Cleo Wattenström is a talented tattooist and stunning model who will be making her way to Australia in january to work as a guest artist at Garage Ink, Brisbane!

Attention, TV producers: meet Cleo Wattenström, a tattoo artist and model from Stockholm. Doesn’t Stockholm Ink have an interesting ring to it? Like reality stars Kat Von D and Megan Massacre, Cleo is a tattoo artist first and foremost. In fact, she was reluctant to charm the camera. “When I started modelling I was a bit torn because I feel that in the tattoo industry, if you are a professional tattooer, people think that you shouldn’t display yourself in any other light,” she says. “I was a bit worried about what people would think about me, with the publicity and nudity and so on. Then I just made peace with the fact that I can’t go on worrying about others so I might as well go ahead and do whatever the hell I feel like.”

Cleo uses modelling as a means to do what she loves. “I prioritise my tattooing,” she says. “A modelling job has to give me either the opportunity to travel or money for it to be worthwhile. I have enough pictures of myself – I don’t see why I would need more of them.”

In 2009, after learning her craft for a few years at a small shop, she got a station at Lifestyle Tattoo. Her work, which she often freehands, uses colour in interesting ways and mixes new school and traditional. Though she hasn’t been tattooing long, she’s always been drawn to the art form. “As a kid I was really intrigued by bands that had a punk look, often with piercings and tattoos,” she says. “When I was 13 I found a dodgy tattoo parlour where they did a little text on my hip that reads ‘Babylon Going Down.’ I had dreadlocks down to my butt at the time and was going through some rasta-punk phase.” She pauses and blushes. “It’s embarrassing to talk about, but I will never consider covering it up. That is tattooing’s whole charm for me: collecting little pieces of your life as you go.” Currently her favourite piece is a neck tattoo of a street lamp with wings, but that could change as her collection grows.

By Anja Cadlek
Photos by Warwick Saint