BBC News has reported in the past (so it has to be true right?), that one in five British adults now has a tattoo – some better than others.
That’s a lot of tattoos.
There’s no denying that the once deviant art form has become a part of mainstream culture. As a result, the standard of tattoo-ing has improved ten-fold and you can now obtain a piece of artwork on your blank canvas as opposed to faded green splodges that one saw on Sailors and the like years ago.
People now travel far and wide to have an appointment with one of the world’s best tattoo artists. And what better souvenir to bring back from your holiday then one that you take with you everywhere and that lasts forever?
As with traditional art, tattoos come in many shape and forms with styles such as: traditional/old school, new school, Japanese, black and grey, watercolour, dotwork, biomechanical, woodcut/etching, realistic/portrait, and for those stuck in the 90s- tribal.
So here are some of the best tattoo artists Europe has to offer so that you can combine your love of tattoos and travel.
Tattoos in Germany
Where: Berlin, Germany
Who: Wen Ramen at Conspiracyinctattoo
Wenramen’s style is colourful with a feminine edge. As stated on her website, she enjoys tattooing weird skulls, animals doing human things and anything noodle related.Her attention to detail and great use of colour results in unique and beautiful pieces of work.
Once you’ve got your gorgeous new piece of ink, you then have the vibrant city of Berlin to explore.
The city is brimming full of things for visitors to do. Obviously there are plenty of historical sites to visit, from the remnants of the Berlin wall, to the hauntingly beautiful war memorial, to the iconic Brandenburg gate. There is also an abundance of art museums and galleries to get your cultural fill from. Infact, with the amount of street art and graffiti on display, you’ll often find yourself walking past great pieces of art on the way to your next museum, or pub.
Then there’s the nightlife, a large selection of fantastic restaurants serving Berlin’s famous currywurst, along with great Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants thanks to immigration, it really is a city that never sleeps.
Tattoos in Hungary
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Who: Robert Borbas Grindesign, at Dark Art Tattoo
Robert Borbas specialises in black and grey/dotwork and is also a freelance illustrator/designer/animation designer. His work features a lot of gothic/horror designs. It certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t argue that Robert isn’t incredibly talented.
One thing you need to make sure of is to make sure you take advantage of Budapest’s famous thermal baths before you get tattooed. Unless you’re a fan of the Yakuza (Japanese gangster) method of soaking in a hot bath as a part of the healing process, which the majority of Western tattoo artists don’t recommend, you need to make sure you check out the thermal baths before you go under the needle.
Budapest has thermal hot springs that are located below the city, so head to some of the most popular baths such as: the Rudas Baths, the Kiraly Baths, Gellért Baths and the Széchenyi Baths.
After you’ve enjoyed a good soak in the thermal baths, you can stroll alongside the Danube river and take in the beautiful architecture. Even the parliament building is something to behold.
Tattoos in Spain
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Who: Victor Chil at Family Art Tattoo
Moving onto the more modern and colourful style of the art form, Victor Chil is the master of dynamic new school realism. He often incorporates textures and creates good depth in his pieces, making the tattoo really ‘pop’ on the skin. He is also incredibly talented in realism and portait work, with impressive use of skin tone colours.
And then we have Barcelona… Spain’s most cosmopolitan city. Barcelona is one of those city’s that when you embark on a inter rail trip across Europe you end up staying much longer than you had planned. Or in my friend’s case, never leave.
The city is teeming with vibrant Catalan culture and there is plenty to do and see. You can catch the funicular to the top of Montjuïc for an awesome view of the city and it’s habour.
Make sure you check out Las Ramblas, which is a mile-long street full of human statues, jugglers, singers, eccentrics, misfits, transvestites, caged small animals, kiosks, cafes, and vibrant flower stalls, all shaded by a leafy canopy of huge plane trees.
Also explore the Barri Gotic, which is said to the the largest inhabited medieval quarter in Europe. Allow at least half a day to enjoy the narrow alleyways and the Catedral.
For literary lovers and absinthe connoisseurs, there is Bar Marsella which has been in business since 1820. Ermest Hemingway was known to have slumped over an absinthe or two in this traditional bar. The bar still specialises in absinthe where a glass comes with a lump of sugar, a fork and a little bottle of mineral water. Hold the sugar on the fork, over your glass, and drip the water onto the sugar so that it dissolves into the absinthe, which turns yellow. This will leave you with a rather pleasant warm glow, just don’t expect to be a literary genius afterwards.
Tattoos in Sweden
Where: Gothenburg Sweden
Who: Niki Norberg at Wicked Tattoo
Niki Norberg has been tattooing since 2001 and prefers to work with black and grey and realism. He incorporates a high level of detail with clear contrasts and mind-blowing gradients, which ensures that each piece of work is as breath-taking as the next.
The other great thing about Niki Norberg is that he’s located in Gothenburg, Sweden, which is one of Europe’s leading food cities. It is full of world class restaurants. In Gothenburg, seafood is religion, and the locals are serious about their shrimp, crayfish, lobster and oysters. From innovate sushi to traditional Swedish dishes, this is a fish-lover’s heaven.
After you’ve sunk your teeth into all the organic, locally-sourced seafood you can manage, you should head on down to the museum of art which has collections stretching back to the 15th century and the focus is Nordic art. Fürstenbergska galleriet on the top floor has pieces from artists like Edvard Munch, Carl Larsson and PS Krøyer. But you can also view paintings from international celebrities such as Picasso, Rembrandt and Monet.
If that doesn’t float your boat, then how about some kayaking along Gothenburg’s archipelago? The many little islands stretch along the coast like a string of pearls. They can easily reached from the city by ferry , boats and kayaks, so you don’t have to travel far to find charming villages and beaches.
One thing to bare in mind is each artist’s waiting list. Make sure you contact the artist before you book your flights and accommodation as they might not be able fit in with your travel itinerary. And before you go booking your flights and hotel, make sure you check out the likes of Easyjet on vouchercloud. The money you save on your travel could be used to treat yourself to some extra ink!