Photos and Interview by Ino Mei
Unique, humble and conscious of himself, Yorg Powell spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk, about his eighteen year-old career and traditional – classic tattooing.
What lead you to get your first tattoo?
I was born in London. My parents didn’t have any tattoos. However they were up to beat with everything. So in the summer of 1983 we were on a family trip in Mykonos and there was an English tattooist on the island working out of a rented room. It was the age of punk, we were very young and the moment we heard about him we went and got ourselves tattooed without a second thought. I didn’t even ask the price. I picked a design off the wall that was a rat with his hands behind his back holding a pool stick. It was an experience. I remember it well. Then we found out that the inhabitants of Mykonos got him, threw his things into the sea and shipped him home because he tattooed a fisherman’s daughter.
When I was sixteen, I saved up after selling an old BMX I had and went to Bugs. It was a random choice. He wasn’t known then and did his tattoos in 1,5 x 1,5 room next to the toilet of an underground retro rock n’ roll cafeteria in Camden. Nothing custom existed in those days, it was all ready-made flash designs on the wall.
What design did you choose the second time round?
I got a unicorn. I went for something classic (laughs)! Three years later, fully conscious of what we wanted, me and Mike went to Bugs again for our first official large tattoo. Bugs covered up his unicorn and the rat.
How did you and Mike meet?
We’ve been friends for many years, from before we started tattooing together. We met through a mutual friend. We had many things in common, such as our great love of tattoos and motorcycles and going out a lot. Mike had the balls and was the first of our group to dare to do a tattoo on someone, this during an era when it wasn’t cool to be a tattooist. I found it very weird sticking a needle at a person in order to make a design on him. Afterwards, I studied fine art at Wimbledon College of Art and although I designed tattoos, I hadn’t made the move to human skin yet and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to. Mike prompted me after our visit to the 1995 Amsterdam tattoo convention when he said “common man, what are you doing? I’m waiting for you!”.
Then you returned to Greece and began learning at Mike?
Yeah, I came back right away! Mike already had Tas (Danazoglou) as an apprentice for about a year. I didn’t have an entirely traditional apprenticeship. I mean I didn’t go with my portfolio and offer to be an apprentice for some tattooist. I was a bit spoiled (laughs). He was giving Tas a hard time. I feel lucky that my best with whom we talked constantly about tattoo and we were drawing on ourselves, prompted me to do this and provided me with the foundations to do so and helped me so much.
To read the rest of this article, go to: http://heartbeatink.gr/en/issues/december-2013/yorg-powell/