"I feel like the mental health aspect of our job needs to be spoken about more "
The Journal went to hang out with Polish tattoo artist Natalia, She explains how opportunity was very limited in her home town growing up. She then made the decision to forge a career overseas. Now plying her trade in the UK, Natalia's work ranges from Black and Grey realism to more colourful mixed media pieces combining the two. We ask how the journey begun, what she loves about the industry and how she evaluates success.
So tell us who is Natalia when and how did you get into tattooing? did you have a formal art background?
I am a tattooist working and living in West London, originally from Poland where I lived until I was 21. I come from fairly artistic background, my nan was a piano teacher and I followed her and my dads footsteps and attended music school. I’d always been into drawing and art at school but back then in Poland tattoo industry was very inaccessible for young girls. I started my apprenticeship in West London Ink whilst studying graphic design here in London, I was lucky enough to be taken on board and begin my tattooing journey.
How would you describe your style and what made you gravitate towards that in particular?
I mainly work in black & grey realism, mostly because the demand for that style in the studio was always the highest so I naturally shifted towards it. I do love to tattoo colour neotraditional every now and again, I like to switch things up a little. Recently I started experimenting mixing both techniques in one piece, seeing more tattoo artists creating that kind of mix is also very inspiring for me and I will definitely try to push towards it more.
Tell us what you love about your job and the tattoo community at large?
I love that most days I don’t even feel like I am working :) I do enjoy the atmosphere of tattoo studios, I think we are quite lucky to work in such laid back environment and learn from one another. The fact you can take your craft to anywhere in the world is also a great advantage of a tattoo artists job and it’s amazing how many friends you can make through that.
How would you evaluate success as a tattoo artist?
Hmm thats a tough one. I think to be successful you have to put effort into learning, talking to and watching other tattooists work, try new things/techniques etc. I guess one can be successful in many ways, some people will be considered successful by winning competitions at the conventions, some will consider themselves successful by being booked up for long time in advance.
Do you think there are challenges in being a tattoo artist that artists of other genre's don’t face?
I’m not sure about artists of other genres but I feel like the mental health aspect of our job needs to be spoken about more. Experiencing burnouts, feeling unsatisfied with the result, not being able to find common ground with the client regarding the design and sometimes repetitiveness of designs requested by customers just kills one's soul.
Is there a celebrity past or present that would you love to put a Natalia piece on?
I must say this will have to be Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. I am going to their concert in September and at the studio we’ve spoken about how cool it would be for Fred to visit the shop. I grew up listening to The Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water so that’d be like a childhood dream come true. In fact I would let Fred Durst tattoo me!
Here at The Hobo Journal we love to travel hence the name, where is your favourite place on earth?
I’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful places in the world but I must say my number one will always be back home in Poland during summertime. Long summer nights with my friends and a beer, sunrise on the beach after a night out - nothing can beat that! Second to that is Jervis Bay in Australia I visited few years back, absolutely paradise-like with its white sands and exotic surroundings. One on my bucket list is definitely Pig Island in the Bahamas :)
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer