About Pawel Skarbowski
Pawel Skarbowski was born in Rzeszow, Poland in 1986. As a kid, there was no stopping him from doodling and drawing. He would draw anything and everything that interested him, with whatever tools he had handy. Disney characters and Michael Jackson were recurring motifs. At some point, kids at school started asking him to draw stuff for them, something Pawel remembers to this day as a big motivation.
Back then, Pawel’s idea of a tattoo was the typical tribal design, and he thought that tribals were all there was to the world of tattooing. The idea of becoming a tattoo artist didn’t even occur to him until years later. It was actually his mother who first suggested it, and she was also the third person he ever tattooed. “I was so nervous, but she assured me that she believed in me, and that I’d do a good job”, Pawel remembers. “I didn’t, of course. I totally fucked up, and she wouldn’t speak to me for days after”.
Tattooing was hard at first, Pawel says. The touch of the machine surprised him, he didn’t know where to install the needle or how to make it work. The first tattoo he ever made was – ironically – a tribal. It was difficult, and he had a hard time with the equipment, but still it changed everything. Once the tattoo was finished, he felt incredibly happy – he had created something permanent, something to last a lifetime. That day, he truly fell in love with the tattoo art.
Only two days later, Pawel sat down with his second customer. This guy wanted a tribal, too, but Pawel convinced him to try something different. They agreed on a half sleeve portrait of an angel engulfed in flames, inspired by Japanese style. The customer sat for 16 hours straight as Pawel struggled with every little detail. Once they finished, though, there was no doubt in his mind: he wanted to start tattooing for a living.
A lot of weird stuff has happened since that day. The next time Pawel tattooed anyone, was on a fishing boat in Alaska (true story). He had travelled there for work, and suddenly found himself on a boat with over 50 other people, stuck at sea. He recalls it as “an interesting experience”.
Pawel had brought his tattoo gun with him, and though he hadn’t planned on tattooing anyone, the other guys started to wonder what was in the big silver case by his bed. Pawel says he just couldn’t turn them down: “I mean, some of them were ex-cons. Tattooing a guy straight out of prison, when I’d only made a few crappy tattoos prior, was nerve-wrecking, but I couldn’t say no”. Luckily, it turned out good, and everyone appreciated his art.
After Alaska, Pawel got to practice his skills on friends here and there, and in 2011 he started working as an apprentice at the Krakow Tattoo Familia. He was taught by Robert „Robson” Łypik for a short while, and learnt a lot from him.
In 2012 Pawel moved to Oslo, Norway and got a job at Timeless Tattoo (check them out, they’re great). Finding customers in a new city proved difficult, which inspired him to work “hard as fuck”. He hung hundreds of flyers on lamp posts and in bar windows throughout the city, and in time, as he got better, people started to notice his work. In just a couple of years, Pawel went from struggling to find work to being fully booked for months and months ahead.
Since then, he has travelled the world and learnt from several masters of the tattoo trade: Yang Zuo at YZ Tattoo in China and Niccku Woo at Singapore Galaxy Tattoo, to mention a few. In Brazil, he spent some time at La Grand Burlesque tatouage, meeting other artists and learning about the day-to-day work involved in running a tattoo shop. 2016 brought Pawel to Inkology Tattoo Art Gallery in New York, where he worked as a guest artist and got the opportunity to tattoo live for INKED magazine. That exposure really got the wheels turning for him.
Pawel’s style has changed and developed notably since 2011. His current work often features realistic human and animal portraits, bright colours and great attention to detail. Pawel likes to take a realistic motive and give it an abstract twist, and will often combine the world of nature with crazy lines and colours. “No matter what I do, I strive for harmony”, he says. “Nature is my biggest inspiration, and everything in nature is in balance. I want that same balance in my designs”.
The human body, especially faces, is another great source of inspiration. Portraits are difficult both to draw and tattoo, but Pawel says it would be boring to do “easy stuff” every day: “I need to challenge myself and to feel inspired by what I’m creating. I’m very ambitious, and I want my tattoos to be true pieces of art”.
In 2016, Pawel left his position at Timeless Tattoo. Today he works as an independent tattoo artist in Oslo, and plans on opening his own tattoo shop in the summer of 2017.