interview with tattoo artist Tomek Kolucki

 Hello Tomek Kolucki! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and how did you end up doing tattoos? Was it like a dream job, or it happened by accident? I’m Tomek and I’m from Poland, I work in Ink-Ognito. Our studio is located in Rybnik, a Silesian city near Katowice. My journey began in 2015 when I met Tofi and got around his studio. My friend, Karol Rybakowski, had been tattooing for quite a while before that and introduced me to Tofi, who had already been a very established artist and owned the studio, stating that if I show him my portfolio and he likes it, he might like to take me under his wings and teach me some stuff. That’s how it actually began and soon I started out as an apprentice at his studio. When I got around Tofi’s approach to hiring people I didn’t think too long. For him it was important to have potential to work out some style of one’s own. Any lack of experience or connections didn’t really matter. It was a perfect situation for me as I was just about to defend my degree in illustration.

Q: Was it hard to learn the basics?
A: The beginning was hard for me mostly because of the new gear I was supposed to work with. I kept telling myself that it’s a matter of getting used to the tattoo machine, it was really frustrating, but I wanted to practice so I could find it easier and easier with time. The creative process was nothing new to me on the other hand, I was only supposed to deal with adjusting my designs to human’s anatomy instead of just a piece of paper. I was very lucky to be part of Ink-Ognito in the first place. If you are motivated and have potential, there’s always a place for you. As for my mentor, it definitely is Tofi himself, and also most of the other tattoo artists that worked with us as well.

Q: You have very unique style. It's almost like a portfolio of a graphic designer. Did you feel inspired by someone?
A: I’m actually a trained graphic designer. My style is a mixture of what inspires me, book illustrations, comic books, manga, posters, designs, music album covers, everything more “graphic”. Graphic design and illustration have both always been my favorite fields of art.

Q: What is more important formal art training or hard work?
A: I think both are very important. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. My parents were educated as art historians, my mom and grandfather are also art teachers. Since I was 14 I was sure that I’d eventually go to an art high school. After that I went to Academy of Fine Arts In Katowice and completed my first degree of studying, that also followed with my enrollment in the second degree, what in the end overlapped with a growing career as a tattooist. I had to give something up in favor of the other.

Q: I don't see many black and white tattoos. Do you feel more comfortable with color tattooing or that's what your clients want from you?
A: I was always more fond of exaggerated, colorful and cartoon-like vibes. I also like darker stuff, but still, colorful, vibrant and at times psychedelic illustrations is what brings me the most fun. I think it shows in my works and probably also leads clients coming back for such designs.

Q: Being creative all day, can be hard at times. Do you have some moments when you feel like you need some time off, but you got to give your best every day. What you do then?
A: I take inspirations out of everything around me. If I stumble upon a creative block, I drop everything and rest until I feel fresh. I suppose being creative and able to learn constantly is an ongoing concept with this kind of work and all of its aspects.

Q: Do you collaborate with your clients on ideas? Are you willing to do any design or there are some you simply won't do?
A: Sometimes clients want to have their call on a given design and I tend to be ok with that, as long as it’s not overwhelming. I won’t go further with a concept or project that I’d think is bad or would look weird. Most of my clients bring just a topic or a vague idea and let me to do whatever I feel good about, this is how I like the most.


Q: I'm so in love with your style to the point that if I was you, I wouldn't change anything, just keep pushing forward, building my portfolio, or maybe illustrate a childrens book... But I know every artist want progress. Do you have any goals?
A: Thanks for the kind words. It’s quite funny, it was exactly graphic designing, illustrating books and comic books, that would be my initial goal. I saw myself as a graphic designer for a magazine, making posters and album covers. It turned upside down when I started out with tattooing. I’d love to go back to doing different things, too. Out of lack of time it’s been moved aside obviously. I want to learn as much as I can. Not really sure where I will go next, but it will definitely be centered around that same vibe. I’d also want to better myself at employing darker themes, maybe start doing more projects based heavily on lines.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a tattoo artist?
A: I get to do exactly what I like to do. I always wanted just that. Besides, I got to see a lot around the world. The job itself is pretty flexible! If I’m tired I can slow down and just work at the studio in my hometown for a few months. If I get bored I can set up some guest spots and travel. It’s really amazing.

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: Draw as much as you can, don’t copy others and definitely just do what you love.