Browse all

Hello Berlin #3 - TOBIAS VETTER

Discover with us the world of one of the most talented tattoo artists in Berlin

Hello Berlin #3 - TOBIAS VETTER Discover with us the world of one of the most talented tattoo artists in Berlin

From Germany's countryside Tobias Vetter has inked his way into Berlin’s heart. We had the chance to catch up with the creative genius, his girlfriend Tabea, and their new puppy Mini, in Prenzlauerberg. Their home is a cool brick-covered loft that has recently gained the addition of a studio for Tobias. And it's not just the new meld of home/work that shows his self reliant success, his schedule proves it. His diary is overbooked; his clients become regulars while city newbies and tourists alike come to be embellished by his hand. If you are searching for a talented tattoo artist who specializes on delicates, there seems to be a simple answer: Tobias Vetter. His variety of styles and meticulous drawing classify his tattoos as real works of art - so you won’t be surprised to find that he studied Fine Arts before exchanging his pencil for a needle. We were interested to know what sort of influence he had on the tattoo industry and beyond. Yes...Tobias is creative on many levels and has various projects at play. So with no further ado, I proudly introduce you to our third exceptional talent, and "Hello!“ from Berlin. 

#1 Who is Tobias Vetter?
Okay, so ... I would say, "Basically Tobias Vetter is a tattoo artist, but technically he is an artist and illustrator from the Allgäu, which is in the south of Germany. He is very connected to his roots, his hometown and the landscape - also the mountains, by which he is inspired by and is reflected in his art." ...that’s strange saying that about myself...

#2 Which are the things you are passionate about?
Exactly this: the country side and the mountains where I grew up. Nature is very important to me and inspiring. Travelling is another. But what I really get most passionate about are other artists. 

#3 When did you first come in contact with tattooing?
It’s already been a long time now - I guess about ten years ago I started. I was very interested in the punk scene, which I was also part of. Tattoos have a special importance in that subculture so it came almost naturally for me to be interested in them. I first
tried tattooing myself with a normal needle and some ink - but I totally failed. I was too scared about infections so I didn’t press the needle deep enough into the skin. Still some marks remain on my skin today (laughing and showing his underarm). 

#4 Was it love at first sight? 
Yeah, I was really keen and passionate about it. I tried to get a job in a tattoo studio in Bochum, where I lived before I came to Berlin, but I didn’t find a job. Nobody wanted to give me a chance. 

#5 What was the main influence in becoming a tattoo artist?
The main influence was Berlin at least. I studied illustration, and even though I didn't finish my studies I tried living from that for three or four years, which eventually didn’t work out. So I mainly had odd jobs everywhere. I wanted to find a solution to be permanently settled in Berlin, so the actual plan to achieve this was to become a tattoo artist. My idea was that this could really work out business wise ... yet still be an outlet for my art. I just bought my tools and, that was that; I started to tattoo. 

#6 Would you consider what you do as a form of Art?
Yeah, I would say so. Especially nowadays. I mean when you go back in time, about ten years ago, all you could find was mostly the same style of tattoo being produced. Everybody had this booklet with common motifs like stars, tribals and stuff, etc. in their studios. You can still find some of these, but now it has developed itself as real art form. You can find innovative artists and different styles – it really became its own sort of art scene. 

#7 Do you have a trademark or a specific style? 
Yes, I just tattoo in black. People call it "black work“ or "dot work“. This is attributed to what I am inspired by: old engraving and wood-cut works from artists like Alfred Dürer. So yeah, I use a lot of lines and dots. 

#8 Berlin is known for it’s darkside. Your work is also mainly based on black lines.What about colours? 
For me it’s actually really just a matter of taste and for sure it’s very personal. I don’t see the body as a canvas. I still like to see the whole "thing“, the human being, instead of just one part of skin which is drawn on. So for my kind of taste, I don’t think colours really fit there. For example if you have color tattoos you may struggle matching the things you wear. When it all comes together, you may be limited in your expression, whatever it is. Black gives you much more freedom to add something else – it’s more simple and so a better fit for the body in total.  

#9 What do you prefer: pencil or needle? 
As I’m coming from this origin, I still would still say pencil. 

#10 Which challenges you in life and in your work? 
Hmmm... probably that’s my emails. That’s really the worst. Just to get my shit done. Organization is really something I’m not good at. 

#11 How did you first start tattooing in a hairsalon? 
Actually it just happened. I was tattooing from home part time while I also had another job on the side. But then a friend of mine introduced me to Viktor, the hairdresser (Viktor Leske). He is very spontaneous, open minded and loves tattoos. So he was very keen to start something together. He offered me a space in the back of the studio in Mitte. I was there for almost four years. Recently we decided to split, because his shop was getting very busy and he needed more space. For me it was the same as well. It was really a wonderful experience. Right now I am tattooing again from my home, but I’m not sure how this will work out. I really like the atmosphere here, it’s more private and intimate. But I might search again for a new studio, or a bigger apartment (laughing) ... 

#12 How would you define beauty? 
Wow, that’s also really personal. This is actually really hard for me to answer, because I don’t really think about that...Okay, when I go to a museum for example it could be just a painting. It could be of course a woman (smiling and looking at his girlfriend) or also be a moment that I really enjoy or even the sunrise. For my work, uhhh.. if the drawing's place on the body is perfect or the tattoo just fits in the perfect space. I said this before. Aesthetic and beauty are intrinsically connected. 

#13 The strangest thing you evert tattooed was...
I tattooed my girlfriend on the soles of her feet - but it wasn’t really the strangest one - just very painful for her. There was a guy who wanted to have a guitar on his underarm, so he could "play it" ... ahhhh yeah. Actually that was the last tattoo I did on him. So it’s really more about the customer's motive rather than if I have tattooed a wired place. I never tattooed a penis for example. 

#14 Besides making art you also opened up a place where you can have lunch-how did that project come up? 
That was more my girlfriend’s idea and energy that made that happen. She wanted to do something like that. So instead of doing it in a few years we took the challenge right away. She started with the business plan and I joined in with it all. We were talking a
lot about it. I mean this is the typical Berlin thing - to be part of a start-up. I’m super keen to do things that go far beyond my origin. Sure most of the things never happen, but that’s also typical for Berlin I guess. The initial energy that pushes you at the beginning - I really love that. Yeah, and this is where we are now: with a coffee place. 

#15 How do you combine these two things - running a cafe and tattooing? 
Right in the beginning I was working at the cafe two or three days a week. Now I’m working more in the background while I focus on tattooing during the day. So I mainly do the grocery shopping or organization - which is more office work. I can do these things in the evening or mornings. 

#16 Who are your biggest role models? 
This changes a lot. There is always someone. Right now I would say Daniel Richter because I'm still into painters, even though a lot of people would say that painting is not as important anymore. I disagree on that. I also discovered Taryn Simon, a photographer. She had a great show in Copenhagen and her work captures really cruel things and sceneries in the most beautiful of ways. Her work is really mind-blowing. I mean I really love what I do, but fine art is something where I see myself heading towards in the future. I don’t even know how that will play out... but yeah. 

#17 What do you think is the best thing about living and working in Berlin?
It’s affordable and still inspiring. There is so much going on. I think we can be really happy, because there is not really another city that is so energetic. People are willing to do something. So what you can definitely do is create a great network.