Polish power! Yayo interviews the unstoppable Maciej Karol Borek.
by Matthew Haddon-Reichardt on May 08, 2020
What has impressed me most during the Covid-19 outbreak, is how tattooing has come together and united as an industry. It’s great to go on social media and see so many tattooists from around the world sharing their art and stories of life on lockdown. This week I hooked up with polish artist Maciej Karol Borek for a virtual chat about all things ink.
Many tattooists get into the game at a young age but it was a different story for Maciej.
“I started tattooing relatively late in life, at age 27. I had one approach years before that, when one of my friends made 'prison’ tattoo machine for me. Machine was built from simple motor, Biro pen and guitar string; luckily for me I put idea about tattooing on the shelf. I graduated art school and always like to draw etc. but never had proper training or any apprenticeship as most tattooists do; I’m pretty much self-taught man. One day my present wife Dominika had encouraged me to start tattooing again, because I really hated my office work, it took me no time to decide that I want to do something different in my life. Because I was on low wage I had to take finance for my first tattoo kit; I bought a proper tattoo machine, inks and loads of fake skin pig skin and started to practicing. After a couple years in England, in 2018, me and my wife opened our shop in Poland called Mandragora Tattoo, where I work at the moment. Before that I was resident artist at Hallmark Tattoos in UK.”
“I must say that working with customers is quite addictive."
Like many talented tattooists Maciej see himself as an artists but this image has evolved over time.
“I must say that working with customers is quite addictive. Every tattoo designs can be challenging, even the smallest one. But when a customer allows you be creative you love that work even more. Definitely love for tattooing evolved into more mature relationship. Over the years tattooing has become my profession. Yes it keeps paying my bills but also the art factor that helps with me being creative and it helps to express myself. Then that creativity helps you make a unique piece, even when you are using same reference for tattoo you can challenge yourself to create different, unique piece each time. I also keep saying to my customers, when we’ve got design ready that’s always reference for me and it can give them rough vision what’s I’m after, because I like to add some bits during tattooing, adjust it to customers skin. This is especially when I’m doing cover up as it’s sometimes necessary to change it during tattooing.”
In the UK, where I am based, tattooing has a long and rich history, this is not the case in Poland.
“Well, Polish tattoo industry is relatively young but developed really quickly, evolving into one of the best in world in my opinion. There are loads of really good, well trained and creative artist in my country. We’ve got couple names recognizable around globe. Many times my customers abroad mention about Polish tattoo artists they heard about or they admire their work. Poland is great place for a holiday with interesting history, loads of people already coming here for holiday and to get their ink done. I see loads of holiday makers on airport, coming back to their countries, wrapped with cling film with fresh tattoos done during holiday in Poland.”
"We definitely feel like we are part of Yayo family."
Maciej may be sponsored by Yayo but his love for the product range is genuine. He is part of a growing international market for the UKs finest tattoo process and aftercare products.
“That might sound like sponsored article but trust me it’s not, we all tested Yayo products on ourselves in first, that’s why we can recommend it to our customers! We definitely feel like we are part of Yayo family, just 1000 miles away from UK. I think we might be only one shop in Poland selling Yayo products but our customer’s loves Yayo aftercare and we never had any complaints about quality. For most of our customers it’s really important that Yayo products are made only from natural ingredients. 100% Vegan ingredients and stain free consistency are also very important. Most important thing is speed and quality of healing process they get using Yayo aftercare; especially with colour tattoos. Many people get it together with Yayo Pitch. On daily basis we are using Yayo guard for each tattoo made in our shop, we call it ‘second skin’ and most customers loves that.”
While Yayo may be going from strength to strength one element of tattooing is in decline; flash. In years gone by people would pick a design off the wall and get it inked into their skin. Now there is little demand for flash designs; custom work is king.
“From what I remember it was always about custom work since I got into tattooing. First time I experienced flash designs it was when I came to UK and got my first work in shop. I’m that type of tattoo artist who really hasn’t experienced working with classic tattoo flash as much, so can’t really tell I do miss flash work or not. I think I don’t mind flash, especially good one for artistic and decoration purposes. I know customers like to browse books with designs, or look on our drawing hanging on studio walls.”
"Most important thing is speed and quality of healing process they get using Yayo aftercare."
The world seems a crazy place at the minute and I ask Maciej if in this time of crisis art can bring us all together.
“Yes indeed. It looks like Europe is going into interesting times. But I think art’s biggest argument is about bringing people together no matter what. It’s similar with tattooing. Tattoos like art brings people together and unite them one way or another. After me and my family moved back to Poland I travel regularly to England and recently Germany for guest spots.”
As the Europe wide Covid outbreak begins to ease Maciej is looking forward to a sense of normality.
“My main plan for 2020 is to make my business grow and expand. Visit couple conventions and tattoo shows. I would like to progress even more to provide my customers best service without looking on trends or temporary fashions. My most recent hobby is woodcarving. I’m trying to do this as much traditionally as you can, it gives me loads of satisfaction. Most of my projects are related with Slavic mythology. I would like to see that hobby evolve into another form of artistic expression along with tattooing.”
A final thought from the author: "What's becoming clear to me is that artists really love Yayo products and value being part of the Yayo team. If you are a tattooist and haven't tried Yayo yet then drop Kirk a line; you won't be sorry. If you want the best then use the best; use Yayo!"
Yayo... its a family thing.