Olivia Skalkos

People - Issue 15

As any tattooed person would tell you, the most common questions we get are, "How many tattoos do you have? How much does it hurt? What does THAT one mean?" and my response has formed over the years into one simple answer. They are all memories. The good, the hurtful, the learning curves, the things I want to remember, the things I need to remember. Some of them represent moments I would like to forget, but I know I can't, they happened, and are now a part of me emotionally. It might seem a little bit masochistic, keeping these collections of memories etched into skin, but mostly it's because I am a nostalgic person. You know when you have some bit of your past rolling around the back of your head, and you need to keep it with you, but you also need to learn to let it go. Well, thats when I get a tattoo. I pluck that memory from my head and place it somewhere on my body instead. So it stays with me, but I don't need to think about it anymore. 

Some are more obvious then others and more easily read, the so called "bro tats" you get with those closest to you, and the ones you get to honour some benchmark in your life. Others, well, like any work of art, make sense only to me. I have always gotten tattooed by people that are already in my life, friends, family, and lovers. They become part of that memory too, which is important to me. As I have been getting tattooed for nearly half my life now, and my sister is a tattooist (Jen, who now works at Vida Pirata in Thessaloniki), you could say it's deep in my veins at this point. Not once have they held me back in any shape or form, nor have I regretted getting them. I love the tradition of passed down techniques, and fully appreciate the time and love a tattooist has to put into their craft to graduate from apprentice to a fully fledged artist. Having watched my sister first, and then a whole host of friends go through this process, I admire this time honoured tradition. Being an illustrator myself, there was a time I considered tattooing as a profession, but ultimately had to admit to myself that I do not have the patience. Always respect your tattooist; you will have your own reasons for getting inked, but to them, its their whole life. 

I decided to do this photo story, as I have been asked several times to show the full extent of my skin to the world, and although I am not a shy person, it never felt quite right. Meeting with Ino and reading HeartbeatInk, and perhaps now that I am a bit older (most of my body work was done in my late teens and very early 20's), it clicked. I want to thank all the artists I have had the privilege of getting tattoos from, I am truly honoured to have you be part of my illustrated body. Thank you.

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Name: Olivia Skalkos
Profession: Illustrator.
Residence: London.

How many tattoos do you have? 
19ish.

Which artist(s) did your tattoos? 

Various -  including Josh Sutterby, Raph Cemo, Jen Skalkos, Wez, Jim 4, Jay (Medusa Tattoo), Bettie (Honest Tattoo), Trampy, Word to Mother.

Which tattoo is your first and which one was your latest? 

First: Alice + Wonderland on my leg, last ring around my finger.

Which tattoo is your favourite and why? 

The coordinates on my collarbone.

Which tattoo artist do you admire?

Keep an eye for #Rapheemo.

Which tattoo style do you like best? 

Varied - as long as there is balance.

Do you regret getting any of your tattoos, if so why? 

Never.

Have you done a cover up and if so what exactly? 

No. They are all memories.

Have tattoos affected your life? If so, in what way? 

Probably, but it's a part of who I am and where I have come from. I have been getting tattooed for ten years.

Do you have an activity of yours that you would like to mention? 

I make jewelry with Virginia the Wolf, customize shoes for Vans and I'm involved in various projects.

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HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine would like kindly to thank Rockwell House (10-14 Hewett Street, London) for the hospitality and the realisation of the photoshoot.

Photos by Ino Mei.

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