Hungarian tattooist Eva Szolnoki fell in love with tattooing at a young age and once it got its claws into her it refused to let go. Eva is fast becoming one of Europe’s most sought after tattooists and she is helping put Hungary on the map as a tattoo hot zone. Yayo sent out digital blogger Matt Haddon-Reichardt to get the lowdown on post lockdown life in the beautiful city of Budapest.
I’ve always wanted to go to Budapest and I was looking forward to a short city break in this gem of a city. Unfortunately Covid-19 has put that plan on hold so I had to interview Eva through Facebook messenger. As always I started at the beginning asking how she got into the tattoo trade.
“Tattooing had been in my mind since I was about 14 years old. When I got to 30, I decided to go for it and learn tattooing. I committed to learning what it takes to be a really good tattoo artist. After a lot of searching I finally I found an art form that I can be really eccentric with; tattooing lets me put 100% of myself into my art. Around about this time I started to follow Endre Szabo’s page and he just so happened to be looking for apprentice. I took a deep breath and jumped in applying for the post. Really soon after I applied and I was invited to the studio and that was the beginning of my apprenticeship in London at Tattooend studio; it’s a really cool studio, in a really cool city.”
“Tattooing had been in my mind since I was about 14 years old."
The public still seem to see tattooing as this rock’n’roll industry but I’ve always seen it as really humble job where the great tattooists put the customer at the centre of their world. Eva agrees that customer satisfaction is at the heart of her art.
“What I really love the most about being a tattoo artist is when I see happy clients on the end if the session. You cannot get bored with tattooing; for me that would be impossible. Being an artist I think there are always things to learn and discover; every day is a school day.”
One thing I have noticed over the past 5 years is that face tattoos are on the rise. It’s still a controversial topic amongst artists, particularly when customers with very little ink come requesting one. While they are becoming more popular Eva does not think they are becoming more acceptable.
“Face tattoos I guess are certainly a sensitive topic,” explains Eva. “I’m not sure that people are more accepting of them in social life and I don’t think that acceptance will happen anytime soon. There are still factors where employers do not accept tattoos, not to mention the ones that are on the face. People still have these old stereotypes in their heads; luckily these thoughts seem disappearing but the process is a slow one.”
“Face tattoos I guess are certainly a sensitive topic.”
UK tattooing went into stasis during the coronavirus lockdown. Eva can confirm that the Hungarian government had a very similar approach.
“In 2019 I moved back to Hungary and I now work in Endre’s other studio which is in Budapest. During Covid-19 we had to close for two and a half months but the government told us we could open up from June onwards. Endre still owns the studio in London too, so I still have that British connection. We had 2 girls working there and operating the studio on a day to day basis, but unfortunately they left. Now as studios in the UK could open, the first thing I had to do is make contact with all our UK clients and fly over for 2 weeks to take care of their tattoos. Over the next 2 weeks Endre will swap with me to keep the studio up and running for a while, while we look for new staff.”
Eva marked the end of UK lockdown with a very personal tattoo.
“This week started just perfect for me. I had 2 cute mushrooms walking in an autumn forest; it’s a memory for a father. Tuesday I had the honour to tattoo Martin Dobson; a really cool tattoo collector. I did a praying mantis which is a such a cool insect. These two clients were waiting for me since March. On Thursday I did another really nice long day, inking a galaxy on a customers upper arm. A friend of mine also booked in, yet I don’t know what she wants. My Monday is still empty; but I have lots of small tattoos booked in the following days, even writing work. And next week on the Thursday I will fly back to Hungary. It’s a hectic schedule but I just love the work.”
"Mainly what I like to do is anything I've never done before."
I ask if Eva has any tattoo goals.
“I don’t have a particular one. Mainly what I like to do is anything I've never done before. A fresh challenge is what I would really like to do.”
Now global tattooing is gradually awakening from its Covid-19 slumber I round off by asking if Eva has any plans for the rest of 2020.
“I will be focussing on our studio in Budapest. I want to reach out to people and build up a strong client base. That way I can sell them more Yayo products! And in the same time I’d like to stay visible in the UK too. I’m just really happy to be back doing the job I love.”
A final thought from the author: "I always love interviewing artists not based in my native England. Tattooing is not only a global industry its a global community bonded by blood and art. With the demise of the UK tattoo magazines its great that the Yayo blog continues to showcase the world's finest tattoo artists. So if you are planning a post lockdown tattoo, be it in London or Budapest, make sure you heal it with Yayo aftercare. If you want the best results then use the best in the business; use Yayo!"
Yayo, be part of the family!