The charismatic Nast, aka Aggelos Hatzizamanis, spoke to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about how tattoo "invaded" his life, his demanding apprenticeship, mixing realism with elements from his graffiti background, the part of evolution, the perception of people, and the good tattoo.

Interview by Ino Mei.
Photos by Dimitris Dimitriadis.

When did tattooing came in to your life and how?

Tattooing got into my life professionally on the 1st of June 2011, after the invitation I got by George Mavridis to become a member of Tattooligans. At the studio back then, there were already Live2, who was the first one of our group of friends to move from graffiti to tattooing, and also Jamer. It was a big honour to me for a master like George Mavridis to welcome me into the studio and being able to work with good friends was the cherry at the top of my cake.

What were you doing before?

Before tattooing I was working on my studies. I was a 3d animator and video editor at an advertising company. It was on a Thursday night, when George called to invite me to the studio and on Friday I resigned from my job.

Have done an apprenticeship? What is your opinion on the concept of it?

I have, yes! The full experience of it. Cleaning, preparing the set, cleaning after the tattoo, stencils, reception and the rest of the time remaining, drawing! A lot of drawing! The apprenticeship, back in the old days, was the most significant thing. I consider it to be essential. You have to prove that you are able to this job, nothing comes easy. You have to fight for it, and if you really deserve it, then you are most welcomed!

Are you still into graffiti?

Sadly, I don't do graffiti as much as I would like to. Thanks to a few friends that shake me every now and then and I get back at it (Nade, Zone, Keik, Jorz). We grow up and it is getting more and more difficult due to obligations and lack of time.

How would you describe your tattoo style?

I can’t put a label on my style. In most cases I marry realism with elements from my graffiti background, such as patterned backgrounds, bright contrasts, vibrant colours, etc.

When did you start focusing on realism and what drove you to it?

The game of light and shadow was always fascinating to me. Even in graffiti, my style was 3 dimensional. Besides, I was trained by a master that was top at this genre. It was the natural thing to do to follow this path.

Black & Grey or colour?

Both of them are sweet. Maybe, I love colour a little more, but it is not suitable for every tattoo. There are tattoos that look better in black & grey.

Do you believe that there are trends in tattooing?

Definitely there are! And they are ''made'' by the big tattoo related pages on Instagram. It is a pity to see the personal style of a tattoo artist to be copied so much that it ends up being a trend.

What is it that helped you evolve since you have started?

A lot of work and thirst for evolving. The graffiti, at the level we were doing it, was a very competitive sport. Getting into tattooing, I had the same mentality. I am very demanding from myself and a very tough judge as well. I want my every piece to be better than the previous one.

At what extend can somebody grow, when you have already reached a great level of technical ability and artistry?

Growing never stops as long as you keep on evolving and loving what you do. If it stops, I will get bored and may stop tattooing.

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Everything and anything! From a scene from a movie to a random picture, a sculpture, a toy, a story, anything.

Which tattoo artists have influenced you?

I don't know if they have influence me, I will tell you my favourite ones, who are Peros, Jorz, Dovas, Siemor, Jackonnolly, Silvano Fiato, Domantas Parvainis, Fede Gas, Gorsky, Jamieris and many more. I should write a book to name them all!

According to your opinion what are the qualities of a good tattoo?

A good tattoo, apart from the personal criteria that is the aesthetic part, should definitely have the right placement on the body, the right technical application and a long duration through time.

Do you think that the perception of tattooing by the general public has been ''evolved''?

I believe that society has been evolved regarding how people judge someone from the way they look. Not that these kind of phenomena of social racism have been vanished completely, but we have sure made a huge step towards progress. Tattoos have broken every taboo there was around them and have been welcomed in every household, regardless the social status. This is something that makes me really glad.

How do you see the future of tattoo during and after COVID-19?

For us, the way we work has always been like that. The sterilized environment, the one-use materials, the gloves, the masks etc. So around the working process all of this has been a routine for us, we were always tattooing like that. I hope that all of this is ending soon, so that people can go back to their normal pace of living.

What is it that you love the most about tattooing?

The responsibility and honesty. The commitment. You give one of your pieces to someone and they carry it on them forever. It is a big honour when a client chooses you and comes to you to get tattooed.

Tattoo work photographs courtesy of Nast and Tattooligans