Drop everything right now and get to know tattooist Okan Uckun—remember the name.
If you're into tattoos in contemporary styles and a mix of modern art, you better wish that Okan Uckun will be doing guest spots near you soon. Okan is one of the tattoo artists you really should get to know right now. And we believe he's just getting started.
His tasteful blend of different tattoo elements is a breath of fresh air, so to speak. In a scene where everybody is doing the same thing, trying to be original through others' original works, and trying hard to make a mark with the same overused things, Okan's works is the more everybody is looking for. He's one of the few tattoo artists I've known who relies on maths to create some of his works.
Okan isn't the tattoo artist you should go to if you want a strictly simple infinity design or something. That's only because he can give you so much more. If you'll give him the full control and freedom with the design you like, he's bound to exceed your expectations with his beautiful works.
Despite his busy schedule, Okan found the time to share about his career with us. Okan's precise geometric elements, sharp blackwork, and delicate details are what sets his works apart from the standard blackwork and geometric tattoos. Having a background as an architect, we really should expect nothing less from an alternative tattoo artist like Okan.
Some would describe his works as blackwork, minimalist, or geometric. Whilst most of his tattoos often contain all those elements, Okan's works is something neither he nor we can categorise in one or two standard tattoo styles.
Aside from his impressive works, we also found Okan an insightful individual who is truly passionate about his work. The respect and dedication he has for tattoos are very evident. He's not afraid to have big ambitions either; he knows what he wants for his career in the future regardless of where it takes him.
How did you get into tattooing and how long have you been in the business?
I started tattooing with a thesis of trying my artwork on different surfaces such as [on] walls, plants, wood, and lots of other [canvasses] as well [including] the skin during my Fine Arts education. Transferring them into the skin is such a different experience and quite more exciting. For me, the surface on which your work moves, stays alive with the owner, travels and makes love, makes it the most satisfying [canvass] for the designer to draw on. That feeling has been covering almost my whole life for five years.
Who or what were your earliest influences?
Actually, I got influenced with almost anything I saw and liked at first. But then I [also] started to have an aesthetics for tattoos and reached a taste parallel to modern art.
What's the best part about being a tattoo artist?
In addition to all the pleasure I already mentioned, the biggest joy is to be able to travel the world and display my artwork to so many people. Today, I can get to the airport to catch the first flight, and tattoo [wherever the flight takes me to] for a long while. With the help of social media, I can reach people whose bodies can expose my art. It is hard to explain how satisfying it is to be in a business you love and sharing it with different cultures in the planet. This is exactly what I am doing now and I am currently writing a blog about that.
Personally, how would you describe your art/tattoo style?
I have an approach where I am influenced with modern art, reflecting to my minimal and conceptional art. I use print arts like [doing] mathematics and on etching on my artworks. It may not be the best to express this with only one form but I have the motto: #imnotminimal. Even if they are called minimal, my biggest passion is to reach the most naked and flawless. [That has] a lot to do with it and that is why [my style] is not minimal.
Where do you usually look for inspiration?
Like I said to the people who were tattooed by me, I consider those artworks as installations more than just tattoos and it does not make sense to be inspired by tattoos only. Anything I see could be a muse to me. However, literature, nature, and math are the biggest sources of help to me. Each of them is a significant aspect feeding my work rather than being great hobbies.
Aside from tattooing, what are your other interests?
I am an architect and I also studied painting and finance. I used to be into musical performances for a long period and was making a living with photography and videography before being a tattoo artist. I spent enough time to make powerful portfolios with each of them. Recently, the content of my brand called #imnotminimal is what makes me really busy. I will launch a coffee with this name soon.
What's one thing you'd tell someone who's determined to pursue tattooing?
They should remember they could tattoo anything they see. Whatever they think of tattooing or deforming, they should go for it. When we first started, the rise of the modern art in tattoo was regarded to be ridiculous and a shame but now, these artworks are the pioneers of a stream which lead the whole industry to change. Never hesitate to do what you like.
Any future projects or plans for your career as an artist?
I want to go to every country [there is] and share my designs. I dream of [seeing them] existing on people from different cultures. I am going to feel alive until the last person who carries a tattoo from me dies.
“[The] tattoo world is in a big change now and there are dozens of unique artists leading that. It is a fresh start for us and I appreciate all these people for doing this and inspiring me and the others. And of course I also appreciate you for supporting these people,” he says towards the end of our interview.
“Never hesitate to do what you like.”
-Okan Uckun to Tattoodo