To what extent is the world of tattoos linked to the one of cartoons? Without any doubt, for Ahmet Cambaz they are basically a mixture!
He is a young tattoo artist based in Istanbul, Turkey. But he didn't always follow this path: he started his career as a cartoonist and 7 years later decided to become a tattoo artist. However, his connection to cartoons has remained strong, so much that it has inspired his tattooing style, filled with cute minimal colourful designs. According to him, the winning mix comes from the techniques he learned as a cartoonist, the ability to listen to people's desires and translate them into tattoos while adding a personal creative touch.
Hi Ahmet! We are very glad to have the chance to interview you. Can you tell our readers something about yourself? How long have you been tattooing? Did you always want to pursue this career or did you initially intend to follow a different path?
Hi, thank you! I started to make tattoos 8 years ago. Before that, I was working as a cartoonist for a comic magazine in Turkey, but I was already thinking about starting making tattoos. My technique as a cartoonist really helped me get where I am right now.
Do you remember the first person you tattooed? What was the subject of the tattoo?
Yes, sure, it’s impossible to forget: I made my first tattoo on my own skin, but it was so painful that I couldn’t complete it.
What are the main opportunities for tattoo artists in Istanbul? Would you have preferred to undertake this job in another city? If yes, which one and why?
First of all, Istanbul is indeed a historical and centred city, too many people from every country and culture live here. This variety, without any doubt, gives its great contribution to tattoo artists here, both in their art and in the creation process. Moreover, every time I go to Rome and meet the local people, I always admire them a lot.
Back to your question, If I ever decided to work and live elsewhere than in Istanbul, I think it would be in Rome! The main reason is because of my ties with this city. I go to Rome every year. Actually, it was very upsetting for me to cancel my planned trips to Rome and Milan due to the pandemic.
But, wherever I go in the world, I always love to come back to my home city, Istanbul.
“In the cartoon style, sometimes we can convey an emotion through colour when it is not possible to communicate it merely through the drawing”
Having a look at your Instagram page the features of your tattoos are immediately clear: cute little drawings, mostly in cartoon style, bursting with colour.
What is colour for you? Why did you choose not to use the classic "black line"?
Honestly, when I first started tattooing, I preferred the classic "black line" too, as most of the tattoo artists. But, as soon as I met colours and added them to my tattoo designs, I enjoyed it. I continued following this way when my followers’ reactions to my posts were along the same lines. In the cartoon style, sometimes we can convey an emotion through colour when it is not possible to communicate it merely through the drawing. I guess I noticed this and, therefore, I supplemented the missing feelings with colours.
Besides tattooing cartoon characters, in your highlighted Instagram stories we've spotted that you can also turn your clients' photos into stylised drawings, adding a personal artistic touch as well. When thinking of new tattoos, do you prefer to free your creativity or to rely on pre-set patterns?
I usually offer two kinds of designs to my clients: in the first one I propose something more innovative and original by adding a touch of my own creativity, while the other drawing entirely reflects the demands and wishes of the customers. Usually, they choose the first alternative and this makes me so much satisfied.
Of course, the creative part depends on the type of design required: some demands are more restrictive, while others, on the other hand, give free rein to my creativity.
Concerning your relationship with your clients, have you ever refused to tattoo something proposed by them? How do you feel while inking a person's skin?
Usually, I prepare and present the ideas. I always try to create something beautiful that is as close to my style as possible. If the outcome is not going to satisfy me, I do not hesitate to inform my client. Only at that point, I can refuse.
Can you share with us a funny moment from your work or a fact that has particularly stuck with you?
Yes, I’m happy to tell you about an amusing fact that occurred at my workplace. One day, when I was taking a break, a customer thought her tattoo was over, so, after paying, she left the studio. I had to look for her in the streets of Rome and then get her back to finish the work.
To conclude, a slightly tricky question: do you think there is still a “rebellious element” in getting tattooed nowadays?
I guess it wouldn't be so much of a rebellious for a metalhead to do my tattoo designs. hahhaha
Aside from a joke, I mostly tattoo joyful and positive elements, but getting a tattoo is an important and liberating decision. I think it is personal and important.
Follow him and his art on Instagram.
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