Interview with Chris Yze

  Hello Chris Yze! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. What got you interested in tattoo art? My name is Chris, I am 24 years old, and I was born in Greece in a small town called Amfissa. My passion for tattooing started when I would watch the reality show Miami Ink. I found it interesting, so I wanted to explore tattooing more. At that time, I met my friends Tony and George, who were already tattooing. They noticed my interest and decided to help introduce me to it further.

Q: How old you were when you did you very first tattoo? What it was and how was the feeling?
A: I started tattooing at the age of thirteen, and my first tattoo was a small letter on a friend that I did with a homemade tattoo machine. I was very excited and curious about how it would turn out, but I ended up disappointed because it didn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to be. I thought it would be easier than expected, but it was tough, and I needed a lot of time and practice to perfect the skill.

It’s not an easy skill, but with practice and a lot of time and dedication, it got easier. I used to not sleep at night when I didn’t reach my goal of making a good tattoo, but with that, I kept trying my hardest to improve my experience level.

- What type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner?
I used to do easy stuff like letters, writings, stars, and line work.

Q: You are doing probably the most difficult style out there - tattoo realism. Every tattoo in your portfolio looks amazing, especially the back piece tattoos. Why realism, what do you like the most about this style?
A: I like realism because it is harder to do, and I like challenges. It was undoubtedly the hardest to start, but I admired realism with how you could take something from a picture and put it on the skin, especially when tattooing meaningful portraits for others.

Q: How long took you to master this style, technically and even creatively, because I believe every tattoo is a unique masterpiece?
A: It took me 4-5 years to master this style. I am now on 11 years of tattooing, and I look forward to the journey ahead pursuing my passion.

Q: We talk precise work here, even the smallest mistake can do a lot of "harm." How long does it take to finish a big tattoo like a back piece?
A: For me, it depends on the size of the person's back and how many details they want on the back piece. On average, it will take usually 4-6 sessions.

- Since it's only black and gray, do you take a few sessions?
Those white highlights... Sometimes need an extra time and clients usually feel extra tired.

Q: I think you will be great in color tattooing as well. Ever thought to experiment a little?
A: Yes, I have already experimented with color. I usually add the color to the tattoos when requested. I’ve done that when I do tattoos of lions, tigers, or other animal tattoos. What I’ll do is I’ll add a hint of color to the eyes to stand out. If someone comes in asking about colored tattoos, I’ll do it, but I would prefer to keep my work black and gray at the moment. I have yet to do an entire colored piece, but maybe sometime in the future, I will pursue the idea.

Q: Sometimes clients want that hyper realistic look, but often they want some interesting details as a decorative elements. I think this can make the final look even more interesting. How do you create your designs? Do you draw for your clients before the session?
A: Before I book my appointments, I like to have a reference from my clients. After that, most of the time, I’ll start searching for creative ideas to help inspire my design, and then I’ll begin to create my design. I like to use Photoshop for creating a design. It helps with the result with the excellent quality pictures details on the skin, and to have it already saved when I meet with the client. It also makes things easier to start fixing or adding things to the design at the client's request.

Q: I absolutely love the portrait tattoos. I guess these are the most challenging tattoos to do. It's not only the right proportions, but also the good placement and main characteristics of the person... Really, really good! Do you have any favorite portrait you did?
A: I have many favorite portraits, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be the Breaking Bad character I did recently.

- What details take a lot of time to work on?
The shading takes a lot of time because you must blend and match the color tones in the picture. It usually will take 5-6 hours to perfect the shading.

Q: Sometimes people are indecisive or can change their mind. Do you have any rules on this just to save time and energy?
A: I'm very patient, so I’ll take my time helping until we find the perfect tattoo for them since they’ll have this forever on their body. If they’re still not sure after the day, I’ll give them the option to make a new appointment, and they’ll pay a small fee for the day's work of the original appointment, but this rarely happens.

Q: I think nowadays young, aspiring artists have a lot more opportunities if they want to try getting into professional tattooing. We have seminars, great educational videos, the tattoo conventions are a great way to meet fellow artists and learn a lot. Do you agree?
A: Yes, these days, it’s much easier to become a tattoo artist. The tattoo machines now are better quality, and social media is a good access point to search for “how to” videos to do your research. Also, tattoo conventions are a great way to meet others who have been in the industry for a while, and this could help them build connections to ask for guidance or even build inspiration in them. With educational videos, YouTube, or other platforms, they can be helpful but don’t expect to learn quickly with them. It still needs some time to learn and increase your skillset, but yes, they have access to all these things around the world, and that’s truly amazing for the newer generations of tattoo artists.

Q: How often do you visit tattoo conventions and do you have something planned for the upcoming months?
A: I've been visiting more tattoo conventions since the pandemic is over. My last convention was in November in Florence, Italy. Then, in the upcoming months, I have one tattoo convention in France that I’m looking forward to.

Q: What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist? What this journey taught you about yourself?
A: I like that I’m doing something that I love, and I can express myself by creating new/unique pieces all the time. I like that it never stops growing my skills, and it’s always something new with the ideas brought forward by clients to where you’re never bored. I feel the journey taught me patience and to trust the process, and you need that, especially in this industry. I don’t rush anything and know that I have a gift for tattooing.

Q: You are also an award winning artist! Congratulations! Totally deserved. Do you have any favorite and how much this means to you and inspires you to push forward?
A: I liked my last reward at the Italy convention because everything was going wrong, and there were challenges always coming up, like delayed planes and check-in issues with Airbnb. In the end, it felt more appreciated and valued because I had to overcome a lot of obstacles in my path to get it. Also, the convention didn’t have categories, so I competed against many artists with different styles. This made things more intimidating because there are so many unique styles and talented artists worldwide to show fantastic work. Going against many artists of various styles at a big convention and placing was a proud achievement.

Q: Where are you currently located? Do you have any free dates for booking?
A: Right now, I’m in Germany, and I don’t have any free dates. I usually like to keep my calendar booked in advance. If interested, I can be available within 2-3 months. I want to keep myself booked because I enjoy doing my guest spots.

Q: A few words for those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: Do outstanding research beforehand and invest much time in it and your drawing skills. Be humble and patient, and I assure you the time will pay off.