From watercolor impressionism to black geometrical outlines: Top tattoo artists are reinventing skin art. People travel around the world to get unique pieces. Would you?
Donna Tinta sorts the colors, disinfects her hands, unpacks the disposable needles and puts on sterile gloves. The tattoo gun, with its needles puncturing the skin, sounds like an electric toothbrush. She works for a while in silence. "When I'm tattooing, I'm in a designing mode. It's an artistic process", says the German tattoo artist Wiebke Turner, also known as "Donna Tinta," after a few minutes.
The human body as a canvas
The tattoo, once limited to specific social groups and celebrities, has become an integral part of our everyday culture. According to a 2014 study by the Uniklinikum Bochum, more than six million Germans have a tattoo.
Given the growing number of tattooed people and the boom of tattoo events in Germany, many are tempted to ask: Are tattoos art or just an item of mass consumption? Donna Tinta believes it becomes an art from when a person creates something unique.
Trend spotting: Watercolor tattoos
Donna Tinta likes to create animal motifs in watercolor style. In her work, Albrecht Dürer and Monet come together.
The watercolor style started to become trendy about three years ago. Brush strokes and splashes of color are deliberately integrated into the tattoo. "Watercolor tattoos" have little or no outlines. The tattoos smoothly adapt to the skin. These pieces are look more like paintings than actual tattoos.
Like Donna Tinta, many other famous artists are creating tattoos in watercolor style, among them the Americans Amanda Wachob, Justin Nordine and Rusel Van Schaik. Talented tatooists from Eastern Europe are also gaining ground.
The tattoo grandmaster Ondrash
The most popular watercolor tattoo artist is Ondrej Konupcik from the Czech Republic, better known as Ondrash. The fashion designer is a true master of his art. Some of his clients travel from the US and Australia to the Czech Republic in order to get tattooed by him. His style is referred to as the "French Wave of Modern Tattoo". Ondrash mixes abstract art with expressionist and futuristic elements. His tattoos are often reminiscent of Willem de Kooning, one of the most important representatives of abstract expressionism and a pioneer of action painting.
Chaim Machlev is another tattoo artist who has developed his own unique style. Originally from Tel Aviv, he started working in Berlin two years ago. Selected by the German magazine "TätowierMagazin" as the "Newcomer of the year" in 2013, he is now in high demand on the international scene.
Machlev has an unusual background. Unlike many other tattoo artists, he did not study design, but psychology. He was a successful IT manager before his tattoo career took off. His designs are exclusively in black and highly individual. Aesthetic and extremely precise lines forming intricate mandalas and ornaments demonstrate his outstanding sense of symmetry.
Which tattoo is right for me?
With so many artistic styles, it is hard to choose a personal tattoo and the right artist. Donna Tinta agrees: "Choosing a particular tattoo, a particular artist, is like selecting the name of one's child. Sometimes you know immediately what would fit; sometimes it can take a long time. One should not go for a tattoo without having given it much thought "- no matter how artistic it may be.