Interview with Dimitris Panagopoulos | Realism | Greece 24/01/2022

 Hello Dimitris Panagopoulos! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dimitris Panagopoulos, I am 23 years old and I’m from Patras, town in Greece.

Q: How you got into tattooing? Was it difficult to learn the basic skills?
A: I started when I was 17 years old when I was BMXing at the time and some of my friends had some knock off machines and tattooed each other, thought it was fun but when I saw a time-lapse video of a portrait of a professional tattoo artist which I don't remember his exact name, I was stunned by it and I wanted to do something like that and start tattooing on my own. Never saw any tattooing up close. Self taught with no guidance, just YouTube videos and creativity!

- How long took you to gain confidence in your work and regular clients?
At first I started tattooing my friends from high school so at that time it was just like experimenting, after a year or two it was harder to gain confidence because of my young looks, people were hesitant, but the work spoke for itself after a while and I didn't have any problems after that.

Q: Every start is difficult, what was the most challenging part of becoming a tattoo artist?
A: Getting people to trust me with their skin for a permanent work and actually reaching my goal, to learn more about tattooing and explore more skills, techniques and not to limit myself.

- What kept you motivated?
Challenging myself was a thing, I always strived to do, before I started tattooing I was a BMX rider at a good level at a really young age, anything I get myself into I give a lot of patience and love and it always paid off. I think that is what motivates me on a significant level. My love for the art in general and especially for tattooing kept me involved as well as motivated.

Q: What type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner? Would you re-do some of them?
A: The aim and first step is to learn the fundamentals. I tried doing everything that includes line. After the line I practised a lot shading. After that, I saw a video of a portrait in YouTube and it was love at first sight. That time I knew what I wanted to do. Every tattoo for me is a new challenge and I will happily redo anything similar if the client wants me to.

Q: Seems like the hard work really paid off. I really love what I see in your portfolio. Is tattoo realism as a style something that you will stick by? What do you like the most about this style?
A: Thanks a lot. I’ve really worked hard until now. My aim was always realism and I will definitely stick on it, but I’m also a person who love challenges, so who knows?

Q: Black and white tattooing is very cool, especially working on big projects and portraits. What are the most challenging parts to work on while doing a portrait tattoo of a human?
A: The face proportions can be extremely challenging because it has to be perfect and the part of the body that the client will choose is challenging as well. Also, most of them are a significant person in the clients life and it’s a sensitive matter and it’s one more reason that it needs to be perfect.

Q: Many say color tattooing is more difficult (technically) but what are the main difficulties you face when it comes to black and white tattooing?
A: Every tattoo style has its own difficulties. The problem in Greece is that the skins are darker and not that good because of the sun and it makes it difficult to work the shading.

- Do you do cover tattoos? If so, how difficult is to play around with the old tattoo and try to cover it with a new design?
I do cover ups but not so often. It depends on the size. I like sometimes doing dark tattoos but it’s not always possible. A cover up tattoo is very restricted and we don’t have much space to play around.

Q: Tattooing is a very precise job, it requires patience and technical skills. It's like it's expected to deliver perfection, especially when it comes to tattoo realism. You have very little room for any mistakes. How do you feel before a session when you know there is a big project (back piece or a sleeve) that is so complicated and detailed?
A: It’s very challenging and I devote a lot of time to study the design and how I will work on the skin. How to balance everything. To make the contrast and the shading stay "strong" after many years.

- What was the longest tattoo session? How do you cheer up your client and yourself too?
I'm working generally a lot of hours in a single session. I'd say around 8-10 hours. We have a lot of fun, most of the times. We are discussing about different matters, we joke around but I still remain focused at my work and in the end we are both happy with the result.

Q: I bet you will say that you love all tattoos you did for your clients, but is there any favorite piece that you did recently? A tattoo that was like leveling up creatively and technically?
A: Of course I love all of my tattoos because every one of them is a one piece of me. I recently did a back piece of a female body that is bonded with the roots of a tree. It was a very technical piece because of the many different contrasts and I had to be fully concentrated and balance everything so as to remain clear and dominant.

Q: How important is to keep an open mind and collaborate with your clients when it comes to tattoo ideas? Do you use some reference images? Tell me more about the creative process before the tattoo session.
A: I devote a lot of time to discuss the idea and the meaning of the tattoo with my clients. Sometimes I use reference as well yes. Most of the time, I suggest my ideas and we discuss the perspectives and maybe do some changes. They tell me also what they are thinking and we end up finding the perfect solution somewhere in the middle. My customers trust me and I never had a problem.

Q: And when they see their tattoo finally done... ah! What reaction from a client makes you happy and content?
A: When I see the smile on their faces. That’s my biggest motivation and that keeps me hungry to carry on. It’s the ultimate satisfaction.

Q: What are the best parts of being a tattoo artist and what are some of the most challenging ones?
A: The most challenging part and most difficult at the same time is that lots of people share personal bad memories and it’s affecting. The best part I would say is that you are doing something that stays forever and the person has to trust you for it. Their smile and happiness about my work is “the cherry on the pie.”

- Would you change something?
I wouldn’t change anything. I love tattooing just the way it is with its ups and downs.

Q: Congratulations on the tattoo awards! Totally deserved! How much this acknowledgement of your talent keeps you motivated? Do you have any favorite?
A: It’s very important for me and keeps me hyped and motivated. Behind those tattoo awards is hiding my hard work and the many hours I’ve spent in studio. My favourite award was the one at the Amsterdam convention because it was my first “tattoo convention” abroad trip. I earned the first place in the black and grey category and that gave me a lot of satisfaction.

Q: How are you doing during these two years of constant uncertainty and lockdowns? How the pandemic and its consequences affects you? Are you open for bookings? If so, please write down your email and studio location.
A: Lockdown time was very uncertain and difficult. A lot of my guest spots and conventions cancelled and no one was happy. Things are a little better now and I’m open again for bookings. I’m working at Nico tattoo Crew Athens and my email is panagopoulostatt@gmail.com. I also travel a lot in Europe for different guest spots and my trips are announced on my instagram page @dimitris_panagopoulostatt@gmail.com.

Q: A few words for the people who want to try getting into this business?
A: It’s a very difficult job and it requires very hard work and a lot if sacrifices. If you don’t truly love the idea and the way of it you will never make it.

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