interview with tattoo artist Nicke Wencel

  Hello Nicke Wencel! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. What intrigued you to start tattooing? Do you have any artistic background? To be honest, I was broke and didn't have a job. I needed to get some cash and did some odd jobs just to get by. Then I met a local tattoo artist who saw some of my drawings, (I went to an art school for 3 years so I used to draw a lot) and she thought that I should give tattooing a chance, so I did. With a premium china kit and some highly toxic inks and two oranges that's how I started my career.

Q: What was the most interesting part of becoming a tattoo artist? Was it hard to learn the basics?
A: The most interesting part was when I found out that there was a whole culture and community behind tattooing, which I had no idea for the first few years, and I fell in love with that part. Learning tattooing is extremely hard. I still learn every day, and it's always important to push your limits and experiment with your skills.

Q: What type of art outside tattooing do you like the most?
A: Music of course. All music that's created with the love of music, instead of money and image is inspiring to me, the same way tattoo artists who create for the love of tattoos and not money and image. I have many artists that influence me, but they are too many to list here.

Q: How much your style changed over the years?
A: In the beginning I did everything, all styles and I sucked at everything. After I started working in a shop and there were a couple of guys and it was easier to divide the jobs to a preferred style, I realized that black & grey realism was my thing. I would call my style anything different than black & grey realism, but I use to describe it as dark black & grey with high contrasts, I love to use double exposition in the designs.

Q: How lond does it take to finish a portrait tattoo?
A: The time spend on the tattoo always differ, because of different skin types, details in the photo, background and so on. But usually around 6-7 hours. The most challenging part is always the composition of the tattoo, especially if the client wants a sleeve, then you really have to make all the pieces flow together and follow the body, make sure you have your light sources right.

Q: I love how you mix more than just one photo in one final design. Really creative. Do you collaborate with your clients on ideas, do you accept reference images or you prefer the design to be your own, unique creation?
A: Thank you! Usually the client have some form of idea and I try to incorporate more then one image in the design, but there has been times when the clients have good reference photos that makes it possible to use their images in the designs, but it all comes down to the elements of the picture. If it's the right angles, light sources and resolution.

Q: What reaction from your clients makes you happy after the session?
A: Every time someone says "It's better than I expected!". What did they expect? Did they have low expectations? Or high? Anyway, that makes me happy.

Q: How important to strive for progress?
A: It's the key to become a better artist! If you start to slow down and relax you'll never reach higher levels of your creative knowledge. I try to challenge myself everyday. I always try to do more advanced tattoos and experiment with techniques.

Q: I've seen many great artists from Sweden. What's your opinion about the local scene?
A: Oh yes. Sweden is a perfect place for tattooing. We have good cold climate, not so much sun and pale people. I think that's why black & grey is so big here. And also the Swedish people love getting tattoos. We have some great artists entering the international tattoo scene, which I'm very happy about.

Q: Back tattoos and other big pieces can take more than just one session, do you remember the longest session?
A: Yes, haha they usually take several sessions. But it's a process in itself and it's really great to watch the piece grow and come together. There was a back piece "The mafia" back piece that took around 50-60 hours, done in 8-9 weeks. That was intense.

Q: Meeting new people and forming new friendships is very important for one artist. Do you travel and work as a guest artist around Europe or even farther?
A: Oh indeed. It's very important for every tattoo artist to travel and learn from other artists, just to become a more versatile artist yourself. Except conventions all over the world, I also try to attend seminars, guest spots and just visit other inspirational artists.

Q: Advice for the new artists?
A: There are no shortcuts. Hard work and dedication is the only way to a long lasting career. Make priorities and stay focused.