Jakub Nowicz: “I went through hell to be where I am today”
The polish single needle master talks about the long journey to mastering the craft and how he loves and cares about tattooing
Fans of fine line tattoos will find it easy to fall for Polish tattoo artist Jakub Nowicz's delicate creations. Born and raised in Poland, he has been tattooing for around 9 years now, and he is currently working in Milano's Puro Tattoo Studio. Jakub works at a graceful pace using a single needle technique, creating clean and elegant pieces, coveted for their lightness and delicacy.
Sometimes, less is more, and the work of Jakub Nowicz perfectly illustrates this philosophy. From cats to flowers he makes his works, no matter how small, look dreamy and poetic. He is able to work his magic whether it's a micro tattoo or a forearm center piece.
Let's get to know him a little bit better.
How did you start out? When did you decide to start your tattooing career?
I think I made the decision somewhere in 2010. I am drawing since I was a little kid and it always was my biggest passion. I wanted to have a creative job when I grew up, but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do back then.
I fell in love with tattoos when I was around 14 while listening to hardcore/metal music mainly and watching those amazing, colorful tattoos on my idols. Since then I wanted to get tattooed so bad.
My first love was traditional and Japanese styles and I was looking for that kind of work on my body. After getting my first tattoo at the age of 20 I slowly became friends with the owner of the tat shop and I was spending all my free time in the studio with them.
How is your creative process? Do you get to decide or change the original idea and placement of your clients?
I think the key is understanding, because most of my work is based on my clients ideas. So, Basically you tell me what you want and why and I start drawing based on that. I try to come up with new ideas and creative solutions to illustrate the client's thought. I always want to give my clients a special and personal piece, not a mainstream design. Adding a little bit of mystery is fun too!
Everything I do is based on my feelings and creativity, sometimes I suggest to change the body placement or size but at the end the one who decides about it's always the client, because she or he will be the one wearing it forever, not me. They should be happy and comfortable wearing my work.
How many tattoos do you give per day?
From 3 to 5 tattoos if they are small. Considering the simplicity and size of my work might sound like is not much, but I don’t wanna work in a rush. I'm making permanent changes on my client's skin and that's a big responsibility. I want to have time to think, imagine and make the best version of the final design I can make, because I always draw on the appointment day. Furthermore, the technique I use needs full focus and precision, it's quite a slow process. Quality and not quantity, always.
Which tattoo artists have influenced you most?
I love East from Shamrock Social Club because of his technical skills. Still remember when I saw his healed work for the first time. Back in the day I was amazed by Stizzo, Eterno, Mike Rubendall, Freddy Negrete, to name a few. Dr Woo, of course, because of his pencil-like tattoos. I used to draw with a pencil all day long when I was younger, and when I found out that I could create tattoos that could look like a pencil drawing taken right off one of the pages of a sketchbook I was blown away. I was doing every style at the beginning, I learned old school first. And I was always inspired mainly by two polish artists, Kuba Kujawa, S. Nitschke, and many others.
They say starting off with old school it's the best way to learn.
Of course it is.
Why is it specifically?
Because you learn the craft before your style. The mechanics of the tattoo, how the skin behaves with the work. You learn different techniques and tricks. Then you can combine those things to create something different. I think this is the reason why I know how to make a single needle tattoo that heals and ages well.
In my opinion if you want to be a good tattooer you should learn every style first. Then you can slowly search for your thing and specialize. But learning the craft is super important at the beginning. So I took every step at the shop.
Many artists probably criticize your work behind your back, without knowing that you went through all the stuff.
Yes they do. Probably many of them think that I’m another stupid child that wants to be famous or something. But if they knew how much I love tattooing and care about it... I went through hell to be where I am today.
Many artists criticize single needle tattooing.
I know. They kind of have the right to do so sometimes. I know a few single needle artists and they give tattoos for the fresh tattoo picture. The party ends once the tattoo heals. I don’t like it. The most important thing is how the tattoo looks once it heals. My tattoos heal and age well. If this wouldn't be the case I would stop straight away.
So, if done well, you believe a single needle fine line work can last.
I’ve seen well done 15 year old single needle tattoos looking better than 15 year old traditional tattoos. Sometimes I think to myself that people forget that bold lines also become bolder as the years go by. I see some of my old single needle tattoos on my girlfriend and they still look great.
Did you ever have any complaints?
Just a few times. My clients come back wanting more work, they send me thank you emails, so I think they are happy with their tattoos. And before I tattoo them I always explain how the tattoo changes over the years. So they know what they are getting into.
Tattoos are fascinating, I think that's why the culture it's growing that much.
Yes. It's the only thing that will stay with you forever... it’s yours.
People see just a small pretty flower tattoo on a picture, but there's so much meaning behind. People struggle with many problems they have. And tattoos are like a turning point. Helping them to move on. It’s like magic.
Sometimes I’m like a priest (although I’m not a religious person). We share energy, pain, happiness, fear, joy. And it's just growing, more and more.
It’s crazy... I remember the times when thanks to “Miami ink” tattooing was becoming mainstream. And it's still growing after so many years... Celebrities getting tattooed like crazy. And people are following the trend.
What do you like most and what do you hate about how the tattooing industry and community is evolving?
The wide variety of styles, having the possibility to travel and to meet new and talented artists and clients is amazing.
I love that other creative people and brands want to collaborate with tattooers giving them more opportunities and space to express themselves in areas beyond tattooing. We are not underdogs anymore, haha, although it felt good to be so. The access you have to everything is much easier now, which is good and bad at the same time…
What I hate? Maybe dislike, I don’t wanna hate anything in my life. Looking back at the history of tattooing I might say its sacred, at least for me. I really don't like when people who have nothing to do with this world want to get involved to take from it destroying the true and valuable image of tattooing. I believe money and fame are not the best reason to take this job, it's my personal opinion.
How do you see yourself in 5 years time? Any goals?
I start to think seriously about opening my own bar here in Milano or in my hometown in Poland, who knows? Haha. But seriously, I want to establish a solid ground for me here in Milano, because I am still fresh here. What I want is to create. My head is full of ideas and tattooing is becoming a little boundary to fully express myself. For sure I don't want to sell my soul for something which would make me only wealthy. I want to do other things but remain honest with myself. I have some ideas, but it's too early to speak about it now. You’ll hear about it in 1 year max, I swear!
If someone wants to get tattooed by you, how should they approach you?
The best way is to send me an email with all the details I need, which are the idea, size and body placement (if they know what they want). Giving me all that info saves a lot of time for both of us. I know that getting an answer from me might be pretty long sometimes but we work hard to make it swifter. Sometimes instagram DMs work, but very rarely, emailing is the best way.
Anything you would like to add that might be interesting for our readers?
We live in crazy times, so pay attention on what's going on around you, be kind, respect our beautiful planet and always THINK FOR YOURSELF. Live free and have lots of fun!
Follow Jakub Nowicz on Tattoofilter and discover more of his work there, together will all his contact info.