In 2006, Össur Hafþórsson’s interest in tattoos led him to organise the first Icelandic Tattoo Convention. After the third successful instalment of the Convention, Össur decided that a yearly festival was not enough to infuse the Icelandic tattoo scene with international influence, and the next logical step was to establish a studio for international guest artists. “The main reason for opening Reykjavík Ink was the interest I felt from the artists who visited the festival to come here and work for a longer period of time.”
Unlike most owners of tattoo studios, Össur is not a tattoo artist himself. In fact, unlike all other tattoo studios in town, Reykjavík Ink does not have a residential artist, but rather serves as homeground for various guest artists that Össur brings in. But despite being a layman, of sorts, Össur says Icelandic tattoo artists have accepted his studio in a positive manner. “I did not do this because I thought the Icelandic artists were no good,” he explains, “but the tattoo scene here is very small and people wanted to see more variations, more styles.”
One of the frequent guest artists at Reykjavík Ink is Sofia Estrella, a.k.a. Ms. Deborah, of Ms. Deborah’s Fountain of Youth studio in St. Augustine, Florida. She is currently in Iceland on her sixth visit. “I’ve done just about everything in 27 years of tattooing,” says the veteran. “I’ve tattooed all over the world and Iceland is not particularly different. People get tattoos for the same reasons all over, but they tend to connect with the area. In Iceland I do more Viking and rune tattoos than I would somewhere else, for example.”
She does not remember a special piece as her favourite, but says she enjoys doing memorial tattoos. “Tattoos have a healing power for grieving people. It can help them get over their grief. I’ve done a lot of memorial tattoos. I’ve done tattoos using people’s ashes in the ink so their loved one is always with them.” But she’s not willing to do anything. “If I don’t feel comfortable with doing a tattoo, I’ll send people somewhere else. The client comes first, and they should get the product they desire for their hard earned cash. But in general, if I can draw it, I can tattoo it.
- Where Frakkastigur 7, 101 Reykjavík
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