I know exactly when my tattoo career started. I was getting my first tattoo at a friend's house in Hungary. I was sitting in the chair watching how the ink penetrated into my skin. This was the moment when I decided to give this profession a shot. I looked around for anybody I thought could help me out. Finally I found someone. He gave me a few hours demonstration and I bought one of his homemade tattoo machine and a power supply. The most valuable information he provided was the addresses of tattoo supply companies all over the world. I picked one of them and made my first order.
I made my first tattoo in 1994 on a really drunk guy in a rather smoky, bad looking pub on the rural side of Budapest. After that, I started to screw up every volunteer's skin around me for free. There was no one who could help me out with professional technique. I had to rely on careful observation, trial and error and experimenting. I learned as I went. I made all the mistakes -- at least once -- as you can image. But first of all I learned what NOT to do and it showed me the path to the right way.To develop every little piece of knowledge this way takes a very long time. However, the good thing is you can establish what you are or can be, because you don't learn the art of tattooing through someone else's eyes and methods. Another positive result for this long, tiring and sometimes depressing way of improving is that you are not forced to tattoo in someone else's way. You set up your working area as you think best fits your requirements. You set up the way you want to work. The tough part is you are the only one you can blame for mistakes.
At first, tattooing was a hobby kind a thing for me. I didn't spend too much time in tattoo shops like "professional artist". I was a draft beer inspector working for the Heineken Company for way too long. But at last, what was in my blood began to win. Tattooing started as a hobby and grew into a profession, not just a job. And now, luckily, I belong to that group of guys who do what they really enjoy, and do it for living. I am creating something on someone else's skin for life, and in most cases, making them and myself happy at the same time. I need to produce a high quality of work constantly, correct my errors and get closer to perfection and the upper limit of my knowledge and ability.
My style is mostly realism, like portraits, pin ups, wild life and so on, but I love designing tribal and biomechanical pieces and all kinds of fantasy and nonfigurative stuff. They are simple yet good looking and I have a lot of fun from the beginning of the design to the finished tattoo. I always design these tattoos individually according to the concept and placement. Tribal pieces require more patience during the procedure and a different kind of attention to technical knowledge compared to other styles. They are kind of relaxing pieces between two big realistic pieces, and I love how they twist and disappear and reappear.
I'm a big lover of huge multi sessions with large size images, mostly black and white. I guess my customers don't share this opinion. They hate me after 5-6 hours of continuous work. I can't imagine why! :-)
I am a slave to my admiration for reproductions of paintings. I just simply love them. Likewise, I love a well composed, complex, multi-arranged sleeve or back piece. But custom pieces require TIME. I take my time developing a drawing, but you must realize it takes at least as much time to create something on paper from scratch as it does to apply it to skin. This is the really hard and time consuming part of a tattoo for me. To put the right shape in the right spot with the right values and right highlights can be difficult. Like every kind of creative effort, it can be easy and fun, but also causes me suffering and inconvenience as well. After all of this, putting it on the skin is always the fun part...at least for me.
I consider myself to be a custom tattoo artist. Therefore, I create most of the tattoos for specific individuals. It means I'm trying to include a bit of the customer's personality into the tattoo if I can. I usually don't do the same tattoo twice.I'd rather take the time to design a different one. This is time consuming, yes. But it sharpens my drawing skills and keeps the creative half of my mind trained. I really like those pieces that give you not only visual satisfaction but a little contentment behind the scene. I prefer customers who have a particular idea in mind because that works on me like a kick start on a bike; but, I need freedom in my creation if you want a real nice piece. Bird can't fly with bars around them either.
I have the drive for perfection and a bit of talent as well, but definitely the will to improve and learn. As Geothe said "Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration." We constantly have to look for and find the form and color for perfect composition and harmony. We may never reach it, but we have to do our best.