ONNY SOMBOON • TATTOO ARTIST
Onny it’s one of the really first members of the World Tattoo Events ProTeam. WTE Team is formed by very established tattoo artists but we also like to give space to new up and rising tattoo artists as Onny. As you can see from the following interview she is a humble but very determined and hard working tattoo artist, which is quickly building a name for herself on the international tattoo scene. Despite her relatively short career, Onny has already been collecting many contest prizes at several European Tattoo Conventions. She is now getting ready for an Asian tour at 3 tattoo conventions in Bangkok, Pattaya and Saigon.
Hi Onny, for the readers which are not familiar with you, can you give us a brief of introduction of yourself?
I was born in Thailand and moved to The Netherlands when I was just 16 years old. I’m a mother of 3 daughters and I’m really passionate about my work as a tattoo artist. Before tattooing, I have studied to become an architect, so I was always busy with drawing and developing. I think my artistic part comes from my Thai roots. As I didn’t have much, I had to make everything myself.
How & when did you start tattooing?
Well that’s a funny question as I’ve not been tattooing for really long. In October 2015 was the first time I had a machine in my hands; together with a piece of pork skin.
So I started learning at home, but just after 2 weeks some friends which run a well known tattoo shop, saw my work and got really excited. They decided to help me getting started and at the same time I started visiting tattoo conventions and learn as much as I could even from Youtube tattoo channels. A few months later I got the certificate from the Dutch health department and started working on my first real clients. One year later I opened my own tattoo shop in the center of Grave. And there is where it all began. I gradually got bigger projects and started to develop more and more.
What’s your definition of art?
Art must be the same as your feelings, it will fit the person or it won’t. That’s why every client is a new challenge and for each person is different.
How would you define your tattoo style?
I don’t really have a tattoo style as I am a all round artist and like to do everything. Once I watched Inkmasters USA where someone said that if you want to be a tattoo master you have to do and know every kind of style. I always kept that in my mind. However I really love to do my own design in mandala ornamental style. And I also love to do realistic black and grey and color works.
What’s the main source of inspiration for your tattoos?
My inspiration comes from everywhere, day to day live, pictures, nature and of course the client and their stories behind them.
What kind of approach do you have with your customers?
I like to keep it personal and give personal attention to all of my customers. When they are in my shop I want them to have the feeling they are at home.
What kind of tattoos or projects do you really enjoy doing at conventions?
I always try to do one big piece in 2 or 3 days during conventions. No matter what style. I just like to be busy during conventions.
What kind of tattoos do you hate doing at conventions?
I love to do every style and anything. When I finished my piece or the client had enough for that day I am also still open for doing small tattoos. Even in my shop some people come for just one letter or a small text. And since I don’t like to let them wait for too long, if I can, I’ll tattoo them after regular business hours.
Do you think you make better tattoos at the studio or at tattoo conventions?
Well, I am always doing my best and always try do to the best possible work. Sometimes I see or hear that some artists have a bad day which you can see it back in the tattoo. That’s not the way I do it. If I have a bad day I’ll rather postpone the session. Hence I believe that as an artist I always need to give 1000% when working on people skin.
Do you remember the first tattoo convention you have been working at?
Yes that was last year at the Palermo Tattoo Convention in Italy. I did a full backpiece in 3 days. An giant ornamental Tibetan skull.
Did you ever win any contest prize so far?
Yes i did several times, first price realistic at, 2 best of show , 3th mandala. And 2nd Big color and 3th water color graphic. Just at 2 conventions I did not take a price. One time I didn’t finish in time and the other my tattoo was too big.
Which prize are you the most proud of?
I am proud of all the prizes I won.
What’s your most memorable experience you ever had at a tattoo convention?
My first convention, where I worked for 32 hours to get the full ornamental Tibetan skull backpiece done. I didn’t win the Best of Show with that piece and I was actually completely fine with it. After all this was my first convention and I didn’t really expect anything. But at a certain point the organizer (a lady) came to me crying as she thought I should have won. The audience thought the same and a lot of other people came to me to show their appreciation. It felt so special. On the same occasion I also met a lot of artist which became good friends.
What do you think about the contests?
Well they are not always fair. Sometimes I had situations where the judges were my friends and didn’t vote for me because of this. I understand that these are tricky situations which can easily spark some polemics. So my suggestion is to replace or exchange the judges when they have to judge a piece made by one of their affiliated artists or good friends. If the judges are not placed into a nasty situation, we would probably have fairer contests.
Is there any particular country or tattoo convention which you fancy to go?
Well I would like to go the States and to The London Tattoo Convention some day. I am now making a trip to Asia real soon, for 2 conventions in Thailand and 1 in Vietnam. These are really special for me because I didn’t visit Thailand for 21 years
What’s your favorite tattoo convention so far?
That’s another tricky question as I always have fun at all the conventions I go. I usually travel with artist I know and we always have fun. For me its always about the people I am with, and who I meet. And about the experience of course.
What’s the most interesting trend you noticed at tattoo conventions?
Well there is a lot of shows going on, which resemble more lifestyle festivals, rather than traditional tattoo conventions.
What’s your number one reason to attend a tattoo convention?
Meeting people and show what I can do. But most important is to see what other artist are doing and learn from them, so that I can grow more.
How many tattoo conventions do you visit every year?
Well I try to do as many as possible. But I also have 3 kids so I can’t always leave them with their grandma; when I travel my husband is always with me as well.
What’s the most annoying side of a tattoo convention?
The time pressure to finish something.
In terms of convention organization what’s for you the most important aspect?
That the organization quickly follows up on any issues. And to be more clear beforehand on what’s really included in a convention pack. I see so many times that people didn’t bring certain things as they were convinced to be provided by the organization.
What’s the best way to book you for a convention?
You can book me at my shop or via Facebook, Instagram or Tattoodo. I’m open to anything as long as we get hold of each other.
Do you usually prefer to set an appointment before the convention or are you open to work on the spot?
I prefer to be booked beforehand. I always give special prices at conventions to at least cover my expenses.
Do you do any collaborations tattoos?
Yes I did one collaboration with Christian Boatta from Palermo in my shop and I have plans to do more collaborations in the future.
Who are the people you admire the most in this industry?
Well there are a lot: I love Ryan Ashely style and the morphs of Arlo Di Cristina, The style of Jay freestyle and Ryan Smith. I love their work, and for me it’s also very important if they have a good attitude. If you work is great and you are not, then the tattoo doesn’t say anything.
Which celebrity person would you really like to tattoo?
You Alex. I like to tattoo you!! (Oh wow thank you…. I’m not a celebrity but it looks like we have a plan!!)
And what do you think of tattoo seminars?
Well tattoo seminars are a good thing to learn and grow. But but I also like watching an artist when tattooing and ask some questions 1 to 1.
By the way, I have been asked to give seminars but I am not good at speaking in public. And the seminars where I wanted to go where not in the correct language for me….!
How do you see the tattoo world today and what do you think will be in the future?
The industry is growing a lot and there are a lot new good artists coming every day. I wonder how far can it go. I even see they are making tattoo robots. That is something which would never work for me. A tattoo must be done with joy and passion and not by a robot.
Does your family support your profession?
Yes even my mother in law which doesn’t like tattoos at all. They are proud of what I do.
Your favorite inks?
I don’t have a special favorite ink brand. For black and grey I always use Quantum Seasheperd. For colors I have the whole Fusion line and the whole Quantum line. I also have a few other brands to test.
Your favorite machines?
I have so many as I can work with almost every machine. Mostly I use XION and Cheyenne. Now I’m waiting for the machine from BALA which they sent me to test. For me it’s all about the strokes of the machine as I use different strokes for certain works.
What after care product would you recommend?
Balm Tattoo. That’s all I use for aftercare or while tattooing.
Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Well to all artist, I would like to say: no matter how good you are, always try to stay humble and respect everyone, regardless on how good or bad they are.
For all other readers, I hope you got a better feeling of who I am. Besides being an artist I am a wife and a mother. In fact I prefer to book my self only max of 3/4 months in advance, so that I can also plan things with the family and conventions. So don’t worry you don’t have to wait 2 years to get tattooed by me.
See you soon,
Onny Tattoos Studio
Tel: +31 486 436 133