Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus – from Sierra
I am a really hardworking full time artist who invests 5-7days a week working on many different projects. I have been invited during my visit to Zurich (which was sponsored by RtR) to participate in this year’s Tattoo Circus in Thessaloniki. The organizers had offered to pay a part for flights and travel expenses, as well as to provide space and all needed materials, which in the tattoo world means a lot – you save a lot of money. I am trying to build my social platform around Europe. Knowing that nowadays most tattoo artists are usually not just tattoo artists – often they are specializing in many other fields like I do, I asked RtR to support my trip to Greece, as it would hopefully benefit my future projects, expanding my contacts and hopefully ccreating new events in the future. Thessaloniki Tattoo Circus (TTC) was promoting a strong collective of artists who specialize in many different fields – from sculpture, to digital art, painting, and obviously tattoos. It was very important for me to take part as a tattoo artist – where I can learn and make contacts with other tattooists – as well as an artist – and also allowing me to see other’s peoples work and hopefully create opportunities to collaborate in the future.
As a self- taught tattooist I was wondering if my skills would match with all those professionals working for many years in studios. I was hoping to get contacts and to open gates for guest spots in different studios around Europe.
The Tattoo Circus itself is non-profit event that supports prisoners’ and ex-prisoners’ re-integration into society. The Tattoo Circus as well organizes workshops like letter-writing to prisoners, sending books/magazines and supporting charities that help to integrate those that come out and have to ‘restart’ their lives. TC promotes social change – where the ones behind bars should not be forgotten and left alone, as well as when they come out from prisons they shouldn’t be socially excluded, rejected and incapable of starting to follow their dreams in the same way all of us try to do. I found it a morally valuable subject to support, especially in a world where, for example, while the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.
I had a great time at the Terra Incognito social centre in Thessaloniki. A great time in terms of working hard, up to 12 hours a day, and in terms of communicating with other participants and festival visitors. It was just stunning to see how people managed to organize such a big event completely DIY, as well as provide all the materials, space and furniture necessary for 25 artists over 3 days. It has really left a big impact on me – why couldn’t I start organizing events myself again? It led me to start putting up a concept and discussing with other artists, and here we are, slowly moving towards next step – a huge art project right here in London.
I most definitely succeeded in the fields that were important for me: I have made new conctacts in Berlin, Prague and Lausanne, where I was invited to come to tattoo and exhibit. As well, I expanded my contacts throughout other European countries. Most importantly – it lifted up my self esteem, as I realised I am not worse at tattoos than others – just different. (: As I wrote in my proposal letter- my theory about other tattoo artists specializing not just in tattoo – confirmed itself and I met alot of creative people with whom we will cooperate in the future. Besides that, my success as a tattooist in the festival was satisfactory – I received quite a lot of attention, created new works, updated my portfolio, plus raised some funds for the prisoner support groups.
I found it quite difficult to operate inbetween another 25 artists. I learned about interpretations of my technique and style – lots of people like it, but it’s ‘too dark’ to have it. Pretty much the same as with my paintings and everything else I do. When there are so many tattooists in one location there is always a lot of competition. I am happy I did some of my designs (which was rare at this event– usually people were bringing their own ideas), meanwhile, there were few tattooists who didn’t do a single piece. I believe they were anticipating a bigger crowd this year.
I am grately thankful to RtR for supporting my way to the event, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend. Because of the funding I received I was able to book my flights and survive throughout the week in the city.
Where I’m going next?
Where to start? The next project is a big collective exhibition in London – inspired by what I saw in Thessaloniki. Perhaps it is a semi-autonomous space, or hopefully in more established gallery. Meanwhile, I will be guestspotting as a tattoo artist around Europe, and in September attending the Tattoo Circus in Berlin –the second capital of Art in Europe. There is a possibility to exhibit there too, and I will be working really hard to make all these projects to happen.
Thanks again for the ongoing support … be sure to check out my new website at www.oneslutriot.com!