The Diva of the Icelandic Tattoo Scene - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Diva of the Icelandic Tattoo Scene

The Diva of the Icelandic Tattoo Scene

Published September 12, 2008

Photo by
GAS

For Jón Páll, the uncrowned king of the Icelandic tattoo industry, it all started about fifteen years ago when he was just as deeply entrenched in the 90s rock-scene as the next guy; boasting long greasy hair and rugged leather pants. Getting a tattoo was an obvious next step to complete the rock n’ roll image. But getting a tattoo in Iceland was not as easy then as it is now: you had to go overseas.
When traveling in Greece, the summer before he started his studies at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts, Jón Páll decided to get his second tattoo, and when he met his future mentor Pavlos Mamantis there was no turning back.
“I basically forced him to take me as an apprentice for stupendous amounts of money, but since I was a poor student I had to beg my parents for the complete sum. The next time I walked into his parlor I had at least 600 thousand ISK in travel checks, carefully stored in an envelope.” A few months later he returned to Iceland and opened his very own tattoo parlor, JP Tattoo, at the age of nineteen. Soon after his return he mentored his friend Fjölnir who co-managed the parlor. “Our lifestyle at that time was pretty vulgar, so sometimes I ran things solo, sometimes we were in it together and sometimes I didn’t show up for weeks.” But although he had initiated the Icelandic tattoo scene he soon moved over to Canada to continue his studies, leaving Fjölnir in charge of the parlor.
     “I have always considered myself an illustrator rather than a painter or anything alike and as soon I discovered the “Classic Animation” course they offered in Vancouver I realized it combined all my interests in art”. After finishing his degree he was hired to designing characters for the PS 1 game Goblins and his work there turned out to be so promising that he was offered to design all the characters for the first edition of the MMP game EVE Online for CCP Games. After three years of work at the CCP residence he moved on to the up and comers in the children’s entertainment industry, Lazy-Town, where he spent another three years designing their look.
     “I thought I’d never return to doing tattoos, I was bored sick of tribal patterns, Chinese symbols and children’s names, but the scene has completely turned around in the last two years. The tattoos have become more thorough, bigger and more colorful. So presently I do tattoos fulltime and I’m having the time of my life.” Recently Jón Páll was given an award for the best colour-tattoo at the respected Inkbash in Stockholm. and as you might wonder he is a bit picky on tattoos he makes. “I’m not saying that those tattoos I’m refusing to do aren’t chic or anything, it’s just that if I can be a diva and pick those out I’m interested in of course that’s what I’ll do.”  

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