Since 1984 the "Fine Line" studio in Düsseldorf Bilk has been around
That makes it one of the oldest existing tattoo studios in Germany. Mastermind and founder Ralf Gutterman, a real icon of the scene until well into the 2000s, was known far beyond the borders. Oliver Paaß has been tattooing at Fine Line since 2014 and supported Ralf in continuing his studio until he finally took it over from him (shortly before Ralf passed away).
As soon as you enter the studio, you are greeted by the unbelievably good atmosphere and love of detail. Colourful pictures and decorative articles about tattooing hang everywhere and from further back you can hear the typical whirring of the tattoo machines. Of course, there is also some great music playing, namely one of Oliver's favourite bands, KISS.
Behind the scenes - from the idea to the finished design
Behind the counter is the studio's creative workshop. There is a large desk with several different pens and papers. Oliver works as you would expect an artist to work - with pencil and paper. Here he notes down the ideas and conceptions of the customers, scribbles something down on paper and checks with us whether he has the right idea.
And then it starts. In many small steps, the details are worked out and laid on top of each other on parchment paper. This way you can see how individual elements harmonise with each other or not. Once the basic framework is in place, the colour comes into play. It's incredibly exciting to look over his shoulder and see the complexity of the whole thing step by step. The laptop, Photoshop and the colour printer are really only used at the very end. Here we still work "from scratch"!
Read the interview and find out how he feels about working with us
Metal Kids: Hello Olli, what motivated you as a tattoo artist to design colourful pictures for children's T-shirts for a change?
Olli: The challenge to design t-shirts was to go "back to the roots". I have been professionally illustrating and airbrushing high-quality paintwork for Harley-Davidson & Co. since 2003. After being out of the business for about 7 years now, it was fun to go back to illustration and advertising design. I also wanted to see how the result has changed with the influence of tattooing. And yes, it's a lot freer and bolder than it was years ago. At the very end, it simply has to be said: seeing your own design on a t-shirt makes me feel pretty good inside!!!
Metal Kids: What were the biggest challenges here, i.e. to what extent did you "design" differently than you usually do for a tattoo?
Olli: Well, as with tattoo development, a shirt design is about expressing a (life) feeling. Luckily, I've been into the guitar-heavy genre myself since childhood... so that was easy. What was difficult was to develop a suitable lettering. On a technical level, it had to meet various requirements (printing in small/large, on stickers, shirts, XXL banners...), stand out from other logos or the like and have a recognition value. In addition, there is the problem of finding a visual language that can be applied to several areas, so that later all designs look "as if they were made of one piece" and fit in with the attitude to life.
Metal Kids: What did you enjoy most about the work?
Olli: Actually, the process of coming up with ideas is my favourite part. The pen flies loosely over the paper and it's like diving into a creative tunnel. The sporting component is my own demand to develop at least 3 different designs for such concepts. Knowing that often behind the first supposedly good ideas comes a real cracker around the corner. The later elaboration and final artwork is a bit more technical. In the last 10%, there's that inner seismograph again that wants to push the work to the top, then the fire burns stronger again!
Metal Kids: Which of your shirt designs do you personally like best and why?
Olli: Hm... that's a good question. I think I like the one with the eagle the most (editor's note: the motif is called "Young, Wild & Free"). It's a design that I would have found cool even as a child! The eagle has power, something is happening on the shirt and the slogan is cool too! After that, I'd probably go for the fries fork with wings. That one kicks my skater heart the most and is so wonderfully easy to consume visually! In any case, we are totally excited about the new motifs and look forward to everything else that comes out of the Fine Line pen!