Born in Dresden, East Germany, Martin set up home in Berlin a decade ago, this was an artistic journey that brought him first to graphic design, then to tattooing. Firstly we chatted about his artistic background; “I grew up drawing, everybody in my family is either a painter or musician. Before I started tattooing I was a graphic designer for three or four years. I designed LP covers, merchandise and websites, but just couldn’t work for someone any longer. Your creativity just gets suppressed too much in that job.” I asked him how he started tattooing, “I wanted to be tattooed since I was a little boy. When I was old enough, I always came up with my own designs to give to my tattooists. Then one day one of them said ‘that’s looks so good, why don’t you make tattoos yourself?’, I thought, why not! So I started by doing tattoos in my living room for free. That was eight years ago.”

And this led to him working in a studio, ‘I got pushed into it. I was always too shy to ask for either an apprenticeship or a residency. I was too shy about myself and my work, but Liam Sparkes supported me and taught me how to show my face. Eventually, Jon John of AKA Berlin o.ered me a space and he continued to push me.” I ask him if he feels his work as a graphic designer has influenced his tattoo work, ‘My tattoos are really graphic, but it wasn’t my graphic design job which influenced that. It’s just the way I see things.’ Martin now works in a shop called NOÏA, which like many Berlin studios has a discreet location.

“We are a bunch of people now, having a private atelier in Berlin called NOÏA. As I said, I worked at AKA Berlin before, which pushed me all the way to where I am right now. I will never forget the support of Jon John. “When we first opened NOÏA two years ago, there was just the two of us, Julia Rehme and me. Julia opened that atelier about six months before I moved in. Now we are a team of six and I’m really happy as we always have a really chilled work environment.”

Berlin now has many, many tattoo studios. I ask Martin how the growing number has changed the tattoo scene in Berlin, ‘Well, Berlin is big and open enough that we can still take some more and I like that. The growth can’t be bad for tattooing as long as everybody stays passionate, serious and respectful about it. I’m really happy living in a city where the queer tattoo community becomes bigger and bigger.” I also wanted to talk to Martin about the style of his work, and his inspirations. Outside of tattooing he looks to classical art as a creative reference, ‘Some artists who inspire me are not tattooists, these include the minimalist American painter Ellsworth Kelly, German Dada portraitist Christian Schad and the Renaissance painters Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Van Leyden, there’s also the British Romanticism painter, Joseph William Turner and plenty more. But of course there are also some tattooists.I really like. I also find inspiration from architecture and nature.’

You can see the influences of the great artists he has mentioned in his work with his attention to detail and beautiful designs, but I wanted to know what he thought his biggest influence is.

‘My biggest influence is my grandfather. He was an architect and I was always so impressed by his sketches when I was a little child. But in general, it’s hard to say, as there are so many artists. I think you always pick different things up from di.erent artists.’ As his clients only give him a starting idea they must trust him greatly to make the tattoo design, I wanted to know if this always worked out well.

“They actually do and I’m so grateful. Sure, sometimes we add some other little ideas or changes will come up before we start, but not that often. I always have a chat about the design before it happens and nobody get forced to get something they don’t want.”

“Conversely, my own tattoos don’t have a specific story. The meaning behind every tattoo is the experience I remember, the time I was tattooed and the people or person I hung out with. I remember each time in my life and where I was at that period of life in regards to my personality. “It’s not really that I researched artists that tattooed me. I got my tattoos mostly from friends or people I met while traveling. It just happens if you feel comfortable with the guys you meet. It’s always a special experience you share with the person you get tattooed by though. It’s really hard to choose a favourite one. I love every single one, because of the time I've shared with those people. “My biggest tattoo is the skull on my back. Because of the size of it, that was one of the most intense. I got it from a good friend-Valentin Hirsch-who taught me a lot in the beginning. So this one also means a lot to me.” One thing is for sure, with or without tattooing Martin would have found a creative way to make a living, “If I did not tattoo I would be a painter like my mom and my brother… or a chef perhaps.”

Luckily for Berlin, Martin chose to ink.