Kunst Med Puls - Oslo

Published: 16 December, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 140, December, 2006

Kunst med Puls (Art with a pulse) was established in 1997 by Marianne Sundby (46), after two years as an apprentice at Odins Merke. She was later joined by her husband Eric Sundby (40) who became her apprentice. Later on Kari Kjelskau (37) also joined as an apprentice. After a few years of “all round” tattooing, they decided to specialize in dot (Pointillism) style tattooing.

They started doing mostly ornamental and tribal tattoos, but these days they do almost any styles and colours. They got their inspiration from Erik Reime at Kunsten På Kroppen in Copenhagen. Now the shop is busy with customers from all over the world.

The latest member of the family is the Boston terrier Kira, her breeding name is Skin Deeps Alabama Song. With her funny face she keeps the customers happy…


Busy hands have happy hearts...

I recently found myself passing through Oslo and was lucky enough to meet up with Kari Kjelskau, a Tattooist at Kunst Med Puls, a studio that specialises in the dot-technique of tattooing (pointillism). Kunst Med Puls – Art with a Pulse - was established in 1997 by Marianne Sundby and she now runs the studio with her husband Eric and Kari.

Kari explained that her initial interest in tattoos was sparked by her biker lifestyle. This encouraged her to do some research on the Internet and get her first tattoo (cherries by a Danish artists visiting Oslo). Her work background was in photography and graphic design but a few years ago she found herself becoming “the office rat”, this is a Norwegian phrase for the office bitch. But being the office rat gave her lots of time to draw and doodle at work, as no one would come near her. At that time she was having a belt tattooed on her hips by Marianne. Marianne was impressed with the artwork that Kari had brought along with her and offered Kari an apprenticeship, the usual route to becoming a tattooist in Norway. For the first 6 months Kari learned about such things as the machines and hygiene, and not being paid. But for the last 4 years Kari has been tattooing. So the office rat was laid to rest but I still wouldn’t annoy her! As with many cities here in the UK, Oslo has seen an explosion of tattoo studies opening up over the last few years, with the city now boasting some 20- ish studios. However Kunst Med Puls still find themselves as busy as ever being the only studio in Norway offering the dot technique of tattooing and have clients coming from Sweden to receive this style of ink work. Most designs can be translated and executed in the dot technique and Kari says she has completed all types of tattoo design both classic and contemporary and the favourite of the moment are stars. She has no personal favourite designs but likes all things big!

Because of the very nature of the dot technique, it does not lend itself to cover up work, but the studio has done some cover-ups. If they are unable to help they will recommend that the client finds another studio. As policy the studio has refused to tattoo girlfriend/boyfriend names on 18 years olds, a marijuana leaf on an 18 year old girl and a mans dick. So if you are an 18-year-old lad looking to get your girlfriends name tattooed on your manhood, look elsewhere! It can be difficult turning work away when there are now so many studios to choose between but as Kari states, “We take pride in what we do and that is more important than money”.

A lot of the work the studio does, and that Kari has herself, is based on both Sami folklore and images taken from the carvings at Urnes (a Stave church). She says a lot of inspiration can be drawn from Norwegian myths, cave markings and carvings, Kari has some attractive dragons head tattoos that have been taken from part of a larger carving. She has also done some hand poking initially on herself and then on her ex-boyfriend, although I didn’t find out if this is part of the reason he is an ex. She said that she found hand poking challenging when judging how far to push the needles in and she was slightly startled by the faint sucking noise that you get when the needle is removed.

Kari has mostly worked the Scandinavian conventions but her ambition is to work some European ones, such as London, Rome Barcelona and Prague. She enjoys conventions greatly; really liking the social side of tattooing and rumour has it starting food fights. Kunst Med Puls has guest artists from time to time and Kari says this is always an inspiration to her. When asked about artists that do inspire her, she rolls her eyes and explains that this is constantly changing, or rather being added to. She says she admires people such as Cory Ferguson, Colin and Eric from Denmark and the greats, such as Bob Tyrrell BUT every time she goes to a convention and meets new artists she say she thinks “Wow look at that, I likethat” and “Wow I like that”. So her list grows steadily ever longer.

I asked her what Norwegian society thought of tattoos and she says that for the older generation it is still considered to be the domain of the sailor. Her own grandmother would not speak to her for being tattooed and her mother said that only fat old men had tattoos. Unlike America there is no long history of female tattooists in Norway, with nothing taking off until the 1980’s but now Kari says there are plenty of lady artists in the country. She was also pleased to say that she has never suffered any prejudice from her male counterparts.

Kari explained that anyone coming to Oslo, interested in getting a tattoo at the studio can find the details on the website www.kunstmedpuls.no, which has an English version available, and all the contact details are available on there, And for those of you who may be thinking I have great Norwegian language skills…no I haven’t! Kari speaks excellent English and as I say even the web site has an English version available via the onscreen link. The website shows Marianne and Eric with their 2 old dogs who have since passed away but the studio now boasts a new puppy.

In addition to the tattooing Kari also makes her own hair accessories, handbags, etc and details of that can be found on her web site www.hotnblonde.com. She freely confessed that Hot ‘n Blonde Productions does sound like a porn business but it’s not!! I thought that with the tattooing and the Porn, whoops I mean Hot ‘n Blonde stuff she can’t really have a lot of spare time but Kari assures me that she does. She says she has a wide circle of good friends but is surprised that many of them are conservative, but we agreed that conservative friends are always useful for a character reference, should one be needed. Her office rat job was in the film business, so she is a bit of a film buff and was not able to pin down one favourite film, but in the front runners are “In China they eat dogs” and the Australian film “Bad Boy Bubby”. She enjoys watching films at home with her 2 cats, one of which is called Totty. She explained her ex had named the cat after an Italian footballer but I did explain about the British meaning of the word and wondered if the cat was in the porn business as well…

So Kari works hard and plays hard. She is very grateful to Marianne and Eric for freeing her from the office rat race and introducing her to the exciting world of tattooing. If ever you are in Oslo look them up at Kunst Med Puls.





Text: Karen Brady


Artist Profiles: 
Skin Deep 140 1 December 2006 140