The Dutch Angle -  Tattooing in the Netherlands today

The Dutch Angle - Tattooing in the Netherlands today

Let’s go back for a minute to Amsterdam in the early 1990s. On the stereo, Nederhop rap music. In the streets, bomber jackets, tracksuits, and hippie sunglasses. And in the tattoo studios, a renaissance of creativity. This melting pot of countercultural discovery and artistic freedom was the inspiration behind Kintaro Publishing. But the Dutch tattooing scene wouldn’t be what it is today without the people who make it: the artists. Read on to find out more about the creators who continue to bring together styles, perspectives, and experiences to push the boundaries of this ancient art form. As you’ll soon see, the untamable spirit of tattoo culture is alive and well …

Danny Sawyer

Photo: left Danny Sawyer right Yushi "Horikichi" Takei

Studio: Rose Tattoo, Amsterdam
Instagram: @dannyboytattooing

Danny Sawyer’s tattooing journey has taken him all over the world. His shop, Sawyer Family Artistic Tattooing, is a gallery of his artistic inspirations, which range from Ed Hardy to Edo-period Japanese woodcuts to Byzantine art. “Inking a permanent image on someone’s body is a huge responsibility,” says Danny when we catch up with him. “It’s a dialogue between the artist, the client, and the thousands of years of history that are behind this crazy art form!”

Growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in South San Diego, Danny was surrounded by the influence of various subcultures, and the incredible tattoos that went with them. “My brother and I were always rebels, so naturally we were attracted to tattooing – hanging around tattoo studios whenever we could,” explains Danny. “When I was 12, my brother gave me my first tattoo. It was only my initials, but it meant so much to me. Since that moment, I’ve always pushed myself to keep creating the most authentic tattoos possible so I can give my clients a similar feeling.”

Tattoo: Danny Sawyer

After starting at his brother’s studio in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Danny soon tattooed globally, from San Juan to Sacramento, California. But in the end, there was only one place to go: Amsterdam. “A guiding light on my journey has always been the legendary Henk “Hanky-Panky” Schiffmacher,” continues Danny. “I’d always wanted to work with him, and once I arrived in Amsterdam I was privileged to do so on several occasions. This experience of learning from the ‘godfather’ of the Amsterdam scene gave me the confidence to strike out on my own. My crew and I have been working here in Amsterdam for 15 years now, and it’s still the biggest thrill to help people to start on tattoo journeys of their own.”

Lina Stigsson 

Photo: left Lina Stigsson, right Tattoo Molly

Studio: Rob Admiraal Tattoo Studio, Amsterdam
Instagram: @linastigssontattoo

Lina Stigsson may have been born in rural Sweden – far from the centers of global tattoo culture – but that distance has also fed into her unique perspective and distinctive style. “I was raised on a farm, surrounded by animals, so it was only natural that a love of nature has infused my work from the beginning,” says Lina. “My mother was a hobbyist painter, and I used to sit and watch her, so that was where I began painting and drawing, taking inspiration from what was around me. It’s no surprise that my first tattoo was of a bird!” 

While studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Art, Lina got her first exposure to life in a professional tattoo studio – making needles. “While it wasn’t the most glamorous work, it allowed me to see how a good artist interacts with their clients. It’s that connection that makes the art of tattooing so special for me – you get to talk to your canvas!” This is especially important for large-scale sleeve tattoos, one of Lina’s specialties. “I had my first sleeve tattoo done at Rob Admiraal in Amsterdam – where I now work – and since then I’ve been fascinated by the power of the medium,” she explains. “For me, a sleeve tattoo is like a living sculpture; each one has a unique vision and vitality.”

Tattoo: Lina Stigsson

It was when Lina began working for Rob Admiraal that she was first introduced to the intricacies of Japanese tattooing. Ever since then, the elegant composition and powerful symbolism of the style have continued to influence all her work. “Part of what I love about Japanese tattooing is the simplicity and harmony of the designs,” she explains. “But as well as that, the symbols and stories are signs of belonging, passed down through generations. That’s part of what defines us as human beings, and it’s why tattooing is such a powerful art form.”

Andres Askur

Studio: Modern Tradition Tattoo, Groningen
Instagram: @andresaskur

We catch up with Andres Askur early one morning. He’s got a busy day of tattooing ahead, but he’s happy to take a moment to reflect on the origins of his unique style. “A lot of my custom work is in the Japanese or American old-school traditions,” he begins. “But I think that behind every tattoo I create there’s a hint of the rich Chicano tattooing culture I grew up with.”

Chicano tattooing traditions originated in Mexican jails, where only one or two colors were available, and homemade tattooing machines would be used – often made from odd materials such as guitar strings or razor blades. “Chicano is one of the purest forms of tattoo art for me – there’s inspiration and meaning in every line,” continues Andres. “The traditional ‘single needle’ Chicano tattoos are an incredible mix of gritty realism and surreal influences; it teaches us a lot about how many stories you can convey with a minimum of lines and colors.”

Tattoo: Andres Askur

Another of Andres’ inspirations is Japanese tattooing traditions (based on Edo-period woodcuts).“What’s so special about this style is that it’s been around for centuries, and it just works so well on the skin,” explains Andres. “Once I was introduced to Japanese tattooing, I instantly made the connection with the Chicano tattoos of my early career – they have that same characterful flair and potent simplicity. By combining these two influences, I feel like I’m continuing a tradition of tattooing that’s been passed down through the ages – it’s a great honor!”

We hope you enjoy exploring the work of these incredible artists! Stay tuned to our social channels or join us at an upcoming convention to find out what the best tattoo artists from the Netherlands and around the world are up to …


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