November is drawing closer and we’ve got our hands full preparing for this year’s greatest poker tournament - the one and only Battle of Malta. Australian artist Jamie Molin has designed a couple of BoM-themed tattoos which perfectly encapsulate the tournament's competitive spirit and the exciting history around which it is based.
In an interview with PokerListings, the talented ink master tells us about tattoo culture in Sweden and the creative process behind designing gambling-themed tattoo art.
Battle of Malta Poker Tattoos
PokerListings: How long have you been a tattoo artist, and how did you get into tattooing?
Jamie Molin: In the final years of university I found a way to put my Fine Arts degree to use and began an apprenticeship through some mutual friends who were tattoo artists in Sydney, Australia. They taught me the fundamentals of the trade from mopping floors to making needles and eventually tattooing on skin. That was over 14 years ago and I’ve worked on bettering myself and my craft through hard work ever since.
PL: What is it like working as a tattoo artist in Sweden?
JM: Sweden is a great place to tattoo, with open minded customers looking for contemporary designs and a willingness to trust an artist’s vision in giving them the best result.
PL: How do you keep the creativity flowing?
JM: I research constantly and keep my eyes open. There are limitless quantities of inspiration around at all times if you let yourself be inspired. I take what I find online or in life and attempt to create something new from this.
PL: Have you got any tattoos yourself?
JM: Of course. I wouldn't trust a tattooist without tattoos. They wouldn't be able to empathise with their clients on the same level. I would say I’m 80% totally covered from the tip of my toes to the flop of my ears.
PL: What is the weirdest thing someone has requested you tattoo on them?
JM: I wouldn't consider any request weird as a tattoo has many purposes and most are personal, tribal, or cultural. It all comes from one’s own perspective. I do get asked this question often and the answer that most people want to hear is that I tattooed an octopus tentacle down the length of a guy’s penis. Which I did.
PL: What kind of imagery inspired your Battle of Malta tattoo designs?
JM: Knights and armour and the history behind the great siege of Malta in 1565. The name 'Battle of Malta' conjures up inspiring imagery in itself and I could have taken reference from many historic points in Maltese history but the battling knights sang to me. It was easy to tie them in with a poker tournament and juxtapose the two to symbolise an epic battle of elite warriors.
PL: What process do you go through when designing tattoos?
JM: First consideration is always the customer’s concept - listening and fine tuning their ideas till you can boil them down to exactly what they want. Then considerations of placement and body shape.
Finally I start sketching ideas based on research of the concept and look for a new angles on how to take on a theme. Then I draw, and redraw till I am satisfied to start the tattoo. For simple tattoos it can take 10 mins to go through the process but for more complicated ones it can take a number of weeks.
PL: Are tattoos with gambling-related motifs popularly requested, in your experience?
JM: It is fairly common to get requests for gambling-related tattoo motifs. They are often classic designs or concepts related to taking chances in life and love.
PL: In which other ways might poker-related motifs be used as symbolism and metaphors?
Poker related designs are often good markers for tattoo metaphors as it is a language in itself and many people can read the codes and symbols in the designs, whether it be the simple use of card suit symbols or a specific card. The Ace of Spades is always a popular choice, followed closely by the Queen of Hearts. The illustration of winning or losing hands is also popular, for instance 'the Dead Man’s Hand', or a Royal Flush, Aces high, etc. Sometimes a simple hand can tell a person’s life story and in this way makes a great tattoo.
PL: What would you advise someone to consider before getting a gambling-themed tattoo?
JM: My only advice would be to research the design before you get it. Considering tattoos and gambling both involve the representation of ideas through a specific language just make sure the tattoo says what you want it to say. That, and find the right artist for you. Look through their portfolios, get some recommendations for someone who does the style you like.
PL: What are your plans for the future?
JM: My plans for the future are to keep moving forward - always improving in my craft and to better my life through experiences. Travel is a great passion and I regularly work around the globe. Right now I am planning a big trip to Australia, followed by the continental U.S with some stints in Asia. I’m always looking for good people to meet and fun tattoos to do. My online portfolio is available at www.jamiemolin.com and I encourage people to check out my Instagram and Facebook page as well.
PL: And lastly, some expert tips on how to take care of your tattoo.
JM: The best and greatest rule for taking care of a tattoo which is universal and covers all tattoos is to keep it clean! Your artist can recommend their favoured way of healing. This information can differ greatly across the world and from shop to shop, based on their experience, the climate and what aftercare products are available but the most important factor for outstanding results is always to keep it clean.