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Ten questions with tattooer Jonas Nyberg

23 October 2013

Author : reba

Jonas Nyberg is the Swedish tattooer working out of Göteborg Classic Tattooing in Gothenberg. Known for his excellent balance of bold colours, characterful drawings and flash inspired replications, Nyberg adds a fresh of breath air into classic tattoo designs. With tattooers recreating interpretations of flash becoming so overpopulated its good to see a tattooer at work who makes flash look like his own and original. Here at Sang Bleu we’ve decided to get to know a little more about him, by looking at how he works and what he thinks of tattooing now by asking him ten questions.

How did you start your career within tattooing?

It started very abruptly when I worked at a bar in Fuerteventura in 2002 where I lived at the time. The bar had the genius name Tattooz ‘n Booze.
They needed someone to help out at their shop Fuertetattoo and this ended up with me starting to work as an assistant, cleaning the floors, soldering needles, doing the appointments, helping the clients to understand that they need something else then what they wanted from the beginning. i worked there for about 2 years and are ever grateful of the opportunities Machteld and Pablo have given me.

What is the tattoo scene like in Sweden?

It’s growing every day, more and more people get tattooed, and above all they know more what they want. There is a lot of people who are genuinely interested in the whole traditional tattoo history and are into getting classic tattoos based on old flash. Many clients are getting just tattoos based on flash done Bert Grimm or
Amund Dietzel or any other of the great old-timers, this is something that would love to do more of and that I respect a lot.

Who are your favourite artists?

Joel Albertsson that works with me, who is one of my best friends and an amazing artist. Walter de loba Soza from paraguay who is a true warlock and a inspiring friend and human being. Andreas Ramstedt for being an amazing person and friend who proves that change is what we make of it.

What is it about flash that you like so much?

I mostly like pre 60s flash. Probably because without them there would’t have been something called traditional tattoos, thanks to them the legacy of the 1900s tattooing can still be reinvented all around the world. The basic and naive techniques chosen to reproduce pictures from signs, catalogues and prints into doable tattoos by the tattooers of that time is amazing to me, how they transformed a perfect copper engraving of an eagle from a catalogue or a newspaper into a design on a flash sheet, that they could later tattoo onto someones body forever, in less than one hour.
That to me is true craftsmanship, the bums of art.

Who are your favourite pre-1960s tattooers?

Bert Grimm, Ralph Johnson, Christian Warlisch, Milton Zeiz, Owen Jensen, George Bruchett, Amund Dietzel just to name a few.

How do you feel about replicating a kind of naivety to your work considering it is so folk-art and flash inspired?

I used to do a lot more weird stuff before, but felt that it got hollow and unrooted after a while. now i focus more on trying to reproduce the old ways of doing things and just add a little bit of myself into the flash.
Some flash i have done 5-10 times because the client want a certain motif, but in a slightly different way every time. I have realized that i enjoy this very much, it’s a small challenge big enough to make my day exciting.
This to me is the essence of tattooing from old flash, don’t put too much self into the motifs. let them be relics from the past, we are just the makers of them and as the maker we can change a little bit, but if we change too much it is so easy to lose the beauty they possess.
To me early flash is folk art. It’s simplicity, power, imagination, its ability to make you understand what it is you are looking at. It’s so pure and untamed in a wonderful naive way.This is something we miss in our busy world today, there is no room for imperfection, imperfection equals freedom, free form boundaries, free of illusions of progress and success.
sometimes progress is being content with your own lack of progress.

Who are your favourite practicing tattooers and why?

It’s impossible to name any particular, there are so many good tattooers around that inspires me all the time. Most of times I’m inspired by people who uses old flash as their guidelines.

In which way do you feel that social media is affecting the tattoo world?

It has a huge part in the evolution of tattooing right now. it has opened up paths of communication that have led to friendships between tattooers from all around the world in a way that would have been impossible only 10 years ago. I have a lot of my progress to thank social media, without it i wouldn’t have had half as many fun tattoos to do each week, and many of my best friends and biggest inspirations I’ve met through social media.
But in the same time, it’s been made almost too easy to find the work by the best tattooers alive, it’s there just a click away on your smartphone, you will have it for free without no effort at all, all their years of hard work and love for tattooing. A little bit of the magic disappears and get mixed in a hugh pot of millions of photos of peoples latest drink, new car, funny guy on the metro, some ad for whatever etc etc, it’s like a wall of information that floods our minds, and it gets overwhelming and watered out in a sad way. Compare this to the magazine Tattootime from Ed Hardy that was in it’s time groundbreaking and still is in many ways.

The opportunity to see other tattooers work and the different styles at that time, must have been a huge inspiration to anyone who read the magazines.
looking trough it now, each and every photo in those five magazines have made an huge impact on tattooing as a whole. those tattoos will be remembered and appreciated forever.


Who would be your perfect customer?

I guess that depends on my mood, the weather, time of day etc. for example if the sun is shining and the sea is warm the perfect customer is the one canceling his appointment in the last minute so I can go to the sea with my friends or my girl, or the one that comes trough the door just when you got an cancelation and asks for a skull, rose, dagger, panther, tiger, snake or any other cool tat.
Or it could be a person who have a rough idea what to get but is open for new ways of doing it, or even changing the subject to something that will be a better tattoo that will age well, and make you look tough till the day you die.

How would you like to see tattooing change in the future?

It is ever changing, everyday a little bit, and it is impossible to know were it is heading.
I just hope that tattooing will stay what it is, a place for the lunatics and the mad ones, a place where you never need to conform to the norms of society, where the outcasts can find refuge.

Thanks Jonas!

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