MDF.042: Trauma, ACA, NYC courier, Tattoo, Activism, BLM, Poly, PNW, Radical Fairy, Sleep, Fasting
Hywel Francis (he/him) – Wolf Creek call – 2022 @hywelfancis
When I first opened the door to welcome Hywel into the studio for a tea, it felt safe and friendship ensured (his Pisces to my Libra was almost palatable even back then as I understand myself now). So very grateful that we lined up as Hywel was passing through Berlin to reconnect with lovers and the city (then considering the transatlantic move). Once folks have crossed over into my heart they are welcomed back whenever (he has since guested and barely made it back to NYC as the pandemic hit and most flights were grounded).
In this episode of the show we really dig into our shared intersections (and I always sponge as much up as I can). Upon each visit I have integrated a new life tool (at first – the importance of drinking enough water, then – fasting, and later – sleep hygiene).
Just have a listen!
MDF.041: ACA, Healing, NYC, Barcy, Berlin, Gonz, Cascade, Queerness, Boros Bunker, Parenting, Art
Lou Andrea Savoir (she/her) – Berlin 2022 @louasavoir
We first met at a wedding of mutual friends out in the countryside of Berlin, (Lou kindly offered me to sit on the family blanket as the wedding was about to happen). This was my first camping-vibes weekend-away ceremony (with a ramp to skate and a lake to swim in). She made the wedding rings as a gift (her range of creative output is humbling to me).
Lou and her partner Julian have been working together as @cascadeberlin and crushing it (seemingly always in the cycle of pre production, on a shoot, or in post). They have released the highly regarded first book on Mark Gonzales (just as Corona swept over the world).
She has been recently awarded Best Director from the International Film Festival for @inthebunker.film (which demonstrates her commitment to fine art and several studio practices). Having managed to make a life happen as a family in Berlin is impressive (while making time for friends and family skate Sundays).
MDF.040: Running, XXX, Tattooing, VHS, Punk, Skateboarding, Painting, Veganism, Morrissey, Therapy
Joshua Solomon (he/they) – Auckland call – 2022 @jjes.online
When we first met in Auckland it was clear that our lives had those most important connections (some of them came through in the last years but were felt way back then). Often just one episode feels not enough to re engage (but I’ve been promised a long overdue visit this summer).
Check out their modular queer community studio @electricceremony to find out more about how they are decolonizing tattooing, making is accessible for disabled folks, and all things Ratclaw.
See you soon!
MDF.039: Green Card, Self Tattooing Left Handed, Love, Magic, Clean And Sober, Books, Mom, Spirit
Francisca Silva-Pabst (they/she) – Berlin – 2017 LOST TAPES @framacho
We landed on the same page upon meeting for a ritual at the studio years ago now (it’s always a sincere honour to tattoo other tattooers but often nerve wracking). Fra was sent to me from another planet on which somehow we never met before (they had already lived a full life before and after Berlin (fine art, sobriety, queerness, spirituality, all the good stuff).
These days Fra calls NYC home for love and community. Magically, they seem to be always in the right place at the right time (having to push against the patriarchy to be allowed to be themselves, a true raw creative pioneer).
The LOST TAPES are gems for me to revisit. I can’t wait to see you again, maybe a surprise trip soon!
MDF.038: Queer Refugee, Lefty, Roll Your Owns, Queer Tattooing, Nowhereland Cairo, Liebig, Scars
Orne Gil (she/her) – Berlin – 2017 LOST TAPES @g.orne
We met during a very stressful time for Orne in particular (having been living a queer life and tattooing in Cairo). Her dog was stolen the day before I arrived (and somehow was able to get it back, still run the studio, generously host me as a guest, and have a crisis visit from her Mom). I will never forget the wild ride from the airport as we blasted down the highway, windows open, the swelter (let alone the airport experience of itself).
I am really enjoying going back into these times we had in the kitchen. Thanks!
MDF.037: Forest PDF, Parachute, Rammstein, Perspective Tattooing, Colabs, Exhibition, Rolled Smokes
David Schiesser (he/him) – Berlin – 2017 LOST TAPES @ds_008
For a number of years David would come up to Berlin considering making the move from Offenbach (he landed a huge old studio way outside of Berlin that was for painting, tattooing, and sleeping). I couldn’t count how many times he’s visited me by now (even when living in Berlin he would commute south and work here to be in the city energy).
These LOST TAPES have a video aspect from us sitting in the kitchen (one day there might be a good purpose for em’).
Thanks as always.
MDF.036: Rock Climbing, Tattooing, Painting, Traveling, Mom, Vinyl, Dreaming, Camping, Train Hopping
Dylan North Homer (he/him) – Berlin 2017 LOST TAPES @dylannorthhomer
I first met Dylan while he was engaged in a most impressive and humbling apprenticeship process (with a dear friend @rileytown at @tattoo_union_bc in Vancouver). It’s hard to put it into words how much appreciation for tattooing I feel when I get time with Dylan (who’s truly carrying the torch forward), respecting it’s history and perpetuating radical newness.
Dylan has visited Berlin a few times (I believe more than once over the years before Corona). Since then Dylan and @boonenaka have opened up @for.you.tattoo in Vancouver (their creative energy is unparalleled and really blows my hair back even if I don’t have much anymore).
See you soon!
MDF.035: Vagabond, Fuck Cancer, Sobriety, Tattooing, Flash, Camelback, Skateboarding, Painting
Mike Mendes (he/him) – Berlin – 2017 LOST TAPES @mikemendes
I first met Mike tattooing in a wildly busy street stop in Toronto that I got a spot at (having fled Vancouver not prepared for winter I got super sick right away). You could tattoo 10 clients a day without blinking an eye (as far as I remember Mike holds the record of 15 somehow).
From Toronto to Melbourne to London to Berlin, we have always found ourselves on the same page (he has the most spectacular travel history always lining them up with tattooing).
Mike is currently visiting Berlin again last minute after a long hiatus (I had just unearthed 2 of his lost tapes we had video recorded in the kitchen). An absolute gem of a human (really jazzed to do a longer format sooner than later!) Thank you!
MDF.034: OZ punk, IV meth, Tattoo, Travel, Relapse, Cocaine, Booze, Meetings, DIY records, Greyhound
Spider Death (he/him) – Melbourne call – 2022 @spiderxdeath
From the first moment Spider arrived at AKA an easy friendship ensued (only recently have I come to understand that Pisces for my Libra). We were both raised by punk, drugs, and tattoos as our formative mentors (both of us hitting bottom finally at 23 – me in Canada and him in Australia). Spider has generously hosted me in his Kings Cross flat while I was on tour (between being in Berlin and London a few times it always feels like no time has passed in between).
Having several creative outputs keeps Spidey on track (he recently got 2 years sober after relapsing – having 9 years previously). This time Spider connected with a recovery community, works out regularly, paints and shows work @chinaheights takes care of 2 greyhounds, has moved to Melbourne, tattooing @melbournetattooco is somehow keeping up with lathe cutting punk records for his label @wintergardenrecords and has fallen for a lovely person (who happens to be a fellow tattooer).
So much love, see you soon.
MDF.033: Ritual, Guru, Meditation, Painting, Osteopathy, Karaoke, Raccoon, India, Bricks
Miyako (she/her) – Toronto call – 2022
When I first met Miyako in the bike shop of a friend in Toronto (I had just moved over from Vancouver the first weekend of the Olympics) we landed on the same page. I had a thin rain jacket and Vans coming from the PNW (after only 2 days as a bike courier in the middle of the winter) I stayed in a house with cats and got next level sick.
Miyako is a highly intuitive Osteopath treating from the inside-out when one is ready (but also from the outside-in). She healed my most recent injury (I thought my arm wouldn’t ever life over my head again), and started to take care of my oldest injuries.
Being able to be seen and heard mutually makes for a powerful dynamic. I have learned so much from our exchanges over the years, watching her follow the path that was always there. She is generous with her actions, kind with her words, and talented with her creativity.
MDF.032: Skateboarding, Raves, Crowley, Bottom, Meditation, Rehab, Elektro, Recovery, Metaverse
Aaron (he/him) – Berlin – 2022
I finally got to hang out with Aaron again yesterday at the studio (I even remembered to unplug the noisy fridge and plug it back in after). We both grew up skateboarding, get fucked up, leaving Canada, with a life rooted in recovery (much can be said for the northern climate influence in relationship to bottoming out).
We got into the origins of his creativity and how that trajectory has been going (often a surprise when deep spiritual practices are primary). I forgot to inquire about his history with self tattooing of very specific themes (I realised it only after, as we sat on a bench jamming a falafel, before I raced back to zoom into Vedic meditation class).
There have been a few folks now who want to stay anonymous, Aaron is one of ‘em (which is a pity not to be able to share his stuff, but well understood!).
MDF.031: Long term recovery, NYC, Podcasting, Veganism, Animal Rights, Musical Theater, Queerness
Michael Harren (he/him) – New York City call – 2022
My first very sponsor @michaelharren and I had been catching up recently (trying to line this one up), it was such a treasure for me. In no particular order of importance Michael is a queer, a theatrical musician, a Podcaster, a vegan activist, a piano teacher, and the first person who really gave me the space and time to start to unpack my life.
I finally skidded into recovery (after almost a decade of physical abstinence from booze and drugs) as I was trying to make a life in New York City happen. Dry as a bone, I promptly emotionally and spiritually bottomed out and started to ask for help and found a solution.
The suggestions are to get a sponsor, to work the steps, to keep coming back, and to help others (back then the Rainbow room in Times Square was my home group). I heard Michael share one Friday night and said to myself “fuck it, I gotta ask this person to sponsor me, they have what I want.” He said a tentative “yes, let’s get together weekly before this meeting, as you do the work” (as his own personal life had been in a deep family crisis). All the rest has been the slow road that narrows gratefully. Thank you kindly.
MDF.030: Tattooing, Art making, Porto Cult, Traveling, Berlin, Vintage Hi-Fi, Vinyl collecting
Iñaki Aires (he/him) – Berlin – 2022
Over the years dear friends have come my way though the studio, @inaki_aires took the tea first then tattoo second then guesting third way (this has proven to be a trusted method in the times of IG).
He comes from a family of artists which really shows in the inherent ability to keep pushing aesthetics forward (I’m not that brave!). The techniques come along easiest when one has a direct connection to the creative process that the hand follows without fear (it’s impressive to watch him “figure it out” in several intervals per year for many years now).
He has since started @studio_nau_ in Porto where he was raised (the door is open to me kindly and I believe I helped name it accidentally over a classic UNIV ERSE breakfast in the kitchen here). Make sure to keep up with the fine art practice as well @arquivo_digital_
This one’s got some surprises, thanks again.
MDF.029: Ireland, Raving, Heroin, NA, 12 Steps, Meditation, NYC, Berlin, Love, Music making, 9-5
Julie F (she/they) – Berlin – 2022
Our paths first merged on week 2 of me landing in Berlin (I was here to stay but without a flat but had landed at AKA gratefully). I was over the moon to be offered a room by the studio with someone in long term sobriety (we hit the ground running, even if they were recently in a grieving process).
In those days we went to NA (that’s their main fellowship and you will understand who after listening to the historical account of the unmanageability). Next the cutest little handful of a puppy came into the mix and was named Rooney (I didn’t understand back then but have since come to dig Rooney Mara, but not for the same reasons).
It’s been impressive (and concerning) to watch how one can need fellowship and that surrounds it and slowly pull away but stay clean. Julie has always been making music with their partner Jane (and at times others in the band but often just the pair) and a solo project that speaks volumes. We had a blast expanding on: What it was like, What happened, and What it’s like now. Enjoy.
MDF.028: Venice, Noise, Community, Berlin, Kink, UNIV ERSE, ACA, Sicily, Gypsy living, Pooka
Rita (she/her) – Berlin – 2022
We first met officially through Michele Servadio (we must have crossed paths already as AKA and the screen printing place was a block away). Since then we have been landing on the same pages in several iterations.
She moved to Berlin after finishing art school in Venice (then only speaking Italian and French but picking up English and immediately went to school for German). A punk drawn to noise, squats, community and performance (has a degree in all of it surely) stayed for 10 years then gypsied away a year ago or so now.
Over the years I’ve gladly taken care of her dog Pooka (being a dog myself in another life certainly). She assisted me in producing the last full season of UNIV ERSE (of which I still have much of). She saved enough form our time in collaboration (and as a cleaner) to put on a free weekend festival in Palermo. Sometime later recovery brought us closer again (as it often does).
There’s a lot shared in this episode as we sit in the studio (until my neighbour rings the klinger to collect a package and Pooka decides he’s been patient enough).
See you soon, safe travels!
MDF.027: London, Bottoming out, Transition, Mental health, Recoveries, Fellowship, Berlin, Sex work
Natasha Stavropoulos (she/her) – London call – 2022
We first met briefly (on the other side of
We first met briefly (on the other side of the pond in a meeting) some years ago in London. She then moved over to Berlin and became a huge part of the queer fellowship immediately.
Shamelessly herself, a sober trans woman, mental health caregiver, sex worker, and powerfully intelligent. Make sure to listen well, (somehow I missed chatting about how much she loves driving very fast cars on the autobahn).
MDF.026: London, Poly, Linguist, Veganism, Berlin, ACA recovery, Drag, FKK lakes, Star Trek
Sam Wood (he/him) – Los Angeles call – 2022
Sam AKA @morganwoodcallisto and I tried to jump a podcast tech hurdle recently (which was really just my block). This week we successfully hung out virtually, for an interesting conversation (beamed in from Los Angeles to Berlin).
We first met in the rooms of Berlin (as you do) and a friendship ensued via fellowshipping and summer bike rides to swim (FKK natürlich). As well his partner was once my sponsor which was a formative experience in my recovery.
If you already know how progressive Star Trek has been historically for queers (I was informed about this truth only recently). Then my excuse of being a young kid strung out late at night is almost enough? Somehow our conversation didn’t elaborate on his relationship to the series over the many years.
MDF.025: London, Climate activism, Recovery, Meditation, Berlin, Love, Writing, Transition
Tamsin Omond (they/them) – London call – 2022
This week I had the chance to finally catch up properly with a lovely human @tamsinomond and share digital space (now normalised in these Corona times and greatly appreciated).
Tamsin and I met in a queer recovery meeting nearly 7 years ago (in a Crypt of a London church, which sounds crazy but commonplace). Since then we have been on the road to wellness individually and in tandem (irregardless of geography as they have spent plenty of time in Berlin historically).
From initially being involved in the London performance scene, to theatre, to climate activism, to politics, to gender, to writing a book, to a Ted talk, to getting hitched, to gender affirming surgery, to climate consultancy (all wrapped in up in a powerful recovery). See you soon dude, thank you kindly.
MDF.024: Alcoholism, Busking, Recording, Touring, Berlin, Recoveries, Meditation, Spirituality, Poly
Harry Hudson-Taylor (he/him) – Berlin 2021
Last weekend I got to witness @harryhudtay perform solo (gratefully at a non smoking bar in Berlin). I had been sent demos from the summer sessions @hudtaymusic made before the mastering (and they really rang that identification bell!). We get on well about all things music, spirituality, recovery, family, queerness alike.
At the beginning of Corona our meetings were all starting to be held on Zoom out of necessity (and Harry asked for some more help). Life connections keep on developing in my life because other folks also put their recovery first (and seek spiritual solutions) then can give back what was freely received.
Harry came to visit me at home with kind gifts of Frankincense, a candle, a small ruler, and a card (for underlining as we go along identifying in our recovery literature). Thank you kindly!
MDF.023: DJ, RuPaul, NYC ClubKids, Drugs, AA service, Elektroclash, London, Tzuji, Berlin, Writing
Larry Tee (he/him) – Berlin 2021
@larrytee_tzuji has the gift of story telling that’s for sure (if you know him well these stories always tend to get a shine each time). Be sure to keep up on with the current iteration.
We first crossed paths some years ago in a meeting in London (a few dear friends came into my life from the same crypt in Angel). He chose Berlin for the next phase of his recovery, music production, performing, and a wild fashion company. He’s forever the first to make you feel welcome at your first meeting (especially if you’re ready to get back up again and need a sponsor to do the work with).
The most current projects have been paused due to Corona, but still incubating are a TV show (of which I was eventually convinced to participate in) and a biography / recovery book series. It’s too difficult to express Larry’s impact on the cultures he’s been contributing to over the years, have listen there’s a lot!
MDF.022: London, Performance, Transition, Recoveries, Berlin, Gong bath, Meditation, Writing
Rhyannon Styles (she/her) – Berlin
When my dear friends lay it all out there like Rhyannon does in her writing, it really hits me hard. Make sure to get @rhyannon_styles newest book HELP! I’m Addicted: A Trans Girls Self-Discovery and Recovery it’s out everywhere!
We first met in London during my burning out years on the never ending tattooing world tour (in a queer AA meeting in the Crypt of an old church) because I drummed up the courage to say hello. She might have even been able to convince me to qualify at that first meeting as I was fresh foreign meat (this opportunity actually introduced me indirectly to other dear friends would also move over to Berlin consecutively).
What we shared back then was much more than I could be aware of (though I felt the gravity to her and her story big time). Before relocating to Berlin she was already committing her focus to writing her memoirs (she just released the second iteration of what I hope will be more than just the thrillogy). Since then she has gotten a degree in performance in Berlin and has been offering gong healing sessions (even continuing this practice via zoom while in lock down).
Berlin is lucky to have her here (and when you get her time, you feel it’s special).
MDF.021: Tattooing, London, Body Of Reverbs, Hexen, Berlin, Spirituality, Kink, Verboten, Fine art
Alberto Brunello (he/they) – Berlin
Bru cultivates a painting, printing making, music producing, and has developed a radical tattooing practice (which is a breath of fresh air utilising mag drag techniques within the world of pattern).
We first met either in London at Michele’s private studio or here in Berlin for a Body Of Reverbs orchestrated at a friends studio down the road. Since then and many times over the years, we have come to know each other but never in the context of sharing tattooing space at the same time.
Bru came to guest at the studio for the first time as we had planned to trade tattoos (I had been patiently awaiting the right moment for tattooing my body again from a place of balanced wellness). We challenged ourselves and the ritual by recording the audio of the whole process that Bru offered me (I would have not been comfortable if the tables were turned on my rituals with others). I really appreciate the thin glaze between reality and projection.
As the world keeps shifting, the studio residents shuffle, and my dear friends start to visit Berlin again. Bru came to guest at the studio for the first time and we had planned to trade tattoos (I had been patiently awaiting the right moment for tattooing my body again from a place of balanced wellness).
MDF.020: Tarot witch, Emo, Tattoo, Xpat, AKA Berlin, AA, Spirituality, Big Book, Animal rescue
Hannah Graves (she/her) – Berlin
Talkin’ the talk and walkin’ the walk is pretty unusual but Hannah Graves does just that. Drop into the cult here @cultmothertarot
So much has transpired since we first met and Hannah opened a door to my future (the very first hello was me cold calling AKA Berlin from Toronto to ask for a guest spot not thinking to be able to communicate in English). We enmeshed over being punk kids, tattooing, and family life immediately. As the years slipped by we connected through recovery and spiritual practices (a full circle experience that took its time gratefully).
I basically had to invite myself over to get some of her time (as she’s basically the busiest person and doesn’t leave HQ if to not get groceries). My hope was that she would read my tarot and we would spin into an overdue catch up conversation (knowing that our shared history always weaves into it as we cherish it dearly). We ended up grazing over most of the last of her 9 years in Berlin and then she topped it all of with a 10 card spread.
I left allergic from the two newest loves of her life (Spooky and Steve who fit right in and keep her company). Some time ago now she had made these amazing Black Sabbath Master Of Reality knock off Cult Mother shirts (I blew it and never visited to get one…she gave me hers today). My dearest of friends really turn up and give the precious gift of their time.
Hannah you’re a gem.
MDF.019: Relapse, AA, Stepwork, Food, Tattooing, Spirituality, Family, Berlin, Ritual, Blast overs
Nion McEvoy Jr (he/they) – 2021 Berlin
A couple years have gone by since we last shared space together. It is really nice to have Nion visiting UNIV ERSE Studio again. Go check out the works here @nion_ and get tattooed while he is still in Berlin.
Some of my dearest friendships make contact via others when I am able to be in the moment (during the years spent on tour this was a regular experience, through necessity). I was still overworking in all the ways possible, living in all of the dysfunctions, and starting to need to come through them (bottoming out lead me to committing to new recoveries, slow and steady). By chance, we were both in Los Angeles without enough time to do a tattoo (but Bryce said that Nion was sober and we could probably go catch a meeting together). Nion either picked me up or I skated down, most likely running late back then (it was supposed to be held on Melrose Ave and the Martlet was close by on Hollywood Blvd). The meeting was not happening, so we went for a diner hangout on Vermont that we both knew (I used to live around the corner year previous and years later Nion lived around close by). Small world.
Since then we have pretty much spoken several times a week creating a connection that is near and dear to my heart. Our shared zest for tattooing (of which we’ve been doing a long distance mentorship), recoveries, spiritual wellness, and queerness have been hugely important for me. Super grateful, enjoy this deep dive into it.
MDF.018: Skateboarding, Xpat, Injury, Sculpture, Photos, Whittling, Berlin, Mental health, Winter
Dave Morgan (he/him) – Berlin 2021
An integral ambassador to Berlin skateboarding @mavedorgan who’s currently laid up with a broken foot with time to whittle and drink tea.
I remembering hearing that there was a new dude crushing transition in Berlin a few summers ago, (Julian invited Dave to skate the Weissensee ramp which says a lot). That smile and those moves won me over immediately, (always so kind, happy and relaxed) Dave fit right into our old folks skate group of auslaender misfits. It takes at least one person to keep everyone motivated (group texts, planning to ride bikes, adventures out of town, fresh parks just built) to skate even once a week. Dave gets out there several times a week with a several different crews, (shooting photos, filming a video part or contributing to the Euro mags). It makes so much sense feeling how ingrained he is to stay that stoked, (usually killing a board a month easy).
During the first winter of the pandemic I rode by for a tea and a visit, (initially to see his spoon production and was also shown the natural sculptures which is an eyeful). How crazy is it is to make spoons out of old boards, (you gotta glue em together, jig em out, wittle em, hand sand em, and oil em). Of course this is all done from the sanctity of his bedroom set to great music. We land on the same page with bands our parents influenced us with and all things skateboarding.
Berlin is lucky to have Dave around.
MDF.017: Tattoo therapy, Skateboarding, Punk, Obsession, NYC, Flash, Obsession, Berlin, ♋️, Kirin
Pete Corrie (he/him) – Berlin 2021
I was wondering to myself (since converting my old Tattooer Talks to podcast format) when I would kick it off again and who with, then Pete invited me up to the new studio. I was under the impression that he was feeling very chill after a vacation (even though I had heard the mania in his voice about how stoked he was filling up the walls) it was clearly set in the stars to be Pete. He is a one stop shop, mixed with expert story telling, and a double cancer magician of aesthetics.
Several years ago now, Pete had come highly regarded by other humans that I dearly trust, so we either met for a tea at UNIV ERSE Studio and went for a skate or…no, he was the first lurker out front of the studio (always early / never late) before the doors opened for an anniversary event. Which for me are always sober, Hannah flipped tarot, with nice food and tea, and an old dear friend HB Nielsen played a set (accidentally in town and still chasing tattooing but pushing hard into writing music, self recording and performing it).
One thing leads to another and Pete and I get on like house on fire, skate the same fun stuff most people don’t like and can blab and blab and blab until the cows come home. He at one point got tiered of living and working up in the north or Berlin and would blast down on a very nice Kirin frame to tattoo with me, talk about NYC, bands, art and all the rest of it. UNIV ERSE Studio is the polar opposite aesthetic but carries similar intention (I am a minimalist and Pete is a maximalist). It all makes sense when you meet the artist behind the work, (those are my most favorite moments), and now a bunch of years later we still have shit to talk about, but still don’t skate the ramp across the street enough!
MDF.016: Queer refugee, Cairo Tattoo Convention , Scars project, Mom, Painting, Dognapped
Orne Gil (she/her) – Berlin 2016
Yes you, look into @g.orne / @nowhereland_tattooberlin / @queereroticatattoo
While I was still making my way around the globe tattooing it was time to see the pyramids (having felt very drawn to Cairo since I could remember). Arriving in a new country, no language skills, nowhere to sleep, nowhere to work, and having no friends was my method for a bunch of years was my norm (I was then chasing tattooing with little concern for the future but seemed to still land on my feet). An old co-worker mentioned that he had gone to the first Cairo Tattoo Convention and offered to introduce me to the host Orne (who offered to kindly host me). It was most important that the people could afford to get tattooed (making myself accessible for the people not able to spend their monthly incomes).
Several trips to countries came with fearful warnings to not be queer in any way (which felt unsettling knowing that I was only visiting, that I would go back into my life of chosen safety, but the other queers were stuck there). I was asked to remove any indication of my queerness which was tricky to do (but dangerously illegal to be so there, where people were also living) so humbly I obliged. We raced through Cairo from the airport sweating as they all smoked (it felt like I was in for an adventure but had no idea yet). I got the sickest I might have ever been, Orne’s dog got stolen, her Mom came to help find her from Italy, the dog was rescued, we ate great food, I tattooed folks, and saw the pyramids).
A few weeks later I received a call from Cairo asking for help to immigrate queer refugees that had been arrested by the sex police. I was not able to help my friends directly (somehow magically the universe provided them safe passage to Berlin). Germany is the safest place in the EU for queer refugees seeking asylum. Since then Orne has guested with me and other studios (squatted an important last stand fem queer house, started her own studio twice, become a political queer tattooer and gives back to communities).
MDF.015: Tattooing, Graffiti, Future, Boyband, Fashion, On the move, IG game, Art
Gael Cleinow (he/him) – 2016 Berlin
The wild world of Gael Cleinow / @future_brussels
If you have the chance to ask Gael how to make an apprenticeship happen, do so (I was very blown away and stoked). We met a few times in passing while I was working with AKA in Berlin. Our paths crossed again later (lining up easily) and have since shared space at UNIV ERSE Studio through its several iterations. It is tricky to put into words the ease with which Gael makes tattooing look to the outside world (the scale, the themes, the placements). He has the capacity to fuck with the internet (and not care about it, or at least it felt like that to me). While still having the time to run a very bussssssy multi human studio (so very shocking to me).
At his first space in Berlin he dove in (renovated it and made everyone feel welcome) he hosted Michele to do a Body Of Reverbs. I had not ever had the right timing to catch the rituals in person (thanks for that Gael). Since then he closed and opened a different space to cultivate other peoples talents and careers (across from the best Pad Thai in Berlin). Then closed and opened another with even more of a roster of people who needed his attention and energy (I’m getting anxiety even considering what those years felt like for him!).
MDF.014: Punk, Trauma Informed tattooing, Veganism, Gender, Fine Art, Kink, NYC, Oral Historian
Tamara Santibañez (they/them) – 2016 New York City
The multi-amazing @tamarasantibanez / www.tamarasantibanez.com
The internet is often a vacuum for good human energy (then once again, I was suggested to meet Tamara who navigates it all gracefully). I was sitting with a mutual friend catching up before my client arrived and queer tattooing came up (he said just go now, before I knew it I was en route). I had barely 45 minutes before my client arrived that day. (a classic uber situation blasted me over to meet up at the LA Book Fair (where I walked by a number of folks I look up to). I found the Discipline Press booth but was not entirely sure who to talk to because I didn’t see Tamara (and I was running short on time). We had a quick hello and I jammed back to DTLA to tattoo.
We met up again on tour while in New York City later that same year for some diner and a longer hang out this time around. They invited me over to do the interview at theirs (we were staying just around the corner from Tamara’s in Brooklyn). We chatted and got to know each other again more in person through the time shared. I was totally smitten (this person really embodies and lives what they communicate through their work and to their communities politically, socially, perosnally). Not only through tattooing and art making but how they treat themselves (big ups).
MDF.013: Fine art, LES NYC, Japanese tattooing, The Conservatory, PNW, Historian, Patience, Freehand
Joseph Bryce (he/him) – New York City 2016
For your enjoyment @josephbrycetattoo / www.josephbryce.com
I remember hearing again from another close friend that I should meet Bryce when I was back in NYC (most possibly HB because they worked together in the LES). It was a blazing hot summer day (my favs) and I was trying to gather my needs from the supply shop on Canal.I was to be guesting down the street (where HB and Bryce had worked but had just jumped ship a week before I arrived). I was waiting for the cashiers attention and was standing beside someone that had old Cris Cleen tattoos (I realized it was Bryce and introduced myself). We immediately hit the ground running, developing a very rewarding connection (on my end anyway!).
The next visit to NYC I was invited to work at the new space (even closer to the supply place on Canal) and gratefuly accepted. I got to know him and his partner a bit better and tattooed them both (still on my way into burnout but not yet at the bottom). They have since come to Berlin to hang, tattoo and contribute to a group art show (I was officially starting to pick myself up from said bottoming out).
This was just the begginnig of being on contact with how the work really reflects the person I was getting to know (the NYC hustle is a real thing and can be harnessed with much skillfulness).
MDF.012: Poet, Tattooing, DIY, Queer community, Spontan, Love, Spiritual hardcore, NYC, Fine art
Francisca Silva (she/her) – Berlin 2016
Take the time to get to know the one and only @framacho
I met Fra upon opening the front door of UNIV ERSE Studio as she was the days client (I access my creativity easiest without any consultation prior to initiate the ritual). Before I could welcome her properly she was showing me where she had free space (very little free space even back then). I realised then that she had tattooed whatever she could reach on her own body herself using both hands (really that’s so very impressive!). I can’t remember who said we should make acquaintance (but thank you very much). Since then she’s been to visit several times and I’ve been asked to do important life markings (it’s been a dream energy balance not found often for me). She fell in love with NYC and then fell in love and got hitched and stayed there (can’t wait to meet you both again one day). Fra is a powerful human, poet, queer activist, tattooer and artist (her lived experience informs her aesthetic and when you see it you know it).
MDF.011: Perspectives, Tattooing, Berlin, Painting, Skydive, Train, World tour, Automatic drawing
David Schiesser (he/him) – Berlin 2016
You must dive into @ds_008 / www.davidschiesser.com
Once again Michele suggested that I meet this person David from Frankfurt who guested in London with him. He was visiting Berlin to see friends and tattoo (it’s imperative that I have a particular connection with folks to share space with). I invited him over for a UNIV ERSE breakfast at the studio and immediately understood the tattoos (as they come directly from the mind of a spacial genius). This really shifted my first takes on others work when I initially feel unclear. David soon moved to Berlin to continue perusing his fine art practice (and tattoo with me at UNIV ERSE Studio when he wanted). He landed a great space and was trying to live and paint and tattoo from it (a recipe for burnout as I’ve experienced). I was away on tour once and a few of them did an event at UNIV ERSE Studio that I keep hearing about now years later (David, Michele and Paolo I believe?).
MDF.009: London, Japanese tattooing, Gender, Queer space, Berlin, QTTR, Libra, Our history
Stewart OC (they/them) – Berlin 2016
Do make sure to look @stewartoctattoo / @lttcancer / @dourtimes
In the beginning year of developing the #qttr community Stewart was very helpful and kind (among other friends who I challenged to be transparent and contribute). It felt necessary to push our way through the masses and it caught on. We now experience tattooing as accepted and booming (a post queer tattooing dramatic sea change). So much life has passed since we sat in the kitchen at UNIV ERSE Studio and blabbed as we do so easily (Stewart and I in particular both being Libras)
They since have moved back to London from Berlin and put their tattooing practice on hold for personal reasons. See you soon or else, as we go along many of the same paths.
MDF.008: Tattooing, Creatures, Gender, Politics, Murals, Fine art, Collaboration, Traveling
Makoto Chi (he/him) – Berlin 2016
If you haven’t already seen @makoto.chi / www.linktr.ee/ma_ko_to
I feel safe and sane when friendships land on many of the same important pages (a huge sigh of relief). At the same time being humbled by intense connections that keep unfolding.
Once again (gratefully, my friends know me well) I was introduced to Makoto, who came highly regarded and fills those shoes. I’m pretty sure we stumbled into each other at Michele’s in Hackney Wick (as I would have arrived disheveled from poorly managing my time / energy / expectations of myself) and as I recall he was very calm and patient to let me land and then most likely go eat great pizza around the corner. On top of being the lovely human that he is, Makoto is a brilliant artist, tattooer, activist – a partner, ally, friend to who is fortunate enough. We would have him around each summer and then I would be back in Vancouver in the winter.
MDF.007: Skateboarding, Freehand tattooing, Minimalism, Clean style, French Hip Hop, On the move
Paolo Bosson (he/him) – Berlin 2016
Dip yourself into it over at @paolo_bosson / @double_rayon_
Paolo was highly recommended to me, so I reached out for a guest spot on IG (we actually met upon my arrival at the old studio in Lyon).
As the story goes this Canadian (who could have better french than I do) tried to keep up and was the fool for saying that I could! He is a freehand tattooing wizard, smooth as fuck skater and very fashionable (it all lines up with the French aesthetic all around) since then he has visited UNIV ERSE Studio a few times and Berlin many to see other mutual friends of ours. One day I plan to wow him with my French but probably not in this life time living in Berlin.
MDF.006: Gender politics, Tattooing, Queerness, Self Tattooing, Homepoke, Ballpoint, Performance
Sally Rose (she/they) – Berlin 2016
When you see Sally out there say hello for me and pay attention to their / her work (no longer tattooing others).
In between time spent on planes trains and automobiles, UNIV ERSE Studio was home to many. The door was always open to friends clients lovers and fellows in many a constellation. Over the years the small kitchen held the most intimate energy (we ritualistically shared a huge offering of nice food with hot tea to good music). Our conversations were initially named Tattooers Talks (then becoming UNIV ERSE Kitchen). Sally was the human to show the world (in my humble opinion) how powerful and important queer tattooing done by hand is and has become. Most folks tattooing now by hand now (seemingly generations after) might not have even heard utterance of the magical tattoo artist named Home Poke (but now have!) Thank you.
MDF.005: Needle making, Japanese tattooing, Cape Town SA, Libra, Painting
David Chaston (he/him) – Cape Town 2016 (ARCHIVE)
Make sure to dig in @davidchastontattoo / davidchastonart
Two Libras step into a room and a conversation ensues (as was just like our last time hanging out in Bangkok). Seeing Cape Town through the eyes of my friends who grew up there was very humbling. The segregation and political system fall out that I had never experienced in my home country was omnipresent. It is still so trippy to look back and see how much friends go out of their way to show you around (and in my case offer care for your wellness while on tour). Meeting sober humans around the world and make that a priority has kept my head above the water (my non sober friends know how important getting to a meeting on tour is for me). I was taken to swim in the ocean that was possibly nearly freezing in contrast to how scorching the weather was (the presence of Great White Sharks totally flips me out). Pretty lovely time.
MDF.004: Masters of the universe, Tattooing, Frankie, Bangkok, Cape Town, Maui Thai Boxing
Nicholas Mudskipper (he/him) – Cape Town 2016
Have a peek @nicholasmudskipper / @tomb_tattoo
I met Nick for the first time in person upon my arrival in Bangkok and immediately felt welcomed (Yui and Frank promptly took me around the block to get some orientation and amazing street food I still dream about). My shin wouldn’t stop bleeding from knocking an old skateboard shin injury and the amazing swelter (my sock was trying soaking it up and Frank was all about it). I was then introduced to David, and I got right to tattooing in the little room we were sharing. They took me around to their spots after tattooing, and I jammed around solo and soaked it all up as best I could. This was a pretty magical adventure, we had planned to get a gold tooth but I didn’t have enough time after going to meet the dentist.
Some time later they all moved back to Cape Town where they kindly kept the invitation open (I was jazzed to see them again back in their home country). Getting to an airport anywhere and having a smiling familiar face (in the middle of a tour and going long distances) is really amazing and humbling. The new shop was freshly open, the people were so friendly, the city again was hot as fuck, Yui and Frank always cooking (this time I managed to get my tooth fixed by a dentist with gold). We went to art shop around the corner one day, I stumbled upon the markers I have now only used since (even when I ran out they sent me more). The hill I bombed down to the shop every day was mental, it fully blew out my wheels (I couldn’t even imagine how many powerslides to get the bottom and be jelly legged). Best time.
MDF.003: Flash, Pattern tattooing, Athens, Garments
Agelos Pedrikaris (he/him) – Athens 2016
Check out his work @agelostfb / www.agelostfb.bigcartel.com
We managed to make time to sit together at Omonia Square before leaving for the next city (the background noise of the city energy is present). Agelos was really starting to make big changes in an already great aesthetic that tattoo so well. I still had the desire to be out in the world (to visit and be in the mix which looking back was really hectic). I would be happy to be anywhere warm 365 days a year, what a treat (probably from growing up so far North!) Thanks
MDF.002: QTTR, Patterns, Tattooing, UNIV ERSE, Skateboarding, Berlin, Queer space, Traveling, Sober
Brody Polinsky (they/them) – London 2016
Have a peek @brody_polinsky / www.universeberlin.com
It was my turn next to be interviewed (with the same lacking questions). Another PG later we were timely interrupted by the biggest gong in the UK (the sound permeates the building during a gong bath treatment). I have always felt like Hackney Wick was a second home (even as it changes since Stratford being connected and the skatepark being erased). Hearing my own voice really is uncomfortable (but its the only one I got!) Enjoy, this time capsule is lovely to revisit.
MDF.001: Tattooing, Hackney Wick, Printmaker, Skateboarding, BOR, Collaboration, Traveling, Painting
Michele Servadio (he/him) – London 2016
Please check out the mastermind @servadio_ / www.servadio.com @thebodyofreverbs
As per usual, I woke up on the roof of the tattoo station / high bed / storage, got my shit together with some spiritual practice before Michele gently knocked (on his own door). He always arrived gently to see how I was, we grabbed our skates and jammed down the road to get a full English (even though we probably didn’t have enough time before the days clients arrived). I believe this day my appointment canceled so we had some unexpected free time (he was always doing prints using various techniques and nudged me to do an edition of wood cuts). I had an email interview I was avoiding to commit to and mentioned it to him (he said he had the same email) I suggested to just use our phones and ask each other the questions the dude sent over and be done with it. As it turns out it was really easy and kind of fun (he’s pretty concise and I talk too much). This project made sense to us, choosing to catch moments in time and share them (I was still blasting around the world then burning out).
Waking up in the creative space you work in and then sharing it with residents and guests is delicate balance for this Libra. I would say I never really figured it out at UNIV ERSE Studio but tried diligently the hard way. Through many years visiting each other between London and Berlin, Michele never flinched at my particularities for life rituals, tattooing, sobriety and otherwise. This is very much why it works so well (for me) I feel safe and super inspired by his process that never is at rest. What we have shared so far has truly helped shape me as a tattooer, friend, fine artist in particular.