Quick Fire Questions: Lasse Sjoroos

Published: 30 April, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 211, May, 2012

A ‘jail dude’ inspired Lasse Sjöroos at Individual Ink in Turku, Finland, to build his own tattoo machine. His first tattoo was a horrible tribal star that looked more like a ninja star, but 16 years later he’s one of Finland’s best tattooists when it comes to portraits and realism.

Lasse Sjöroos started tattooing by accident. At the age of 18 he got his first tattoo, a surprisingly good one, according to himself, and that was step one.

"I got tattooed by an old jail dude who built his own machines out of electric razors, and it's actually an amazingly good tattoo. That guy was high as hell, God knows on what, but the tattoo is technically really well done and looks sharp and nice still today. About a year later I recalled his machine and built my own. I have always been drawing so it seemed like a good idea."

The first tattoo he made on someone else with his razor machine, however, hasn’t really made it into his portfolio, so to speak.

"One of my friends wanted a little tribal star on his wrist, but it ended up looking more like a ninja star. That was not my best tattoo. It was actually somewhat horrible."

Nowadays he does most of his own body work himself, often with the same result as with his debut performance.

"They are really awful, but they remind me of different stages of my life and I like them. In recent years I’ve had a few nice tattoos done by different good artists, however.

And I’ve also talked to Jack Ribeiro and Robert Hernandez for like six years now, but it’s hard to find the time to fly to Madrid and Luxembourg and I don’t want to do it at a convention. That would be a waste of both their time and mine."

About two years after the ninja star incident, in 1997, he opened up Individual Ink in Turku, as one of only two shops in the city at the time.

"I decided to open up a shop because all my friends and their friends who got tattooed in my home were telling me to. At that time there was only one shop in Turku, but of course things are not the same anymore. That was a small shop at the edge of the city centre. Today we are located in a big studio in the city centre and it’s operated by my wife and me. We also have two other tattooists, David and Joel, and a body modification artist, Lari, working there."

Lasse’s style of choice is realism; his tattoos often look more like paintings than tattoos, making him feel more like a craftsman than an artist.  

"I do all kinds of work, but people have been asking me a lot for realistic stuff, portraits and animals and all that. It’s OK as I like to do that style the most, but at the same time, when you have an opportunity and the freedom to be artistic, it feels great. Sometimes it would be a relief to make some old school thing that would be ready in one short session, though. It can be annoying when you have to do stuff over many sessions.

I try to draw my own stuff in my free time, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time with working a lot and having a family too. I used to paint quite a lot before, but now I just don’t find the time or inspiration. If I paint, it will not be anything near tattoo related. It will be more of a surrealistic style. I love surreal art; Dalí is my favorite. I also play guitar in a band we’ve had for 14 years."

Like the rest of the world, the Finnish tattoo scene has grown over the years and Individual Ink today is one of 14 studios in Turku.

"It’s sick since our town is so small, but it’s happening everywhere. There hasn’t really been a scene in Finland before. There are few really good tattooists here, but now it seems like we are starting to have some sort of scene, because of all the hype that’s been around the tattoo industry over the last few years. Since I was in this town tattooing for years before the hype, it doesn’t seem to me that there’s anything special going on in Finland, though. There’s a good convention every year and a lot of lot of new shops around everywhere. But again, that’s a global phenomenon at the moment…"


Text: Simon Lundh; Photography: Lasse