If you fancy a traditional rose, heart, or skull-and-crossbones tattoo,
don't go to Erik Reime. He is not your run-of-the-mill tattooer, but a
tattoo artist. In the business for less than five years, he has, he says,
"stretched the boundaries of what's possible in tatooing." His work has won
awards and recognition not only in Scandinavia but in the rest of Europe as
Designs and symbols, both ancient and modern, line the walls of his studio
in downtown Copenhagen. His album of clients includes the unusual and the
bizarre-for example, a young Danish history buff has the image of the
Tollund man (a pre-Viking find preserved in a bog) on his right arm and
Holger Danske (the Danish warrior) on his left.
Reime won an international competition in England last year ~ for his work
on Arabella, a lady covered in tattoos that symbolize her life and
interests. For clients unsure of what they want, Reime provides books of his
own drawings and suggestions. A manual worker, who knew nothing of
post-impressionists, had a piece of Miro's "Harlequin's Carnival" tattooed
on his upper arm after seeing one of Reime's drawings.
"The design speaks to my customers," says Reime. "It says, 'This is me.'" He
gets his ideas from many different sources, such as old masters,
petroglyphics, ancient symbols.
former bookseller, Reime says that "God made the first tattoo with the mark
of Caine." The word "tattoo" dates from the time Captain James Cook returned
from the South Pacific, with descriptions of body marking, which the
Tahitians called "ta-tu." In ancient times, tattooing had mystical, magical
and religious connotations, but today it is mostly a matter of personal
For example, the late Danish King Frederik IX stands in a famous photograph
brandishing chest and arm tattoos he received in England, while former U.S.
Secretary of State George Schultz admits to a tiger on his buttock. "You
never know what's under people's clothes," says Reime, who sports a dragon
on his back and a bird of Mayan origin on his forearm. "The dragon protects
me from evil spirits," he says, with a glint in his eye.