Ever wanted to meet and work alongside the craftspeople and artists behind Berlin’s subcultures? Well, now you can.
It’s no secret that Berlin is a magnet for alternative talent – it’s why you’re here after all – but how much do you really know about the inner workings of our ateliers and music studios?
Subcultours are looking to change that, bridging the gap between creators and the everyman. They’ve starting shifting the curtain aside to let the public see what happens behind the closed doors of artists, entrepreneurs and those breathing creative life into the lungs of our city.
Currently operating in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden and Costa Rica, Subcultours offer hands-on, inclusive tours of a plethora of different disciplines. Have you ever wanted to create your own electronic music track? How about some BDSM leatherwork for that House of Red Doors event? Or maybe you’d like to learn about performance meditation? Subcultours will set you up with the makers who make this happen, and who will ultimately have you making.
AntikaPratika combines the fine arts of tattooing and ceramic design.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a tour hosted by Ivan and Marta, two tattoo artists and creatives who live and work in Berlin. They’re an Italian couple and the brainchildren behind AntikaPratika, an endeavor that combines the tattoo artistry and the way it translates onto handmade porcelain – imagine an urn adorned with a traditional Sailor Jerry lighthouse and you’re almost there. The name means “Antique Practice”, and its philosophy of slow living is evident in every aspect of their work.
Our tour begins at a tattoo parlour.
We meet at Blut & Eisen on Stargarder Strasse, where Ivan is a resident tattoo artist. While both hosts are nervous – it’s their first tour and they don’t really have a detailed or scheduled plan – the care and passion that they have for their craft is evident almost immediately.
As we’re shown around the parlour Ivan explains how he got into tattooing and what it means to him, his critical opinion of the industry and how much it’s changed in recent years. We’re shown the different booths of the artists who work there – each space adorned with trappings and paintings that have helped inspire their styles.
Ivan asks us if have any ideas for tattoos we’d like.
One of the girls in the group describes an envelope held by two hands and Ivan sketches the image to life before us – a simple drawing on tracing paper complete with flourishes and curliques, a beautiful example of the work he’s renowned for. “For us, it’s respecting the skin of others that is most important.” Says Marta as Ivan places the stencil on the forearm of one of the girls in our group, an indicator of what could well eventually be a finished tattoo. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your pain threshold) permanent tattoos weren’t included in this tour.
After tattoos we’re treated to the fascinating world of ceramics.
We leave the tattoo shop and are taken back to the couple’s apartment around the corner, which doubles as Marta’s atelier. We’re offered beer and Italian pizza – handmade, of course, everything done slowly – which is way more delicious than it has any right to be.
It’s here where Marta hand makes, designs, fires and sells ceramics for her company Black Line Porcelain, also a part of AntikaPratika. Each bowl, dish, cup and vase is adorned with a tattoo motive as the final touch of a long and complex creation process. “Each design is unique,” she explains, “we want every bowl or cup to be different, to represent the human body, every one different, every one special.”
A tour that doubles as a workshop.
At the last leg of the tour we’re each given a chance to tattoo a piece of leather, completing our crash course in tattoo artistry under the watchful eye of Ivan. He guides each of us in turn, demonstrating how to stencil and then how to ink. “Tattooing leather is different than human skin.” Ivan draws an indelible line to demonstrate. It produces a loud whining sound, very different from the gun’s resting buzz. “If you hear that sound on your skin, it means you’re fucked.”
We’re allowed to take our work home with us, a reminder of the three hour glimpse into the lives of two wonderful people we would otherwise never have met. This may have been their first tour but they tell their stories with such ease, as though they were regaling their friends instead of five random strangers. Like everything they do, their tour was a labour of love, a thorough and deliberate undertaking to help us understand what they do and who they are, and I’m pretty grateful that Subcultours was around to bring their stories to light.
AntikaPratika and Subcultours, Berlin Loves You.
BLUT & EISEN
Stargarder Strasse, 7
Schönhauser Allee, 74/A