Interview with Vegan Tattoo Artist Anrijs Straume (Liverpool, UK)

We are happy to introduce you an amazing vegan tattoo artist and creator of Dark Trash Realism style Anrijs Straume – Bold as Brass Tattoo Company, Liverpool! Anrijs started his tattooing path as an apprentice in Latvia. Few years after he moved to the UK to further his tattoo career. Anrijs shared with us what inspires him, how he came up with his own recognizable tattoo style and how his work is tight up with ethical way of living.

” It’s not hard to try and work towards making the world a better place for the animals and the people.” 

How did you start your route into tattooing? 

Like most of the kids, I was always drawing. Biggest influences for me to wanting to get tattoos myself was my love to Metal / Alternative music in teenage years.
Band members always had lot of tattoos and I thought it looks so cool. I started drawing lot of metal band logos, lead singer tattoos and some artwork what I’ve seen on their CD covers. I was drawing tons of stuff I would love to get tattooed on myself too, after I started to getting tattoos myself I felt in love with tattoos even more. And that’s when I thought that it would be great to start tattooing. Took about few years for me thinking about it and in the end I save up some $$$ for machine and equipment.
Started tattooing some tattoos from home and loved it straight away. First I only did few tattoos a month, just on some friends and myself, was more like a hobby, I had another job and never even dreamt that I could do work near as I seen in tattoo magazines back then. After about a year I moved to UK and found a helper position in the tattoo studio, where I begun learning more about it and also tattooing.

What inspires you? 

The biggest inspiration in my life is my wife. She always does million things and she is always there for me!
When I see how much she’s working I never want to stop work harder, not only on my artwork but also on everything else.
Almost anywhere I can find inspirations. It can be nature, or artwork on canvas, digital art.
It can be other artists tattoo work, sketches, any books, music, movies, cartoons and even stories and tales.
Another drive for me is trying to educate people on Veganism. Trying to show with all the information – how easy it is and how many benefits we all can get from this awesome lifestyle.
Knowing that billions of animals are suffering for no need, makes me sick. It’s 21st century we have all the science, we fly to space but yet we still brutally murder innocent animals without any need for their flesh and secretions in our diet and with that along we rapidly destroy our world too. I can’t believe that it is still happening every minute of every day, so I want to be a part of the people who speak up and stand for the truth. It drives me to work a lot harder to inspire even more people and to hopefully help more people open their eyes to this serious issue.
It’s not hard to try and work towards making the world a better place for the animals and the people.

You are known as a creator of Dark Trash Realism style. It’s truly unique. Could you tell us more about it?

I was always a huge fan of horror art. I love ghost stories, horror movies, drama, atmospheric music and photography, and I try to put some of that feeling in my tattoos.
I came up with it around 5 years ago, I was learning new techniques, more black and gray type of work with higher contrast. Experimenting with new approach on my designs and trying new things, somehow a mix of million things made something like that.
I realised I had never seen anyone doing the mix of this together. I fell in love with the way I could see that feeling I was looking for in my artwork. That’s when it clicked and I continued to develop this style further.
I realised and started to see more often that many other artists are inspired and start using some of my artwork motives/signatures for their tattoos and drawings. Customers and artists started to call it – ”Anrijs Style” or some other weird names, so I decided to name it myself, so there would be real name for that style. I decided to name it – Dark Trash Realism.
Dark – for more dark atmospheric feel in designs rather than just it being Horror style.
Trash – I like to do work messy/sketchy, dirty.
Realism – as I use photo references for most of my work.

Do you have a tattoo project that you dream of implementing?

I have allot projects in mind, too many to list and even think about.
One thing I really want to do for the long time is – ”Gummo” movie inspired arm sleeve, leg sleeve, or back / front piece. I’m sure I’ll work on that in near future.

What do you love most about what you do? 

I just love creating art, tattoos is one of the best form in my opinion, as they will stay with the person forever.
I would never thought I will be able to make any $ doing tattoos. I started tattooing for the love of alternative life style, and I’m still doing them for that same reason. It’s amazing now to inspire so many people with what I do, I wouldn’t even dream of this could be possible one day.
I’m grateful that most of my customers are likeminded people, I get to meet new people everyday and learn about all the cool stuff they do.
And all the response I get from people on social media and conventions.

Could you give an advice for those artists who want to make a switch to vegan-friendly tattoing?  

Most of the quality inks should be Vegan friendly nowadays.
But you should always double check that. Every ink company should have this queston covered in Q&A on their website.
Check about cruelty free ointment, lot of tattoo ointments contain beeswax…I don’t know how they can mark is as cruelty free, but they do. Apparently killing millions of bees and stealing their food is not cruel.
All ”Spirit” brand transfer papers should be vegan. They have one what’s marked specifically – vegan.
That’s my favourite, all our studio uses that one, for hand tracing and thermofax.
I would check green soap too. Some of them contains glycerin inside and no one states is that from animal or from vegetable alternative.
Just to be safe I would use – ”dr bronner’s magic soap”.
Everything else should be vegan.