Talented, passionate and incredibly humble – Tattoo Artist, Sannisaar, opens up about her everyday challenges, why her clients are so important to her – and why her husband is her number one inspiration.
What is the etho behind your business?
Ive always loved art and have been doodling since I can remember. Ive tried a numerous amount of mediums, starting from graphite and colour pencils to watercolour and oils to silk- and glass-painting and sculpting. I started getting more and more interested in tattooing when I thought about what it would be like as an art form and what I could do on skin.
How did your business start? / What were your greatest challenges?
I started apprenticing in Estonia after I graduated university. I spent 6 months watching my mentor tattoo and observe his cleaning habits, learning how to scrub tubes, and do all chores that apprentices do.
The first time I tattooed some practice skin (rubber material which is nothing like actual human skin) I realised I will have to entirely re-learn how to draw. That was the first time I wanted to quit. Its now been about 5 years since that day and I still have so much to learn. But I dont think about quitting anymore. I think about what to learn or try next.
Who are your customers and why are they special?
Anyone who is interested in art, tattoos and/or permanently marking a memory or a special event on their skin. Ive tattooed people from the age of 18 to 75 years of age and all ages in between, so each client always comes with an interesting background story to why they want to get tattooed etc.
A lot of my return customers have become pretty close and I am happy to call some of them friends! So quite often its actually hard to keep the relationship to a strictly professional level as you spend so much time with them. And tattooing can be such an intimate experience, especially for people who arent normally exposed to someone touching and hurting them for hours (sorry guys!).
How do you connect with your customers?
I am the type of person who enjoys learning more about people, so my tattoo sessions with my clients always get pretty deep straight off the bat. I normally do inform people of this and they usually dont mind and are quite happy to open up and discuss a myriad of topics. Especially since some sessions can last a full day, its nice to chat about anything and everything to keep both myself and the clients mind refreshed and occupied.
How do you differentiate yourself from competitors?
I try to approach my tattooing as an artist. I always try to do things differently and keep things as interesting as possible. If I see a tattoo or a drawing that has been done before, I will try to figure out a way to make it different. That is what makes my style so unique. On the flipside, it makes me have this silly habit of shooting myself in the foot by trying to reinvent the wheel with every single design I make.
What would you say has been your magic moment to date?
Ive been lucky to work at some beautiful studios which Im very proud and grateful for. Ive also had a couple of exhibitions where Ive sold some artwork, which is always very heartwarming. Every so often I get to tattoo something that Im exceptionally happy with, so these achieving moments make my days feel accomplished. Overall, its not just one proud achievement but just enjoying these small things and meeting my clients daily.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
The best piece of business advice I have received is that you must conduct yourself as a professional business. This means that you need to have a vision and a mission with concrete and measurable plans on how you want to grow both as a business and as an artist.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to start a business based on everything you have learnt?
Keep track of everything you do!
What do you love most about what you do?
The amount of incredible people I meet from all kinds of walks of life. Ive met some truly lovely people who have shared and trusted their life stories and skin with me. Its a terrifying and amazing thing!
Whats one thing that always makes you happy?
Having to put something on someones skin permanently is a very stressful experience (for both the artist and the client). However, working together with the customer, designing something from their ideas to my drawings and seeing them be happy with the final artwork on their skin is priceless. The fact that they trusted you and got exactly what they were looking for is the best feeling in the world!
Whats your rule of thumb when it comes to inspiring your team?
Setting common goals so everyone feels they are needed and eager to participate. Making the team feel like every individual is necessary for the whole business to work.
Best advice you can give someone who wants to get into your area of work?
Learn to draw as much as possible, get comfortable in as many different mediums as you can, build a good portfolio and get an apprenticeship in a reputable tattoo studio. Network with fellow artists and people you look up to. This way your learning will be fast and professional. Starting at home will only form bad habits that are very hard to break and re-learn later. Oh, and always keep your station clean!
Whats one thing you wish youd done sooner?
I definitely wish I had more consistency when creating art in the past. I also wish I had a clearer sense of direction at the time. But every mistake is a great lesson to be learned!
Another business / start- up I like is
Kuld Creamery in Perth and Fremantle and Max and Sons caf in Perth.
Who inspires you?
My partner. His passion for coffee making is unparalleled and seeing him so focused and constantly wanting to improve and learn keeps me on my toes and always exploring new ways of doing things. Also, after the trip to Japan last year, I have never admired and been inspired by Japanese people more than now!
Last awesome book read?
I always feel I dont read enough! Most recent books Ive read have not been worth mentioning, but one I read a few years back and still one of my favourites is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.
I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Are you a dog or a cat person?
Coffee or tea?
Both! Coffee to start up the day and tea for the rest of it!
Savoury or Sweet?
Sweeeeeet. But both are good. I love food.
Whats your favourite holiday hotspot?
I would go back to anywhere in Japan any minute of my life.
Whats your #1 time management tip?
Checklists and phone alarms keep me on track.
Best guilty pleasure?
After a long day of work, playing video games.
Best way to spend a Saturday night?
Movies and pizza in bed and spending time with family.