Dan Sinnes owns Luxembourg Electric Avenue Tattoo. An artist previously inspired by shunga and then yokai, Sinnes often prefers to work directly onto the body–an approach as bold and skilful as his designs. Ed Crooks discussed with Sinnes why he left shunga behind, his ceramics work, and his extensive travel habits.
Hi Dan, how are ya? Where are you right now?
I’m right now in Luxembourg after staying Christmas and New Year in Hong Kong.
You just did another Euro Tour BDE, what made you decide to do another trip like that?
I did the Black Dragon Eurotrip with Javi Castano from Barcelona Electric. It was a smaller tour of only 12 days and seven shops. We did this tour because we wanted to have a good reason to hang out together. On my Eurotrip in February last year I did 21 countries and around 26 shops–¬every day in another country or shop. I really like it because I can bring my tattooing around Europe, and give people a good opportunity to not have to travel to me and get a souvenir by me.
What brought you to Asia around Christmas?
I was in Asia for Christmas because I wanted to escape the winter in Europe. For many years I have been going regularly to Hong Kong, one or two times a year. It’s always a good opportunity to see my Hong Kong family.
Where are your favorite shops to guest spot worldwide?
My favorite shops are all over the world. Each shop has some special magic, there are too many good ones to name–this year I have been tattooing for 20 years! I started in a small shop in the south of Luxembourg named Diablo Tattoo in 1999.
Your script is incredible–have you always been good at script or was it something you felt you wanted to get better at?
I always tried to learn and study every style of tattooing, although I never made portraits. I always loved all kind of scripts, so I started to study it and began to learn a bit of sign painting.
Let’s talk about your now defunct shunga interest–you were tattooing shunga for years then suddenly stopped. Tell us a bit about the origins of that interest and why it just came to an abrupt stop?
I did many years of shunga tattoos. When I started getting into it, there were not many people tattooing these images. I kind of copied the idea from old Japanese block prints. I never invented it, I only pushed it. I stopped because I’m done with it and now there are so many people doing good shunga tattoos. I think I did my job and wanna go on.
I still collect penises, but only if I find one–I’m not hunting to collect them. Now I collect vases because I like ceramics.
Yokai is huge for you–when did you first discover folklore images and stories and decide to start doing them?
After I found a book with yokai designs, I saw something that not to many people were tattooing and that’s what I wanted to do. I really like yokais because there are no rules. You can copy some which already exist but u can also come up with new ones–no rules, the weirder they are the more they like them.
You’re the master of colorful gap fillers, do you find it easy to just smash something on in pen and then tattoo it? I’ve been tattooed by you and only gave you very little reference, then you just went for it.
I love to draw on directly because I don’t need to do any homework (for example when I'm travelling and can enjoy my time) and it’s easier for me to fit something in a small space. If I draw it on paper I always want to change the drawing and make it better, but if I draw on the skin I have not got too many options–I only go for it when I’m sure, there’s only one chance to do it right.
Have you visited Japan much, and tattooed there?
I have visited Japan three times and worked there once.
You spend some time with Mike from Zurich, what do you get up to over there with him? Do you Tattoo there?
I’ve known Mike since the beginning of 2000. I got my sleeve tattooed by him and we became good friends. He is more like a dad to me than a friend. I normally go every two to three months up to the mountains to see him and hang around with him. We drink beers, watch T.V. and do some tattoos on his clientele–scripts or traditional tattoos. I really enjoying hanging out with him–he is awesome. But now he is Mike from Rehetobel, not Zurich anymore.
When did you open Luxembourg Electric Avenue?
I opened Luxembourg electric in 2013. There were already some shops in Luxembourg but now there are a lot more.
What made you decide to get into painting ceramics? Is that something you want to do a lot more now too?
I got into ceramics because I was searching for a hobby to do on the side of tattooing. In the beginning I only painted the Bisk, but now I’ve started to learn to throw the clay. I really love it and hopefully have more time in the future to get into it because nobody really knows what’s gonna happen with tattooing in the future.