Rasa is a 22 year old tattoo artist, originally from Jelgava. Her practice is based in her own bedroom in the centre of Riga and will soon be moving into a place at a professional salon. With works mostly consisting of crisp, black line work, Rasa’s artistry is still diverse and there is always space for everyone’s tastes, as she is able to adapt to different styles when asked for custom pieces by clients, yet still maintaining a unified aesthetic and personal touch. In this interview we discover more about Rasa as a person and artist.
1. When did you first start tattooing people at your home ‘salon’?
Not counting friends, whom I don’t really consider as “clients”, I opened my room to strangers in the summer of 2017. They were people I had mutual friends with, but it still came with a certain aspect of insecurity from both mine and the client’s side. It’s about revealing your living space whilst also building mutual trust.
2. When did you see yourself start taking this more seriously on a more professional level?
I still don’t feel like a professional, because what I’m doing is more underground. I started taking it more seriously when I made my Instagram. I was following other artists on Instagram, similar to what I was going for. When people I didn’t know started to ask me about getting a tattoo, that is when it started to get more serious. But it was never meant to be like this and it got slightly out of hand. I just wanted to tattoo my friends. Though I do think that it’s great that I get to tattoo other people now too.
3. Tell me about your first tattooing experiences
The first experience of tattooing myself was when I did a seashell on my arm. I did it with a sewing needle and basic ink, which you can buy in a craft store. I had just read about this thing, where you can actually tattoo yourself, and, at first, I thought that this is going to be a gamble and that I’m going to get infected and have my arm cut off, but, then, it ended up healing fine. Afterwards I showed it to other people and they wanted to get tattoos too. The first time I tattooed another person, I was so freaked out, because I wouldn’t really care about messing up on myself, but I would on another person. So, I started to fake a sense of confidence, because if a person feels that I’m very worried and not confident in my skills, they wouldn’t trust me. This has developed into other aspects of my life too, just by faking this confidence.
4. How has the practice influenced your personal life?
When I think back to it, it has changed my life. I have met so many people because of tattooing, some of them have become very good friends of mine. People recognise me at events and parties and they ask for tattoos. It’s even kind of scary at times. My work also definitely helps me with my confidence. However, some days it really fluctuates; I can be scared to leave my house sometimes, although at the end of the day I do think that it’s all natural.
5. Who/what inspires you?
Generally, my inspiration started to come from other tattoo artists, but then I dug deeper and I realised that the influences come from street culture, hip hop, kind of underground, equally, taking inspiration from prison tattoos, as well as symbols from Russian criminal tattoos. Some inspiration comes from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece; just combining everything.
6. How do you approach the design process, when asked for a custom piece?
Usually I take references, because people usually have a clear idea in mind, and the design is quite simple. I never used to draw line work , because I prefer colour and, patterns, and textures, like with paintings, but now I had to constrict myself to single line, so I have kind of developed into this style. The last person I tattooed asked for my style, but I don’t think that there is a particular style, it just comes naturally.
7. Do you think you will always use the “stick ’n’ poke” method?
I’m thinking about venturing into machine work. I have tried it once, but I didn’t like the lack of control, although, of course, I don’t know how to use it yet. The control and personal feel is what really draws me to stick ’n’ poke. I have the chance to bring out this technique more to the world, especially in Latvia, where it’s really rare and is thought as a sketchy practice that is just going to end up in an infection. I think it’s important that one can show how to create good work with this technique. It wouldn’t hurt to learn machine too, because I’d like to do bigger pieces. Moreover, it would also pay better and it would take up less time.
8. Do you have any weird stories or experiences with clients which you are willing to share?
There have been a few tattoos that I have done whilst not being sober. There have been two instances, one of them was quite popular — “CALL MAM” . There also has to be also some kind of confidentiality with clients, so I don’t want to offend anyone. There haven’t been any bad instances in particular. I always like when people fall asleep during tattoos (there have been three cases of this happening) because it makes it seem as though it’s such a quiet and meditative process. It’s usually a good experience of sharing stories. Sometimes we don’t talk at all and the client leaves immediately, and I don’t get to explain the aftercare.
9. Do you think you will ever get into doing colourful tattoos?
Yes, I actually have already done a couple of colourful tattoos. I have red, green, and blue ink. I feel myself getting bored with this black and white look, which does make it easier to create a more uniform aesthetic, but colour offers a plethora of new options.
10. What are your favourite themes to tattoo?
Definitely animals and plants. I, honestly, don’t really like doing text or shapes just with straight lines, because I feel like that’s what a machine is for — straight, crisp lines. With stick ’n’ poke it’s way more organic in itself, so nature themes work quite better with it. I would also like to do more with shading and dot work. Of course, it takes more time, but it’s really interesting to do.