Ole Egeland Schmidt (NOR), tattoo apprentice, Tokyo




“When I was 21, I bought a tattoo kit through the internet and did two terrible tats on my legs. That made me realize I had to do an apprentice to properly learn the skills and techniques. Being accepted by your apprentice is all about being at the right place at the right time. I moved to Japan and was working in a bar in Roppongi. The bar owner had a tattoo artist as a friend and he introduced me to him.I had my whole sketchbook ready, but he didn’t even gave it a glimpse. We just had a chat and he could feel my passion and motivation to become a good tattoo artist. That’s why he accepted me (http://fistofthemorningstar.tumblr.com). Even until now, he still hasn’t seen my book. I guess i was lucky, a lot of people get rejected.


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If I want to learn, I have to ask. If I don’t ask for advice, I won’t get any. I’m in power of my own learning. Apparently it’s a Japanese style of teaching. It’s comparable with for example people who are training to become a sushi chef. The apprentice time in Japan is double the length of the Western one, but it works for me. No idea when my scholarship will be over. When my ‘sensei’ thinks I’m ready (mainly depending on the number of my own clients), he’ll give me a tattoo name and I can start as a real tattoo artist.

My dream would be to have a shop both in Tokyo and Oslo, my hometown. I’d love to travel back and forward between the 2 cities.


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Japan must be one of the last countries where the taboo on tattoos is still standing. The police stopped me countless times on my way back home. Politely being assholes… I stopped being polite, I really don’t see the reason for this kind of discrimination. In Oslo even the cops walk around with sleeves or tattoos peeping out of their collar (laughs).

Tokyo is the opposite of Oslo. Here are so many people, so many hidden treasures, so many subcultures. I love the dirty, little bit dodgy areas like Shin-Okubo, Ueno, Ameokocho. After a good day of work, my main goal of the day, it’s always good to hang out with friends, have some drinks, pick up some street food. No matter what time of the day, there’s always something to do here.”


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Tokyo is the opposite of Oslo. Here are so many people, so many hidden treasures, so many subcultures. I love the dirty, little bit dodgy areas like Shin-Okubo, Ueno, Ameokocho. After a good day of work, my main goal of the day, it’s always good to hang out with friends, have some drinks, pick up some street food. No matter what time of the day, there’s always something to do here.”