Diana Kull is a lovely tattoo artist based in Tallinn, Estonia. I had the opportunity to meet her in her studio; a cute, hidden nest for tattoo enthusiasts and not only. You can find the first part of our chat here:
It was a pleasure to meet Diana and see a different point of view about the tattoo industry and how the perception changed in our society. Anyway, this is only part one! The second part of this interview will cover the tattoo career from the inside, revealing some tricks on how to start as a tattoo artist and what to expect from it! 🙂
In this second part, we’re going deeper in Diana’s career, working process, studio set and more. This could really help you if you plan to start a tattoo career.. Diana has some tips for u!
Why did you decide to open your studio? And how did you do it?
“Me and my colleague previously worked in a bigger studio, but there were too many artists. We had the same vision and idea: we both wanted to create a safe and cozy place to not feel scared or judged, and to give a safe experience to whoever was coming to get a tattoo.
The idea was born before the pandemic started.
We saved money through the year to make our own studio, and after the first lockdown we started to have lots of customers, which helped us to make enough money to cover the expenses of the deposits and getting some furniture!
Our studio is shared; we rent this place together even if we’re financially independent from each other. It’s still a work in progress: the first customers had tattoos with a little bit of plastic and things around; but we’re really happy to have this comfortable space and how it’s turning out.
We don’t have a name for the studio, a joint account or anything. We thought about that at first, but as time was passing by everyone was just contacting us individually, so it wasn’t necessary.
I think that, mostly if you work in your own style, people contact you directly and you get more people who get interested in getting tattooed by you. I feel like when we worked in a studio there was no request, just “whoever, I don’t care”, and maybe you had to do something that wasn’t completely in your style.”
How’s the tattoo industry here in Estonia?
“Many tattoo shops here are mostly hidden, and I think it’s mostly because of the local culture: people usually do research and write directly to the artist they’d like to get tattooed by, instead of going directly to the shop. It’s also way more comfortable for the artist to know WHEN they’re gonna be working instead of just sitting there and waiting for someone to come.
There is lots of recommandation between artists here: it happens a lot that tattooers recommend other tattooers to clients, if they know they can do best the requested style or design.
The shop where I used to work was on the street, and sometimes in summertime people would come in, mostly tourists. You had to make at that moment a design for them in like 15 mins or something, and for me this was very anxiety-inducing. Like this I can’t guarantee to do my best.”
How’s your preparation process, now?
“My working process now is completely different.
First, I get the design idea, I discuss with the client and put an end date to know when the tattoo it’s gonna happen; I take time before that, usually around a week.
Then I start thinking and working on the illustration; after that, I send some initial design ideas and raw sketches to the customer. When I receive feedback from the client, I complete the final tattoo design.
This takes more time but it’s also a way to guarantee the best work I can offer, and the best designs I can come up with.“
What’s something that customers don’t notice about ?
“There’s much more work behind a tattoo, such as setting, cleaning, answering to emails.
For every customer I’m usually in the studio an hour earlier to make sure that everything is nice and clean, and also after, to assure that everything is tidy and washed as well.
It’s honestly lots of work, kinda of “invisible work” for the customer.
The customer may perceive time differently and think: “I’ve been here half an hour only”, but for me there’s so much more!
I can see it in many artists: someone may say “you did this in 15 min”, but probably they’ve been doing this for 15 YEARS. The thing itself that you see can look “quick” but the background practice and process is often not at all.”
..and about the price?
To set up a table only, it takes around 20-50 euros for each tattoo. The material is kinda expensive and our general expenses are a lot. We don’t get rich from tattooing, like many people think.
People have often asked me about pricing, and I think that’s a super valid question. I get them a very good explanation of the time needed, the project itself and my expenses. If you think it’s too much for you, that’s always fine, and if you have a budget it’s always better to say beforehand, and we can try to work within that.
I’m very transparent and respectful of people’s budgets and expectations.”
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From part 1:
How would you define your own style? Which are your favourite tattoos to make?
“I do some graphic fine line nature stuff mostly, lots of animals and botanical tattooing.
I do both black and white and colour, but my personal preference is definitely just to make nature motives. I really like to make small details as well!
What do your parents think about your job?
“When I got my first tattoo, I was 18 and my mom wasn’t super happy about that. But things changed over time also for her, and now she wants a tattoo from me as well!
I see this a lot from my customers who get tattoos from me and then their moms come too!
What are your “rules”?
“I wouldn’t do anything political or hateful, that’s obvious. Also, it’s illegal here in Estonia to tattoo people under 18 years old. And usually I don’t get requests for anything out of my style, but if someone asks, and I say no, I always recommend someone who could do it!
I think that’s also a really nice thing that I’ve seen happening also to me; many people told me I was recommended by someone else.”
Thank you for reading! And thank you Diana again for your time and to have shared with us your experience and thoughts about your amazing career!
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