Susanne König’s tattoos inhabit a gauzy, light world. German by birth, Susanne now works in England, and feeds her imagination with everything she happens to see around her. Like Alice in Wonderland, she tries to imagine the lives of the animals she loves to tattoo.
Can you tell us more about the steps on your tattooing journey?
I started my apprenticeship nine years ago in a small shop near my hometown – a small place – but that’s where I learned everything that’s important to know in order to get started. Then I did walk-ins at some shops in southwest Germany, tattooing different styles. Looking back on those first years, I am happy about that kind of start, because it helped me understand the profession and develop myself technically. Then I went to Amsterdam to work with two of my favourites – Guen Douglas and Kim Anh Nguyen. After this two-year experience, I went to Hamburg, to work at Immer&Ewig Tattooing, the shop of my close friend Christian Hensen. Five months ago I moved to Manchester and started working at Redwood Tattoo. I live in the countryside with a dog and a cat… and I am becoming a hippie!
What adjectives describe your style?
Illustrative, emotive, whimsical, graphic.
You like to work on small pieces, right?
I mostly get requests for palm to hand-sized pieces, and I enjoy finishing a tattoo in one go, without torturing my customers for ten hours. Recently I started some bigger projects though, and I have to say that I enjoy these too. It’s a different kind of process; you work very closely with the client.
Why have you chosen to do only black and grey animals?
When I started tattooing I also worked with colours, which I enjoyed. But I felt a deep passion for blackwork as soon as I did my first piece in that style. When I do illustrations I only use pencils or fineliners, with small lines and dots. The best way to translate that into a tattoo is to do black and grey on skin. I enjoy tattooing any kind of animals. When I illustrate them I like to imagine myself inside their world: I wonder about whether we would be friends, or what they were doing just before or after the still I chose for my picture, and what kinds of emotions they might be feeling. But I also like other subjects: mermaids, ladies’ heads, or tattoos with a traditional origin… as well as things no one has ever asked me to do.