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German Ferreiroa has become one of the busiest tattoo artists in Dublin and his bold take on the traditional style has made people look twice in admiration and awe.
German, or Gerfer_tattoo to his Instagram fans, began tattooing the male body after a customer once asked him if he could tattoo something similar to one of his sketches and that’s when he decided to take his sketch work to tattooing.
“Most of the inspiration comes from feeling comfortable with your sexuality and any aspect related to it. I just want to do something different and something new. It is weird that there is still a taboo to talk or do things related to sex, when everybody does it and loves it,” German said.
While tattoos have undeniably grown in popularity over the past decade, they have taken on a much more important meaning to those who get them. Tattoo artist Ryan Sean Kelly used tattooing to cover up scars which occurred from self-harm.
Also, numerous shops around Dublin have held events for charity which involved getting tattooed for a donation such as Dublin Inks tattoo event for the homeless and Ink Factory’s event for the Pieta House and suicide prevention.
German believes his tattoos affect everyone who sees them. Bold, heavy lines and an explicit message make his work recognisable and unique.
“They have a very strong and explicit message, so then you have the two different sides. The customer that is happy to have something different and original on their body, that not everybody is open to having, which makes them unique.
“And then you have the people who look at it with different opinions, good and bad. So, in a way the tattoos impact everybody, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Ireland is becoming increasingly open-minded and proved its acceptance to peoples’ sexual orientations during the 2015 Marriage Referendum. However, things are seldom so straight forward and German has experienced adversity towards his work, both in Ireland and abroad.
“I want to believe that most of the responses are good, but there is a very big group of people against my work and who say very bad things about it.
“People sometimes don’t see it in the artistic way. They see a depraved and bad thing, and the most funny part is that they say that my work and the drawings I do are horrible and then you see them sucking dick in a lane at 3 in the morning,” he laughs.
But the negativity has impacted his business to the extent that his guest spot in another tattoo shop in Italy was cancelled after some of their resident artists disagreed with his work.
“I was invited to do a guest spot in a studio and a week before they cancelled my guest [spot] because people from the studio didn’t agree with my work and my ‘gay stuff’. That’s exactly what they said to me.”.
On top of that, German began what he calls ‘The Male Art’ project which began with a small number of male models posing nude for German to draw. These exhibitions were open to the public and took place in Berlin and Dublin.
Since then he has opened the contemporary project to men from all over the world. So, German now receives daring nudes from men which he then draws and posts to his Twitter account @dickpicproject.
“The Male Project was the first time for me doing something artistic outside tattooing,” he said.
“After having a great response from people around the world I decided to start a second project where any man could participate, even if they are not based in Dublin, by sending their pictures to me so I can draw them.”
“I decided to post these drawings online where I got reported multiple times and accounts were deleted even though I have a lot of people supporting my work. The haters win most of the time. Now I’m posting censored pictures on Instagram and uncensored ones on Twitter.” he said.
German’s work is unique to him and the customers who allow him to showcase it on their skin. No other artist is as prominent in the LGBT community. One of his tattoos where he captioned “only Britney can judge me” went viral and is the first thing to show up on Google images if you look up the term.
“Every artist uses tattoos as a medium to express their ideas and help people to represent whatever they feel. So, I like to think that every tattoo artist who is dedicated to this profession is doing that in their own way.” he said.
German has been stationed at True Black Tattooing, where he feels more at home to do his work. He said: “I have the freedom to express myself without having to censor my thoughts or ideas.”
Andy Shark, owner of True Black feels strongly about allowing artistic freedom to take place in his studio.
“The artists have complete freedom to tattoo what they want and book who and when they want. Taking this position as a studio allows the artist to focus on tattoos that they wish to work on rather than having to work to a studio roster that doesn’t progress their artistic style or feed their enthusiasm to keep creating new and progressive work,” he said.
True Black Tattooing is made up of a collection of artists who are established within the tattoo industry and have their own distinctive styles. The studio is an intimate place; where the artist and customer feel relaxed, and the art is given greater priority than their brand.
Andy takes it one step further and encourages the artists at the shop to travel so they can continue to develop their work.
“It is an important part of our development as a studio that everyone is allowed to explore their own artistic path and we promote everyone through exhibitions of their work and actively encourage the artists to travel for three months a year to learn, refresh and keep their passion alive,” Andy said.
At the forefront of this tattoo renaissance, True Black has defined itself as the ‘go to’ for black tattoo work; defined by its old school thick-line work mixed in with new school, contemporary design.
“The Dublin tattoo industry would appear to be thriving at the moment,” Andy added. “Everyone is thankful to work in an artistic field where the artists can be appreciated and paid fairly for their work, when other artistic fields struggle to consolidate their artistic freedom with a sustainable living wage.”