Custom Ink – Passion for Art
João Dias is an artist and in some ways he always has been. “As a child I was usually more comfortable sitting quietly in a corner and drawing things”, he explains. Originally from Portugal he somehow forgot about his passion and ended up as a dish washer in a restaurant in Switzerland. With a pregnant wife he realised he couldn’t wash dishes forever and decided to move back to Portugal and start from scratch. It was here that he rediscovered his passion for art.
His father, a tattoo artist himself, gave him the idea. “I started working on my art in 2015, honing my skills on my friends while helping my father in his tattoo shop.” He quickly developed a speciality as an expert in ornamental dot work. In 2016 he attended a tattoo convention for the first time and wanted to create a tattoo for a competition. Since he didn’t have a lot of customers to tattoo yet, his wife volunteered to be his canvas. Joao won the first prize. “It’s one of my most cherished memories”, he reminisces fondly.
Today, João is one half of the duo behind Custom Ink in the heart of Esch. Together with Suzan Lopes, they have established themselves as one of the references in Luxembourg, attracting customers from all over Europe. While in the past they had to ask other artists to come and tattoo at their shop, now international tattoo artists queue up for a residence at Custom Ink. “The customers give us a huge amount of trust in allowing us to tattoo them, so we bring in only the best artists from all over the world.”
This relationship with his customers is one of his favourite parts of the job. “Every day we have to conquer our customers’ trust. You can’t return a tattoo to the shop if you don’t like it, so we carry a huge responsibility.” As a result, João not only considers the other artists’ style and talent when inviting them to Custom Ink. “Their personality is also very important. We work as a team here and we want a good atmosphere for us and the customers. If the customer is supposed to return, they must feel cared for and at ease here.”
João has found his place in Esch and just as he cares for his customers, he feels Esch has cared for him and his family. “I respect Esch a lot. It is the city that gave me a new life, a new place to live and work. It is quiet and clean. I always felt welcome here, even though I haven’t had a lot of time to explore the city. I’m tattooing all the time. Maybe then I can discover all the nice places here that people tell me about.” Or places that he read about on the Escher Blog.