The Great Berlin Tattoo Pilgrimage

Yes, we did that.

By The Editors
April 10, 2015 9:00 am

So as the InsideHook faithful may be aware, your correspondent sports his fair share of body ink.

Most of his tattoos are good. Some less so (ah, to be 17). Regardless, all come with a story.

This particular story takes place in Germany.

For quite some time, I have been attempting to secure an appointment with Peter Aurisch. Peter is one of the most famous tattooists in the world, and for good reason.

But he never tattoos outside Berlin.

After three years and more emails than I can count, he finally responded to me late last year. He had a booking available, and I promptly accepted.

Stalwart traveling companion that he is, or perhaps just fearful of losing me to a human centipede scenario, our executive editor agreed to keep me company.

We checked into the Michelberger Hotel, an establishment I cannot recommend strongly enough: hip, comfy digs, outstanding food and a staff so friendly I hugged many of them when departing.

Plus, they’ve got their own booze.

With a couple nights to kill, your dutiful correspondents did some exploring on your behalf. At least that’s what our expense reports say.

Geist im Glass (picture below) has all manner of boozy tinctures and reads like a squatter clubhouse set up inside an abandoned church (in the best possible way). RIAS in Kreuzberg does a wicked cognac Old Fashioned. The seafood bowl at Asian joint Dudu does not disappoint.

We would have learned more, but it was raining. And cold. Don’t go to Berlin in March.

On the day of my appointment, I arrived at a nondescript apartment building in East Berlin. No signage. Peter emerged and let me in.

Being paranoid Americans, our executive editor and I had a text message SOS code in place. This proved to be entirely unnecessary, as Peter is very friendly.

He is, however, quirky. Artist-y. He asked me to take down an Instagram post featuring his visage, as he does “not like to see [his] face in the plastic world.”

Getting a tattoo from Peter Aurisch is a collaborative process. He is not a gun-for-hire; he is a very skilled illustrator and painter who occasionally uses human beings as his canvas.

We talked at length. I perused his recent drawings. He asked me questions about myself. I pulled bits of sketches I liked. Faces. Hands. A bird.

Finally, he stopped me. “Ok, this is enough things. Now we will make a dream.”

Then, he sketched.

Colors. Shapes. Pages from his sketch pad torn out, crumpled, discarded. And Peter engaged in a very animated half-German/half-English dialogue with his drawings while he worked.

After about an hour, he had a blueprint. “This will be the black, and then I will do some colors and … other things.”

So … freehand. Okay. When in Berlin, I suppose.

Thus ushered in four-plus hours of Peter tattooing with bolder, swifter strokes than any tattooist I have ever sat for. Painter’s strokes. Supremely confident. I spent most of the time reading The Rosie Project on my phone and highly recommend it — turns out Asperger’s is funnier than one might think.

The result takes up the entire top half of my left leg, and is, in my estimation, the best tattoo I may ever receive:

I watched a true artist work, in real time, and then became the canvas for said work. One of the more unique experiences of my life, and they pay me to attend British sex parties and eat steak competitively.

Anything for the story though, right?

Nota bene: in the event that you too would like to travel to Berlin to be tattooed by Peter, I suggest following him on Instagram — this is his preferred method of alerting people to openings in his schedule, and how your correspondent finally connected with him.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.