FELICIA BÅÅK PREFERS TO EXPRESS HERSELF WITH HER BODY AND NOT HER WORDS.
The 20-something Swedish tattoo artist is a walking canvas. She is also an individual and her career has (and no doubt will continue to) express this. She’s modelled for tattoo magazines and also flirted with the idea of a circus career.
She hails from a uniquely creative family – her mother was an executive film producer and her father, a music journalist; her aunt is also a tattoo artist and her grandmother was a renowned couture designer in Sweden back in the days.
Her parents and family have had quite an influence on Felicia and while not musical like her brothers and father, she is very much inspired by it. She likes the darker movie genre, like Buffalo 66 (Vincent Gallo) and Antichrist (Lars von Trier) and her work is inspired by interior design, architecture and photography.
Her body – or what I see of it – is covered in tattoos. The designs that decorate Felicia range from antique furniture collectibles to mystic woodland scenes. Her current favourite – on her right arm – is a windmill. On second thought, Felicia says it’s probably only her favourite because it’s the newest in the bunch.
When asked the meanings behind her body art, she says none of them hold any particular significance. She likes them as shapes and objects and that’s about as deep as it gets. She had tattoos removed before, mostly out of curiosity, and originally to make a small adjustment to an ongoing sleeve that was planned a little too enthusiastically.
So what did she find? Compared to being tattooed, it’s a tenth of the time quicker and less painful; it’s cheap and has solved the problem of ever-declining bare skin.
Felicia grew up in Stockholm with her mother, but left home at 15. When picking gymnasium, Circus school caught her eye and she remembers it fondly: “The unicycle wasn’t exactly my thing; I was better at tightrope walking.”
I wonder if it was the danger lurking beneath which was particularly appealing.
After barely graduating, Felicia jumped at the opportunity of apprenticing at her aunt's tattooshop "Tattoo & Art" near Gothenburg. This had been a long-standing wish of her aunty, noticing Felicia's early interest to drawing. About the same time as the nagging to start tattooing stopped – she started!
After two and a half years working in two different shops in small towns outside of Gothenburg, Felicia applied for a job at Buzzstop 28, a highly renowned studio in the inner-city, where she's been for nearly three years.
I met Felicia at her apartment. Immaculately presented, it was decorated and simplified, 'cigar room' fashion, complete with taxidermy animals. There was a boar´s head poking out of a bag in a cupboard, waiting patiently for a place within the apartment to call its own.
When I visited, she was working on a male pin-up tattoo for friend, Patrik, which she was enjoying – "it's not often I get a request for a male pin-up".
She is no stranger to pin ups. Felicia has been freelancing as a "alternative model" since the age of 17 and still does the odd shoot now and again. Some for tattoo magazines, but she claims that some in the tattoo industry are not impressed by female tattoo artists presenting themselves in that light. Felicia is a strong believer in exactly the opposite and disagrees: “one should be free to do whatever one wants”.
*Above two images from Felicia of tattoos by Felicia