From pop culture icons to fine art reproductions, florals, pet portraits, sculpture, and more, Ali Dundar is a tattooist based in Instanbul at the highly respected studio Tattoom Gallery. In this interview, he talks about his motivations inspirations, and constantly learning to evolve his craft beyond expectations.
Ali with his wife and pup
How did you get into tattooing and why was it something you were drawn to?
I was enthusiastic about tattooing since my high school years. I started an apprenticeship as soon as I finished high school. At the same time, I started drawing classes to improve myself. I still continue to practice and learn, and keep my motivation just as high as it was the first day.
Can you talk about your inspirations, and how your style has evolved over the years?
From the beginning, I aimed to be an individual who can perform different tattoo styles at it’s best. I can say that the time that I spent in drawing classes was very effective, as I learned the differences between the styles and the importance of patience. Beyond that, Realism affects me a lot. I appreciate to make realistic designs for people, and to be a part of people's memories, families, animals and personal passions.
Who are the tattooers, or fine artists/movements, that have inspired you over the years?
My first inspiration before I found tattooing was the Baroque era. I loved the light and shadow details of the era. I started to research these artists more carefully and tried to learn techniques for that specific field. I’m a huge fan of Caravaggio, Bernini, Velasquez. For tattoo artists, I'm inspired by Mashkow, Pablo Prats, Pawel İndulski, Oscar Akermo, Sol Tattoo, Youyeon.
Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?
My motivation is to be proud of the design concept that I take on. I do a lot of animal portraits, and they all have different personalities and expressions. This always keeps me excited. My other motivation is my family, my wife and our cat and dog. When we are peaceful all together, I'm always feeling my best. Success for me is my clients' and my satisfaction with the design and the result.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?
The best advice to me was my mentor's: “Be patient. Don’t draw to get in a good school, do it because you love it. Do it your way. Then the rest will find you." All I can say is that you always need to be humble and patient. New things always will come, and we need to keep pace with it.
Beyond tattooing, what are you passionate about? How do you spend your free time, and what do you do on your vacations?
Besides my work, I'm passionate about doing music research, creating video content and spending time with my family. If I'm not in the studio, Sherlock (our dog) is always beside me, and we always walk around to enjoy our surroundings.
Any future plans you’d like to share?
We believe we do our best for tattoo art in Turkey (my wife is also a successful tattoo artist). There is a big world and a lot of cultures that we need to see. We started to take action on this, got offered a job from a great studio in USA and we are hoping to move there soon. We will always try to get the best from life.