Karl with a client
Stencils taped over a mirror
Hans, the media intern
One of the beds
Franzi's Tattoo: Wild Rider
Karl prepping the bed
Piercing table
Karl showing Hans how to use software
Franzi's table
Frazi, an artist
Karl at work
Piercing room


Sitting on the corner of Adalbertstraße and Naunynstraße is a gilded tattoo parlor. Kreuzstich is decaled on the window above an anvil. It was always closed with a chained door, but one day its door was propped open. I walked in with my camera and was faced with what looks like the set of a Wes Anderson movie. Up a platform to my left sat a blonde girl with a septum piercing, and another girl with glasses and a baseball cap. This turned out to be Franzi, one of the tattoo artists, and her friend who worked for the Polizei. Both those who give and receive tattoos are in a subculture of modern society. There is this stigma surround body art; a sense of unprofessionalism, carelessness, and toughness. Tattoo artists, specifically, are seen as tough and hard. My photos hope to challenge your perception of the whole profession. During my first return, I met Karl and Hannes. Speaking to Karl on the phone, I recognized his grunty voice. He was one of the artists and Hannes is a graphic design and photography student from Potsdam. He is working in Kreuzstich, learning from the artists about drawing. Tattoo parlors have this intimidating front, boasting its barbed wire designs and display of needles and piercings. Within Kreuzstich’s burgundy walls was a lot of open chatter, laughter, and warmth. The clients were all very friendly and happy to be involved with my project, as were the artists. As Karl prepared for his appointment, Hannes and I followed. My third visit was a sweet reunion of my first two: Franzi, Karl, and Hannes were all present and at work. Both Franzi and Karl had clients propped up with their teeth clenched and heads turned away. Hannes was designing graphics on his laptop, and I continued to walk around. There was talking between the artists and the clients, between the clients, and between the artists. The art community, in all of its aspects, are much closer than other fields. I am not directly involved with tattoo culture (though I almost began an apprenticeship last summer), but I have hung around a few tattoo parlors both in Durham and New York. Whether its accompanying a friends’ piercing or ink, or for my own consultation, everyone has been very open. In my experience, artists are not very judgmental—ironic to the judgement that creative professions recieve. I am studying visual arts, with a tendency to paint surrealism/graphically-oriented, and this style sits closely to the American traditional designs that Kreuzstich is known for. Franzi, Karl, and Hannes were all very talented and inviting. Tattoo culture is not as intimidating as society labels it. The artist community within itself is inclusive and close; it is international and has no language.