I was never much of a fan of tattoos. Well I always had appreciated a good tattoo when I see one, but never before that understood why people are doing it. When I started sinking and getting to know more about tattoo universe I never told that I’ll meet so many interesting and good people that are a part of that culture and lifestyle that has been around for centuries but always were considered as something wired and even bad.
I met Paul through hockey. He was on a visit in Sofia, Bulgaria with hockey club from Athens for a week one summer about 6 or 7 years ago. Due to an injury he missed couple of practices and we had a moment to chat. At some point I asked “What do you do for living” and the answer was “I make tattoos. I am a tattoo artist.” I asked if he will do one on me and when he said that he will I never told that this will bring such positive change in my life.
I told him more as a IT geek – short guy with classes wearing skate shoes and Maple Leafs cap, devoted Star Wars fan. Maybe this along with the fact that we had similar interests like ice hockey, rock and hip hop and the fact that he is open person whom is easy to communicate with, laid the foundation of a good friendship and my interests in tattoos world.
The first time I saw Paul at work was one year later during my second time in Athens. He was still fixing the Destiny Tattoo Shop and was working in a small, clean and cozy place where I comfortably sit and watched him working.
Fist tattoo I saw done was a “Carpe Diem” slogan on a guy’s chest. I was not aware at all that it takes so much preparation and time to make even a small slogan and then I started imagine how long takes for more colorful tattoo with a lot of small details. I am not an expert so I cannot tell more details about his work but there are a few things that even being newbie I could spot. His work place is always clean and in order. Few ink drops here and there but overall very clean. This is also valid for the shop where everything is clean and tidy.
He also is taking his time crafting every small detail of what he does. Even the smallest and tiniest details are been made properly with no rush not matter how long it will take.
When he told me what he is doing for living I told that it is party all day and going in the shop from time to time. I could not be more wrong. Compared with him, I look like lazy ass sitting all day chatting, and surfing the web. He works 6 days a week, including Saturdays from 12:00 at lunch often all the way to 9 – 10 in the evening. Not taking two hours lunch breaks, not having coffee, I was always amazed how he can sit for so many hours with not even move and often in a weird position so he can work on the client.
Specializing in Japanese style tattoos he is doing interesting and original designs that are always a piece of art. One of my sessions was on the Athens Tattoo convention in 2014 and when I was walking around the convention several people stopped me and asked who did the tattoo and I was so proud when couple of them said “Ah Paul from Destiny Tattoo. I know him. This is why it is so good”.
When I was planing the first article for Tattooverse I never told that it will be so difficult to write about my good friend Paul. I was starting over and over several times. It was either too detailed or was telling nothing and I really hope that you will like it as it is now.
We spoke for many hours and I asked many questions since I was curious about everything about tattoos and his work. Following are some of the questions that I told will be interesting for you to hear.
TattooVerse: How long you have been doing tattoos?
Paul: I’ve been doing tattoos for about 15 years.
TattooVerse: How did you started?
Paul: When I was in high school there was a tattoo parlour right across my house. I became friends with the owner and started helping out. Quickly I became his apprentice and started working there full time.
TattooVerse: What was the first tattoo you did?
Paul: The first tattoo I did was a rose with a banner with the word ‘mother’ in Greek.
TattooVerse: What was your first tattoo?
Paul: My first tattoo was a small new school design of a stunt in-line skater on the inner part of my right leg.
TattooVerse: What is your inspiration/favorite style?
Paul: Favorite style is Japanese.
TattooVerse: Destiny Tattoo – why?
Paul: ‘Destiny Tattoo’ is from a certain scene from Star Wars where Darth Vader tells Luke that it is his destiny to join him.
TattooVerse: What people are usually having tattoo and why/what are the reasons for it?
Paul: I really can’t answer that with clarity. There all sorts of people that have tattoos for their own personal reasons. Others just like the art and get nice designs, and for others it may have a certain meaning (family, love, courage, getting back on their feet etc..)
TattooVerse: Is there a fashion in the tattoos like tribal in the 90’s and if yes what is the latest “wanna/must have”?
Paul: I think the latest fashion are pocket watches, feathers breaking into birds and the infinity symbol.
TattooVerse: People are always asking me if I am not afraid to have a tattoo so can you please explain a bit about safety (how do you do the needles disposal, what are the basic safety rules etc.)
Paul: I think nowadays, people don’t have to be worried about that issue, if they are going to a professional tattoo artist. In order for them to have a legal business, means that they follow all the health guidelines of each country, which are pretty much similar. New sterile needles and sterile tubes is something very easy to have. What customers what to worry about is cross-contamination, which non-professionals have no clue.
TattooVerse: Problems because of a tattoo. What problems may appear after tattoo?
Paul: Problems after getting a new tattoo is usually not taking the proper care. Try to do what your professional artist has consulted you. Taking off the bandage too soon to show your friends is something that should be avoided. And I personally think that a big factor for irritations or infections are pets. So be extra careful if you own a pet.
TattooVerse: After care for both fresh and old tattoos?
Paul: Each artist has a different style of working so you may hear different opinions on how to take care of it. There are many ways, so listen to each artist individually and do what he/she has told you. For taking care of an older tattoo, there are many products on the market you can use to revive colors.
TattooVerse: What is the future of the tattoos according to you and giving the fact that there is almost nothing changed in the last 100+ years? (there are a lot of different “ideas” in movies like Total Recall 2013 or Divergents and even the latest idea of a 3D printer making these).
Paul: I don’t know what science will come up with in the future. All I can say is that artists are becoming better and better and new machines that make our lives easier are always being made. The quality of colors is improving too.
TattooVerse: The ultimate tattoo story (I guess you have heard a lot and experienced a lot – tell us the one you’ll ever remember)
Paul: I think the ultimate tattoo story for me is something I’ve read on the internet. I’ve had many of my own but this one has touched me most. There was a person who got a tattoo of his dead wife and it was a horrible tattoo, in terms of artwork. It was on the internet all the time, marked as FAIL. And then I read that a certain artist, I can’t remember his name, covered it up with how it should have been done in the first place. It was free of charge and the tattoo looked very nice. That was really big of him, and I have a lot of respect for that artist.
TattooVerse:You have mentioned your business. How long it took you to open your own parlor?
Paul: I worked for 10 years for an old friend who was my teacher too. And about five years ago I went solo and started up Destiny Tattoo.
TattooVerse: Is it difficult to run the parlour?
Paul: I’ve been in the tattoo business for quite some time, so I can’t say it’s that hard anymore. Just many responsibilities, but I’m used to them.
TattooVerse: Any advice for the artists new to tattoos and this business – in your opinion if someone wants to do this what he/she must do to become not only a good artist but a good professional too?
Paul: My advice is practice makes perfect. And a lot of patience.
TattooVerse: Your future as artist what do you wanna do?
Paul: I don’t know about my future. What I do now is pleasing. My business is doing well, so for right now I can’t ask for more. I stay focused on the now and I’ll just have to wait and see what the future brings.
TattooVerse: Looking back – do you have any regrets about taking the road of a tattoo artist and if you can go back in time would you choose again the same?
Paul: I think if I hadn’t become a tattoo artist I would have liked to be an architect. But I didn’t like studying that much in school, so tattooing suits me nicely. Also, I wouldn’t say no to a part in the porn industry
Many times I was asked by Paul and my other friends in Greece why I am spending my days in the shop instead of going out around Athens. What I can say is that there is no better place to rest your mind, gather your thoughts and have fun than Destiny Tattoo Parlour.
Lying on the sofa, drinking coffee, joking with friends, falling asleep and waking up listening to the buzzing sound of the tattoo machines and sound of rock or hip hop, watching people making art and having beer at the end of the day is the most relaxing and fun time ever.
If you are in Athens you should go and feel this for yourself. Maybe you’ll get a nice tattoo as well.