Mike Sklavenitis, lead artist and co-owner of Zero Tattoo Gallery, is this month’s front cover artist over at sister publication S41 Local with the image at the bottom of this page. Born and raised on a beautiful Greek island, we caught up with Mike to find out about his inspirations, what he likes about living in Chesterfield and his wonderful creation of John Hurt as Santa!
Mike has been an artist for as long as he can be remember, creating pieces for his family since he was a toddler and winning competitions as a student. As a teenager, he became competent with a spray can and developed into quite the graffiti artist. We asked him about his early influences.
"Ino is a famous mural artist, undertaking commissions all over the world, he started out as a graffiti artist many years ago when it had a bad name and was arrested several times. Now street art is everywhere, and Ino is a well-respected artist. His art really communicates with his audience and has a strong message," says Mike. "I like so many famous, historical fine artists, but one who stands out to me is El Greco, a Greek painter from the 16th century. His use of colours is very dramatic which has influenced my way of working.”
Like many people, Mike had his first tattoo as a teenager, but with a difference - he did it on himself! "I still have my first tattoo, it’s bad! I had already made up my mind that I was going to be a tattoo artist, so I wanted to see how much it hurt, it hurts haha! I have kept it as it is my first one, but I am sure I will get it covered at some point."
Growing up on a small, less affluent island in Greece, Mike knew that earning a living as a tattoo artist was going to be tough. "I have always done fine art and even won a few competitions back in Greece as a young man. Making money as a fine, or tattoo, artist where I lived was unlikely, so I studied graphic design at college and then university. I worked as a graphic designer for a good few years whilst tattooing on the side, friends and family etc…slowly, through word of mouth, momentum grew and I was able to quit my graphic design job and become a fulltime tattoo artist."
Mike’s ambition and talent as a tattoo artist took him to London where he lived and worked, honing his skills, learning from some of the best in the business, before moving to Chesterfield, which he now calls home.
"I love living in Chesterfield, it has the best of both worlds. I am never far away from the hustle and bustle of many of England’s greatest cities, yet I love living the quiet life in Chesterfield and enjoying the Peak District. I am very happy here."
Over at S41 Local, Simon set Mike the challenge of designing their Christmas front cover, asking him to combine two things: something ‘Chesterfieldy’ and ‘Christmassy’.
"I did a lot of research on the history of Chesterfield, famous landmarks and people. My research led me to world famous actor John Hurt, who sadly died in 2017. As a tribute to the late Chesterfield-born actor, I made him into Santa. I hope your readers like it. It was fun to create."
I am sure you’ll agree Mike’s John Hurt Santa is a fantastic piece of work, and we wish Mike and all the team at Zero Tattoo Gallery a very merry Christmas.
Zero Tattoo Gallery, Shop 8,
Market Hall Chesterfield S40 1AR
01246 558275 | firstname.lastname@example.org