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Tattoo talk - Gerda Skarpsno

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Gerda Skarpsno is the newest addition to our small tattoo family. Gerda is also part of the incredibly talented team at Leap INK in Stavanger, but recently decided to pack her bags and move to the capital. Lucky for us! If you want to get to know our fine line specialist a little better, then put on your reading glasses and scroll down.

What got you started with tattooing, and what inspired you to become a tattoo artist?
It was completely random. I was working at a rehabilitation center in Stavanger, and I had a colleague who had five jobs. One of her jobs was as a manager and piercer at a tattoo studio, and she really wanted me to come by and try my hand as an apprentice with one of the tattoo artists because she liked my drawings. I mostly just sat as a guard at the rehabilitation center and drew for nine to ten hours.

So, you've always loved to draw, huh?

Yes! Well, I've doodled quite a bit, at least, hehe!

Just doodling?

I hadn't thought about how much I've drawn, but everyone in my family says that I've been drawing my whole life, but I guess I just haven't realized it. I probably have though! We had our workspace in the house I grew up in, where we just made a bunch of stuff and doodled around. My mom is an artist and works with ceramics and things like that, so I come from a creative family :)

Okay, so then you just went down to the tattoo studio, and voila, your career started?

Yes, well, sort of. At that time, I had a sidecut, and the tattoo artist who was taking in apprentices wanted to tattoo my head. So I think that was the main reason I got the job, even though the head tattoo never actually happened. There was a lot of chaos in that studio at the time. The person who was supposed to train me got fired. It ended up with almost everyone who worked there getting fired. So they came together and opened a new studio, and that's where I ended up.

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And that was Leap Ink?
Yes, that's correct, it was Leap Ink. But in the meantime, I worked at another studio, Skin Fuel Empire in Sandnes. I worked for a laid-back guy, a real hippie. He basically gave me the freedom to tattoo people the way I wanted, so you could say I got a lot of practice there!

This is really fun to hear, I must say!

Yeah, haha! It's incredibly random how things turned out. I hadn't actually dreamed of becoming a tattoo artist, even though I always knew I wanted to work with something creative.

Okay. Tell me about the very first tattoo you did on someone. Was it scary?

The first one I did completely on my own was a small Buddha on my friend's ribcage. And that was kind of a stupid place to start, on the ribcage – lots of skin to stretch. Of course, she found it really painful, so she was squirming, and I was just thinking damn, am I doing something wrong here? Ahh, it was so stressful! But! She's very happy with it:)

How long had you practiced before you did the Buddha?
I hadn't practiced at all, I just went straight for it. I did a small one on myself, and then it was basically just full speed ahead! But I was super stressed! It was difficult to put on the gloves because my hands were so clammy.

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Wow! That's impressive!
Was there a specific moment or time in your life where you felt that tattooing was the right profession for you? A special day when you thought, "Shit, now I'm actually a tattoo artist!"

That was probably when I started at Leap. I had been tattooing for maybe a couple of years, here and there, and it started to become more of a routine with regular customers. It became more than just a little here and there – it became a job. I still feel it. I feel so lucky to work as a tattoo artist. I could never work with anything else! What else would it be, right? Hahaha!

Have you ever had doubts or challenges during your career as a tattoo artist that made you question your career choice? If so, how did you handle the situation?

No, I've never really felt like I didn't want to do this anymore, but I have felt a bit burnt out at times and felt like I've used up all I've created, that there has been a lot of repetition. But! The challenge then becomes to perfect the style you have and what you can already create. But it naturally fluctuates. You're not motivated 100% of the time.

Can you share a memorable experience with your favorite customer or a tattoo that has special meaning for you?

I have a pretty weird story! It was when I worked at Skin Fuel Empire, inside a shopping mall. We were tattooing to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer. I think we tattooed around 120 customers that day. It was insane! There was a long queue inside the mall. We also had small custom designs, so it was just a matter of pointing to what you wanted and going for it. It was just "next in line."

Then a lady came up, and I asked what she wanted. She just said, "I want that rabbit there." I replied, "Okay, where do you want it?" Then she says, "On my ass." I was completely taken aback because there were so many people around, and it was in a shopping mall. I just thought, did I hear correctly what she said? I had only been working there for a couple of months, so I wasn't entirely sure what I could and couldn't do. So it was just like, okay, she wants that rabbit on her ass right now, and I just felt completely blown away. I looked at my boss and thought, isn't he going to say anything? This isn't okay, you know.

But he just said, "Ah! Painful spot!" So I thought, okay, this is going to happen? I took her over to the station. She was wearing a dress, so I asked her to lift it, she wasn't wearing any underwear or anything, so I just had to clean a bit and apply the stencil. Then she says, "If I start saying fuck fuck fuck, you just have to stop because I'm about to come!" I just said, "Are you kidding me?" It was insane, but I just went with it. She lay back in the chair, crossed her legs, and put her hands behind her head, really comfortable. I started tattooing and tried to keep as much distance as I could. She started rotating her hips, so I had to ask her to lie still because this rabbit was starting to look terrible.

Then she started saying "fuck fuck fuck," and I was just like, "What the fuck?" My colleague was laughing through the entire session, but yeah! She was happy, but that rabbit looked terrible.

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Wow!! That was perhaps as much the experience she was after, though! It's a bit outrageous.
Well, that was the whole thing, but damn, it was so weird! I actually felt a bit used there! But it was for a good cause, right? Hahaha. I just thought, I'm not doing this for myself, the money is going to cancer research. So I can console myself with that!

Speechless... What a place and setting to choose for that tattoo, but okay! If you could tattoo anything tomorrow, without limitations, what would you choose to tattoo?

Ah, that's a pretty difficult question! I feel like you should have a really good answer and truly express your passion, but... I have no idea. Maybe just nobody having an orgasm on the bench. That's enough for me.

Fair enough! Finally; Are there any particular styles, techniques, or artists that have influenced your tattooing style more than others?

I follow a few people on Instagram and such. I like the style of even though it's not exactly the style I work with.

Thank you for that, Gerda! It's a pleasure to have you in our studio and to have the opportunity to work with you weekly :)

Do you want to book an appointment with Gerda? CLICK HERE