Acclaimed for his unique graphic and abstract tattoo style and known for his twenty year dynamic presence in the graffiti scene, Live2, aka Giannis Livieratos, gave HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine an interview from his new residence and workplace in Zurich.

I initially knew you as a graffiti artist, then after a few years I came into contact with your tattooing. How and at which point in your life did this transition from graffiti to tattoo happen?

The transition from graffiti to tattooing happened in the mid of 2008, after being encouraged by my wife and some of my friends. The first six months I began hesitantly with gradual steps. I saw tattooing in practice, I tried it and stuck to it. It was not something I had preplanned. Thus, along with graffiti and graphic design, I now had tattooing too. Three art forms that express me completely.


When did you first come into contact with tattoo?
I got my first tattoo in 1994 by Teo from Skinetic Tattoo, who was working out of his house at the time. The design was of a graffiti character holding a spray can. I was a kid then and the process seemed rather painful... Following that, I got a new tattoo every year. Specifically, I got my second one at Tattooland. I’d done a graffiti piece for their shop and instead of asking for money, I chose to get a tattoo instead. Then Nikos (Nico Tattoo) opened his studio in Thessaloniki and I went there for my next one and so on… Basically, I started getting tattoos so as to “imprint” letters, shapes and a combination of images I had seen as graffiti and I wanted them on my body. So I sort of ended up having many tattoos on me before becoming a tattoo artist. 

What did you do before tattooing?

My main activities before tattooing were graffiti and graphic arts, which is what I have studied. I have been “officially” a part of the graffiti scene since 1994 as Live2. During the early 90s the whole graffiti scene in Thessaloniki as well as in all of Greece was just taking off. I used to see guys doing graffiti and I’d wonder how they were doing that on the walls! So I started my first try-outs on paper and slowly made the transition to walls. During that time I met Dimitris aka Jason (Style Matters Tattoo) who is my best man. We were part of the same crew. In 2002 I decided to open my own shop in the centre of Thessaloniki, where you could get anything concerning graffiti: sprays, felt-tip pens, books, magazines, clothes and graffiti services upon request. Other than being a shop, this space was also a gathering spot. It was a meeting place for all the people in the city who had something to do with graffiti. At the same time, I organized the “Meeting of Styles” and ‘Battle of the Best’ festivals in Thessaloniki for five consecutive years, so as to help the greek graffiti community in my own way. I closed my shop in 2010, since I was now tattooing every day and all day plus the fact that the graffiti scene was declining.   


Have you apprenticed? 

Yes I have apprenticed, although probably not in the “classic” sense. I believe that this part basically helps someone make a smoother transition into tattooing, from whatever he was doing before. Furthermore, you also make the transition from giving my friends tattoos and “destroying” bodies, to doing better and having the tattoo stay the way it should. The truth is that you learn something new every day. Every day is like doing an “apprenticeship”, since skins are different, needles are different etc. In all fields of art, you can’t know “everything”. You keep climbing and try learning new things. 

An apprenticeship definitely gets you thinking about the seriousness of the tattoo subject. You definitely acquire faster and more complete knowledge about tattooing. I think it’s very hard to even learn the basics without having someone to guide you on through your first steps. 

How from your birthplace Thessaloniki did you end up living permanently in Zurich?

I’ve been going to Zurich for guest spots for the past three years so it was sort of expected that I would move there permanently at some point.


How is life in Zurich generally and how is it as specifically as a tattooist?

My life in Zurich runs smoothly and calmly and works to a schedule of sorts. Regarding tattoos, Giahi, the studio I work at, is like being daily at a tattoo convention. You’re in the centre of Europe, daily mingling with many artists, techniques, unique styles and culture. All these factors constitute the greatest of schools. 

How do think the Swiss people perceive tattoo? Is there a tattoo culture there?

Swiss clients are a lot easier when it comes to tattooing. They respect the artist, trust his judgement and give him space to create. The fact that they ask a lot for big pieces also helps creativity I believe. 


Which style do you think is popular in Switzerland at the moment? Do they ask for different things compared to Greece?

Tastes vary. The good thing is that there are so many artist doing guest spots, which of course leads to a great variety of choices. Realistic tattoos are very popular, as are Old School tattoos. I wouldn’t say that they ask for different things but different ideas, rarer ones.

What’s your opinion on the Swiss tattoo scene? 

I’d say the tattoo scene in Switzerland is at a high level. There’s a lot of competition; many different tattoo artists, many guests from all over the world which leads to many more influences.


What’s your opinion on the Greek tattoo scene?

I’d say the Greek scene is at a very high level and the competition is also very big - many times more than usually expected. There are many good artists in all areas, many different styles, choices for everyone, with high quality results.

How do you see the tattoo in Thessaloniki? How do people perceive it and how do tattooists perceive it? 

During the past three years, I think people are much more aware when it comes to the design and the tattoo style that they would like to have. There are established tattoo artists, who have made a name for themselves over the years and specialize in certain styles and this is something people now recognizes and they ask for it more and more often. I agree with a very good friend of mine who is also a tattoo artist in Thessaloniki: “we don’t have to talk about or judge what anyone can do. He will give you what he can.


How would you describe your tattoo style?

I’d say it is more graphic / abstract and has many graffiti influences. It doesn't subject to any category. I mainly do colour and when it is not colour it would be black - red. All my tattoos are custom and the designs are unique; meaning they are only tattooed once. 

Do you tattoo more women or men?
The same, there’s no differentiation.

Other than tattoo, do you pursue any other art forms?
As I've previously mentioned I’ve been into graffiti the last twenty years so as you can imagine there’s no way that this is going to stop. My graffiti art is either on walls - small and large surfaces - or on canvas and generally on any surface that can be painted and always mixed media.

Where did the name “Live2” come from?

“Live2” basically comes from my surname. As time past and because I didn’t like having only the three first letters, I added the “e” at the end so it became “Live”. The “2” just made the whole thing sound better.


Photos & interview by Ino Mei.




















Live2 Graffiti Art







*HeartbeatInk would like kindly to thank Tattooligans for the hospitality and the realisation of the photoshoot that took place the spring of 2013.