From Iceland — Having Fun And Making Tattoos

Having Fun And Making Tattoos

Published September 26, 2023

Having Fun And Making Tattoos

IsTattFest returns in honour of a local legend

Atli Fjölnisson remembers spending his summers differently than other teens. When they were getting jobs with the municipalities, sentenced to long days spent pulling weeds in public gardens, he was working the front desk at a tattoo parlour and welding homemade tattoo guns in the back room.

“If you wanted to be a tattoo artist, you had to know how to make needles,” he explains. “Today, nobody makes their own needles and I often think about the days and weeks I spent in a dark room welding them – knowledge I had absolutely no use for in my later years.”

But spending days at the tattoo shop was following in the footsteps of his father, the legendary tattoo artist Fjölnir Geir Bragason, perhaps better known as Fjölnir Tattoo. Fjölnir was the face of Reykjavík tattoo culture from the time he began tattooing in 1995 through to his death in late 2021.

Now, in honour of the local legend, tattoo artists and musicians are coming together at Iðno September 31 and October 1 for IsTattFest. This year’s celebration of tattoo culture is a reincarnation of a festival that Fjölnir Tattoo held at Iðno the year before his death, which was itself an Icelandic take on the annual Faroe Islands-based FoTattFest that he co-founded in 2012.

Tattoos and fun

“The old man loved two things very much: having fun and making tattoos,” says Rúnar Hroði Geirmnudsson, a coordinator of this year’s IsTattFest. “So we brought together a bunch of tattoo artists, and we have six rock bands on the Friday and full on rave on the Saturday.”

Sóðaskapur, Boob Sweat Gang, Kristo & Co, Grunge Rokkmessa, and Krummi will take the stage on the Friday, followed by Sbeenaround, Thorkell Máni, Samwise, and Sleazy keeping the party going on Saturday.

The sound of tattoo guns will add to the soundtrack of the weekend, with more than 20 Reykjavík-based artists coming together to make their mark on local bodies. The artists will spend time during the festival finishing up projects to be in the running for awards in various categories – Best of The Day, Best Old School, Best Black and Grey, and so on – while catering to the requests of walk-ins. So if you have some new ink in mind, you know where to be at the end of the month.

“Fjölnir was a great man,” Rúnar says. “So this is in respect to him and remembering him, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun.”

IsTattFest happens at Iðno September 31 (doors open at 11:00) and October 1 (doors open at noon). Tickets are available at the door for 1.500 ISK, with each ticket pulling double duty as a raffle entry to win prizes throughout the festival. Learn more about participating tattoo artists on Instagram at @tattfest or at

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