I love Flora Amalie‘s Instagram, I love her view about life and her beautiful tattoos. She just emanates very good vibes and a pure love for creativity. So I said to myself…why not interviewing her for I am Not a Tattoo Blog? She will surely bring you some genuine inspiration!
When was the first time you saw a tattoo on somebody? Can you remember what were your feelings about it?
I’m not sure it was the first time I saw a tattoo, but I remember the first one that made an impression.
It was on a relative’s girlfriend. I was a kid and they must have been in their early twenties. I think it was something as simple as a small rose on her shoulder, but it made a huge impression, not only because it was a tattoo, but because it was on a girl!
So even when I was a kid, I always knew I wanted a tattoo. I even used to keep a notebook full of terrible tattoo ideas that never happened, but it was something I was always thinking about and planning to do.
You have an amazing collection by different artists from all over the world, they connect so good together. Which one was your first? And your latest?
My first was done by my then-husband. It had taken me a long time to decide what to get done, and also to convince myself it was ok to get one even though a lot of people thought it was a bad idea, and I shouldn’t do it. I used to be such a people pleaser, still am, and going against the wishes of people close to me was extremely hard for me. But I ended up getting my way and got a totally early 2000’s style new school heart with crossbones and a princess crown. And my ex’s name! It even has some chrome effect haha. But even though there’s a name and it’s outdated I don’t plan on changing or removing it. It is what it is, and I still carry the memory of how much I loved it back then.
My latest was an embarrassingly long time ago. Over a year! It’s small, but very important to me.
It’s a little burger that says WWF, which stands for “Wendy, Wendy and Flora” and it’s a friendship tattoo I share with my two best friends. We had them done the day before one of them was leaving Berlin to move back to the States. It was spontaneous and silly, and those are my favorite kinds of tattoos.
What does art mean to you?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, to me, art is everything.
It’s in everything I see.
Even when I’m not creating, I’m thinking about creating. And when I don’t have time to paint or write or take decent photos, I try to use things like Instagram and Snapchat to express myself creatively.
Both of my parents are artists. My brother, my grandparents, my whole family are artists.
My parents are way more knowledgeable when it comes to art than I am, but I aspire to some day have a bit of their wisdom and talent.
A lot of people feel that art’s purpose is to provoke and make people think, and that’s a totally valid point of view, but I personally don’t think that’s why humans started creating art in the first place.
I think the need to create art comes from the need to share and tell stories, about the world around us as well as the world within us.
Art is what happens when you feel so much you just can’t hold it inside any longer, and you have to scream out “does anyone else feel like this?!” and you are not necessarily able to do that with words.
We use it to make sense of the world and to connect with each other on a deeper level.
Art is feelings, basically.
You traveled quite a lot, also to get tattooed. Did you ever feel like you belonged to a place more than to another one?
Yes. In my heart, I’ll always feel like I belong in Tokyo. That’s the place that feels like home to me, and it’s killing me that I haven’t been back in over two years.
Ever since my first visit there it just felt like home.
What does getting tattooed mean to you? Do you usually fall in love with the design, the artist style and technique, or you also look for a particular subject to express a precise meaning?
Getting tattooed has for the most part been a very profound experience for me. It has helped me face my fears, confront my anxiety disorder, and made me in many ways a stronger person.
The whole process of getting tattooed, especially larger pieces, can be an almost spiritual one, and I often miss that.
The way it works for me depends on the idea. Sometimes the idea for the design comes first, and I’ll try to find out who would be the right artist to do that, or it’s the other way around; I fall in love with an artist’s work, and I start thinking about a tattoo that I would like done by them, and that they would also enjoy doing.
Who did you get tattooed by? Any future projects?
I’ve had the privilege of getting tattooed by a lot of great artists.
I’ve never actually listed them all in one place, and I might forget some, but I’ll try to list them all!
Wendy Pham, Rei from Inkrat, Hata from Inkrat, Electric Pick, Shige, Adam Hays, Ashley Love, Bunshin Horitoshi, Lewis Hess, Jonty Mordin, Uncle Allan, Justin Yates, Morg Armeni, Kapten Hanna, Seth Ciferri, Chriss Dettmer, Eckel, Sarah Bolen.
I think that’s it but I’ll have to take a look at my body to be completely sure haha.
I have a few ideas for future projects, most importantly getting a big unfinished piece done with, because having unfinished work bothers me. So that’s a priority.
Other than that there’s a tattoo artists here in Berlin I really want to get tattooed by, but so far I haven’t had any luck getting an appointment, but I’m patient, I can wait! And there are many others around the world I still dream of getting tattooed by. Oh, and I would love for Shige to do the back of my thigh to match the front. Maybe some day.
What is like having such amazing tatto artists as good friends? How do they inspire you?
In different ways. Some by sheer talent and creativity, some by their work ethic, others by being able to keep a healthy work/life balance, which is a struggle for most tattooers who keep a shop open late, and usually have to draw in their spare time.
Being around creative people is almost always inspiring, but when it comes to friendships I value a good heart, a good sense of humor and loyalty, above creativity.
My friends who happen to be tattooers are still my friends because they’re excellent human beings, not because of their profession.
What do you think about nowadays tattoo society?
To be honest, after I stopped working in the industry, I haven’t thought about it much. And gotta say, not having to concern myself with what direction the industry is taking is a huge weight off my shoulders! I love the tattoo industry so much, it has given me so many great experiences, friends and homes around the world, and to see it transform into something rather shallow, mainstream and hyper materialistic was sometimes real painful to me. I have so much respect for the craft and traditions of tattooing, and seeing it reduced to basically a game show was just depressing.
Hobby tattooers, people copying each others designs, kids and adults alike doing stick n pokes in their kitchens like hepatitis doesn’t even exists, not respecting that this is how some people make a living, that stuff used to cause me sleepless nights.
But now, having it at a distance, and not feeling a personal responsibility anymore, it doesn’t concern me too much.
But to answer the question, it’s kind of turning to shit haha.
We often talk about tattoo addiction, but, in your opinion, is it really an ‘addiction’?
No. Not even close. I think it’s a term that we apply to getting tattooed to jokingly explain how passionate you can become about tattoos, and how fascinating it is to see how fairly easy and quickly you can transform your body into something completely different.
Sure, it’s super addictive, but it’s not an addiction, and anyone who would call it that in all seriousness would be offending people living with an actual addiction.
The best tattoo related moment, and the worst (if you have any).
The best and worst go hand in hand for me.
For a couple of years I was getting tattooed by Shige at Yellowblaze Tattoo in Yokohama, Japan, and back then I was suffering from a pretty severe panic disorder, only I wasn’t diagnosed at the time.
So during one session, and they were long sessions, I accidentally drank a bunch of caffeine, which triggered a pretty nasty panic attack. Lucky for me Shige is very kind and intuitive, and could tell I needed a break, and we eventually picked back up and had a good session.
But that was a pretty bad one, worse than the time I had the flu haha.
But my best moments have also been in Yokohama, I think.
Getting a large piece is transformative, not only physically, but mentally and, dare I say, spiritually.
It teaches you about discipline, and about how far you can push yourself if you have to.
There’s a ritualistic aspect to getting larger tattoos that I miss, and would like to experience again at some point.
Another moment I have to highlight, if I can pick two, was getting my hand done at the Brighton Convention a few years ago.
It was my first time getting tattooed after my husband left me, so it was the first time I had ever made a tattoo related decision without somehow consulting a partner.
Booking that time, and getting that tattoo, especially one so visible, felt liberating and made me feel like I had some control during a time of my life where I otherwise felt lost and utterly powerless.
What would you do if you could change the world in a single action?
Is eliminating suffering too vague? I think the logical answer would be to get rid of humanity, cause we are the ones causing so much damage to the planet, but I so love being a human, and I love what we can do and create when we are motivated by goodness and not greed.
So yes, I would eliminate suffering, for people, and especially animals, too.
That, or making myself omnipotent ruler of the Earth haha.