Rijeka Tattoo Expo 2018: Meet Our House Ghost

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rijeka tattoo expo
Saša Lončarić Photography
With only two days until the 8th edition of the Rijeka Tattoo Expo, which has been confirmed for the weekend of 23rd-25th November and will take place at Kostrena sports hall, I had the pleasure of getting one of Rijeka’s most prominent tattoo scene names to answer a few questions.
Dejan Zlendić aka Ghost started his tattoo artist career in the early 2000s, rising from a guy who used to practice on his closest friends to a household name in regional body art community. And to say that this self-taught artist has come a long way since he got his first tattoo machine would be an understatement.
Who influenced your style as a tattoo artist the most?
My first role model was Boris from Hungary – he was definitely ahead of his time and his work inspired me to start tattooing in the first place. I was even lucky enough to meet him in person; one day he just walked into my studio, I couldn’t believe my eyes… Then there was the legendary Robert Hernandez, he was a god of his time, and today there are so many good artists that I just can’t single out anyone.
Would you say that your work usually attracts only a certain type of clientele?
No, these days everybody is getting inked: doctors, lawyers, athletes, … Tattoos have become more mainstream, and I’m glad to see this change even here in our conservative culture; things are opening up in that regard. And most of my clientele are really interesting, liberal, and open-minded people.
What are your favorite tattoo styles and designs? Is there anything you would refuse to do?
I express myself the best with realistic tattoos. I like adding different effects to, let’s say, imaginary faces or portraits; I like playing with dynamics, composition, contrast… Tattooing is an art form; everything has to fall in its place for the eye to accept something as beautiful. And what I don’t do are offensive or derogatory tattoos.
Body art is a form of self-expression, so what is popular doesn’t really matter that much, but in your opinion, what’s trending now?
You should never follow trends because they come and go, while tattoos are permanent and easily become outdated. Old school, however, has remained more or less the same and is always in style. Realistic tattoos are really breaking boundaries, leaving us with the impression that the style has reached perfection when we’ve only just scratched the surface. To achieve the wow effect, I believe every tattoo needs to have an original quality to it, and you can get that simply by giving your tattoo artist the liberty to do as he or she pleases, without too many guidelines. Provided that the artist is creative and technically skillful, when you just communicate the desired theme and let your tattooist work with untied hands, the wow effect is guaranteed.
In your studio, you also offer laser tattoo removal; how often do you do that? What do people more frequently opt for, removals or coverups?
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of bad decisions in the form of ugly, technically poorly executed tattoos. For those cases, laser is the only solution, considering that lighter colors definitely won’t do the trick, and you can only rarely get full coverage with heavily pigmented colors like black and blue. Typically, when it comes to coverups, no one is 100% satisfied with the outcome, so it is always better to do a few laser treatments first, wait until the old tattoo fades out, and then do a new one. My colleague Vlatko Vlaho has specialized laser removal and is very successful in that department, which has been recognized by our clients.
After more than 15 years of doing this, are you at a point in your career where you’re thinking about mentoring younger, less experienced artists?
I have done that before, taught young talents tricks of the trade, but lately with all the work and other responsibilities, I just can’t find the time. But I do plan to organize a seminar in the upcoming time to give some direction to anyone who has at least a little bit of talent and introduce them to the tattoo world.
rijeka tattoo expo
Photo: Rijeka Tattoo Expo 2016 – Best of Show award
You’ve been awarded multiple times at Rijeka’s past conventions; which awards are you most proud of, and what will you be showcasing this year?
In total, I have won about 20 awards in different categories, but the most prestigious are the three “Best of Show” awards. This year, I will be doing something positive and colorful, but what exactly – you’ll have to come and see for yourself.
One last thing – Dejan said – I would like to pay respect and thank the organizers who put all their hearts and efforts into the event, taking it to a new level each year.
And apart from its “good Ghost,” as the biggest and most anticipated regional convention, the Rijeka Tattoo Expo 2018 is rounded out with a number of other participants from all over Europe, including artists from Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Italy, Macedonia, Sweden and Norway.
Entry tickets can be purchased on-site only, but you can check out the entire 3-day program here, and if you’re thinking about getting some fresh ink, here is the list of all artists, but book your appointment on time.
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