Christos Galiropoulos

Artists - Studios - Issue 28

The lover and virtuoso of black & grey realism, Christos Galiropoulos, gave an interview to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine. Among other things, he spoke to us about his career and the great impact of his work abroad, as well as the consistently great popularity of realistic tattoos, the responsibility of every tattoo artist and the relations between Greek tattooists.

Interview by Ino Mei.

When did you star tattooing and what were you doing before?

I started tattooing professionally in 2011. Until then, since a young age, I was doing airbrushing, also professionally.

How did you learn how to tattoo?

My love for tattoos had made me fill a large part of my body with ink, so I became friends with some tattoo artists. When I took on a mural job in a tattoo studio, all I needed was a little encouragement from the owner, who saw my painting skills and my love for tattoos, to get involved with it too!

How were the first years for you as a tattoo artist and how is it today?

What I remember and I can say clearly, is the tattooing is a big secret! I remember myself, watching the few videos that were available on YouTube by famous artists and trying to understand them and acquire something from them. Today, things are very different. The tattoo industry is huge and there is a big variety of sources of learning.

What is your tattoo style and why did you choose it?

My style is realistic black and white and sometimes I use a few splashes of colour.

What is it that drew you to realism and made you love it so much?

Realism attracted me from the beginning, because I was excited by the idea of ​​ccopying a real image - because, realism, in all art forms, is, in fact, how well you will copy the image you see. This is why, every time, it is a new confrontation with yourself, about how close you will get to the original image.

It is clear that you prefer black & grey. Why is that?

I really like black and grey, especially for the style that the final result oozes and for the way I can work with the different tones.

Do you think that realism remains as popular as it was ten years ago?

Yes, of course I believe that realism remains popular! Although it is no longer something newly presented in the eyes of the world, as it was ten years ago. However, I think it still remains at the top of people's preferences.

What is your opinion about cover ups? How do you deal with them?

Unfortunately, I cannot undertake cover ups, because in my style, as I mentioned before, I need several different tones of black and grey, as well as a lot of detail. So it becomes impossible for me to cover an old tattoo.

Do you happen to tattoo more on women or men?

The 70% of my clients are men and I am very happy about that! Hahaha. I think the reason is that realistic tattoos are usually big pieces, while I personally often use hard backgrounds, which usually make the result less desirable in women's aesthetics.

You are based in Lamia, but the last years you travel a lot abroad working as a guest tattoo artist. How did these numerous collaborations happen?

I timidly started participating in some tattoo conventions abroad, about seven years ago. That is where the acquaintances with other colleagues and in general with people of our art started. Admiring my work, I had some invitations to well-known tattoo studios to work as a guest artist and beyond that the circle opened and never closed. This is because when you start some pieces, most of the time they need to be continued. And all this in combination with the friendships I develop with the owners of the studios, make a trip abroad a routine affair.

How do your clients you there? Are there any differences as to what they ask for?

Although I have no complaints from my Greek clients, I could say that my clients abroad treat me with greater respect and trust. Which clearly shows the different mentality of foreigners in relation to us!

Do you feel that you work is better recognized abroad in comparison with Greece?

No, I would not say that, as my Greek clientele is also large, as well as the mutual respect with other recognized Greek tattoo artists.

What is more significant in tattooing? The technical or the artistic part?

I believe that they should coexist. Although, in my opinion I give a small lead in the technical part. Because yes, you can artistically have a great idea, but it becomes impossible in tattooing. Because as we have said many times, human skin is not a canvas or a piece of paper and every day you have to face something different.

What is the responsibility of a tattoo artist?

The tattoo artist's responsibility is to inform and often prevent his client from technical errors and choices as well as to give the best possible result at the end of the day. Beyond that, something that people do not understand and many times do not know, is that the final result after healing, depends on the personal care and hygiene.

How does Greek society face tattoos nowadays?

I am really glad to say, that as in many other countries, also in Greece, I notice the same normal reaction towards tattoos.

Do you think that there is mutual respect and solidarity among the Greek tattoo artists?

As in all professional areas, there is competition, but I think it is - fortunately - healthy competition! There is definitely mutual respect and it is important that there are high level artists in our country, who are in fact many and cover all tattoo styles. Certainly there have been negative incidents between tattoo artists… In my opinion, this happens because the circle is not only artistic, but also professional.

How do you see the future of tattooing during but also after the COVID-19 pandemic?

To be honest, I saw the first weeks of the situation as an opportunity to relax and have more time for my family and myself, thinking it would be temporary. Now, that after so many months this dramatic situation continues, I notice that it is constantly weakening our profession, due to the cancellation of tattoo conventions, the visits of our clients from abroad, but also our own collaborations with studios abroad.

Your studio in Lamia reminds you of an elegant video club. How did you decide to decorate it this way?

From a young age I was a fan of cinema and in combination with the fact that I was tired of the dark, gothic style that prevails in most studios, it made me decide to set up the studio as something very different, but very familiar to me! After all, most of my projects have to do with movie characters and heroes!

What is it that tattooing has offered you until today?

When I started learning the art of tattooing I could never have imagined that it would offer me everything that everyone would dream of in their profession. This has to do with the fact that passion becomes work, which you never see as work! It's something you could do in your spare time, without money. 

All photographs are courtesy of Christos Galiropoulos & Blackline Tattoo Studio.