Caffeine Tattoo in the center of Warsaw has ten talented artists, headed by one of the most recognized neo-traditional artists in Poland – Bartosz Panas. It’s a legend in itself. We met up with Bartosz to ask him how he got started in the business.
Hi Bartosz. You’re very well known in the industry. So how much do you earn?
Hahaha. I honestly have no idea. When you have a business you are always re-investing and the costs are huge. Sometimes I feel like I earn less than the artists in my ship!
I heard you have some gangster connections?
Sure. You know what I’m talking about ?
Hahaha. I would hardly call it gangster connections! Basically when I was younger and tattoos were still underground in Poland, I used to live in a rough area where many ex-cons and gangsters used to hang around. They heard I had a tattoo machine so they used to come to my place to get their tattoos!
Wow. What was the craziest moment?
A few policemen and some local gangsters used to meet on the weekends to talk about business but it usually ended up in cocaine-fueled parties. I was the extra attraction and I remember sometimes the gangsters used to put their gun on the table and tell me that I had better do a good job. It was very stressful! I did it 5 or 6 times then I ran away.
They paid you?
Not exactly. They gave me an opportunity to join them and that they would protect me for free!
So was the coke good quality in those days?
I honestly never tried it so I cant tell you.
So this is how you learnt to tattoo, right?
Kind of. It was an experience and I had many opportunities to pratice.
That was in 2003. Did you have a particular style back then?
No. I used to do whatever they wanted. It took me until 2012 to find my favorite style which is Neo-traditional.
When did you open Caffeine?
Why the name Caffeine?
I was always a coffee junkie until a couple of years ago but I had to stop. It was too much!
Do you miss it?
Its not funny. It was hell giving up. I was depressed for a while and my friends and family really suffered. I wasnt a nice person to be around but I got over it ?
Why are you so succesful?
200% effort! When I was younger I was hunting awards. Even if I didnt win I was known in many places because I went everywhere. In the long run though, the level of service you give to the clients counts counts the most.
Whats your worst screw up when making a tattoo?
I tattoed a wrong letter back in the day!!!
Was it the clients fault?
Mostly mine but I managed to correct it.
You dont want to know!
Did you open Caffeine in a good moment?
Definately. Perfect timing. We rode the wave. I wouldnt like to be a new studio right now. There is so much competition!
Because you are well known in the industry, are your sessions more expensive than your artists?
Yes. But, it can be cheaper in the end because I have alot of experience I tattoo quicker so less sessions are needed ?
Are tattoos cancerous?
Bullshit! What did you eat today? That has more chance of killing you than tattoos!
Who was your wierdest client?
I remember a client who gave me the wrong details of his childs name. Her name was Dagna and he told me Dagmara!
When did he realise?
When he sent the photo to his ex wife to show how much he cared about their daughter.
Was he drunk?
No. Just stupid!
It’s been a pleasure to meet you
I think we are at the top right now ?