The work of Swedish tattooist Peter Lagergren is rich in detail and color. In his compositions, he expertly puts together subjects of various sizes, creating images which have a strong visual impact. His specialty is mixing elements that come from Western and Eastern traditions, with images of illustrations and comics. The result is a truly unique style.

Read an extract of the interview by Stefania Perosin published in this issue of Tattoo Life and take a look at our selection of images. If you want to get tattooed you can find him at the Malmö Classic Tattooing, in Sweden.

Would you like to tell us how you got started tattooing?
I first started apprenticing in my hometown when I was 14. My sister talked me into going to the local shop to show my drawings, hoping something might happen… She’d told me she knew the guy, but this turned out to be a lie. Anyway, he liked my drawings! I kept going back, and they offered me a summer job. I drew, answered phones, and talked to customers. And in the end, I just never quit.

What have been the most significant experiences in the course of your career, and how did you get to where you are today?
By starting to do guest spots in the early years of 2000 in the United States. I got a lot of input there, and realized early on that I needed to work hard to get somewhere. I realized that the world was so much bigger than the small town I come from, and that it was time for me to step it up. I worked in Linköping for eight years before I moved to Malmö, where I am now. The social media has been a game-changer for me the last couple of years: it’s been so much easier to get my work out there and find new customers.

I guess the biggest reason why I am where I am is because I try to stay hungry and add something interesting to every new design. You have to love what you do in this business. Personally, I always try to stay relevant and keep it interesting.

Who have you had as teachers? Which teaching continues to be the most valuable in terms of your daily work?
I was really influenced by older tattooers when I was starting out. I apprenticed with Peter ”Nypa” Nyberg. He had a lot of guest artists coming through the shop at the time, and that was very helpful to get a broader perspective. The philosophy I live by is «stay hungry» and never take your customers for granted.

Peter Lagergren, Malmo Classic Tattoo, Malmo, Sweden
Peter Lagergren, Malmo Classic Tattoo, Malmo, Sweden

How do you study the compositions for your tattoos?
I always try to draw everything very small, to get good compositions, with a better overview. You can’t waste loads of time drawing something that won’t work in the end. Instead you can try a couple of different ideas, and see which one works the best.

Do you prefer doing pieces that are larger in size?
I like to create a mix of work, with big and small sizes.

Are there any subjects that you like more than others?
I like living things, characters or animals. Anything that can make an expression. I´m not much into stiff subjects or symmetry.

Malmö Classic Tattooing
Kronborgs Vägen 3, Malmö (Sweden)
Instagram: @peterlagergren