the nordic tattoo
Image: 20191014_222936a

zele.tetoviranje Ninoslav Zelenovic

Zagreb, Croatia

The nordic tattoo art of Ninoslav "zele.tetoviranje" Zelenovic

Ninoslav Zelenovic, known as Zele, is one of the few Balkan-based tattoo artists with a focus on the styles in this book. He grew up in a Favela-like neighbourhood of low-income and low-education, filled with working-class families, just like his own. These kinds of neighbourhoods were filled with hardship, anti-social behaviour and violence being common. He grew up in a Punk crowd and first encountered tattooing in 1989. He did not see it as a potential career, having plans to be a ships cook and live the adventurer life of a sailor. Those plans went down the drain when war came to his land and town, and the adventures turned to the darkness of war, being ordered to fight other people to whom he has no hate.

In 1993 he left the army, working odd jobs as a bouncer, manual labourer and similar until he became a tattoo artist by profession at the end of 1993. As all other tattooists of the time, he was an all-rounder, but quickly found traditional tribal to be a path that easily opened up to him. He felt drawn to the Celtic-like Croatian ornaments he grew up around, and that style pushed him into Celtic artwork, which in turn led to Nordic ornaments, and from there the rest is history. He is a 20th century man for good and bad, a warrior, philosopher and craftsman trying to make sense of the modern world, trying hard to be tolerant, even to those of opposition. Each client brings a bit of their own flavour and spice to the odd stew that feeds us all, and to Zele, it seems to be the nourishment he needs. He puts it simply – Everyone is welcome in his studio, as long as they bring good manners and leave the bullshit at home. He is a man of open arms and much cheerfulness, as well as amazing skills and creativity, the perfect combination for a grand tattooist.

Meet Ninoslav "zele.tetoviranje" Zelenovic

Ninoslav "zele.tetoviranje" Zelenovic works in Zagreb, Croatia

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