Art for life


You see them everywhere, on arms, legs and feet. Age doesn’t matter, nor occupational class or social class. Within twenty years the nursing homes will be overrepresented by these fantastic and ever lasting work of art. Not too long ago it was still a very small group of people who wore these creations and in certain occupational classes, they didn’t exist at all. Change is a good thing. Today, these creations in both black and white and colour can be admired on all categories, and no one is assuming that the person behind is of a lower class or some sort of villain. On the contrary, one could say that tattoos are a form of status symbol, since they are quite an expensive piece of art… paid a visit to the family company Headbanger Tattoo, located on the small town square in Karlskoga, to find out more about tattoos and which or what the most common tattoo is. We were greeted in the doorway by Veronica Pettersson, who together with her partner Daniel Nagy, 2013 got tired of working from behind their desks at the design company they worked at. They both resigned to together chase after a dream and a need to achieve something more in life.

Photo: Åsa Jansdottir

The shop

The former technical writer Veronica is working behind the counter in the shop and she’s often the first person you meet either you are getting a tattoo, a piercing, buying clothes, jewellery, bags or shoes. A bright and pleasant woman with an interest for clothes and accessories that she sells in the shop. Veronica tells us that most people doesn’t know that they are offering more than body art, and usually turn around and leave when they see the word tattoo… It’s a shame that people aren’t more curious to come in and look around!

The business, the shop and the tattoo studio has been and still is a total turn-about to Veronica and Daniel. There are so many things to learn about the import of clothing, how you display the items and how to make the shop front to look attractive.

Daniel, who’s an artist of rank started out working just during the evenings and after a while took a leave from his job as a technical illustrator to get his business started. To work as a tattooist doesn’t just signify to be a hell of an artist, it also means a wide knowledge about anatomy, different types of skin and naturally to be skilled with the “needle”.

– There are several years of training behind this occupation and when I had practice long enough at home, on friends, people I didn’t know started to come and I thought that I hade to take a chance and open my own studio. The worst thing that could happen would be that I have to shut it down, says Daniel. Help and support in his occupational role, Daniel has received from another tattooist that he first met during a tattoo exhibition in Karlstad. I love to be a tattooist, Daniel continues. I develop and improve myself with each tattoo I make and it is tremendously important to me to be humble and realize that I need the challenge that the process mean...

Elina Pettersson

Female tattooist

In the studio with Daniel we find Elina Pettersson, a young and talented woman. Elina is an apprentice at Daniel’s, and just recently got her own chair. Headbanger Tattoo will be the only studio with a female tattooist in Karlskoga. During Tuesdays and Thursdays it is also possible to get a piercing in the same facilities with Kalle Weidt, a former college to Veronica and Daniel from the design company they worked at previously. sits down in the studio while Daniel starts with a tattoo that he himself has been a part of drawing. The tattoo is so large that it will cover an entire arm, from the shoulder and all the way down to the forearm. Daniel calls it the Polynesian and it will be done in sections, which means a couple of hours at the time. Partly because it is so time consuming and partly since it’s quite painful to sit for such a long time. Just to draw the base of the tattoo from the shoulder and down to the forearm takes time.

Usually Daniel draws the design on the computer and then prints it out and put it onto the area of the body. A bit like a transfer picture from a bubble gum tattoo…

How common is it that someone comes with just an idea, and asks you to draw a sketch?

Well it happens, but it’s not as common as having a picture or a photo of what you want, says Daniel.

How much work is it behind a tattoo like this, even before you start with the needle?

Yes well… This specific one I have been working on for quite some time. Just the pattern has meant substantial research of the different parts. I also had in mind what it’s suppose to symbolize to the man who’s going to wear it and so on. It must be good looking, personal and meaningful…

What was the motive on the first tattoo you made?

It was a bear, from the chest and upwards…

Do you make any kind of tattoos, exactly what your customer wants?

No, I exercise the right to say no to people if they want something offending. It actually happened the other day when a person came in and wanted a swastika, I said no immediately! But naturally I try to talk to the customer and explain that certain things perhaps aren’t suitable for the future and so on. I want people to be happy about their tattoo and so do I…

What is your dream tattoo?

My dream tattoo…? I think its more persons, not the actual tattoo, but persons I would like to stain, haha. Everything that has to do with biomech and also portraits that people wants… regardless of if it’s a baby portrait or of somebody famous…

Photo: Åsa Jansdottir

To make a tattoo can be quite painful when it takes a long time. But how painful is it for you? It is not a great working position you have…

Yes I get quite stiff. If it’s a long sitting, I need a break to stretch my body. I guess I should go for a massage on a regular basis, but I have only been once so far…

To be self-employed means working long hours and nearly seven days a week. Have the two of you been able to structure your life with some free days yet?

Haha, yes we are trying! We have the opening hours at the studio and the shop, but naturally, we are working even from home when we should take time off. On Sundays we try not to work and it has so far not been a huge success… Haha. There is a lot of work around the studio, we have a website and a webshop that needs tending and it is at home I sit and sketch and do research on the tattoos…

Veronica Pettersson. Photo: Åsa Jansdottir

You both work and live together, how does that work for you?

It works really well, we actually met ten years ago at our previous work, says Veronica. Yes, it works very well, Daniel continues. It is nice to be able to talk about things that happened at the studio during the day and to know that Veronica fully understands. We are co-workers and life companions in one, which is a perfect combination for us!

Is there fashion within tattoos?

Both yes and no. During one period it was very popular to have a tribe, or a tattoo on a specific part of your body. At the moment there are a lot of texts. Maps and compasses are also quite popular…

What is the most common theme people chose?

It is actually roses…

Where does the name Headbanger Tattoo come from?

- The name is off course from Daniel’s interest in death metal (even if he no longer have quite as much hair to head bang with…), says Veronica.

Finally, what was the first music album you bought?

My first album I am afraid to speak about today, since it was a Modern Talking album… But during my second year of high school, my family had a lodger who initiated me into the wonderful world of hard rock. From one day to the other, I changed from listening to New Order and Depeche Mode to listen only to hard rock and my first album I bought as a reborn was Helloween’s Keeper of the seven keys…

Daniel, Veronica, Kalle and Elina are all incredible humble in their image, and if you haven’t been to the studio or the shop, we strongly recommend you to pay them a visit. In the shop you have the opportunity to find clothes, shoes and bags that you will fell quite unique wearing. Veronica is very careful not to buy more than a certain amount of each garment, to make sure you don’t end up in the awkward situation to wear the same dress at the party as somebody else. As an addition Veronica always have coffee on the go!