I’m Adrià de Yzaguirre, and This Is How I Tattoo

If we made a list of established Spanish tattoo artists, Adrià de Yzaguirre would definitely be one of them.

A Catalan who has lived in Berlin since 2011, he is one of those tattoo artists ‘slash’ illustrators with a very personal style of drawing, one which uses almost exclusively black. Having worked as an art director in various media agencies, in 2011 he decided to change his native Barcelona for Berlin, where he was to begin a promising career as a tattoo artist.

  • Located in: Berlin, Germany
  • Style: Illustrative / Blackwork
  • Tattooing career: Since 2012
  • Waiting list at present: 2–4 weeks

Describe how you work in one word.


How did you start as a tattoo artist?

It was hard but very satisfying. I was lucky or unlucky not to have access to a traditional apprenticeship so I had to teach myself.

After a very short time I found work as a resident tattoo artist in a studio, where I learnt a lot but also discovered that my own way of looking at the tattoo did not fit in with the commercial circuit and that I would need to develop my career on my own.

Which tattoo artists have influenced your work?

When I came across the work of Valentin Hirsch and Peter Aurisch I realized that it was possible to have my own style as a tattoo artist. This realization helped me to decide to move from illustration to tattooing.

I later understood that the tattoo is very much more limited than illustration y I began to greatly simplify my style, using as a reference point the work of tattoo artists like Eterno or Slower Black amongst others.

© Adrià de Yzaguirre

Tell us a bit about what a typical day is like for Adrià.

My day-to-day activity depends on whether I have to draw or tattoo. The days when I tattoo I am organized, clean and meticulous. But the days I draw are much more chaotic and my desk ends up covered with sketches and the floor with balls of screwed up paper.

Has there been some turning point in your life/career?

My personal and professional life has been full of changes but if I were to choose one point in particular I suppose it would be the day I moved to Berlin.

If I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend and probably I wouldn’t have started a career as a tattoo artist. image

© Adrià de Yzaguirre

What are the apps, software or tools without which you couldn’t live?

I’ve never been particularly fanatical about work tools. I’ve always started drawing with whatever pencil or paper was to hand and because of that I find it hard to understand how anyone would be unable to work without a particular type of material.

Having good tools helps to make work more simple but I am sure that without them I would continue to draw and probably tattoo.

What is your workspace like?

I work on my own in my private studio, an open space but also cosy, with wooden floors, high ceilings and a lot of light.

In general, I try not to take on more than one appointment a day. This helps each customer to feel at home and know that they have my complete attention.

Photo of Adrià’s private studio in Berlin. © Adrià de Yzaguirre

How do you organise your working calendar?

Whenever possible I try not to give an appointment until the design is finished. This means that I usually have many different projects on the go at the same time, but it enables me to reduce waiting lists significantly and have various free slots where I can accept an appointment on a fairly spontaneous basis.

Do you have any techniques, tricks or secrets that you could share?

One of the tricks I use to determine if a design works is to look at it from a distance. If it’s clear what it is at first glance then it’s okay. If it isn’t clear that means I need to keep working on it to make it more synthetic, clean and understandable.

© Adrià de Yzaguirre

Is there anything that makes you stand out above the rest?

I don’t know if I stand out above the rest but I am good at listening and understanding what people want. This is something which is very useful when dealing with people who don’t express themselves well or have language problems. They often say ‘you can explain better than I can, what I want’.

How do you see the world of the tattoo in ten years’ time?

I often ask myself this question and to be honest, I’m not sure.

The sector is undergoing a period of growth which is similar to what design went through ten years ago. In general I think it’s positive, but it may lead to a collapse of the market which might generate an anti-tattoo movement.

On the other hand, if the younger generations don’t see a no-tattoo option as a way of being different from their tattooed parents, the tattoo could become like a type of jewellery. People no longer define themselves in terms of whether they wear jewellery or not, as nearly everyone does these days. People define themselves by the type of jewellery they wear. Cheap, expensive, extravagant, ethnic, extreme, classic, childish, colourful, etc. There are as many types of jewellery as there are personalities.

© Adrià de Yzaguirre

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I’ve just finished ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith, which I liked a lot, and now I’m a bit stuck with ‘The Flameflowers’ by Rachel Kushner, which I am not enjoying that much.

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

I swim until I have forgotten how many lengths I’ve done.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Not to take myself too seriously.

Which artist would you have us do this interview with?

Michele Servadio and Brody Polinsky are the two artists I know who have gone though the most interesting changes in style in the last few years. I’d like to know how they see the world of tattoos in ten years’ time.

© Adrià de Yzaguirre

Is there anything you would like to add that might be interesting for our readers?

I will use this question to launch an idea (or vision) I had some months ago, in case one of your readers works as a museum curator.

If the tattoo continues to consolidate as it is doing in the world of art, maybe in the future there will be exhibitions where the pieces do not hang on a wall but that will adorn the body of a collector of tattoos, sitting on a chair in an empty room.

It would be amazing to come and chat with someone who has tattoos of the best tattoo artists in the world and to hear the story behind each design, discover how the pieces have aged and see how they interact with each other.

Interview number I of the How I tattoo interview series.

The How I Tattoo series asks the best tattoo artists to share how they tattoo. Every few days we’ll feature a new tattoo artist and the workspaces, routines, gadgets, apps, tips, and tricks that they use. Have someone you’d like to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email us to info@tattoofilter.com.

How I Tattoo interview series is inspired by Lifehacker’s How I Work series.

Author: Tattoo Filter

Originally published at www.tattoofilter.com.