I didn’t have a viable second story pitch, so Carlene told me to go out into the city to find one. While I still came up short, I did learn a lot about the life of a 30-something tattoo artist.
I happened into a piercing parlor sometime around 4 p.m. Thursday to ask the workers if there had been any recent trends in business that were particularly interesting. One worker introduced me to another, who took me next door to talk to a tattoo guy – Christos Tsintsaris – because he spoke better English.
The moment a word escaped my mouth, he laughed and said, “American?” As it turns out, Christos went to Boston University and studied the fine arts, majoring in oil painting. I was blown away that he studied in the same city I go to school in, so I probed deeper into his life to learn how he ended up in this tattoo shop on a side street in downtown Thessaloniki.
Christos was raised in Thessaloniki and went to the States for college, after which he worked in several states and countries doing painting and graphic design. He eventually returned to Thessaloniki because it was his home.
While he did some graphic design jobs in the city, they didn’t pay well and the economy was (and still is) bad, so he started to get into tattooing. Christos said he likes tattooing because it is art that becomes a part of another person, something I related to as I glanced down at the Wonder Woman symbol wrapped in the Lasso of Truth above my ankle.
He showed me a couple of his paintings around the shop and said some of the originals were in galleries across the United States, particularly in California. The paintings were very much in the style of realism and I was impressed by their detail and color. I almost wished I was ready for another tattoo, but it is probably best for my wallet that I wasn’t.
As Christos showed me his art, he suddenly perked up as if he’d had a “eureka” moment. He began to talk faster and with more energy, telling me about how he had learned about an American man who covers and removes people’s gang-related tattoos for free so they can get jobs and move on with their lives. Christos researched the man further, eventually contacting him and joining his team. Now, if someone in the greater Thessaloniki area needs to get a gang or neo-nazi related tattoo removed, Christos can provide the free service.
I was excited to hear his story and intrigued by the services he had signed on to provide. Alas, the apparent lack of gang activity or massive tattoos in Thessaloniki made this too small to be a standalone story. It was, however, just enough to be an interesting blog post and a lesson in the random cool people you can meet when you wander into shops alone during the city’s naptime. And, of course, reinforcement that an interesting story is just one conversation away.
This blog post also appeared on Northeastern University School of Journalism’s website, https://camd.northeastern.edu/journalism/