Sven Rayen (BEL), tattoo artist, Antwerp

“I have a number of tattoos, the last was one done by Charlie Roberts it is the plant, the devil’s tongue from the Sanseveria genus.  I chose it as it was one of the plants that we had at home when I was growing up.  Next to it is a Zebra which I tattooed on myself.  I like the graphic nature of the tattoo, and the black and white stripes make it really stand out.

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I got my first tattoo when I was fifteen, a Kanji symbol on my ankle. I was fascinated with the art of tattooing and began to tattoo myself about six years ago, my first being a rose on my thigh.


My tattoos are chosen for a number of different reasons, the portrait of my mum is of course very personal, but others are impulsive or experiments on myself, or done by artists whose style I admire.

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I started tattooing full time in 2009 and have noticed a number of styles come and go in that time, tribal designs, traditional American and a Chicano tattoo revival, a style was optimized by Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete and Mark Mahoney in the seventies.  I have never followed the trends though and have concentrated on developing my own skills.  I’m interested in graphics and form and always ensure that the tattoo suits the personality of the person who is getting it.

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I think Berlin, London, and of course Antwerp are at the forefront of current tattoo design with some exciting new styles developing.  I sometimes guest tattoo in other cities my last placement being at Sang Bleu in London a concept workspace that is involved in publishing, graphic design, art, fashion and tattooing disciplines that compliment each other.