We met the famous Berlin-based tattoo artist (real name: David Rinklin) and had him explain the secrets and techniques of his iconic and creepy black ink.
How does it happen that one day David Rinklin turns into Neon Judas and shocks the tattoo world with his disturbing and creepy Black-n-Grey works?
I started using that name around 9 years ago I think. I was posting paintings and artworks under another pseudonym on Myspace before and I decided to change the overall look and appearance so I did.
I don’t think I would have chosen to publish tattoos under an “artist name” if I wouldn’t have done it before with other media which was still a relevant focus at that time. I choose “Neon Judas” pretty randomly. I was playing around with words that have a nice feel to them and “Neon” + “Judas” was the best combination.
You once said that your stage name Neon Judas “means nothing.” Okay, it may not mean anything, but it still possesses an evocative power, a sort of strength, doesn’t it?
Yeah I guess… Everything triggers things like feelings and associations but I usually don’t have complex meanings or thoughts behind the words and images I choose. I guess I’m just looking for a very specific feeling. The stories that unfold in the mind of the viewer are usually far beyond my intentions.
The Realism of your works is becoming more and more striking from year to year. I have seen some of your portraits (subjects like Tom Waits, James Hetfield, Jesus Christ, Quentin Tarantino, 50 Cent, etc.) and I have been speechless. How much study is behind it? And how much talent?
Thanks, I’m working hard to progress. Actually, at least that’s how I feel, you can see a very gradual progression. In relation to how hard I tried I actually feel like it should not have taken that long.
Usually I learn quick if I really want but tattooing still drives me crazy.
Yeah, I think many artists share my mindset which is one that is satisfied for a short while after progressing. But then your mind sets that stage to status quo and you’re as unsatisfied as before. Being conscious about it doesn’t help that much unfortunately. Neurologically speaking it’s probably the same as a substance dependence.
Your brain is conditioned to get that button pressed and you feel starving if it doesn’t happen even though you do really good.
You are an oﬃcial endorser for World Famous Ink. What is it about their black that appeals to you so much?
When I started using World Famous Ink’s ‘True Black’, around 7 years ago or something, I just recognized that my work healed better and the black was better saturated. Last year I started using “Blackout” which was again one step better.
Two weeks ago I started using the limitless greywash set. Up until then I was mixing black with water or shading solution and I was really surprised! My shadows got much smoother. I don’t know if it’s the “set” or “sets” in general but it made a big difference.
How does World Famous Tattoo Ink make your job easier?
The black heals great and the limitless set actually made my shading smoother. It should actually be visible in my upcoming Instagram posts.
Let’s talk about music. What is the most beautiful album artwork of all time for Neon Judas?
Hard to answer! One of my favourite albums of all time is for sure ‘You’ by Haus Arafna. I love Lebanon Hanover and Einstürzende Neubauten a lot but also a lot of neo folk.
I listen to a lot of other genres too. If one is interested I have public playlist on my Spotify (David Rinklin).
Many times the artists themself or how I see them as persons is what is most fascinating and intense.
Which makes sense since the art is just the fruit of everything that the person is made of. Many times people are more interesting to me than what they do or did. Also certain times and the limitations they had with the media they worked with are fascinating.
It seems to me that you have tattooed Nergal of Behemoth in the past or so he told me once I met him for an interview. What do you remember about the experience?
Yeah, Nergal was good. Pretty busy every time and very particular in his ideas but not bone-headed or anything.
What are your opinions about international conventions?
Conventions are very diﬃcult for me. Even if everything is perfect things don’t need to be easy. Working on a convention is like camping compared to the comfort of your home. I love to meet all the people and friends but the stress is over shadowing a bit the positive aspects for me.
The next convention you will attend?
I will work at ‘Stockholm Ink Bash’ in August and then at the ‘New York Tattoo Convention’ next October.