Israeli Tattoo Artist Sagi Tuvia Reveals How to Develop Your Unique, Signature Tattooing Style
I met Sagi a couple of years ago, we worked in the same studio for a few months so I got to see how his style developed in spite of that creatively numbed studio clientele.
People would come in with their Pinterest phone screenshots and he magically managed to turn them on about his style and design something from scratch, his way.
How long have you been tattooing?
When was your first encounter with the world of tattoos and what attracted you to it?
I grew up in a hardly artistic environment with little to nothing to do with tattooing. During my military service I got to know a lot of heavily tattooed people with whom I had a stronger connection. As time went by, I fell in love with the drawings they had on their bodies and began taking interest in the world of tattooing.
When did you decide you wanted to become a tattoo artist?
I’d been drawing since forever and in the army a lot of friends found that out about me and asked me to draw for them, which I happily did. When they started getting my drawings tattooed on them, it felt incredible having my art on someone forever.
How did you plan to accomplish that and how did it actually happen?
When I decided to get my first tattoo I went to a consultation with a very popular artist and brought him one of my drawings that I wanted him to tattoo on me. When he saw the drawing he asked me if I had any artistic background and if I might be interested in entering the tattooing world. I was so stoked about it but I was still serving in the army so I couldn’t really commit to it. When I finished my service I looked him up but he wasn’t around anymore so I decided to look elsewhere for someone to teach me. I ended up finding a place that teaches organized courses and I enrolled.
What do you remember about your training/apprenticeship?
Training was hard. The classes weren’t so intensive; once a week for a few hours, for a little longer than 6 months but I practiced every day – either drawing or tattooing fake skin.
What was the hardest thing about it?
When I finished the course I tried to get into the local tattoo industry while keeping my regular job; it was so hard and intensive. After a few months doing that, I got an infection in both hands and had to go through surgery in my right hand, which shut me down for about 8 months, since my right hand was splinted and inactive. I couldn’t tattoo, I couldn’t draw and I didn’t know if my hand would ever fully recover and I could go back to my art.
What did your portfolio include at the time?
In my portfolio you can see sketches and color pieces mostly, it’s my favorite style. In the last few years people’s minds are opening up to new styles and like any other style – some like it and some don’t.
How long did it take you to find your style and how would you define it?
I’d say my style is sketchy with touches of color. It’s a style I was into long before I began tattooing, and as time went by I managed to gather those who liked it around me.
What do you like tattooing the most?
What’s the hardest and what’s the best thing about being a tattoo artist?
The best thing about it is seeing the person in front of you happy with what you’ve done to them; a lot of people are scared of the tattoo experience – be it the pain or the irreversibility of it, but those who are scared the most are always the ones who make you feel like you’ve made their dream come true. The hardest thing about being a tattoo artist are stubborn clients that won’t listen, those who want irrational things and won’t take NO for an answer, e.g. finger tattoos; the fact that the internet is full of pics of them doesn’t mean it’s always possible or worthwhile, and it’s always the same argument.
What would you do differently if you could go back in time?
Looking back, I should have insisted harder with people like that. Some people come again after years and they always say I was right and that they should have listened to me.
Last but not least… please give one tip for aspiring artists who are seeking apprenticeships and one for those already under an apprenticeship.
Aspiring artists looking for apprenticeships: don’t give up. A lot of places will not take newbies on board. Focus on bettering your art skills and research this world before you attempt to get in.
Apprentices: be self-aware. Do not attempt to tattoo people right on the beginning of your journey. Focus on drawing and understanding the tools, practice on fake skin and ultimately do your first tattoo under close supervision of whom you’ve chosen to learn from.
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Love & Ink,