Humble beginnings with Jurgis Mikalauskas

In this interview tattoo artist Jurgis Mikalauskas shares the joys and reflections of being a tattoo artist. Jurgis has attended many international conventions, and has won multiple international awards.

Blog author
Ink Public Team
January 2 2023

Many of us loved art when we were little, but soon it changed to other activities and hobbies. How did you know that art was here to stay in your life? Are there any particular moments in life that you are reminded of when you reminisce about your start?

I started doodling at around age 4 or 5, and nobody paid much attention to it. Maybe that was the success formula, because usually when you are pushed too much towards something, you try to steer clear of whatever you are pushed towards.
It was hard to get good drawing supplies, like brushes, canvases, and paints. I think that's what kept me striving for art and knowledge.

I was genuinely interested in seeing things from a technical art perspective, the fascination of an optical illusion and the play between light and shadow was overwhelmingly exciting.
But I still do not consider myself an artist. There is a lot to learn before you can consider yourself one.

Jurgis Mikalauskas tattoo works

Can you talk about how your tattooing journey began? Are there any specific artists that you admire?

I was a teenager when I did my first tattoo. It was supposed to be a pin-up style woman silhouette, but it turned out looking like a dodgy bodybuilder. However, I was not deterred by the results; I was too interested in the technical aspect of the tattooing process.

The first tattoos were done with my own build rotary tattoo machine - made from an old portable cassette player, the grip was made from a syringe and the needle was made from a guitar string, it was crazy times! I kept improving it, even made a 3-liner needle (that's three needles soldered together into one grouping). There was no YouTube and internet back in the days. Only back in 2010 when I immigrated to the UK I was able to buy my first proper tattoo kit. It was a Chinese knockoff, but still a huge improvement and upgrade.

Jurgis Mikalauskas tattoo work of an old man

That's when I started to look at the tattooing more seriously. My first heroes were Bob Tyrrel and Nicco Hurtado, but to this day, my all-time favourite is, of course, Dmitriy Samohin. He is not a human, seriously, no man on earth can have such a talent!

How did you land on your current style? How has it changed over time?

In the beginning, I did all sorts of tattoos, but linework was never my thing—my hands are too shaky for that.
Portraits have always interested me. I find it the most difficult task to make a portrait tattoo that looks like a real human, and the colour palette combinations are endless—that's why I love colour tattoos.

I still find it very enjoyable to make some interesting colour combinations that you usually wouldn't even think of putting together, and the end result looks mesmerizing.

Jurgis Mikalauskas' back tattoo of a viking man

If you had to choose, what is the most rewarding part of your profession?

Tattooing is indescribable. There is no straight sentence that could describe the joy of being a tattoo artist. It is certainly not the easiest job on earth—you have to possess many people-oriented traits, your ego needs to be down low, and your striving for money should be minimal.

You get to meet a lot of different people from various social levels, from an ex-prisoner to a lawyer. You get to hear their stories, views, and opinions about the world around them. Probably the coolest thing that tattooing gives me, is the person it makes me become.

Jurgis Mikalauskas' tattoo collection

If you had to pick, what would be your favourite design that you’ve done for a client?

Design wise I am never happy with the results, always thinking I could do this better, I could do that differently, and so on. I call myself "the picky bastard"! But the portraits with vibrant colours always bring a smile to my face.

How do you think the industry will change in the future, and how do you imagine yourself changing with it?

The industry is changing really fast. I've been in the tattoo business for a relatively short time—just over 12 years. I’ve had seen inks made from a shoe rubber sole to the ones that can disappear and reappear with an exposure of special light. I’ve seen tattoos done with crude tattoo machines and bamboo sticks, and now I work with a sophisticated cordless tattoo machine that is connected to your phone via an app that shows you various info, including how long your battery charge will last and how many stitches per second you are doing on your client’s skin.

There are 3D printer-type machines that can tattoo symmetrical symbols onto the skin! I mean what's next!? Surely there are exciting times ahead for tattoo art, and the only thing left for me is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

And lastly, would you like to share any upcoming projects, plans, or events with our readers?

In no way am I retiring any time soon; I have only just started! I do imagine myself getting into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest tattooist, doing some crappy portraits with my shaky hands.

There are many conventions to come, many guest spots to do, and many cool clients to meet!

I am planning to go back to Lithuania, so I will be working in both countries, the UK and Lithuania, and will probably do some occasional guest spots in Germany or surrounding countries.
All the best to you all! Keep it simple, keep it humble, and keep it fun!

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