I got my lion tattoo when I was 17 years old. I had been thinking of different tattoo designs since I was a teenager, but luckily my mom told me not to get a tattoo just yet. Back then those designs were mostly basic stars, tribals and so on – just everything that looked nice and interested me at that time. So, I contemplated the idea for maybe a year and gradually started to design and draw my own tattoo designs, and in the end this lion existed long before I finally got this on my skin.
Lion is my zodiac sign, and this tattoo also includes the word lion in Greek on it. I have this never-ending love for Greece. I’ve visited Greece for maybe six times now and for me, that is the place where I always want to return. I was probably six years old when we first visited there with my family and after that I have kept on visiting in different parts of Greece every now and then. Last time I went there a couple of months ago.
I have designed all of my tattoos myself. I have been drawing since I was little kid, at some point I drew a little less but nowadays again more, which is partly because of my current school. I study graphic design at Lybecker Institution in Raahe and my studies include lots of drawing. I have designed quite a lot of logos, album covers, posters and done some band promos also. I’ve been shooting music videos, too, maybe 12 or 13 videos in all. I started making music videos in 2014 just for fun, it seemed like a good idea then. Nowadays it has become something I’m really passionate about and where I can improve myself all the time.
By the summer of 2012, I had just turned 18 and took this half-sleeve. This image is divided into two different parts, the good side and the bad side. On the good side, you can see a tree with leaves on it, whereas the tree on the bad side is leafless and there is a man hanged from it. On the other side there’s this locked chest, and the key is on the stormy side. The sunny side has things that matter to me, like my family home and the tombstones of my grandmother and grandfather. Then there’s some atheist stuff and flying birds as well.
On the stormy side, there’s a lighthouse with no light. For me, the absence of light reflects the fact that when life gets difficult, it feels like you’re lacking a guiding light in your life. It’s the same reason why the key can be found on the stormy side and the locked chest is on the sunny side. Then there’s my grandfather’s pocket watch showing the exact time of 23.23. For some reason I always check out the time at that precise moment, I’ve always done that. I don’t know why, I guess it’s just some kind of intuition, so I wanted to tattoo it.
The main idea for this divided picture came from the band Carnifex. Carnifex is one of my favorite bands in death metal and on this tattoo I kind of adapted their lyrics into a picture. This image is motivated by the idea that friends always lift you up. You can see there’s a damaged heart with spikes in it, which resembles vulnerability. When the hooks are pulling you back into the deep water, friends always lift you up from there. I chose water to be the element because I’m afraid of the open water. There’s also the all-seeing eye here above the gates of hell, and finally, there’s this one line: breathe in life.
This tattoo is an autograph by the singer of one of my favourite bands, Betraying the Martyrs. I had booked the appointment a long time ago in order to tattoo this autograph here. The band had a gig in Helsinki, and after the gig, I went to talk to the singer. Then we started chatting about things and went for a beer, and I told him about this tattoo idea I had. He then signed me an autograph in here, and on the next day I came back to Oulu and went to get the tattoo right on the autograph. That was just a spontaneous and funny thing to do. The singer said to me that he hopes he won’t do anything stupid ever so that the tattoo would still have some value in the future. I just told him it doesn’t matter, it’s just a memory.
My next tattoo is this one with the eagle, shield and roses on it. The eagle refers to sports stuff. I’m a huge Russia-fan in ice hockey, and when it comes to football, my favorite country is Germany. My lucky number and team number 19, in Roman letters XIX, is written on the shield.
I once participated in a tattoo competition with this throat tattoo. I won the competition and got myself a gift card, so I got myself these Stay true -finger tattoos with the card. I’ve always been an honest person and true to myself. That’s also why I was bullied at middle school, since I looked different from the rest of the boys in our class. I wanted to have this text to express all that: stay true and never pretend to be something you’re not. My then-girlfriend got herself inked at Duck’s tattoo, so I went there to keep her company. I had been thinking of this tattoo idea for a long time, so I decided to get myself a tattoo at the same time. I just thought I might as well do it, as her tattooing would still last maybe six hours. Well, these finger tattoos took about 20 minutes and they were ready, so after that, I was bored again. But at least I have these now!
The singer of my favourite band Suicide Silence died in 2012 around Halloween, and shortly after that, I booked an appointment for this tattoo. You Only Live Once is the most famous song by them. This tattoo is mainly a tribute to my favourite artist and my own idol.
On the one side of my neck, I have Jigsaw’s head from my favourite movie series Saw, and the Jigsaw’s head is placed on a meat scale. I’ve seen Saw movies at least thousands of times. On the other side of my neck, there’s a zombie version of the head of my idol, Mitch Lucker from the Suicide Silence, whom I mentioned before. You can see my love for horror and zombie movies in these tattoos. I’m a full-scale horror movie fanatic, and that explains why I have a loose head of a man tattooed on my neck, for example. Otherwise, some people might just look at these and be like… OK, so what’s the matter with this guy?
A goat dressed in a suit and a flaming book with no content in it. Everyone can guess which book that is. This is based on the lyrics I wrote myself. It was one of the first songs we recorded with my band, and in this song, there’s the line sometimes the devil looks like a gentleman, which expresses quite well my own view of the world. Tattooed people often face rejection and avoidance, even though in reality the one wearing a suit might be the bad guy. And the one that looks evil might just be the greatest dude if you just got to know him. I’ve been in these situations myself, many times actually. It was maybe four years ago, I was walking in downtown, when a man with a small child walked towards me. The man just glanced at me, and even there wasn’t any crosswalk or anything in there, they just went half-running to the other side of the street and the man kept saying to his child like “come on now, come on now”. And then they just stared at me from there. On that point, I just thought to myself, what exactly is the issue here?
I took this dahlia on the back of my hand a couple of years ago. Dahlia is my mother’s zodiac flower, and I wanted this dahlia to have some purple in it because it’s one of my own favorite colors. I don’t think I own any purple things anymore, but when I was younger I had this phase when everything just had to be purple. I’m sure Tommi remembers this phase! We’ve known each other since childhood, and initially, we met each other when my cousin lived in the same neighbourhood as Tommi.
We only got to know each other properly at the beginning of high school and gradually developed a friendship where we hang around together almost every day. It was funny to meet each other again back then and realize that we actually have been playing together in the same yard as little kids and known each other by name even then. We are still a big part of each other’s lives and even though we might not see so often, we’re still calling to each other and keep up on each other’s lives. And it doesn’t matter what time is it or where we’re at. I think that’s what a true friendship is all about – whatever the circumstances are, it doesn’t change.
But yeah, the purple color. When I was in junior high, I had this phase when I used lots of purple color, white jeans and other stuff that other boys didn’t use on the countryside, and that’s why I got bullied. I was also quite small back then, as I was only 147 cm tall. I was an easy target, since the other kids grew faster than me.
There’s still one tattoo, which is actually my latest one. It was maybe eighteen months ago when I took this. I love sharks, they are so cool and yet scary animals. I even had a book about sharks when I was little.
The other thing for me are dinosaurs. I haven’t had time to get a dino tattoo yet, but I’m working on it. And after that maybe another one as well. This shark tattoo also includes one of the greatest movies ever made, Titanic, and the ship’s funnel goes here right through the shark’s jaw. There it is. There are some icebergs as well, but they were never finished, I guess the tattoo artist lost his motivation or something.
But I don’t know. It actually doesn’t matter.
You can check one of the music videos Teemu has made right here:
Teemu and his band:
You can read about Tommi and his tattoos right here (link)