Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Culture

Iceland Ink: The imagery of the black raven has ties to old Viking myths and stories

By Staff

  • Svanur at Tattoo & Skart Ink is for the masses. The negative stigma of tattoos does not exist any longer. Photos/Jerel Lai

Artist: Svanur ar Tattoo & Skart

I come from a family of Icelandic fishermen and seamen. The sea was a big part of my upbringing. As soon as I turned sixteen, I signed on to a freighter cargo ship and got my first tattoo. It was in Rotterdam by the legendary Tattoo Bob. After that we sailed to England, and I received two more tattoos there. So at age sixteen, I already had three tattoos.

My shop is a family affair. It has been located in downtown Reykjavík since 2000, but before that, it was named Living Art, and it was in Sweden. That shop opened in 1997. My wife and my daughter both work in the shop as tattoo artists. It really is a family business.

Ink for the masses
Today’s culture is very different from the early days of tattooing when it was only minority groups such as sailors and bikers and marines getting inked. The Reykjavík police headquarters are on the next corner from our shop, and I have worked on many policemen. They have tattoos not just on their bodies but also on their hands. I have also worked on doctors and nurses here in Iceland. The negative stigma of tattoos does not exist any longer: It’s ink for the masses. 

A family affair Svanur and his wife. Their daughter also works in the shop as a tattoo artist.

My personal style
I guess my particular style would be classified as neotraditional with a touch of the realistic. I enjoy the Japanese art and tattoo culture.

There are many great tattoo artists, but I must say that the artist “Filip Leu” is my personal hero. I use the same logo as him. His work is amazing.

A little memento
If you’re coming into our shop for something distinctly Icelandic, I would suggest the runes and some significant Icelandic birds, such as the puffin or raven. The imagery of the black raven has ties to old Viking myths and stories.

Tattoo & Skart
Address:  Hverfisgata 108, 101 Reykjavík, www.svanurtattoo.com

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