Royal Tattoo - Henning Jorgensen

Published: 01 May, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 171, April, 2009

The first time Henning Jorgensen became interested in tattoos was at the age of thirteen; he started his career at the age of eighteen, and worked his way up in the Danish and international tattoo scene to become one of the most highly regarded tattoo artists in the world. With over fifty international tattoo prizes won, he is well known for his Japanese tattoos, which have been displayed for years in various tattoo magazines. He is still on the go and busier then ever, but never so hung up that he cannot make time for an interview.

Hi Henning! Thanks for taking your time to squeeze this interview into your busy Schedule. Do you ever get stressed just by looking at your calendar?
My calendar can seem very booked, but it is my own choice so in some ways it would be wrong of me to complain. Often the things just get very busy and projects sometimes have tendencies to give birth to new projects, so yes. My book is full.

When entering your shop one of the first things that hits you is your many pieces of flash on the wall with your name on it.
When I do tattoos I usually start up with a drawing of the piece, so the customer can get an idea of what to expect from me. Some of those drawings end up as flash sets. I really like to draw and try out new techniques before doing them as tattoos. Often I sit late at night and draw, even though that I’m very tired and should go to bed, I just can’t help it. It is a kind of mental cleaning process as well, to sit and draw in the quietness of the night when everybody else is sleeping. You got all the time in the world to think things through without anybody calling out your name or asking for something.

Some of the other things that are very notable in your shop, are the Japanese art as well as your photo album, which is filled with Japanese tattoos. Why do Japanese tattoos play such a big part in your life as a tattoo artist?
I’m really into the Japanese tattoo. Japanese tattoos are easy to read and at the same time you can tell a story by the contents of the tattoo. In so many ways you can personify a Japanese tattoo to the wishes of the customer and his or her own history. You can also interpret a Japanese tattoo in many ways, which I feel is much more exciting.

When you look at the calendar on your website, it is clear that you have lots of guest artists visiting as well as you like to do guest spots around the world?
I really like doing guest spots and getting artists from all over the world to come over and work in my shop for a while. I think it is very important to go out and get new experiences as a tattoo artist and as a human being. You can always learn from other tattoo artists, how they are going about the whole thing regarding tattoos, but it [is] also very important for me to learn from other cultures. Every time I have visited other cultures far from the Danish and western culture I [bring] so much home with me, things that in many ways it is shaping me to become a more understanding individual. Your toolbox will never get full, neither as a tattoo artist nor as a person.

You are known as a big international name in tattooing and live in Denmark, a country with only 5 million inhabitants. Are there any kind of mixed emotions?
First of all, I am very proud of being called a big international name, but really it isn’t something that I’m thinking about in my daily work. It is just a little part of me in general as a tattoo artist. I really like Denmark and it is a very nice place to get home to when I have been out travelling the world. There aren’t mixed emotions here.

Your name seems to be on very big tattoo convention billboards. What is your approach to tattoo conventions and what do you get out of it?
I really love conventions and the fact that it is a good opportunity to meet up with friends from far away places is just great. I also like the challenge to work at conventions. There is no hiding and no excuses. Often people are standing on others’ toes to get a view of the tattoo artist while the artist is working on a customer has been looking forward to for months. Then the thought, “What the hell have I got myself into,” is very likely to appear. In the end, I just love tattoo conventions. They just give you so much energy and drain you twice as much. It is a funny thing!

A final question. How do you see the evolution of the tattoo and what are your fears and hopes?
The tattoo is always in some kind of development whether it is Japanese tattoos or something else. I remember when I was a young kid in the eighties, where I was so overwhelmed by the things that were created on the tattoo scene. Today these tattoos are nothing compared to the things that are getting done now. At the same time I’m a little worried about some of the things that are getting done. Today there are many TV shows about tattoo shops. I do get slightly worried about the exposure that the tattoo world is getting. We have to be careful not to get overexposed to a degree where it gets boring and cliché.


Interview and Photographs: Kristian Misser


Skin Deep 171 1 April 2009 171