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We Got a Tattoo From The S.O.T. Crew


"Their tattoos are basic – single needle designs that require a certain sense of humour."

We had arranged to meet up with a member of the S.O.T crew, an elusive collective of graffiti writers, musicians, and self-taught tattooists who come from Vienna, Dresden and Berlin respectively. We came across their Tumblr a couple of weeks before we left for Berlin and decided that we had to track them down. Their tattoo flashes included a cat with a paintbrush in its mouth, a ‘love dog’ smoking a joint, death on the toilet reading LIFE mag, and a carp smoking a fag with a beanie on, to name a few.

We had tentative arrangements of where to meet but his lack of fixed address, arranged meeting time and extremely thin email thread left us doubtful. We obediently followed Google Maps from the U-Bahn to our supposed meeting spot and found ourselves outside a large estate of tenement tower blocks, each a different shade of pale pink. As we debated which block it was we were looking for, the door in front of us swung open and a tall, thin man stepped out. He asked if we were the Out Here guys, we nodded, and he said he needed to get a coffee.

We visited several coffee shops before finding the right one – the first few were too expensive, he said – then return to his friend’s apartment where he was staying whilst in Berlin. The walls and windowsills were decorated with hand printed gig posters, sketchy illustrations and platform toys. I inquired about where the tattooing might take place. “Right here,” he replied.

Although only having been recently accepted as a fully fledge member of S.O.T, Ricaletto had been tattooing his friends for several years. Together with a few other self taught tattooists from Dresden, where he is based, he bought a basic tattoo gun to learn with, sketching out designs and trying them out on each other. That was some years ago but they use the same gun, and it was with this aged tattoo gun that Louis was to get his Karate fighting Berlin Bear. S.O.T. only started around two to three years ago and not even Ricaletto knows how many members there are or even what it stands for. “I think its Sick Of Tribals, but I don’t really know.” They started for kicks, as just another way to create what they like to draw, just instead of paper or canvas it was skin.

There was a makeshift feel about this tattoo studio, but then the very nature of S.O.T. and its members felt makeshift too. Their tattoos are basic – single needle designs that require a certain sense of humour. They can be as mundane as a 2D outline of a cocktail glass or as psychedelic as a dolphin with human legs being ensnared by a spider web wrapped around a smiling skull. But the striking thing about these guys and their tattoos, and what sums up our experience of the people of Berlin, is the lack of self-consciousness; they don’t take themselves too seriously.

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