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

We are happy to introduce you to 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 an 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 the kids, I was always drawing. The biggest influence on my wanting to get tattoos myself was my love for Metal / Alternative music in my teenage years.
Band members always had a lot of tattoos and I thought it looks so cool. I started drawing a lot of metal band logos, lead singer tattoos and some artwork that 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 get tattoos myself I fell in love with tattoos even more. And that’s when I thought that it would be great to start tattooing. Took about a few years for me to think about it and in the end, I save up some $$$ for machines and equipment.
Started tattooing some tattoos from home and loved it straight away. First I only did a 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 have seen in tattoo magazines back then. After about a year I moved to the UK and found a helper position in the tattoo studio, where I began learning more about it and also tattooing.

What inspires you? 

The biggest inspiration in my life is my wife. She always does a million things and she is always there for me!
When I see how much she’s working I never want to stop working harder, not only on my artwork but also on everything else.
Almost anywhere I can find inspiration. It can be nature, or artwork on canvas, or digital art.
It can be other artists’ tattoo work, sketches, 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. In the 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, 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 hopefully helps 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 the 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 a new approach to my designs and trying new things, somehow a mix of million things made something like that.
I realized 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 realized and started to see more often than many other artists are inspired and started 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 a real name for that style. I decided to name it – Dark Trash Realism.
Dark – for a 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 a lot of projects in mind, too many to list and even think about.
One thing I really want to do for a long time is – ”Gummo” a 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 are one of the best forms in my opinion, as they will stay with the person forever.
I would never think I will be able to make any $ doing tattoos. I started tattooing for the love of an alternative lifestyle, 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 like-minded people, I get to meet new people every day and learn about all the cool stuff they do.
And all the responses I get from people on social media and conventions.

Could you give some advice to those artists who want to make a switch to vegan-friendly tattooing?  

Most of the quality inks should be Vegan friendly nowadays.
But you should always double-check that. Every ink company should have this question covered in Q&A on their website.
Check about cruelty-free ointments, a lot of tattoo ointments contain beeswax…I don’t know how they can mark it 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 that’s marked specifically – vegan.
That’s my favorite, all our studio uses that one, for hand tracing and thermofax.
I would check green soap too. Some of them contain glycerin inside and no one states if they are from animals or from a vegetable alternative.
Just to be safe I would use – ”dr Bronner’s magic soap”.
Everything else should be vegan.
Also, we have interviewed the talented vegan tattoo artist from London – Jimmy Galan. Read the full interview here.