ISTH Gunnar V Tattoo Artist

ISTH Gunnar V Tattoo Artist


In my opinion the key to a good
tattoo is patience You always see the difference if someone spent
a lot of time on a tattoo or rushed it When people look at a tattoo done by me
I hope for a sense of awe to get people to stop and think not just to look once but to make them want to look closer I am very proud and I hope
I have made others proud like my mother and my wife I and I am very proud of what I have
accomplished in my field. But it is possible reach a lot further. Why did I get this far?
I think it is mainly because of my father Because he instilled in me the urge
to give it all and I feel like I have to
give it all I got. Gunnar V is one of the
best tattoo artists in the world He has won 23 international awards and tattooed thousands of people from all continents He is raised up north but currently lives in Oslo and two kids here he runs his own tattoo studio and the waiting list is half a year. We met him in Oslo and got to
know him and his family little better. How did you get into tattooing? -I was studying Audio Engineering
in the US That is where I got interested in
getting tattooed I had drawn it all up
prepare for my tattoo Because I thought to myself
I know how to draw So I will just design it myself
then I went to a tattoo shop and he said
“maybe you should learn how to tattoo” So he got this idea in my head
apparently he liked my drawings and I guess he felt like I was the
right man for the job. That is how it started. -So had you been drawing a lot as a kid? -Yes, I always drew a lot
in fact so much that I drew all day, everyday. My mom scolded me for using
up all the paper and ask me if I could draw on both sides
of the paper I said I would do that The perfectionism was so high
that I always needed a new sheet If I made one mistake.
that is how it was. Your first tattoo, what was it? -The first tattoo I got
was a picture of jesus on the arm -It is gone?
-It is gone. -and another one on top of it?
-Yes It is not because I against religion or
anything like that It just did not fit into my plans
regarding the rest of the sleeve. That is the remarkable thing
it is possible to remove, change and improve. -So you were studying in the US and just decided to go a totally different way
and start tattooing? how does that work? -my goal was always to end up working with sound to record bands and work
on audio for movies for example. then I was tattooing my buddies
after work and word got out
and it escalated quickly. I just did not realize that this
could be my job that my hobby could be my job
and therefore in a sense I would never have
to go to work It took some time to realize that
but when I did it all became so clear and
now my job is fun -and how long have you done this? -I started tattooing full time in 2011
until then I had been doing it quite unserious for 2 years. So when asked I usually say since 2011
because that is when I started taking it seriously to give it my all -You need to have good friends to practice
on to become a tattoo artist, right? -Yes, I was very lucky with my friends
when I was studying in the US they let me try out all kinds of things Then I realize that the canvas
closest to myself is me
they let me try out all kinds of things Then I realize that the canvas
closest to myself is me So I practiced on my self
in the beginning and soon my buddies were up for almost anything People often say that they get addicted to tattoos
and want more and more Is that something you
have experienced Yes I do, i see it in my clients for example they come and say they are only going to have one but then they quickly return
people realize that it is an expression that you can change yourself
and decorate -So why are you not covered in tattoos
like I had imagined you would be I personally decided early on not to go
up on my neck or down to my hands I like the way it looks and I have
done it on a lot of people and there is absolutely nothing
wrong with it I just think that I personally
wear it better this way. You decided to come to Oslo, why was that? It was a total coincidence
I had no interest in Norway It was the only nordic country that
I had not visited I was not interested in coming here at all
It was the only nordic country that
I had not visited I was not interested in coming here at all then I was invited to come here as a guest artist I really liked it
and came here eight times and every time I came, my employer
asked me if I wanted to move to Norway Then I talked to my wife
and we quickly decided to go -Is there a big difference between the tattoo
culture in Iceland and Norway? -Many things are the same the styles of tattoos that people are getting the biggest difference is maybe that a lot of tattoos
shops in Oslo are on the second or third floor and not so that you can just walk in that is what I really like because I am booked far ahead and
can’t fit in nearly everyone and that is how I like it
to not be disturbed while working I can have the client in the chair
do my job and answer clients later -So people don’t just walk in and as for a tattoo on the shop
-no they don’t not with me at least Gunnar gets up to 50 requests a day
and the lucky ones that make it to the waiting list have to wait half a year for a tattoo He is considered very good with portrait tattoos
and today that is what he is best known for -When I started tattooing then
I wasn’t looking for a specific path it was more like the path found me I made a portrait and people liked it and quickly that became the thing
that I am mostly asked for At one point I made a portrait
almost daily Which I really liked. It found me
and I found myself in it. because this challenge to see
something realistic and have to recreate that on someones skin people don’t realize that this is not just
like painting you can’t just stand up and take a
break whenever it has to be finished within
a certain timeframe and the skin can be so different
difference in thickness and level of bleeding It is a lot more difficult than people realize -How is the work routine in this job? It differs, but my routine is
that I start by making a design the week before and start either drawing or
combining photographs it really depends on what people are going to get
it can be so different and then people come to get the tattoo applied and that can take everything from
one session to ten sessions -Do you ever get stressed when making a portrait
of a deceased loved one or someones kids? it is a big responsibility. It is a big responsibility and even thought it is an every day
thing for me Then I always think about it,
especially if it is a deceased relatives portrait how big of a responsibility it is
and how big this moment is for that person. It is not just a random tattoo.
But I would not say I that I am nervous. -Have you ever made a mistake in a tattoo? -I would not use the word “mistake”,
but of course I am human and not everything can be perfect
every time for example if I am mixing colors and one is
a bit too green or something like that.
But I would not say I have made a “mistake”. Not too the point that the client
is unhappy. -How many people do you think you
have tattooed? I started counting in the beginning.
I thought a lot about that how many I had tattooed. But now I have no idea.
But I am guessing it is in the thousands. -How many colors do you use when making a tattoo and
how much time does it take? If I am making a black and grey tattoo
then I use black and different shades of grey. But if I am making a color tattoo, then…
Well, if we just talk about how many colors I have. then it is about 100 bottles of ink. You look at the reference photo for that tattoo and
try not to take too many colors.
then it is about 100 bottles of ink. You look at the reference photo for that tattoo and
try not to take too many colors. because you don’t want to over complicate it. But it is quite common to have about 15-25
different tones of ink for a color tattoo. -and how long does it take? -I never work more than 9 hours on the
same client per day. Then I am tired. The client is tired. Everyone is tired
and about time for everyone to go home. Many of the players from the men’s
Icelandic national team are well decorated Most of them bare family related tattoos and
powerful sentences. and Gunnar has tatttoed among others:
Rurik Gislason, Aron Einar Gunnarsson,
Most of them bare family related tattoos and
powerful sentences. and Gunnar has tatttoed among others:
Rurik Gislason, Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Elias Omarsson and Emil Hallfredsson. Why did you want Gunnar to tattoo you, Emil? Because it was my first tattoo
and it was very important to me. It was a portrait of my father
and Gunnar was the only one I wanted because he is world class in making
these kinds of tattoos. I had followed him on Instagram and
seen everything he had made lately. and he was the only one that was good enough
in my opinion. -and you didn’t know him personally then?
-I did not know him at all. I asked my wife, Asa, one evening if I should
send him a message and invite him to come to us. I felt like I was being really daring in doing so and I feel like I sent a pretty honest and polite email. and asked him if he could come and tattoo
my dad’s portrait on me. He responded very positively. Were you stressed because it is your dad
and you knew him so well? Were you stressed that this man would
not fulfill all your hopes and expectations? Maybe a little bit, because I wanted
it to be so well incredibly well done don’t you remember when I said to you?
“How is this turning out?”, “aren’t you giving it our all?” and I remember that you said to me that
you were about 1 hour longer than usual. So I was very happy with it even though
I was a bit stressed while we were making it. We made it at my house,
I put my dad’s playlist on, so we had his music playing. So this was a bit of a ceremony.
So it was a good feeling. -So you were not done then, right?
because I know he has visited you a few times after that -Yes, he has been 3 times.
but he has visited me in Italy 5 times. I must admit that every time he comes
I get the tingle to get more. that is how it works.
-Can you say that you are finished? Ehm… yes. I say that to my wife. No no,
I think I am finished… Until something else comes up. Is it a special group of people that get tattoos? I think that people think that.
But I have tattooed people from 18 to… I don’t remember
how old the oldest was. but I specifically remember this one guy.
He was eighty something. I remember that I asked him
but I don’t remember how old he said he was. I remember that he sent me an email a week later
and told me that his buddies at the retirement home are
very jealous. So as I am saying. It can be anyone
from grandpa to the head of a bank. just go swimming and you can see
it can be anyone. -Do you feel that there
are fashion trends now? The fashion trends were
a lot stronger 10-20 years ago. Then there was only this one thing
that everyone wanted. but no it is just anything goes.
and I think that is positive. Because I think that is less likely to
hit you in the back later. Have you been asked to do
something strange? I am not sure I will go into the weirdest stuff
on national television. But when you have done this so often. Then basically all body parts.
There is not really one body part I say no to. But now I can pick and choose.
Then of course I choose then I would rather choose someones
upper arm than a crotch. So people have asked you for a tattoo in that area?
-People have asked me for everything. Are the reactions always good
both from the client and their families? It can vary a lot.
For example I remember a teacher I tattooed. He tells me that he
wants a portrait of his dad. and I always ask the same question.
Is he still living? While was tattooing him
I ask him what kind of a man he is. He says “a tough farmer type”
While was tattooing him
I ask him what kind of a man he is. He says “a tough farmer type” never cried, never seen
him tear up in his life. A man that keeps everything bottled up.
A type that everyone knows. And then I ask him if he can send me,
and I often ask for that because I like hearing people’s reactions,
and email with his response. He sends me a long email where he explains
his dad’s reaction. The teacher sat by the dinner table.
He was wearing a t-shirt and the tattoo on the forearm. and he was waiting for his dad to
notice the tattoo because he wanted to wait for him
to notice the tattoo. Then he feels like he has waited too long
so he decides to reach for the sauce. to basically stick it in his face.
So he reaches across his face. His dad can’t help but see it. Grabs his arm.
He thinks that he does not like it. “He probably doesn’t like it,
based on how hard he grabs my arm” he says nothing. And then one tear rolls
down his cheek. First time he saw his dad
tear up in his life. I remember thinking to myself when
I got the email Those are the moments
I do this job for. To do a tattoo on people and they
are so happy and can make others happy. I just remember that said his dad
was so proud that he That he almost exploded. Today we are making a tattoo on a calf
of his grandpa When he was in the
Belgian Navy. This is the ship that he was on
the came to Iceland once. How long do you think this will take
-I am guessing 6 hours. we have little left now. Is there an incident in your life
that formed you more than others Yes, I would definitely say that the death of my father when
I was seventeen formed me the most.
I was at a sensitive age also. Seventeen and puberty driving me crazy. We argued a lot at that time and
then he passed away. There is a lot of regret. I just know that dad would understand
it all today and would not resent me for that
if he was still alive. But, of course you regret being mean
to your parents. that is never nice. -How did he pass away? He had a heart attack
a year before he died. He was not allowed to work
and it was a difficult time for us all. then he had another heart attack
in the middle of the night and my mom manages to
resuscitate him. Then he was in the hospital and they
gather us to his bedside. and we were with him the last moment. I held his hand
sat by his bed I remember how much he tensed up
and squeezed my hand and that is a moment that you… Especially after I had kids of my own then I thought to my self that
this is not something I want them to have to
go through I have really been aware of that
in regards to my health To try to last as long as possible.
For them. Even though you can’t really control
when you go. but to a curtain degree. -What about your relationship
with your mom? My mom is a wonderful woman and has formed me a lot
like all parents do. But she is a very funny character. She has had a very hard life.
for example when she was 10. she had an incident at the beach
while playing with some kids and lands with her head on a rock and she doesn’t really know how
long she was out But she is rescued from the sea
and resuscitated. She struggled in school after that. She was a good student until then
and was good at drawing. and everything was going great.
But then she became epileptic. And generally had a hard time
in many ways. She has taught me that
despite all that to not let that affect you. To keep going no matter what. She has always been there for me.
But she has not had an easy life. Her first husband took his own life. And her second husband, my dad
dies as well. So in no way was it easy for her. -Now you are a father of two
what kind of a father are you? -Well. it is a but funny
because my wife often says, despite having never met my dad
because he had passed away long before we met. But she has heard a lot of stories of him and she says “The way you are acting
is just like you described him” then I am probably doing something
I should not be doing. Then you try to back off
and try to be different but I got half my genes from mom
and half from dad. So there it is hard to control but they were great parents. and I learned a lot of good
things from them and I hope I am a good dad. -what other hobbies do
you have? I have played the guitar
since I was about 14 years old That was always my
greatest passion to play and make music. But I have not had as much
time for that lately -You were in a rock band,
right? Yes I was in a band called
“Nevolution” for many many years. What else do you do? -Now I have recently started
training “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”. which is a form of grappling
which I really like A lot more fun than I had
ever hoped for. -and then you are a tech geek
I have noticed that. I choose the Audio Engineering because I love playing around with equipment. The funnest thing I know. Now you have lived in Norway
for two years. How do you like it here
and do you think might just end up here? Me and my wife had decided
to be here for 3 years and now my in-laws have
moved as well and are fantastic
and help us a lot. my brother has moved also
and my sister-in-law. So I am not really seeing
us moving back in the next 20-30 years to
move back home. But of course everything can change The connection home is strong
and my mother and sister are there. but as it stands now
then it is not on the horizon. I know you are crazy busy
and choose from a group of applicants. but still there is a
half year waiting list Have you reached your goals?
what is your goal? Maybe I just didn’t set the goal
high enough but I never imagined getting this far
and having it so good and having such a great family. But you can always aim higher in tattooing. You can always
make a better tattoo You can always be better. But of course I want to spend
more time with my family I work way too much. especially spending more time
with the kids. And nurture that even further. Guys, what about this
fascination for cars? Uhm…you don’t have a mic?
-We can still here him. People spend the whole day with me
many days in fact. People sometimes think I am
some kind of a psychiatrist. and people tell me everything
and sometimes I baffled. People have admitted crimes, affairs and just about anything. This one takes a lot of time
and is therefore quite expensive. In black and grey this would be about
half the price. -See, you answer like a politician. When you are talking about money
then you twiddle the thumbs. THANKS FOR WATCHING LET THE DRINKING BEGIN!

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