Once upon a time in Osijek – a beautiful town on the river Drava – there lived an ordinary boy – Žvaki. He dreamed of one day drawing pictures on people.
He always liked the idea of other people wearing his work on their bodies for the rest of their lives. It took a long time and he had made a lot of mistakes in the process until he learned what tattoo art really was and where the trade was taking him. With time he stopped being interested in the mere technical mastery of his drawing, so in his efforts to perfect his tattooing skill he created his magical world of tattoo art.
Allow me to tell you this story with magical elements. My intention is to show you where this world can be found and what it takes for you to feel its magic.
In a typical tattooing scenario, clients in most cases get a tattoo they previously found themselves or one that the tattoo artist comes up with on sight.
Rarely does one live to get a tattoo they’d picked without setting boundaries with their tattoo artist. In the process we lose creativity, a necessary element that drives us and gets the best stuff out of us – diversity.
Tattoos of today look more and more alike and the circle of creativity is ever narrowing, until the day comes when we see everyone walking around with the same motifs, which will only signal the beginning of the end of the trade of tattoo art.
Portal into the magical world of tattoo art
In 2012 an idea was born: What if tattoos had a lifelong power to make you a person who feels special, proud and delighted all their life?
What if tattoos could influence your character and personality?
What if the joy at the outcome of getting ink done was only the beginning, one that later leads to euphoria?
Does an ordinary tattoo have the power to do that for you?
In the town of Osijek there is a person who can make this happen for you.
His nickname is Žvaki, he does not do tattoos, he creates tattoos with character. His studio enables you to be part of the magical world of tattoo art.
For now he is on his own, but hopes that in the future he will be able to transfer the knowledge to other tattoo artists and open portals for journeys in multiple locations.
In the beginning of this magical story we meet a person who wishes to get a tattoo.
Her name is Sara. She is an adult who wants to say something important to herself and others so she chose a tattoo as a means of achieving her end.
Sara was a beginner, she had no idea how and where to get a tattoo so she decided to gather information available online and from her friends. She, obviously, was not aware what a tattoo was and how much she can expect from it.
Sara was wise and did not take the process lightly, she was aware that hygiene was one of the key prerequisites, she didn’t want her tattoo to be of poor quality and poor design so she set out on a journey of finding a tattoo studio that could do the job for her. She spent a lot of time searching and comparing recommendations and tattoo jobs, sifted through a lot of designs and in the process saw a lot of inks that took her breath away.
But none of what she saw did the trick for her, because Sara did not want anything complicated for the first time.
She finally found a studio that stood out from the crowd.
Not because of its inks or web design, but rather the sheer volume of information that could be found on the page. There was a lot of text that showed the particular tattoo artist was not taking his job casually, but was reaching into the very essence of the subject matter.
She told herself that she had nothing to lose and decided to order and see where it led her. She grabbed her mobile phone and booked herself a slot called Inkdividual Consultations.
The voice on the phone said: “Prepare for what awaits you and come alone.”
When she got to the front door, she had to call the shop again so they could let her in, because they normally can’t hear the doorbell.
She slowly ascended the stairs to the second floor, uncertain and a little anxious. She’d heard stories about the place, but never took them seriously as some of them were truly unbelievable. “What if all of them are true?,” she thought.
But now it’s too late for thoughts like these now that she’s here, going through with it. She climbed to the second floor, lifter her gaze to a smiling guy who was awaiting her. He greeted her and introduced himself as Žvaki. “Well, wouldn’t’ you know” she thought to herself, “he’s just an ordinary guy”.
Now a little more assured, she entered the tattoo studio. She heard the door lock behind her and felt the unease again. Žvaki calmed her down by saying the time slot was hers and he was only locking the door because he did not want anyone unannounced coming in and distracting them.
They entered a room resembling an odd kitchen.
That was the room where her journey into the magical world of tattoo art began.
He offered her coffee and said: “Ok now, tell me why you’re here”.
Sara told him what she had in mind, how she wanted the ink done and what significance the tattoo would have for her. While she was talking she was wondering how this place was any different from the rest as it looked pretty ordinary. Žvaki listened attentively and then said: “Now that I’ve heard you, I know for sure that you are a person that’s come to the right place. Getting a tattoo is not what you thought it was before, it’s something much deeper and for most people beyond comprehension. If you know how to see more to it, you have to want it first.”
She retorted that was why she’d come in the first place, but that, frankly, she was failing to understand what he was saying and was a little unimpressed.
Žvaki told her that in the tattooing universe there were 8 priorities:
Price, Size, How it suits you, Idea, Design, Uniqueness, Final Look and Location. When you are making the decision to get a tattoo, the sequence of these priorities is your personal preference.
In order to preserve the story’s fairy tale elements, we have imagined a magical world with eight doors.
At every door there is a guard who explains their reasons why their door is the most important one of all. Žvaki set Sara on a mission.
He instructed her to speak with every one of the guards and come to a decision which priority is the most important one for her.
If she makes the wrong decision, she will be the one who will live to regret it for the rest of her life. When she returns from the journey, he will be there to help her mould and shape her decision into the best possible result for her. And so Sara ventured into a world unknown.
She knew from the get-go that she was in for a long and arduous journey. At that moment, everything ahead of her seemed unknown and uncertain, all she had to go with was a fierce desire to prove herself she was worthy of the best thing out there.
The first door she came to was small – so small in fact that she had to bow down in order to go through it.
Inside she found herself in a spacious room littered with things.
Protruding up from the vast assortment was a tiny man that went by the name of Size.
He came up to Sara and asked her: “My dear, what is bothering you about that tattoo?
I am a size master and I’m sure I’ll be able to give you good advice.”
So she asked how to decide on the size of her tattoo, because she wants her tattoo to be busy in detail, but ultimately not really a big one.
Size retorted: “You see, that was my thinking here, too. I wanted a table, but it couldn’t go through the door, so I sawed off its legs. I wanted a closet, but it was too big, so I brought in only the shelves. I wanted a bed, but it was too big so I brought in only the matrass. It’s hard to fulfil one’s wishes if we don’t know what size the thing we’re wishing for should be. I ended up with many things I’d wanted and paid for, but I have no use from any of them now, which makes me really sad.” Sara realised what Size was trying to tell her and moved on towards the next door.
She was greeted by a young girl – Anatomy – at the next door.
She had the near-perfect looks. The clothes she wore fitted her perfectly. Anatomy came up to Sara and with a soft voice wondered what advice she might be able to give her. Sara was curious to know how important it was for a tattoo to fit the body. The guard responded: “When you put on a dress, what do you want to see? Do you want to see it hanging off your body or do you want to see a dress following your body line and your curves?” Naturally, Sara thought to herself how important it was for a dress to fit you perfectly. “Then, you see,” said Anatomy, as if reading Sara’s mind, “it’s the same with tattoos.
If it doesn’t follow your body’s line and your curves, it’s never going to fit you.” Sara thanked her for the advice and continued her journey.
She was still going over the advice she had been given when she reached door number three.
She entered a room with a multitude of very diverse objects.
There were elephant and cat figurines, clocks, towers, angels – anything you could imagine.
Then she spotted a little man with an oversized head. His name was Creativity.
She asked him how important it was to have your own idea and what ideas were in the first place when it came to getting a tattoo.
Creativity explained in his high-pitched voice:
“An idea is what you want to wear on your body, not how you want to get it. That is the reason why you are getting a tattoo, and the first question you should ask yourself. That idea is somewhere within you, not already on someone else or on the internet. If you want to be true to yourself, I recommend you decide alone on the motif you want to be wearing, and then let your tattoo artist bring it to life for you.”
Happy now that she learned how to cherish her uniqueness, Sara was excited to find out what lay ahead.
Sara liked the next door she approached very much.
When she entered it she saw an old woman by the name of Emotion. In front of the woman was a table filled with cakes.
By now Sara was growing tired and hungry and thought it was a perfect moment to have a cake. When she smelled them, she was overwhelmed with a craving for these delicious pastries.
Emotion realised that and offered Sara a cake, saying: “The way you choose a cake will be the way you choose your tattoo. I will try to teach you to choose the most delicious cake on the table”. Sara wondered: “But how? There are so many delicious cakes, how will I know which one is the finest of them all?” Emotion asked her which one she would pick right now.
The chocolate one was her reply. “You see, Sara, your heart is telling you to choose something you have tried before and you know you like. It is most certainly the safest choice.
But how can you be sure if you haven’t even tasted it? Most people will go for what they think they want and ask for it. The right choice is the cake you don’t want.
If you removed all of the cakes you don’t want, you would still be left with great many cakes, ones that are good enough for you and any one you pick will be tasty.”
Sara thanked the old lady, picked one from the pile she was left with and – behold! It didn’t taste the way she expected it to. It was totally different from the chocolate one, but still very tasty. Sara realised what the old lady was trying to say.
This was the right way of getting what you need, not the way she thought she knew what she wanted.
The fifth door awaiting Sara was flashing with lights and tacky.
In the room behind it there was a tall, sturdy woman called Priceless. She wore tasteless clothes and a poor choice of makeup, but her gown was decorated by various jewels.
Sara was now keen to find out how important was the price when getting ink done.
Priceless spoke with a booming voice:
“My advice is to pay for your tattoo as little as possible, don’t go for pricey quality and looks, because it’s far more important to have a stack of makeup and jewellery than something that won’t even be visible to everyone.” Sara didn’t particularly warm to the advice from the ostentatious woman, but she thanked her politely and sneaked out of the room.
She had heard a few good pieces of advice on her journey, but this one was useless.
Past the sixth door Sara was met by a strange scene.
A table was laid with paintings, while cutlery was hanging on the wall. In the room there was a giant named Pinterest. She asked him about the importance of the location of her tattoo.
Pinterest explained to her that, if she is uncertain about the places on her body where her tattoo could go, she should leave the choice to her tattoo artist.
“Look at me, I thought paintings were for tables and cutlery was for walls and it seemed like a cool idea at the time, because I had never seen it before.
Only when I’d set it up did I realise I wasn’t pleased with it at all. I’m not really enjoying my exceedingly expensive paintings and I can’t eat my food off the wall.”
Sara now realised that on this journey she will understand the importance of thinking things through before making a decision, however original it may seem at first.
IBeyond the seventh door there was a young girl named Beauty.
She had big blue eyes, blushed cheeks and curly hair. She was truly beautiful. Her looks oozed elegance.
She had a beautiful dress with decorations that complemented it. A necklace she wore accentuated her pretty face and her gorgeous dress. Sara felt positive and hoped she would get a useful piece of advice from the girl.
She asked the girl about the difference between a tattoo being beautiful and being just a decoration. Beauty replied that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “That’s so true!,” said Sara, “what is beautiful to me won’t necessarily be seen the same way by others.” Beauty then retorted that, in fact, the truth was the other way round.
“What I actually mean is that something is beautiful only if the observers and outsiders say so. You are always blinded by your own emotion and taste, which can lead you to poor decisions.
In order to truly find beauty, you have to look at colours, shapes, depth and contrast of what you want – and do it without emotions. That’s the only way to see what is objectively beautiful.
And a decoration is what you choose to meet your taste and emotion and it is a plus so it can accentuate the beauty of your chosen tattoo.”
The last door – number eight – that Sara came to was something she had not seen.
It was of different shape, peculiar ornaments, while inside there was a handsome young man wearing odd clothes, but still looking kind of cool.
His name was Unique and the name had an extravagant ring to it. The room’s air was different and definitely appealing. She could not pinpoint what it was that made the room seem so different, when she compared it to the other rooms. The interior wasn’t any different from the rest, but still it was somehow different. She approached Unique and asked him how important it was for her tattoo to be unique and what the significance of it really was.
How does one achieve it if you’re not creative and it doesn’t come easy to you? “In order to produce something unique, first off you need to be clear what unique truly means. A unique thing is something that already exists and has already been made, but has been rearranged, recreated in a new way.
It’s important that your tattoo is unique so you can show the world what kind of person you are – completely incomparable to anyone else.
You underline your individuality, not to speak of the astounded faces of the people around you when you show up with ink which is one of a kind among all the people in the world showing off their tattoos.
Sara realised what misconceptions she harboured and the wrong approach she had.
Brimming with enthusiasm and certainty, she ran back to Žvaki.
Returning from the magical portal, Sara was full of impressions, but equally as confused and overwhelmed with information as she was before.
She asked Žvaki: “Alright, a lot of the things are much clearer now, but still I don’t know how to make my move now. What am I to do? One thing’s for sure: I want to get ink done, but the design I originally wanted I don’t want any more.
I am back to square one.
Zvaki smiled and explained that the magical portal’s purpose was not to take her places, but rather to divert her from the path she had taken.
The one who’s leading her somewhere is he – Žvaki.
He asked her to try and imagine him as her own personal tailor.
She needs a dress, and he wants to know the occasion she is going to wear it at. Once she says this, he will offer her the cloth choices to meet her preference – in this case the style of tattoo. When she makes this choice he will offer her the cut, one which suits the chosen cloth. In the world of tattoos, this refers to the technique. He would then take Sara’s measurements and add decorations she wants to have. That way he would be able to create a unique tattoo.
Even if she has no idea what she would love to wear on her skin for the rest of her life or fails to add purpose to her tattoo, there are a couple of ways of helping her get what she’d never dreamed of getting: a design which truly stems from her being, but that is an altogether different magical journey.
NI hope all of you who have read this have enjoyed it and learned a bit here and there.
The aim of this text was to paint a picture of how getting a tattoo is not merely what you hear or read about it. It is a process during which the tattoo is only a side-effect, one that alters you as a person for life, both physically and mentally.
You need to dedicate all the time in the world to this process, as it stays with you and in you for the rest of your days. Yours truly,
Žvaki – the Tattoo Tailor
Unique is the same idea redone in a completely different way from anything else. If we take the example of music and compare two songs, we can compare it like this: every song contains lyrics, instruments and musicians creating it.
The idea and concept behind it are the same, but what sets every song apart from the next is a different approach, lyrical message, genre, a different arrangement of musical notes.
A unique tattoo is achieved through altering the approach, style, technique and/or design, regardless of the fact the motif stays the same.
Idea is what you wish to have on your body.
Is explained with words, not the DESIGN
When, for instance, you wish to have children, what makes up your IDEA are the reasons behind the wish, what you want to gain with it, but also the very decision to embark on a journey of ultimate responsibility.
With that IDEA you agree to all positive and negative outcomes that will come as a result of that decision.
The design of a tattoo is considered to be the physical end product of your IDEA.
For example, if you wish to include the image of a rose, it’s important to know why you want it and what you want to achieve with that image (THAT IS YOUR IDEA).
The end product of your rose through style, technique, composition, etc. is called DESIGN
It is extremely important to leave the design to your tattoo artist – that’s why you are paying him! – and if you want a special tattoo, you should utilise his knowledge and experience to adapt it to your own needs.
There are more than 17 styles of tattooing, while these styles can be combined, as well
Style is the manner in which your tattoo is going to be created.
Every style has its laws of craft, its minimum size, its advantages and downsides.
I will strongly advise you to get a tattoo artist who is versed in a number of styles, because it only increases your chances of finding a unique ink.
Technique is a method of shadowing, colouring, drawing lines and adding effects to your tattoo.
Same as with painters, every tattoo artist has his own method of crafting an image and every one is different.
In other words, if every tattoo artist did your tattoo using the same motif and same style, there would still be visible differences in quality of craft.
I will strongly recommend you find a tattoo artist whose technique suits you the best.