"I suppose you are what you find yourself doing with most of your time right? So I must be a tattoo artist" — British tattooer Adam Sage looks at his craft with a share of rhetoric, and at every work done - through the depth of personal criticism. Perhaps that is why he chose a different creative path: "silent" tattoos without the use of electricity, the motives of which are inspired by the world culture of past centuries and the charm of the industrial era. Adam's "tradition" is devoid of haste and noise, and it has no purpose to catch the eye with flashy brightness. His tattoos adorn the wearer's body with smooth lines and harsh textures.

Russian non electric tattoer Ivan Sabakin talked with Adam Sage about tattooing as a ritual of two, his hometown, self-tattooing, bike rides and the art of printing, which left a serious imprint on his entire art.

Hello, Adam!

There will be some questions I find meaningfull —partly for anyone interested in your work, partly for anyone interested in tattoing itself, partly for me personally. If you have any thoughts or views you want to share, but they're not covered below, let's suppose I've asked about this too.

So, enough of this precautious monologue, time to talk!
Hello Ivan

I'm not sure where to begin so I guess I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Adam Sage I live and work in the south of England. I suppose you are what you find yourself doing with most of your time right? So I must be a tattoo artist. I've tried to carve an alternative path in my tattoo career by working in my own style and without the aid of electricity.
Tattoing as a trade is all about responsibility on different levels — it's permanent, it's intimate, it's not less serious than any medical procedure.

So, how responsible do you feel for the end results of your work?
I feel there is great responsibly to bring the right energy to work. Having confidence in the design and placement of a tattoo, not to mention the technical application, can have a lot of pressure at times. I always strive for perfection and trying to achieved the best possible results. Like any artist, I'm my own worst critic and I can be pretty hard on myself sometimes.
And how deep is your connection with a finished work?
Tattooing takes two people most of the time. It's hard to keep a connection with the tattoo because it walks out of the door as soon as you have finished. But while I'm making the tattoo the connection is very strong. I Put a lot of things I find visually and socially interesting into my work. Not having the noise of a tattoo machine opens up a space for storytelling, music and finding out what makes people tick. In this respect, I guess I feel a closer connection to my clients due to the silence and the time that it takes to produce their tattoos. I like to talk a lot while I'm working and let my mind run in the quiet moments.
What kind of people do you generally tattoo?
I am lucky enough to have clients that I have a deep connection with and that share my aesthetic vision. In this case the tattoo is always a more interesting process of collaboration. They come from very different backgrounds but they are all equally interesting in their own ways. I honestly don't think to have a singular type of client and that is one of the things I like about tattooing.
Is there such a thing as tattoo culture for you?
Yes, there is a tattoo culture out there and I'm only interested in a very small part of it. I feel that trying to do my best and produce work that is visually and technically interesting might push things forward and contribute to the bigger picture in some way.
There's some very special vibe in your tattoos and your art. Something one may call it a Industrial Age myth, so to say — the only actual and living myth for the people born in the middle of urban culture of XX century. What does this myth and this age mean for you?
This modern age is moving fast! Perhaps that is the reason I chose to tattoo in the first place, with its physicality and direct contact with people, and to do it with a slower approach by not using a tattoo machine. My work has an echo of the things I love running through it. I grew up in the countryside and from an early age I was eager to see the bright lights of the city with its industrial patterns. I like designs that play with symbology or coupling of objects to create a story or a myth. I produce artworks that people see and feel a connection with or I collaborate together with my clients to produce something interesting that would still resonate with my specific style and taste.
Looking on photographs of your hands one may take them for the hands of a vagabond, circus performer or a penitent. What stories do you bear on your palms and fingers?
The first tattoo I ever did was on my self. I always though that tattooing my self was a very important lesson: to be able not only to share what my clients might feel but also to see how the tattoo heals and ages over time. I still tattoo my self with designs that make me feel stronger or just mark a particular time in my life. The tattoos on my left hand are a collection I've been adding to for sometime now, maybe for twelve years or more. It's looking pretty full but I still see annoying gaps that I'm sure I will fill at some point. Some people have said that all these tattoos make my hands look dirty so I guess you are right when you say they look like the hands of a vagabond. I always wanted the tattoos to visually tell a collection of stories with a personal meaning. My favourite tattoo is the biggest one on my left hand. It's a hammer and three nails for my father who has worked hard his whole life building and constructing. This image also reflects back to the crucifixion of Christ, so there is also a feeling of sacrifice.
And what are your interests now, aside from tattoing?
When I'm not tattooing my interests are photography, printing and graphics. I have been taking pictures of the landscape capturing textures and strong silhouettes. This has led me to do long walks into the countryside. My hope is that the photos I take will lead me into producing a series of lino prints. For many years I've been drawn to Russian graphic art with its sculptural lines and block colours. This is a constant sauce of inspiration for me. I feel like my printing has had a big impact on my approach to tattooing.
Cycling activity — what part does it take in your life? Tell us about your steed and your rides.
Cycling has taken a big step back in my life sadly. For a while it consumed all of my free time. I still have a beautiful "Condor Acciaio" that has carried me over hundreds of miles around the English countryside. After a small issue with my knee, I have found my self joining Brighton swimming club (the oldest swimming cub in England) with the plan to stay fit while not on my bike. As someone who is unable to do things by half's, I now swim long distance in the sea all year round ( yes, even the winter months without a wetsuit). Swimming, like cycling before that, offers me a release from the noise of everyday life; a space for thinking and being more present within myself and that is ultimately very important for me to maintain a positive creative and mental attitude.
Here I could ask about an advice for a tattooist that is just getting started?
I think that tattooing is a very personal journey so the only possible advise I feel I can give is to be very passionate about it! To keep on learning and being inspired by the world around you.

9 Jan, 2020