Based in Berlin, and known for his beautifully conceived creations that merge graceful illustrative style with Japanese and Neo Traditional aesthetics, Björn Liebner was kind enough to share his work with us. In this interview, Björn describes his punk rock beginnings, as well as shares some insight into his tattoo inspirations.
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing pretty early growing up in a punkish enviroment. I was drawing for as long as I can remember and also got my first tattoo when I was 14...so, I think the possibility to choose this direction was set early on.
What inspires you? Who are your artistic heroes, tattooers or not?
I don't think I have someone I would call a hero but I follow other tattooers and illustrators work for sure. It is a big part of learning and helps to evolve in some way. One of the first ones I remember was Grime, as an example, and I have a print of Timothy Hoyer's paintings in front of me right now.
I love your portraits of women...you illustrating everything Victorian beauties to 1920’s vamps. Where do these characters come from? And what are your other favorite concepts? Is there anything you wish you tattooed more of?
In terms of references for my portraits, if needed, I use mostly vintage photography, classic paintings or whatever is appealing that I stumble upon.
If someone asks me if I have anything in mind and feel like tattooing on them, I usually don't have a straight answer...it's pretty hard to choose for anyone something so personal, especially if I don't know enough about the person or we simply just met.
In general I recommend simple concepts, classic motifs, well balanced with a restricted use of color. I'm open for most things if they make sense in a graphical way to tattoo them but I think animal motifs are one of my favorite things to do. The original urge to get permanently marked with a image of them seems to be something most collectors share.
Another one would be Japanese inspired work but unfortunately I don't get asked for them so often anymore...I hope those things did not go out of style...
What is the tattoo or arts community like in Berlin?
I can't tell much about the art or tattoo community in Berlin; I stay by myself and with the people I work with for the most part.
Berlin is, compared to other German cities, still relatively cheap, which gives tattooers room to establish their own niche to work in. But I've also seen many new tattoo shops come and go over the last years.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I talked to a former colleague once about struggling with not being happy about a drawing or design and he said "ah... just do your best" ...which seems like the usual thing to say but in my case it helped!
Just work with the things you have available, not every skin is the same and not every design suits every placement, so give it your best.