This gorgeous “Stick & Stones” tattoo artist works in Berlin. She especially loves botanical gardens and it’s from nature that she finds inspiration for her art…

Hi Jen, how did your career as tattoo artist begin?
It’s been a dream of mine since I was 15. I was interested in tattoos in a very young age and drawing has always been my passion; so I realized quite early that tattooing could be the perfect job for me. Which it actually is now! (laughs)

Jen Tonic - Photo by Sebastian Trägner
Jen Tonic – Photo by Sebastian Trägner

Creating a recognizable style is increasingly necessary today in a world full of tattoo artists of all kinds. Do you think you have one of your own?
I think I have quite a recognizable style because that’s what I was aiming for right from the very start. I always appreciated art and tattoos that have a recognizable style to them.

It’s something no one can recreate because it’s your very own handwriting which comes from many trials, interests, and your own feeling for aesthetics.

For me it’s something personal and a way to express how I see the world. It is rooted in who I am and all the things I have been marked by so far.

You have tattooed a number of your clients with pieces influenced by spring subjects – or in any case linked to a concept of “nature”. Is it because deep down that is how you feel?
Definitely. As I said before, my style originates from my interests and all the things that have made me the person that I am now, and nature has always been a big part of that.
Surrounding myself with plants at home has brought me a lot of peace and helped me with my mental health.

It’s important to remember that we’re a part of nature and we should respect and appreciate what it has to offer.

Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany
Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany

Where do you find most inspiration when you design one of your tattoos? If you have to tattoo a bee, a stork or a bat which models do you turn to? Children’s books, National Geographic photos, comics…?
I would say it’s mainly photos of the specific animal. I also have some books with old animal illustrations e.g. biology books. For flower references I take my own photos and try to visit every botanical garden in every city that I travel to. Also the souvenir shops usually have some great books about flower illustration.

Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany
Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany

Do you feel more like a tattoo artist or a model inside? I believe you’re 100% a tattoo artist but there would be nothing wrong with wanting to be a model too…
I wouldn’t consider myself a model. I used to model a little bit as a hobby and to have some nice photos of myself but I wouldn’t consider it a job. It’s a fun thing to do from time to time and I’ll sure be happy to look back on the photos when I get older! (laughs) But being a tattoo artist is definitely my passion and what I want to be seen as.

Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany
Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany

Can you describe your workplace, “Sticks & Stones Tattoo” in Berlin? It’s a private studio, isn’t it?
We recently moved to a bigger private space. It’s a beautiful premises with painted brick walls and the walls are full of amazing prints by us and other artists and friends. We have 2 working rooms and an office which we use for painting or movie nights. There’s also an extra room for guests to stay in.

We’re a great team of many talented and wonderful people and enjoy every day working at such a great shop.

Tell me about the front area. It’s not about tattooing, I guess…
Yeah, the front area is a cafe called “Asbury Park Coffee” which is separated from the tattoo area but it works great together. Our customers have time to arrive and have a coffee or smoothie in the front or during a break it’s perfect to grab a snack. I love the combination of a tattoo shop and cafe together.

Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany
Jen Tonic, Sticks & Stones Tattoo, Berlin, Germany

Last question: how has your approach to your job changed in this sad period linked to the pandemic global situation?
It has made me realize that I don’t have to travel as much as I did the past 2 years because I have such great people around me in the shop and I’m going to appreciate it more when we’re allowed to get back to work. Also I want concentrate more on the drawing and artistic part of the job to find a nice balance between tattooing and selling prints or other kinds of merchandise. Because that’s what I’m doing at the moment during the pandemic and I actually enjoy this way of making an income too.

Follow Jen on Instagram: @jentonic