Kafka's Playground: Interview with Tattoo Artist Lukasz Sokolowski

Kafka's Playground: Interview with Tattoo Artist Lukasz Sokolowski

In this interview with tattoo artist Lukasz Sokolowski we talk about his incredible surrealist style and the artists who inspire him.

His love of Darkthrone and Franz Kafka is no surprise...Łukasz Sokołowski's work seems to possess a foreboding world of dark humor and Satanic surrealism. Creepy creaking blood filled coffins, decrepit babies and psychedelic mushrooms; his portfolio is like a beautiful intoxicating nightmare. This is the kind of hell you'd be happy to inhabit. 

In this interview, Łukasz talks about how he got started, what artists inspire him, and what he loves beyond creating bad ass tattoos.

What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer?

I finished art high school and I was studying fine arts but didn't finished it. I don't think that I always want to be a tattooer, I think I've always felt that my future will be somehow be connected with some form of creativity but I've tried many others before I focused on tattooing. Of course the very first activities connected to tattooing were in really early days, at primary school when I occasionally drew some skulls and other stuff inspired by death and thrash metal cover art on my friends skin with some pens and markers.

How did you get into tattooing and why was it the art form you were most interested in?

I've started twice, first in high school doing some really bad scratching on some random victims. Decided to not continue doing it because of lack of skill, tools and teachers. Second time was after 8 years when I decided to get back to this and to make my young dream come true, give myself one chance. So this time I bought my first professional tattoo kit and started once again at home first on my family & friends skin. This was more than ten years ago so really old story...and here I am.

I think that I most love in tattooing is how many techniques it brings, how every day in that work it brings me more and more things that I want to learn, both in "artistic" and craft areas. It's impossible to get bored.

Can you talk about how your style developed? Why do you think people are drawn to dark art?

I think this style (if there is any) is still evolving in a really natural way, including newest inspirations, etc. I'm not describing my stuff as dark, for me it's not dark, it's just how I am, and how I am detecting reality and translating it to drawings, flash or tattoo form.   

When I start to draw something new I'm not focusing on finding way to do it in the most dark way I can. I'm thinking on composition, elements that I want to put in, how I could merge them, what kind of techniques and colours I want to use for every detail, how it's gonna work with part of the body that myself or customer choose for tattoo, etc.

What inspires your work? Are there any books, films, or artists (tattooists or not) that you’d recommend?

The list of my inspiration will be too long for this interview :) However, besides obvious inspiration like many many tattooists and illustrators, I always was more inspired by books and music than films. For me it's more stimulating for the imagination. Bruno Schulz, Kafka, Lovecraft, Ligotti, lots of music like Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard, Cultes des Ghoules, Burzum, Neurosis, Wędrowcy Tułacze Zbiegi, Furia, Księżyc, Bohren and der Club of Gore, Darkthrone, Virus, Forndom, Wardruna, some soundtracks, etc.

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What is the tattoo community like in Katowice, Poland? What is it like to be heavily tattooed there?

Katowice is a city like many others in Poland with many tattoo shops. I'm not sure if there is any tattoo community but I'm not the right person to comment because I've got only a few friends in Katowice's tattoo "scene" like friends from our shop and few more. And I'm not so socialized with the rest, just because I'm not a party/event person. 😉But Katowice itself is a really great place to work, so much better for me then my previous place, which was Kraków: too loud, too touristy and too much hard partying.

What are you passionate about beyond tattooing? What do you do on your days off or vacations?

For many years I'm really into hiking. Since I've become a father I don't have as much time as I want for this form of activity. Last year I started trail running and for now I think I'm really addicted to this.

Any travel plans, collabs, or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

For sure I will come back this year to London for a guest spot at Parliament Tattoo (cheers guys!!!), some Polish guest spots and hope to come back to other places that I really fell in love with from my first visit: Bobek Tattoo in Prague and Hard Work Tattoo Rome. And last but not least finally need to visit my friend Robert Borbas in Budapest (sorry Robert!). I'm not a big fan of conventions so I'm doing just 3 of my basics: Krakow, Katowice and Warsaw, all three in Poland.

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