“I had many friends, who got tattoos, long before. But I was never interested in this. I do not know somehow, tattoo was shit for me. Just one piece, I saw on a professional skater and poet, named Scott Bourne, caught my interest. It was two fully black arms from maybe 15 to 20 years ago. It was just… Wow.”
Being a part of the tattoo scene for more than 15 years, Alex aka Trampy does not represent the rock star attitude, which many young tattooists seem to enjoy fully these days. Without yarning big stories on his first visit to a studio, he admits openly, that seeing a girl, fully covered in tattoos, smoking in front of a parlour, made him enter the scene. “I stayed all the afternoon in the shop, reading magazines, listening to music, watching the people who came to the shop, with their stories and got a tattoo there. I went to work, with the number of the girl in my pocket. I got to see my boss and told him, that I will quit the job in the bar from tomorrow and become a tattooist.” The tattoo shop Alex started to work in was pretty Ol’ School with bikers all over the place, as he describes it himself.
When he got employed in the biggest studio around a fancy neighbourhood of Paris, he could easily make 8000 Euros a month with tattooing anything on anybody: “I was a bitch. Neither bad, nor good, let us call it my beginning.”
His current style evolved from hours and hours of drawing besides being full time in the studio and getting inspired by artists like Don Ed Hardy, who published one of the first magazines of the scene called Tattoo Time from 1982, long before his success as a designer for clothes. Within these publications, Alex discovered different sides and styles of tattooing, which influence him till date for a big part. These magazines introduced the idea of abstract art in the scene, “creating absolutely nothing, big pieces of black, crazy things, dot work, thick black lines… absolutely nothing.”
Considering the tattoo industry, Trampy explains, that between now and the past, around ten years ago, the field got completely oversaturated with the amount of shops and tattooists. In his opinion, very few people seem serious about tattooing. Those are the ones who are going to conventions, eager to meet the huge artists and commit for the industry. For the rest, it is just having a tattoo and looking like an outlaw, being in their early 20s, and fully covered only on visible parts of their bodies to show off. They do not really care about the art and passion. Though not considering it as a smart decision to get fully covered in this age and foremost with those reasons, Alex would rather tattoo them and not send them away, as he will do a proper job on their skin: “If I do not do the tattoo, they will go from shop to shop, until somebody makes it. And the quality and hygiene might be shit then. So, I do it for them. To me, all these trends, it looks like the end.”
Alex came to Nepal five years ago. It was the third edition of Nepal Tattoo Convention in April. Friends from Europe had told him that Nepal was a great experience, not just as a tattooist, but also as a whole. Alex decided to come, even though he was not a big traveller and it was his first proper journey out of Europe. He describes his first stay in Nepal as “crazy and totally life changing“.
Alex stayed for three months and was working every day in Mohan’s Tattoo Inn with Bimal Rai, Biz Gurung, Vivek Rai and Mohan Gurung himself. Experiencing the closeness of people in the shop and the whole community in Nepal, from that very first moment, made him come back again and again. Now, he could not stay away from the place. He continues to return at least twice a year. In Alex’s point of view, the European and Nepali scene differ greatly:
“Nepalis kept, what we lost in Europe. I can see, that it is not easy and their struggles. But here, they have humanity; we have lost this back in Europe for a long time.”