Some sort of a Diary

Take a look around, how many people around you are tattoo-less? The number decreases with each day. It’s like tattoo artists are leaving permanent marks on our bodies. As tatto artist Barış Yeşilbaş puts it, “Those who look at our tattoos get insights about who we are.” Once symbolising rebellion, tattoos are now figures that give us away. We talked about the pleasure of tattoos with one of the tattoo artists of Tattoom Gallery in Galata.

How would you define the pleasure you get out of leaving permanent artworks on people’s bodies?

This is what I enjoy the most about doing tattoos. I haven’t been doing this for too long, however I love it when people come up to me and say “You tattooed me, remember?” We make memories that they’ll never forget, I earn a place in their lives in a way.

How would we define your lines and tattoo style? What was the inspiration that caused you to begin this job?

I love doing geometric, asymmetric and vibrant tattoos. I was affected by my father who was an architect and kept on drawing geometrical shapes on all types of paper, which is why I’ve been a fan of all geometrical shapes. As for color, at the first studIo I worked at, they always told me that all colorful tattoos faded and never looked good. This became my mission and I told myself that I would do colorful tattoos that never faded.

” I don’t think tattoos are supposed to carry deep meanings.”

What is the process before tattooing someone? What are your rituals?

I don’t have a ritual, however onlookers have observed how I do things in the same order, form, and shape. I guess I can say that is a ritual. Before I begin a tattoo, I do it in my head thousands of times; all it’s lines, and I plan the colors.

Once symbolising rebellion, tattoos are now figures that give our lifestyles away. What do tattoos mean to you?

I can say it’s a way of expressing yourself, however there is still some sort of rebellion. Tattoos are not perceived as odd and excessive as they used to be. I think tattoos tell stories of people’s lives. If someone were to look at my tattoos, they would get a lot of information about me. What I like, a movie I’m a fan of, a book, music, or words that motivate me. It’s some sort of a diary.

Who has your best piece of work tattooed on their body? What is it?

It’s a really hard question to answer, however there is a tattoo that I’ve done which I wish I had. I drew the Joker character on a friend of mine and liked it so much that I wish I carried it.

Why do you think people regret their tattoos?

There are many reasons but I think the most common one is due to decisions one makes when they are younger. I don’t think tattoos are supposed to carry deep meanings. If I have to give a personal example; almost all of my tattoos are about my childhood; shows that I liked, cartoons, characters, funny and beautiful memories… It’s impossible for me to regret that.

How long was your longest tattooing period and what was it of?

It took 8 hours and I filled the whole arm with geometric shapes.

When and where did you get your first tattoo?

At Ertuğ Pasajı in Ankara Tunalı when I was 18. Everyone from Ankara had gotten their first tattoo there.

What streets inspire your drawings in this city?

All streets of İstanbul are filled with inspiration however what pops in my mind are Balat, ferry rides, the islands, Moda, Serdar-ı Ekrem and Beyoğlu streets that whisper something different each time.

Fotoğraf / Photography: Hikmet Güler