Ralf Nonnweiler is one of the most respected black and grey portrait tattooers in the entire world. His tattoos often get confused for being actual photos when seen on the internet. I am blessed to be able to call him a friend of mine, and am so excited to share this interview with you. Enjoy!
Eight and a half years now. Maybe 15 years more and it will all click 😉
My Father. I started drawing at the age of three. My Art Teacher in school: Frau Merz. Tom Schmidt, who got me into tattooing. The support from Alex de Pase, Bob Tyrell, Matteo Pasqualin. Jeremy Hanna and Ryan Smith, to work together with Panthera and Kwadron who let me develop my own products.
Describe your ideal client, and also the most bizarre/funniest experience you’ve had with a client.
Good person, good character. That’s all.
A truck driver was my very first client…. I went to this shop for half a year, just to hang around because the owner and I became friends. Then one day, he was already wearing his rubbergloves. He had to leave immediately, because he had to feed the dogs of his new girlfriend…. He told me “You have to do your first tattoo today…” – he talked to his client… adjusted the machine…. and after 3 hours he came back and I was close to being finish… was a flash of Paul Booth.
Then three years ago, I had the honor to take a photo with Paul Booth and his flash I did.
Are any trends cracking you up lately or bothering you a little bit in the tattoo world?
Yes, but not lately. Those popstars, wearing glasses on stage, and not only a little bit… we just put ink in the skin, we don’t save lives..
What do you predict will be the main shifts in the tattoo world over the next 1 to 3 to 5 years?
Even more popstars…
Who have you most learned from since becoming a tattooer?
Alex de Pase, Bob Tyrrell, Matteo Pasqualin, Michele Pitacco, Andy Engel
Any artists you’d love to collect work from?
Michele Pitacco, Max Rothert, Robert Hernandez. Paul Booth.
Three things you wish every client/tattoo collector knew? Any tips for people wanting to build an amazing collection?
See the artists work with your own eyes. Talk to him and if you connect as humans THEN do a tattoo with him.
Take care of the tattoo, because most of the artists give you a small part of their soul along with their tattoos
Favorite part of being a tattooer? Most challenging?
Being able to set myself a new challenge every single day.
Explaining to the client how to let his tattoo heal in the right way, and help him to get this managed.
I know you make a great living already, but if you were able to be making $25,000 per full day session, how often would you be tattooing?
7 days a week… because then my kids future would be safe.
Any milestones you’re striving to reach or personal goals you have for yourself as far as tattooing goes?
To spend the rest of my life with the ones I love and who love me.
Number one piece of advice for the tens of thousands of tattooers hoping to reach the level you’re at?
Not a piece of advice but a question…. “How much are you ready to sacrifice?”
It’s been an honor Ralf…thank you for your time! Be sure you give this master a follow @ralfnonnweilerta2