Everybody has their reasons for not getting a tattoo. “I can’t think of anything meaningful,” is a classic, or the ever-persistent, “my mom would disown me.” Well, Mikkel Bang has never made either of those excuses. He’s almost covered in ink from the neck down, and he’s not about to give you a long explanation for each one. He’ll just lift up his sleeves or show you his massive back piece and let the tattoos do the talking.
“Some mean things and some don’t,” Mikkel explains. He points to different areas and specific pieces. “I got Thrasher, 666, Mikkel the Pickle… I have a lot of ‘buddy’ tattoos, either done by my friends, or for my neighborhood in Oslo, or my friend that passed away.”
He laughs when his finger passes over certain ones. “This one’s a classic,” he says. “but it’s spelled so wrong.”
The tattoo in question is meant to read, Too Young to Lose, but instead the tattoo artist wrote To Young to Loose – a phrase more, let’s say, open to interpretation. On that note, it’s pretty apparent that Mikkel’s desire to get the ink overpowers any desire for deep meaning or accuracy. After all, English is the native Norwegian’s second language. Having a prominent piece featuring a misspelled phrase doesn’t seem like such a big deal, and it’s not.
“Different folks for different strokes,” Mikkel says, giving a real-life example of his disregard for proper grammar. “Either you like it or you don’t. Once you have it for a couple years you don’t even realize it anymore. Like, I don't even think about mine. I don’t even think that I have the tattoo. It just becomes a part of you.”
Mikkel’s mindset speaks more to an attitude than any kind of ideology. He’s both wearing his heart on his sleeve and straight up not giving a fuck at the same exact time. In New York City for a few days? Might as well get a tat. Make it rad. Get a cool story out of it, and call it a win.
Mikkel admits, “The back was the biggest commitment. It’s so rad, because with a back you can create this huge painting. I always thought I really wanted this devil mask on my back. I met this tattoo artist at my friend's house and started telling him about my idea. He said, “Oh that’s my thing! I love doing that stuff!” So he said he could draw me something and in the same week I went to his shop and saw the drawing. It was a go.”
“I don’t have any that I don’t like. I don’t really care. You can’t really care if you’re gonna have them.” He asks, “If I get to the point where I am, does it really matter if I have another little symbol there? No.”
Mikkel’s latest piece was a one-off detour while visiting San Francisco. He stopped in at Tuesday Tattoo and got a little dagger. It fits right into the mix with all the rest, and surely isn’t his last. After all, there’s still some free space on his chest and legs. It’s only a matter of time until he’s covered head to toe. ∆