Cykada Tattoo in Sopot, is one of the most experienced studios you can find anywhere in Poland and has achieved legendary status. With a combined experience of almost 100 years, you’ll be in good hands whether you’d like to go for a small first-time design or a huge back piece. Streetwise met up with Cykada founder, Zappa, an artist working for almost 30 years in the tattoo business and with numerous awards, we couldn’t wait to meet him.
Hi Zappa. When did you open Cykada?
When did you have your first tattoo?
In 1991 I was 23 years old and tattooed a rose myself on my leg! I did it hand poke style with a sewing needle. There were many ex-cons with tattoos in my village and I asked them how to do it ? My adrenaline was so high I didn’t feel anything!
Do you still have it and did you tell your parents?
No way did I tell my parents. They would have gone crazy! Unfortunately, I covered it up a few years later. I wish I didn’t because it was a sentimental tattoo for me.
When did you know you wanted to be a tattoo artist?
When I tattooed the rose I knew straight away that’s what I wanted to do. In 1994 I opened my first tattoo studio called Kelten in my hometown. Kelten is the German word for Celtic.
What is your style?
View this post on Instagram
Not really. Maybe one client every 2 weeks. In those times it was still rebellious to get a tattoo.
What was your first machine?
It was a Spalding and Rogers machine. I saved up and ordered it from the USA. It cost me about 700 USD
That was big money in those days. How did you get the money?
I did grape picking in France for a few months ?
Your first tattoo convention?
It was in 1996 in Karlsruhe, Germany. I realized there I still had a lot to learn.
I heard you worked in Germany for a while?
Yes. I had job offers at the convention and decided to go work at Mystic Tattoo in 1996. It was a big decision to close my studio but I wanted to learn more and Germany was very progressive in those times when it came to tattoos. Germany also had many top tattooists back in the day.
I then moved to East Berlin in 1998 to work at Nightliner tattoo until 2009. It wasn’t an easy place to live. The wall was down but people still didn’t want anything to do with the West.
Is that why you came back to Poland?
Not really. I got divorced so I needed a change and decided to open Cykada with my friend in Tricity.
Why the name Cykada and why Tricity?
In English Cykada means Locust. I was in Greece and heard the noise they made and thought it sounded quite similar to a tattoo machine. In those times Tricity was a happening place in Poland. Plus it was next to the beach. Perfect ?
Did do you expect Cykada to be so successful?
No way! I didn’t expect that the tattoo culture in Poland would grow so much.
Has it peaked?
I think so. I can see a similar situation to Berlin when there was a burnout in 2006-2007. The quality has dropped also due to it being too easy to open a tattoo studio nowadays. It used to be that you would start as an apprentice, get some experience and then think about opening a studio. Now people skip the learning process and just open studio.
Are robots the future?
It’s possible. Who would have thought 50 years ago there would be smartphones and the internet? But, this business involves relationships also so artists will never die out.
Not really but I miss the rebel side of the business like in the old days. Tattoos were underground and now they are mainstream. But I also understand that I’m a part of the reasons for this change.
For more tattoo articles click here