By Rene Thompson, Editor in Chief | Photos Courtesy of Ismael Schuurbiers
Tattoo Artist, Ismael Schuurbiers, also known as “Tattooish” has traveled the world over, and has won countless awards at tattoo conventions throughout the globe, but said there is always something that brings him back to Albuquerque, which is to learn from the beautiful and rich culture we have here in New Mexico.
“Albuquerque is a nice and beautiful place and has a lot of history here as well, so when I come here, I not only go for the tattooing, the studio, or even the friends, but it’s also something else — to learn,” he said.
Schuurbiers is from Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, in the Caribbean where he has been a culinary chef and published writer, in addition to tattoo-ing for the last decade per-fecting photo black and grey, and color realism tattoos at his shop Tattooish Tattoo Studio, but said he hopes to keep changing and evolving his style into a more surreal-istic type of artwork.
“In the beginning of my career, when I was a self-taught artist, I was obligated to study many different styles, from tribalism, Polynesian art, to lettering and everything else, because I didn’t have a teacher or mentor, so I think that pretty much shaped my style to where I can choose how and what I want my work to be portrayed as, which is more surrealistic,” he said.
Schuurbiers specializes in portraits, wildlife and horror and gives every client a customized piece of art; has earned a reputation for personal and unique tattoos, always honoring a client’s ideas and then building the tattoo design around it, as well as making his own flash art, he said.
Being able to study many different styles, Schuurbiers said gave him the ability to shape the way he is able to create art now, and that most realistic art-ists are only attracted to the realistic, not knowing that the abstract is also a big part of creating realistic looking tattoos.
Schuurbiers said he has studied many differ-ent artists, but is inspired the most by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Salvador Dali.
“I can definitely say that my work is going more toward Dali now, but having some of the visions of Da Vinci and femininity of Michelangelo’s work; I morph that together a lot in my pieces,” he said.
pared his culinary career to tattooing explaining that cooking is an art form by itself, but it is nothing like creating a painting, tattoo or drawing, and it is more of a handy type art where a chef is putting things together where they already exist, while the type of artwork he is creating now is making original elements to go together to create something new, so he said it can be a little more complex.
Schuurbiers said there is so much more to tattoo-ing then just putting ink on someone’s skin and that there is a lot of psychology involved in tattooing as well.
“If a person comes in and wants a specific tattoo done, you have to be able to visualize what it is they want prior to even starting a sketch, so your mind is trying to create that for people every day. Tell me which other art form has that? It’s just a beautiful thing. I think the main thing for me is the urge to create, and for me tattooing art is like a virus, whenever I tattoo a person I transfer that to them. There is a connection with that person every time I give a tattoo, and I feel blessed that people allow me to give them my art that will last them a lifetime,” he said.
Schuurbiers said he has been to many countries such as areas of Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, South America, and throughout the states tattooing at multiple conventions most months out of the year.
He said the best place so far that he has been to is Germany because of the culture, and also because that is where he learned it is best to know as little about a culture as possible coming in, so that one can appreciate each place and be able to absorb and learn how people do things differently.
“I’ve been to so many countries and we’re still visiting a lot more; it’s constantly a learning process, and that is why I could never stop traveling because my mind has educated itself to constantly be learning from different cultures and people every day, and when I don’t have that I don’t feel good, so I need that— to be able to adapt to different environments, because it takes me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to learn more,” he said.
Schuurbiers said that people study and master subjects because they love what they are doing, and that people should not care about what society’s expectations are, but to love what one does.
“No matter what you study in life, as long as the passion is there, you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing and you will be successful and happy in life because you’re doing what you appreciate,” he said.
Schuurbiers said he likes Albuquerque because he always sees improvement in the artists and friends he works with when doing guest spots at Sachs Body Modification in Nob Hill a couple times out of the year.
“One of my favorite things about Albuquerque is definitely the people, it feels like every time I’m here I feel at home, and I always see improvement in the artists and that’s motivating to me to see how they are taking they’re time to perfect their work, and to be a part of that evolution. It’s better to be a part of that, than to be at a studio that is already established, and every time I come into town and I see my friends; it’s like when you have families all over the world and you want to come and visit, so tattooing is not necessarily the only reason why I come here,” he said.
On a side note about the chile in New Mexico, Schuurbiers said “I was a culinary chef, so it is really hard to choose between red or green, but I would have to say both are really good.”
Schuurbiers said it takes a long time to become an established artist in the industry, but once an artist does, they can be free to create what they want, which he feels very blessed to be able to do in such a quickly growing and expanding trade.
Another part about traveling and tattooing that Schuurbiers said he loves, he is able to meet legendary artists such as Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete, Brian Everett and Mark Mahoney that made tattooing a movement, made it mainstream, and started the tattoo revolution, because tattooing is still such a young industry, which to him is the most beautiful part, because he can have an advantage to be able to share and learn from these ground-breaking artists.
“How do you define yourself as a good artist, because it’s not only what you create, but who you are as a person and the legacy that you leave behind. So it’s not only the art, but how people will see you when you’re gone, and how to be a master artist and leave a relatable influence for generations of artists to learn from you as well. It’s pretty amazing for people in our generation of the tattooing industry, and I think in 20 years from now tattooing will be recognized as the ultimate art form, because we’re taking tattooing to a totally different level, and we’re truly creating fine art on people’s skin,” he said.