interview with Mariusz Romanowicz by iva kancheska 25/02/2014

Hello Mariusz Romanowicz! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers.
Please start by telling us a little about yourself, how you got into tattooing? Are you self-taught?


Q: To be honest, when I first saw your works I was really amazed by your talent. I love every tattoo in your portfolio. From old school to amazing custom portrait tattoos, really cool. Do you have any favorite tattoo style?
A: Thank you very much. To be honest I don’t have favorite style. I’m trying not to stick to any particular one, cause it takes away a joy of tattooing. Every style is based on different technique, composition and coloring rules and this variety pushes me into more creative work. The most important is that I’m not focused on being an artist. I believe that tattooing is not only an art but also a craft, hence we should be able to fulfill our clients expectations. Professionalism in this job means that you can adapt to your customers needs by diversity of your ideas, skills and designs. Sometimes it means that you have to make step out of your comfort zone and do something different that you don’t do on daily basis – that would be old school in my case. I prefer putting myself in this challenging situations than enforcing style which is comfortable for me and my clients.

- Would you say that color tattoos are your specialty? What are the most important details in portrait tattooing?
Color is definitely not my specialty. To be honest I feel more comfortable with black and gray tattoos maybe because I started my art work with drawings. When it comes to color tattoos I have to flash not only on composition but also on hues, tones etc. It obviously requires more intellectual and physical input.

The most important details in portrait tattooing are proportions and chiaroscuro. You also have to decide what is the best kind of composition for particular tattoo: static ( which is most common for memorabilia tattoos such as family members portraits) or dynamic (used f.ex. in action movies characters tattoos).

Q: Tattooing is very creative work. What's your biggest inspiration?
A: I’m looking for inspiration in every single day. Sometimes it’s random view from a window, other times it’s picture in newspaper. I’m trying not to glance through too many tattoo pictures though, cause every single photo of tattoo work leaves a mark in me, which may unconsciously become a copy in the future. Inspirations are everywhere – in Art and every-day reality.

Q: Custom work is something that sets you apart from many tattoo artists out there. Could you please explain me the making process?
A: The beginning is always client's idea, that’s why it’s so important for me at this stage to get as many information and details as possible. I ask what is the background of the concept etc. When the theme is already settled, we’re choosing the actual placement of the tattoo on clients body, we’re picking up style and deciding if the tattoo piece should be colored or black and grey. Then I’m looking for suitable references which are a base for overall handmade or photoshop sketch. Afterwards I’m creating simple stencil which is then transferred on the skin. At this point the best and most creative tattoo process begins. This is the time when you have to make many decisions about – colors, chiaroscuro, lines thickness etc. I never rely on detailed project. Project for me is just boundary. Most of the job is made when I take tattoo machine into my hand and start to work on the client skin. I prefer this kind of process cause many things are coming out during face to face meeting with the client that you can’t predict. F.ex. I could spend many hours preparing project that consists of different yellow color shades but all my efforts will come to nothing if my clients complexion will turn out as dark one. That’s why crucial decisions are made after face to face meeting and long conversation.

- Are you always supportive to your client's idea, or there are some designs that you simply don't want to tattoo, let's say a ready-made flash design?
I never use ready – made flash designs. With all due respect to my customers, but I often refuse to tattoo clients projects. It’s simply because tattoo composition has specific guidelines. In that cases I’m trying to keep customers theme but bring in my own composition idea. Most certainly I don’t tattoo symbols that have any kind of anti – Semitic,hatred, racist or violence connotations.

Q: What are the most common requirements from your customers?
A: Recently common themes are: angels, death and evanescence. Flower compositions are still popular as well as evergreens such as portraits, demons, dark characters and skulls.

Q: Where are you based now? Please feel free to share some basic info about the shop you're working in.
A: After six years of cooperation with Rock’n’Ink Tattoo Studio in Cracow I decided to set up my own studio in beautiful city called Bielsko-Biala situated nearby the mountains (100km from Cracow) which I am going to run with my girlfriend Agnieszka, who is jewelry maker. Studio will be called Inkspiracy – Art & Tattoo Gallery. We are going to put an emphasis on the word “gallery” – cause it’s going to be a place where you can not only get the tattoo but also enjoy amazing pieces of art related to tattoo world. We’re going to exhibit our friends art pieces such as paintings, graphics, drawings, photos etc. We would love to show our customers that there are various aspects of tattoo art.

Q: Getting a tattoo could be painful at times, especially on some extra sensitive parts of the body. How do you usually cheer up your clients when they are afraid to get tattooed?
A: I don’t do this at all. I always warn my customers that it’s going to be rather painful experience. I’m focused on working very quick and intense which eventually makes their suffering shorter. I never try to calm them down cause they should be aware of unpleasantness of tattoo process. Nowadays you can find photos of young tattooed people almost everywhere (models, celebrities). Tattoos commonness makes that ordinary clients forget that tattooing is a painful pleasure. I’m trying to remind them this before tattooing.

- Any crazy/funny experiences on your mind, that you want to share with us? hah
Interesting and funny situation happened two years ago when I become Bob Wayne's assistant at well-known The Tattoo Boat Convention in Sweden. Bob was doing his first tattoo ever, and I was honored to supervise this process. Tattoo was made on convention organizer – Kristian. One year later we’ve met all together again and we were admiring this piece. Bob admitted that playing country music is easier occupation.

Q: Sometimes people share their life stories with their tattoo artists. Have you ever learned something about life, after listening to your client's story?
A: Yes, I’ve learned a lot from my clients. I often listen to extraordinary stories which would be normally hard to believe in, but if my clients are in big pain for many hours it would be difficult for them to made up anything. At least I believe them hehe Sorry but I can’t share them, they’re confidential just like medical secrets.

- Btw. What reaction from a client makes you happy after finishing the tattoo? Are there any tears of happiness? hehe
Of course tears of happiness happens from time to time. But for me the best reaction is when after finished job I can see my customers looking at their new tattoo in the mirror – I can see happiness in their eyes but they’re usually too tired for a smile. They’re very surprised with the final result. As I said before my stencils are very basic so final result is kind of surprise. They’re excited about how few guide lines can turn into detailed tattoo.

Q: So far, do you enjoy your work? What's your biggest challenge?
A: After almost 20 years of tattooing I still enjoy it. I have to admit that the beginning of the work – preparation process is rather boring but as soon as I take tattoo machine into my hands I always find my rhythm, peace and happiness. My actual biggest challenge is my studio: getting fruitful cooperation with my customers and achieving nice atmosphere. Visiting USA one day and opportunity to make a few tattoos there would be big challenge either.

Q: Any advice to the people that are just starting out their careers?
A: I guess it’s easier to start tattooing nowadays than 15,20 years ago. Modern facilities such as: millions of pictures on the Internet, online tutorials etc. make education process shorter than before. My piece of advice would be that you have to remember that tattooing comes with a price…you have to sacrifice almost everything to achieve decent level: private life, time, energy, family - therefore making a decision about tattooing should be well - considered.

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e-mail: inkspiracy@gmail.com