Realism on the skin

Photo Mats Engfors/Fotographic

Oskar Mannberg / That’s the name of the man behind Kingstreet Tattoo, the tattoo studio in Boden that has become known as the place to go if you want realistic ink.

Kingstreet Tattoo opened its doors in 2011. Oskar Mannberg had previously worked as a welder but was sick of dirtying himself in a workshop.

– I just felt that I do not lose anything on investing, I have to try to see if it works. How fun is it to think “I should have tried that” when you are 90 and sitting in a rocking chair?

He has always drawn a lot, ever since he was little. His interest in tattooing started in his teens.

– I’m completely self-taught. I watched Miami Ink around the clock, over and over again. I have had to try, seen how others work. I’m like a sponge, I look and absorb the knowledge and try to find something that works for me.

My own niche

Over the years, he has tested himself to find his thing. He started with simpler motifs such as texts and skulls. One day a customer came and asked him to take a photo, but Oskar refused. He did not want to do anything he did not feel comfortable with. But the customer insisted and he gave it a try.

– After that, I started playing around with the realistic side and working on photographs. Then I was hooked, I felt that this is where I should be.

Oskar found his own niche and started working with smaller contours, blacker and with dynamics.

– To be able to take a tiger and sit and draw it on an arm and really bring out the structure of the fur, it should not only look like a tiger but I want it to be a damn tiger.

But he still works with art, he is not a photo printer. So he does not usually say that it is realism he is doing but rather semi-realism.

– To see the customers’ reaction when they look in the mirror, there is no price for such an experience, it is absolutely fantastic.

Always wants to develop

He is proud of his development over the past two years and thanks his self-critical vein. After each tattoo, he always finds something he wants to develop and do better.

– We have so much good competition in Boden and the rest of Norrbotten. We are so many good tattoo artists, we run our own thing but we inspire each other to develop, he says.

The first two months with the studio were tough, he remembers. But now the situation is different. He books people up half a year in advance and can receive up to 1200 inquiries. Then he selects the ideas he believes in and books about a hundred of them.

– I mostly take on big things and spend time on details and finesse. If you want animals and nature, then we are speaking the same language. The Norrländska, a pine cone, a fox. But if you bring a great photo with good light and contrasts, then it’s hard to say no. The same goes for half-crazy ideas.

Celebrity night in the studio

One of the funniest memories is when he tattooed Klas Eriksson and Alfred Svensson (also known as Leif and Billy).

– It was a really fun evening. They are so genuine, so incredibly lovely. Instagram is a great source of inspiration and Oskar’s main communication channel. And people seem to like what he does. He has almost 7,000 followers and he likes the job as well.

– I probably have more anxiety on Friday night than on Sunday. You can do the same motif several times but it is still never the same thing. You get to meet new people, hear their stories and you get to take their idea. You have to transform it and put it on their body so that they can wear it for the rest of their lives. It’s a devilishly cool responsibility.

The 29-year-old has a tough appearance with a large beard and tattoos all over his body. But he’s not tough.

– I’m a damn softie! I cry when I get tattooed.


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