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Tattoo Artist: Ysh Solling
Medelin, Colombia is no small town you have never heard of. Quite the contrary it is only the second largest city in Colombia and considered to be a cultural and artistic hub of the country itself. Home to poets such as Leon de Greiff and artists such as cartoonist Ricardo Rendon this city has evolved artistically over the centuries since it’s formation in 1616. Considering its rich cultural heritage its no wonder that we would find nestled in this artistic metropolis and artist such as Ysh Solling. Working out of Real Deal Tattoo in the heart of Medelin ,Ysh tells us how he got his start and his connection to a totally different country then where he resides.
“In 1996 I was given the opportunity to learn to tattoo. At the time I was about to start my career as a commercial graphic artist working in the design department. When I was presented with the chance to learn to tattoo though it was an easy decision to make and one that I am sure was the right one from the very beginning.”
Ysh grew up drawing and as with many artists it seemed that everyone was asking for his work so turning it into a career was pretty natural. Encounters with other artists helped to develop his skills and as time went on he drew inspiration from tattoo artists he would meet. One in particular he remains close to today.
“When I started working professionally in 1998 and mentored under Niels Hamann. I wouldn’t consider it a regular type apprenticeship though he taught me most of what I know. I wound up working for Niels in 2001 at his shop, Colorblind Tattoo Studio, in Denmark.”
Ysh tells us that over the years he and Niels have remained close friends and that Niels is “a huge inspiration for my work to this day”. Ysh was honored to work with Niels and his daughter at Colorblind for a number of years before making a transition to having his own shop in Medelin where he works with some amazing artists.
“On a daily basis I get to work with fellow artists Jaime Torres and Rafael Garcia as well as our shop deckhand Stifler. On a regular basis we exchange ideas, techniques, and I get to watch them make great strides as tattoo artists. It’s really amazing to watch and be part of.”
Ysh keeps his eye on what others in the industry are doing on a regular basis and even stays in regular contact with Niels in order to bounce ideas off one another. Ysh also talks to veteran artist Iver from Twilight Art Studio in Denmark whom Ysh considers it to be a true privilege to have the opportunity to receive information and experience from on a regular basis whenever he needs it. The list of other artists he follows looks like a global who’s who of artists including Dmitri Smohin, Matteo Pasqualin, Guy Atchinson, Shige and Robert Hernandez to name just a few.
With all this experience being shared and time spent practicing his craft what does Ysh consider to be his finest form of art that he practices?
“My strong point would have to be realism. I like to practice it with very little adjustment or maybe just a few extra elements put in more so to compliment the piece.”
Ysh tells us that music plays a huge part in his practice of the art of tattooing.
“It (music) is of extreme importance to me while I am working. If there’s no music, there’s no performance on my end either. It has a strange, and yet critically important, effect on the way I work. I honestly think it enhances my performance when I am creating a piece.”
Compliments happen all the time. Most of us who have work can recall giving a compliment to our artist after a particularly spectacular piece is completed. The best compliment for some though is when a piece is thought to have come from someone else which is what happened with Ysh.
“Someone once said ‘is that a Niels Hamann tattoo’. Having my work compared to my mentors when I only had a few years of experience tattooing was a huge compliment…even if it was no where near as good as Niels. Still it was a day I will never forget and always cherish. It was an honor.”
Ysh admits to having done a lot of strange tattoos before and over the years some stick out more than others.
“12 – 13 years ago I had a client (who might have been slightly mental) who wanted a classic eagle-catching-snake tattoo done. The thing was he requested specifically that the eagle and snake appear to be friends so he had me put smiling expressions on their faces which made them look incredibly strange and…well…kind of dumb.”
As for equipment and inks used to create? Ysh admits to switching machines a few times and even trying the Pneuma system but then stopped since it’s a lot of work to make it run. Iver suggested he try Dragon Fly machines and since the switch has been made he has been very happy (though he still has the Pneuma system set up in the shop). Ysh has stayed loyal to Intenze inks for the last 7-8 years and feels comfortable with them.
Final words for those looking to get into tattooing themselves? Ysh has some words that describe the level of commitment it takes to make it.
“Draw, draw until blood runs in streams from where your nails used to be…and then draw some more.”
Thanks Ysh, we will make sure to have some bandages close by as we follow your words of wisdom.
Check out more of Ysh's work here
Written By: John Ziegler