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Interview with Durga, Tattoo-Artist from Jakarta

Durga, Tattoo-Artist from indonasia
Durga, Tattoo-Artist from indonasia

Durga lives and work in Indonesia where he owns the Tattoo Studio: DURGA TATTOO, in the city of Jakarta. Even though his base is Indonesia he tries to be active in the international scene. According to him the tattoo scene in Indonesia is really small compared to other countries. Right now he is planning on doing a small Traditional Hand Tapping convention in Indonesia- something to keep an eye for!

PJ: What made you interested in becoming a Tattoo Artist?
D: “Just like what happens with may tattoo artists, my studies were in design and visual arts, a very long time ago in Indonesia. I worked as a Graphic Designer and Art Director in Indonesia, then in Germany and Los Angeles. But then, I had enough with meetings, always meeting, again meeting, marketing, all this work in computer, the thing is; I love to draw by hand, I really missed it. I really need to draw by hand!”

PJ: How did you start, then?
D: “When I was living in Los Angeles I took a one year tattoo apprenticeship, it was 2007. After that I went back to Indonesia and continued practicing by myself and learning from friends.”

PJ: And what about Hand Tapping, how did you learn it?
D: “Normally you will learn the modern technics first and then you will choose if you want to stay on that or learn the traditional technics. But at that time I started directly with both. I like them both, but the main reason why I keep working with traditional hand tapping is that it is for me a kind of meditation.”

PJ: Do you find many people interested in Hand Tapping Tattoos?
D: “People in Europe are more interested in traditional technics them most of the people in Indonesia. The reality is strange, that people in modern countries give more respect and are interested more in things that are traditional.”

PJ: What did you family thought about you becoming a Tattoo Artist?
D: “I think many parents are the same, they always hope that the children can be independent and in Indonesia parents hope the children can support their life when they are getting older. And since I can support then financially and that I spend time with them, everything is okay, sometimes my mother and my father say: please no more tattoos on your body and your face, please no more. But it’s okay!”

PJ: The first tattoo?
D: “The first tattoo I got is here in the upper arm, something I don’t understand… I was 16 years old, I didn’t covered it, is still there. The first tattoo I did by myself was on my own thigh. And then… the first tattoo on someone else? In Los Angeles, no, no, I did a tattoo in a friend when I was student in Indonesia, beginning of 90’s with a homemade machine.”

PJ: How do you see your work today?
D: “Today I try to concentrate on tattoos that have influences from Indonesia, no matter if by machine or Hand Tapping. I am trying to use a lot of elements from Indonesian culture, a lot of elements that not many people know about. Of course its not that easy if compared to Tahitian tattoo or Polynesian tattoo… they are famous everywhere, but Indonesian tattoo? What does it look like? People probably know Bosnian tattoo better. Traditional Indonesian tattoo can only do the solid black or lines. Different then the Tebori traditional Japanese tattoo, they can do shadings.”

PJ: Small Tattoos or Big Tattoos?
D: I prefer big tattoos, I prefer to have long projects compared then short ones, always happens that the client become friends with the tattoo artist, we spend hours together. If I do a small piece 30 minutes or one hour then I still get that adrenaline, its totally finished but I still want to work.”

PJ: What was the longest session you ever made?
D: “The longest session I did, by tattoo machine, in the beginning 12 hours, with pauses. In one night. Traditional 10 hours at tattoo convention, a big guy. Hand tapping takes a lot longer, about double the time.”

PJ: Is Hand Tapping more painful?
D: “Different kind of painful, not more painful then machine, just different. You need to have patience if you want to get tattooed by traditional; you need to lay down for hours. If you are someone who are really interested in culture or travelling and history, then you might be interested in getting tattooed by traditional hand tapping. But, again, it takes a lot of patience.”

PJ: If you had to guess how many people have you already tattooed, what would be the number?
D: “I have no idea, they are everywhere.”

PJ: Tanks a lot for this exciting interview!

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