it’s funny, I promise.
Before: The really sucky first 28 years
Life is a total scam. Did you know that? When I was a kid, all i wanted to do was playing with my animals and run around in the meadow and look at the flowers. (I was born in the upper Austrian countryside.) Drink juice, stare at the clouds for hours. And later, when I learnt how to read, you would always find me with a book somewhere. I can still remember when people asked me, what I’d want to become when I grew up, I was always confused. Because I didn’t want to become anything at all. Just wanted to do what I always did: Play in the meadow, pet the cats, read books. The earliest sign of interest to the right direction I showed when I was about 8, when my parents asked me again, what I want to become I answered: “A tattoo artist! Because then I can draw all day and make people happy with art they can wear!” And then everybody freaked out (in a bad way).
My parents moved to a small city where they thought “oh yeah, maybe life will be easier there. More people, more job opportunities.” where I never quite fit in, not until the last day. I hated school, I just didn’t know why I had to do all this. I never signed up for this. But with the years you somehow get used to it (so i told myself). I went to business school and learned the “economic concept” which I translated to my school-life and lived by religiously (which made my teachers my enemies). I even went to university and failed at math a few times until they kicked me out. Tried to make my parents proud. But they always were disappointed, no matter how hard I tried to do more things I hated.
What is the economic concept?
Basically it says: Maximize the outcome and simultaneously minimize the effort. That was one of the first things we learnt in business school and as I said earlier, I lived by it. If I got a 1 or a 4 was the same for me, as long as I could maximize my time where I could read comics or draw. As you can imagine, everybody around me freaked out because I was so careless. Communication problems. Up until this day I never understood why I should try harder to get a better grade, when all I wanted was to just live in peace, play in the meadow, watch clouds. A better grade for what? At the end all that counts was that I survived the 13 years of sitting on my ass and learning 80% really boring stuff.
After school I even went to University, to become something cool and honorable. So I did as my parents did and moved to a bigger city, because I thought: “oh yeah, maybe life will be easier there. More people, more job opportunities.” and studied Physics in vienna. Of course I failed math. And I got kicked out of all of my jobs I did to feed myself during University. I could tell you that maybe it was a sign from god, but I really don’t want to blame it on them. They have enough business going on already. The truth is, I’m just really bad doing stuff I don’t want to do. I struggled a little more with changing my field. I went to Augsburg and studied Electronical Engineering, but guess what? I failed Math again. It went on and on like that and I found myself depressed and hopeless, working really hard at the most boring jobs you can imagine and still not happy. But I did everything right, didn’t I? Wasn’t that the way of life? One day my dear friend asked:
What would you do, if nothing would matter?~2014, Julia
Easy Question! “I would learn how to tattoo and go back to Vienna where all of my friends are.”, i answered.
“Then why don’t you? What do you have to lose?”, she asked.
That’s when I realized, that in this moment, I really had everything to win. Nothing mattered at all. I hated my job, my subject, the city I lived in. That was the end of the useless-era.
Of course it wasn’t a hollywood-like story, that I ventured out to learn how to tattoo and became happy and really found my destiny, no, it became even suckier at first.
Learning how to tattoo: an ongoing crisis
I did something you would probably want to describe as “journeyman years” where I travelled from studio to studio (still in Germany) to observe the masters at work (after my own shift at a clothing store) and help them a little. You think I was tattooing already? Yeah, on Bananas and Oranges, at home, in my free time (I’m not complaining, it will all make sense in the end, I promise). At the studio I was just cleaning and organizing stuff and drawing straight lines on a really chair and whenever they walked past me, they kicked the chair so I messed up the line and I had to start all over again. After 2 years of doing this I found a tattooing-class in Salzburg, where I immediately applied. And when you only work all day and learn after work, you don’t have time to spend your money. So I could afford the course right away.
In Salzburg I met fellow tattoo apprentices who I became close friends with. We still see each other every now and then. My last master who taught all of us how to tattoo didn’t throw stones in my path, but set milestones. Man, I was so scared. He always looked grumpy and unsatisfied with my drawings (I was still living the economic concept) and he was constantly complaining. I thought I would never make it. Wrong, I was convinced I would never become a tattooer. You know they say that afterwards you’re always more wise, but now when I look back I can see that around that time I started to let go of my “old beliefs” about just doing the bare minimum and being able to get away with it. For the first time in my life I really had to sweat blood and work my ass off. It was devastating. I drew and drew, and it was all so sucky because I wasted my years with trying to become a honorable member of society. The realization that I now sucked at becoming an artist aswell made me feel very hopeless.
It took a long time until I was able to do the first tattoo on a real human being. It was just out of the blue. One of my fellow tattoo apprentices walked up to my table, showed me his drawing and said: “I want you to tattoo this on my arm.”
“No, I can’t tattoo. Have you seen what I did to that pig’s leg? The needle got stuck. I’ll never tattoo on human skin, give it up, I’ll just become a painter or graphic designer.”, I said, really melodramatically.
“Tattoo this on me, or I’ll kick your ass!”, he said.
“Well, if you insist… But I warned you!”
He sounded rude, but if he wouldn’t insisted, I wouldn’t have ever found out that pig skin and human skin isn’t the same at all (who would have guessed it?) and… damn, that lines where straight as my hair is not, but maybe just the first line was good luck? We were both surprised.
“Do it again!”, he said.
So i did. And again, it was not completely perfect, but very VERY impressive! I was shocked (in a good way), he was relieved, and after a while the whole class was watching (they saw me struggling the weeks before). Well, that was a turning point in my personal history. That’s where I began to see a light at the end of the void. A beacon of hope.
Fast track until now
So, I could go on describing how it went on, but then I’d have to write a book. And now the story gets a little tricky to tell because it’s still not so funny, and I promised that it would be. I didn’t plan to stay in Austria for so long but whenever I plan something, things turn really weird so I avoid doing it most of the time.
More out of coincididence I worked at the famous shop “Rattlesnake” in Vienna. It was fun at first, then it was sucky, so I quit and hid in a basement for a year. That was also more coincidence than anything else.
You thought I made a joke earlier, didn’t you? Gotcha! When I really like something I tend to overdo it until it brings more harm than good to my own wellbeing. The same was with the job at Rattlesnake. Quickly I got more and more responsibility and it consumed lots of time I could have used to relax, read a book or just calm down. Well, I went to work on my free day aswell because I got along with the team very well. When we (see, I said “we” instead of “they”…) had a shortage in sales staff and of course I offered to help out until somebody new was hired. Of course you can do something and be good at it, even though you really hate it. That’s what happened then. I’m good at retailing, but it feels really bad for me and I’ve always hated it. The constant smiling, the stupid questions of the customers, the rude people. There are nice ones too but the ones that behave badly weigh out the good ones. And of course because I was good, they didn’t even try to find somebody new and soon I got really frustrated and went back to my old profession with very little customer contact.
I called my former collegue from the Physics faculty I helped building a startup if they could use a hand with the annual accounts. Before I even finished my sentence he said “yes please come as soon as you can!”. The same day when I quit at Rattlesnake I went to their office where Michi was waiting for me (in the dark for whatever reason). He spooked the hell out of me when I walked down the basement and suddenly I heard his voice from the void “There you are, I was waiting!” (it’s a subterranean office like many old buildings in Vienna) There I worked for one year, helping them establishing financial stability and working mostly in the datacenter switching out components of our servers and much more. It was very cool and it helped me calm down from the sales-time. But all the deadlines, the teamwork which brings advantages and also disadvantages (“oops I deleted your database you worked on for 3 months and there’s no backup”) and I’d have to write another book about that and I’m sure you’d cry and laugh by turns but I try to keep the story short and give you a rough overview of my professional life.
Well it all ended because I really destroyed my day-night rhythm and all the people who work in the IT will understand that it can be really disappointing when you search for a bug for multiple weeks. Then you solve it and then the next issue occurs. That goes on and on for ever and I couldn’t really relax.
“Sometimes you get a chance in life and you just have to say ‘yes’.”My dad, circa 2018
That was about the time when I started my self-employment. I cut my hours at the IT-department down to 30 hours and started teaching Body-Piercing practical class at WIFI Salzburg. That was also a coincidence. I was meeting up with the tattoo-class and told them that I quit at rattlesnake and now work at the IT-department. Then my tattoo-master asked, if i want to teach piercing because they wanted to establish a class and were still looking for good teachers and since I had so much experience and that my good name was carried all through Austria. I didn’t realize that the people were so satisfied with my work, I was still very young and hotheaded. I said, I could never speak in front of people (I still have nightmares of my school-time where I had to held a presentation) but my expertise would benefit the class. Maybe with a partner? A few days later I met up with the managers and told them about my work and another few months later I started with my first class! Now, 7 years later I’m still doing it!
At the end of 2019 I opened my own tattoo studio together with Sabine Fuhrmann. How we met was also a complete coincidence. I wanted to work as a tattoo artist and applied at some studios in Vienna and Sabine was really friendly and we got along with each other quite well so we decided to open something together. After one year of hardship (COVID started) we decided to part ways and I opened a smaller studio alone. I skip the Salzburg Neutor part because it makes me look like a maniac. Maybe I’ll tell you the story in person one day.
So I was working at my very tiny studio at Lassallestraße 40 and had a very big glowing sign with my name on it and people still walked past it. When they finally entered the studio everybody said “oh it’s so hard to find, I walked past it 3 times!” It was directly in the Lassallestraße. The sign was even bigger than allowed and it was glowing so bright that I got multiple complaints from the neighbors. My boyfriend said, probably it’s a sign from the gods and found a new studio (spoiler: it’s the one where I am until now) and we moved in summer of 2022. We also changed the name and appearance of the whole advertisement because I had a stalker back then.
Saboteur Thomas Sabo
At the same time on a random Tuesday Satiago Sabo walked straight into my shop and asked if I would like to team up with him to build and manage multiple piercing stores in Germany and one in Austria. I did that too and it was fun but I learned that I’m not the best teamplayer and I want to concentrate more on my own shop so we parted ways at the end of 2023. We’re still friends but that much responsibility was just too much for me.
2024 my arthouse year
I’m an artist therefor I need to create. If I can’t create I’m afraid I’ll lose my mind.me, 18.1.2024
Sometimes, when I go for a walk alone and sit on a bench on Kahlenberg, enjoying the wonderful view, I tend to have melancholic thoughts. Does it make sense what I’m doing? Why am I doing it? What alternative do I have? Am I happy? Who is?
I always said, I want to paint all day. Stare at the clouds, play in the meadow. My thoughts are really dark most of the time but whenever I’m able and confident enough to “translate” them into art, it resonates with people. When we all were isolated during the lockdowns I feel like I lost a major part of my mind. But it seems like we all did. I wrote a diary online and didn’t use my name and it has more views than anything of my “official art” ever got.
I saw an interview of one of my favourite artists of all time Yung Lean, where he stated that he only makes music for himself. He loves his audience, but if he would start to create art for them, a big part of his own unique flavour would get lost in the process and to keep his art that magical as it is he must do it only for himself. The same issue is visible in my art. Of course I’ll still be doing tattoos but at the same time I have to let go of the fear of rejection and just put all of my art out there.