Orge Kalodimas’ love and devotion on geometric tattoo led him to his recent book publication “Solstice Mandala”. Orge spoke to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about his transition from realistic to geometric tattoo, the reason why he “avoids” colour, how he met with Sake, his influences, his preference in European tattoo and tattoo’s future which he finds auspicious.
How and when were you initiated into tattooing?
I have done a classic full apprenticeship for two years, from 2005 to 2007 alongside Sake. I watched him, drew all day long, mopped and swept the studio, cleaned the tubes, set up the tattoo machines – the whole package. I also answered the phones and booked appointments. I was basically the first receptionist at Sake tattoo. I have been here since the first day the tattoo shop opened in 2005. It was just the two of us to begin with and then the crew gradually grew.
What do you think made Sake believe you were ready, once you completed your two years?
That’s his to know (laughs). Look, up until that happened, I did a lot of tattoos on me, as well as on two of my best mates. I began gradually and did letters in the beginning and generally “easy designs”, like everyone does at that stage. In my opinion, that is how someone will appreciate the gravity of this work and prove that he can do it for the rest of his life. Because these things are kind of confused these days… That’s why many people open studios without having previously “passed through” another tattoo studio. I experienced my apprenticeship full on.
So you believe that in addition to the gravity it brings with it, an apprenticeship is inextricably connected to becoming a tattooer?
Of course! I believe that 100%. It is an unbreakable bond for life. I always call myself Sake’s apprentice and I’m honoured by it. I generally see myself as an apprentice when it comes to tattooing, meaning that you never stop learning. I mean, if you say “I got it”, that’s the end of it! You always have room to evolve.
How did you meet Sake?
I met Giannis at “Live in Color Tattoo”, when he used to work there. I had gotten some tattoos there, by Manos. I was rather young and really into bmx, skating etc. I think the fact that we liked the same sort of art – realistic design – brought us closer together. I may be doing geometric designs now, but when I first started out I liked Sorayama, Luis Royo and all those things we saw in books we bought from Exarcheia, since there was no info on the internet then. So I hadn’t found anyone else who liked that type of illustration. At the time I really liked those kinds of illustrators and Renaissance in general, and I also painted in addition to doing graphic design. That’s how me and Sake basically “stuck” together.
What was it that lured you into tattooing?
Look, begging my apprenticeship was Giannis’ proposition. I didn’t begin with the aim of becoming a professional tattoo artist. I just wanted to work in a tattoo studio. I’ve loved tattoos since I was young boy.
How has your tattoo style evolved today and what lead you to sacred geometry?
I was always enchanted by religions and all the different cultures surrounding them. When I began my search, I was really attracted by Buddhism, Hinduism and the whole range of eastern religions which have n element of mysticism to them. That’s when I was introduced to tattoos by Mike the Athens, Jondix and Thomas Hooper. The style and mystery surrounding those designs won me over. Therefore four years ago I started looking into it and heading in that direction and somehow “daring” to do it, because that style wasn’t widespread in Greece. I did my first pieces on friends. Then I got tattoos by Jondix and Marco Galdo. I also went to many tattoo conventions and got a closer look at geometrical tattooing and that’s when I realized that that was what I wanted to do.
Are you then completely devoted to geometric tattoos now?
Yes, only that. I mean the entire range of geometric tattooing. I do patterns and Mandalas and I sometimes add some more artistic pieces, like deities and skulls. I always painted, so it is an integral part of my life.
So you think that people aren’t just familiar with geometric style but also seek it out?
Exactly. The biggest reward for me is that I am booked with geometric patterns for months. People now come to me and say ‘take my arm and do whatever you want’.
Do you also do freehand?
I rarely do freehand geometrics. 95% are stencils but all the designs are my own, custom made. I mainly do Blackwork and Black & Grey. The truth is, I want my tattoos to be black and white. Except for rare occasions when the client insists on having red details for example.
Why do you “avoid” colours?
When I have a geometric sleeve in mind, I can’t “see” it in colour. I always painted in black and white and as a result I haven’t “studied” colour that much and I don’t want to experiment with my tattooing. Over time, I see tattooers who experiment with colour on Mandalas and geometric patterns, like Iain Mullen, who does it successfully. But I can’t “feel” colour.
Are there any artists whom you would name as influential to you?
I will begin with Mike the Athens and continue on to Jondix and Thomas Hoopers, who are in my opinion at the world’s best in this kind. I don’t think there is anyone into geometric tattoos who hasn’t been influenced by them. Also, Xed le Head and the entire “Into You Tattoos” school in London. Anyway, Xed le Head is the father of geometric tattooing and Dotism, even though not many people know that. I simply first “met” the whole sense of geometry, repetition, patterns and motifs through Mike the Athens’ work and through the artists he “produced” (Jondix, Hooper), because the elements that drew me to geometric tattooing – the symbols and the influences from Buddhism and Hinduism – were from Mike’s “school”.