Oh, you thought just because there’s not much international travel right now that Reykjavík Fringe Festival would be cancelled? WRONG! It’s back and wackier than ever, with a week-long showcase featuring the best of local performers along with a selection of special live-streamed acts from abroad.
At the Grapevine, we are unapologetic Fringe-addicts, so we’re happy to now present a series of interviews with some of our favourite performers of this year. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of White Hill Tattoo, who will be holding a special pop-up tattoo parlour in Hlemmur Square and at their home base on Laugavegur 25.
First off—I know this is a basic question—can you tell me a little about what a tattoo pop-up is? Can people just walk in and get some pieces? How does it differ from your daily work?
We will have our stand at the opening party of Reykjavik Fringe Festival. Three artists—Marlena, Soffia and Allie—will have flash designs (ready-made tattoo designs) to choose from and you can get a tattoo on a spot while there. Usually we do what our clients ask for, but this time people can choose from our ideas instead of bringing their own. It’s a perfect way to get something spontaneous, both if you are not sure what you would like to get, or simply because you like tattoos or a certain artists style.
Will you be doing any special designs for Fringe? If not—could you tell me what you’d imagine your #RVKFringe tattoo would be?
Yes, we will have special ones for the festival. Every artist will prepare drawings in their own style. You could see our work on Instagrams, which are linked above, to get an idea of our styles. We might even have UV tattoos available. Niel is on our team, but wont be joining us on the opening party.
How did each of you get into tattooing? What was it about the art form that grabbed you? What styles (i.e. neotraditional, black’n’grey realism, etc. ) do you enjoy the most?
Marlena: I wanted to tattoo since I was five years old and from around 12 I wanted to become a tattoo artist, so I followed my dream and here I am. First I got inspired by the new school style, which is colourful and cartoon-ish. Now it’s all evolved into watercolour, natural, decorative and ornamental tattoos, with diamonds, glitter and accents. I try to keep my work full of positive vibes, good feelings and colour of course.
Soffía: I have been drawing and making art in all forms for as long as I remember, and fell in love with tattoos during my teenage years. I was never really good at school but enjoyed all the art courses. I learned tattooing in Madrid about six years ago and wanted to be able to do all the styles so I practiced almost all of them. I mainly do black’n’grey realism and neotraditional.
Allie: Tattooing has been something I’ve wanted to try ever since I was in high school. I got a BFA in illustration, and after several years of working in the industry decided to finally give it a chance. A friend of mine introduced me to stick and poke, and it grew quickly from there. I’ve been tattooing for around three years and have been with White Hill since January 2019. I love being able to create custom designs for people that are bold, unique, and weird. The weirdos are my favourite. I take a lot of inspiration from cartoons, independent comics, and folk art.
Niel: I started tattooing in April 2010 following my graduation from the Alberta University of the Arts in Calgary, Canada and six months of shop management and apprenticing. The kind of work I do today is an evolution from a broad spectrum of tattoo styles that I once did. My main interest is focused on biological illustration in its various forms. There is a deep level of fascination when I consider the details of the natural world and I love to replicate it on skin for the carrier (person) as a way to hold on to what is important.
Are there any pieces you’re particularly interested in doing right now? (Maybe someone reading will see this and contact you for it!)
Marlena: Yes, everything involving nature connected with gem tones, magic, glitter, sparkles, colour and possibly some UV accents in it. Please bring it to me!
Soffía: I really like to get some weird ideas and I want to focus more on neotraditional coloured designs.
Allie: For me, the weirder the better. I’m currently on a pretty hard ghost/alien/spirit kick—there will be lots of that kind of stuff available at our event.
Niel: Yes! I am always taking on new and interesting ideas from clients. However, I pay special attention to anyone interested in animals that existed in the Pleistocene or Holocene i.e. Wooly Mammoths and Dire Wolves.
Can you tell me about a piece you’ve done recently that you’ve particularly loved?
Marlena: I drew a beetle with a diamond body and watercolour splashes, posted it on Instagram and one girl got it done on her thigh. I was super stoked about it, I absolutely love to do my own art and it makes me unbelievably happy to know that people do as well.
Soffía: I did a hyena the other day in the neotraditional style. She asked for it in black’n’grey but half way through the session we decided to do it in colour and we both loved how it turned out.
Allie: I recently did a skateboarding alien that was a ton of fun! I’d love to tattoo more aliens doing everyday things.
Niel: A meaningful work I recently completed was for a good friend who suffered from serious burn scars in his past. We planned for a year and tattooed for nearly two years until it was finished. I am very proud of the finished result. You can view his full back tattoo on my Instagram.
What’s your advice for those who are maybe getting their first tattoo at the pop-up?
I would recommend getting your tattoo at our Fringe Flash Days on July 10th or 11th at our shop instead of at the opening party, since it’s a first tattoo so a cosier and more relaxed atmosphere might be a better choice. As well, go to our website and read about how to prepare for the tattoo session as well as aftercare instructions.
Read more Reykjavík Fringe coverage here.
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