects on the stage of tattoo to cooperate with organizers of the conventions. I want to share my knowledge during seminars. Hopefully, within 10 years the industry won’t change that much as it did within the last 10 years. In my opinion, it became too rapid and dynamic. We lost a lot of value especially when it comes to art. Also, tattoo conventions don’t represent the same energy as they used to before. So hopefully, within the next 10 years things are gonna change and we’re going to go back to the track again. When all goes good in the next 10 years I will be able to go to the retirement from full-time tattooing and focus mostly on teaching and art movements around the tattoo. Thank you very much.
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