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This article is written by one of India’s most globally prominent tattoo artists, Abhinandan Basu, aka Obi as he shares his experiences of attending the first CHILLOUT TATTOO & ART SHOW in Gavle, Sweden. Obi is a resident artist in Germany, and one of the shining lights of Indian tattooing.

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Sweden – my impression of this beautiful country with a population that’s a little more than that of my neighborhood in south Kolkata, is that it’s probably the closest to the most idyllic social system that we have in these turbulent global times. The land of the Vikings, Ikea, Abba and some very very attractive people.

Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu
Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu

Its one of my favorite countries and have always enjoyed my time there, so I was understandably excited when Mr. Slick (nick name for Hans PJ – the organizer of Chillout Tattoo and Art show and the owner of Fallen Angel Tattoo Studio, Gavle, Sweden) told me about his plans for the convention during Nepal Tattoo Convention 2017.

Hans PJ, the owner of Fallen Angel Tattoo Studio and organiser of the Chillout Tattoo & Art Show
Hans PJ, the owner of Fallen Angel Tattoo Studio and organiser of the Chillout Tattoo & Art Show

Hans has travelled the world and we have attended various tattoo conventions together, so I was certain that this convention will be exactly what its name suggests – a ‘Chillout’ time with friends and colleagues.

Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu

And I was not disappointed one bit. Gavle is a small, scenic little city, about a 1.5 hours long drive from Stockholm airport. To add to that, the venue was absolutely beautiful, with large glass windows which allowed a lot of natural light and was just beside a river – it was one of the best venues for a tattoo convention that I have ever attended.

Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu
Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu

It was a small gathering of some of the finest tattoo artists around. There were around 40 artists from around the globe – which included the modern genius, Markus Lenhard from Germany, John Ma and Bimal Rai from Nepal, Daan from Dice Tattoos, Holland, Matthew Wojciechowski from USA, Radek Marszalik (polish artist living and working in UK), Anna Garvey from UK, and some heavy hitters from Sweden like Jocke Hultman and family, Jacob Wiman (aka Black Magic Jake) from Malmo Classic Tattoos, Gunnar Foley, and Christian Sigil among others.

Image Credit: Hans PJ Svedberg

Tattoo anthropologist and writer, Travelling Mick was there as well to cover the convention with his beautiful wife Sana Sakura – who gave some intense and almost breathtaking performances on stage during the two days of the convention. Her Hanya act is a must watch. The vibe of the convention was very upbeat and positive, and in PJ’s own words – “like Nepal, but with expensive beer”.

The first day of the convention started a little slow, and I spent most of the day preparing for the tattoo I was going to do on the next day on an old client of mine from my Inkalab days in Pune (Inkalab Tattoo Studio is one of the oldest studios of Pune, run by Andy Chadwick). I also attended the Don’t Fight the Brain seminar by Markus Lenhard – who in my opinion is the most interesting and progressive artists of our age and his seminar was very rich in knowledge about how to refine or redefine one’s approach towards designing – one of the most informative and inspirational 3 hours I have spent listening to someone and I highly recommend it for artists who are interested in doing original art.

The 2nd seminar from Markus was held on Sunday at Fallen Angel Tattoo studio and it was called “What is it?” and was primarily focused on Biomech deisgn and rendering (also highly recommended for all artists – biomech or otherwise). The 2nd day started early and my client Johny was right on time – I had tattooed him almost 5 years back when I was in Pune. We planned to do a Buddha tattoo on his chest right beside the older tattoo in my signature halftone style combined with Japanese finger waves and cherry blossoms. Over time, I have found myself extremely fortunate to have clients and friends like Johny who are willing to wait and travel long distances to get tattooed by me.

Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu

We managed to finish the tattoo in about 5-6 hours and also managed to win the 2nd prize for best of the show – which was quite a surprise since there was some very stiff competition and some very good tattoos were done during the 2 days.

The convention also had some stunning body suspension performances by Alex and Maria, great on stage acts by Sana Sakura and Kats and crows. It was fun filled and indeed very chilled out few days and I was a little sad to leave, but I am quite looking forward to the next year and hope it will be bigger and better. My very best wishes to Hans and his whole team who took such good care of us.

Image Credit: Chillout Tattoo & Art Show
Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu
Image Credit: Abhinandan Basu
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