Tattoo artist Anna Lea Milewski: "It is a great honor for me to be immortalized on a person's body"
Photo: Anna Lea Milewski
The start into working life is exciting, exhausting - and often completely different than planned. In the series “My first year in the job” young professionals tell how they experienced this time. This time: Anna Lea Milewski, 27, studied communication design, worked in various advertising agencies - and decided on a career as a tattoo artist.
The start into working life is exciting, exhausting - and often completely different than planned.
In the series “My first year in the job” young professionals tell how they experienced this time.
This time: Anna Lea Milewski, 27, studied communication design, worked in various advertising agencies - and decided on a career as a tattoo artist.
»In the advertising agencies, I was bothered by the constant pressure of taxes and the long working hours.
I didn't have the freedom to be creative.
I have now found this space in tattooing.
In the summer of 2018 I made the decision to change my job.
I had my second tattoo, a fine blade of grass, tattooed on my arm and thought: Why don't I do it myself?
Even as a child I drew and painted a lot, and during my studies I even held my own exhibition.
After the appointment, everything went very quickly: A well-known Hamburg tattoo studio was looking for trainees, I submitted drawings, paintings and an introductory text, was invited to an interview, took part in a trial for two days - and was accepted.
"Why don't I do it myself?"
The training lasted two and a half years, I learned the trade and was also able to look behind the scenes at management.
It was only after a good six months that I was allowed to use the tattoo machine myself, first I practiced on a grapefruit, then acquaintances came along.
The first time
My first tattoo is not presentable.
I stabbed it when I was accepted for training but hadn't started yet.
I really wanted to practice.
So I bought a machine and got a tattoo on my best friend at home.
A little rose.
It took me almost half an hour to set the needle.
I thought all along that I was going to destroy her skin.
After all, a tattoo is also a form of injury.
A tattoo machine is heavy and vibrates, nothing like a pen.
And the skin is not a sheet of paper.
I was shaking, the rose became very sketchy, my friend liked it anyway.
With my other tattoos, too, at first I kept thinking about the great responsibility that I bear.
After all, people walk around with a picture of me for a lifetime.
I don't notice that anymore.
It is a great honor for me to be immortalized on a person's body.
I found my style very quickly.
Even during my studies, I liked to incorporate elements from nature into my work.
And during my apprenticeship I realized that I would like to work delicately with tattooing.
The studio I work in specializes in fineline tattoos.
So far I am most proud of my abstract coral, which meanders over the entire body of a Kund: in.
I developed the idea and found it exciting that the tattoo hugs the entire body shape and highlights curves.
I've never slipped my needle.
It just happens more often that I poke myself in the hand.
With my left hand I pull the skin apart and with the right I do a tattoo, but that happens from time to time.
I finished my apprenticeship at the end of September 2020, and I registered my self-employment on October 1st - this is the usual route in the industry. The shutdown came a month later. I didn't get any financial help. At first I was busy rescheduling appointments, then I trained myself in matters of self-employment and finances and drew tattoos - so I had a lot of material when the studios were allowed to reopen.
I pay chair rent to my studio and earn better than I would have thought.
Right now I'm taking 200 euros an hour.
At first it felt like usury, but I know that I deliver good quality.
I earn around 10,000 euros a month, from which taxes, insurance and pension provision are deducted at the end of the year.
In my first year as a self-employed person, I cannot yet estimate how much will be left over in the end.
More than an artistic job
The customers first send me an inquiry with their wishes and sample photos, then I calculate the time and arrange one or more appointments.
The drawing is then not done until the appointment with the customer: in together, so that my and your ideas flow together.
I think it's important to be open.
A lot of tattoo artists insist on their artistic ideas, but I don't think that's right when you immortalize yourself on someone else's body.
It wasn't difficult for me to find customers.
This is the advantage of doing your training in a well-known studio and also benefiting from the reach of your social media profiles.
Instagram is an important marketing tool for us tattooists.
"The job is exhausting and at the same time very meditative."
I spend just as much time answering e-mails or doing paperwork, such as writing invoices.
I work every day except Monday.
The job is exhausting and at the same time very meditative because you focus on one thing.
I have back pain almost every day.
You stay in one position for a long time or have to bend for hours.
The best fulfillment is then to look into happy faces at the end of an appointment.
An appointment is often like a therapy session for the customer - and for me too.
They talk to me about problems in their relationship, at work or with their psyche.
I also communicate openly about mine, so I make them feel like it's okay to open up.
It was often the case that the tattoo had a connection to a dead person.
These are the most emotional appointments. "
Have you just started your career yourself and would like to tell us about it? Then write to us at SPIEGEL-Start@spiegel.de.
Have you just started your career yourself and would like to tell us about it?
Then write to us at SPIEGEL-Start@spiegel.de.