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utorak, 3. svibnja 2011.

Getting A Tattoo In Croatia.....What, Where, Do's & Don't's

A recent scene from the annual Croatian Tattoo Convention in the capital city of Zagreb, one of a number of tattoo conventions and expos that take place every year in the country. Photo:

(Note - I changed the original title of this post from "Get A Tattoo In Croatia, And Your Trip Could Be Paid For" in March of 2014. That was the name of the original article however I added more images, personal commentary and useful general information about this topic).

I read about this a while ago. Tattoo shops in Croatia coming up with a pretty original idea to take advantage of the busy tourist season, the close proximity of European countries as well as the popularity of tattoos. Thankfully, these projects however only apply to European countries, obviously. Still, for tattoo aficionados across Europe, from Ireland to Russia, this is definitely something worth looking into. (I have over 20 myself, with more coming on the horizon. They're like palačinke, you can't stop at just one.)

For those not in the know, tattoos are much more than just ink on your skin  Many tattoos are personal reminders of things that are important for the person getting the tattoo. A time, a place, a person, an event. Once you get one, you already look forward to getting the next one. For many it is a lifelong passion. (Although some people really have ignorant misconceptions about them sometimes, they think you automatically sell crack, break into cars, steal purses from old ladies, dropped out of school in grade 10, never read a book, never were in the military, never owned or wore a suit...etc)  

Tattoo/piercing shops have been popping up all over Croatia for quite some time now. The last time I was in Rijeka for instance, I saw more tattood/pierced females in 2 days than I did in my 5 or 6 months in this city. (Currently writing this in Cowtown Alberta, don't get me wrong though. I wasn't going around specifically looking for tattooed women at all. In a nutshell it's just a very generic version of Wonderbread and generic non-name peanut butter and jam kind of town, I'm pretty sure there are probably more cowgirls and even cowboys in Switzerland or Poland). That may be in part to Tattoo Studio Točka being a few doors down to the outdoor cafe I was at, but regardless. (The history of Croatian women getting tattoos actually goes back 500 years believe it or not and most probably long before that. More on that later)...Regrettably the last time I was in Croatia, my time just flew by, and I didn't get an opportunity to look into or get an actual tattoo in a Croatian tattoo shop. Next time for sure. I touched briefly about tattoos on a previous post HERE

(*Update Sept 2011- On my most recent trip I finally got my very first tattoos that were officially inked in Croatia, which I added a photo of below.)

Links to some Tattoo shops in Croatia; Tattoo Image, Osijek

Anubis Tattoo/Piercing, Osijek

Tattoo and Piercing Studio “Zagreb”


Tattoo Tourism In Croatia


The idea of linking tourism and tattooing comes from Split, and is quite a new thing in this area. We believe it will attract many young people are looking for a touch of excitement on their holiday.

The idea of correlating tattooing with free tourism in Croatia, came from team of Split Sttattooart, representing tattoo and piercing masters from Sttattooart, the Tattoo Studio in Zagreb, Barabbas Ink from Varaždīn, masters from neighboring countries, and visiting masters whose arrival always provide something new and push the boundaries.

For all those coming from European countries, and decide on one of those studios, Sttattooart will pay charter / low-cost transportation, and provide free accommodation in Split hostel, along with favorable food and drinks in several restaurants.

The idea itself is the first in the world, developed over the years, but was officially formed in late 2010 and the last few months advertising in England, Holland and Germany and all other European countries.

A competition is announced in which young people will be invited to display their works. So whoever is engaged in any form of painting and beautifying, from pictures for a tattoo over bodypainting, airbrush or graphite; will have the opportunity to spend a few days in Split tattoo studio surrounded by people with similar ideas.

Footage of Former Miss Croatia, and Croatian Playboy model Aleksandra Grdić, getting a new tattoo.

Brits Could Gather For Tattoo Tourism In Croatia

There are numerous television shows, conventions, and magazines dedicated to the topics of tattoos and tattoo culture.


Brits could gather for tattoo tourism in Croatia after a new offer has been announced by a tattoo studio in the Adriatic port of Split.

Vedran Ribarevic, the owner of the ST Tattoo Art Studio, offers plane ticket and accomodation for free if you have 1,000 pounds worth of a tattoo done in his studio.

"Prices for tatttoos here are a third of what they are in the UK. If a client orders a tattoo worth 1,000 pounds, I can offer transport and accomodation for three days", Vedran Ribarevic told the Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija.

Image from the 2013 tattoo convention that took place in Zagreb. More from the 2014 tattoo convention at a post Here.

His offer comes after dentists and aesthetic surgeons have already done the same with big success.

Vedran Ribarevic's tattoo studio was established just meters from the entrance to the 1,700 year old Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia. One of the hotels he offers the accommodation in is located right inside the Palace walls.

Updated images from the Croatian Tattoo Convention that took place in Zagreb in May 2013.  Photogalleries:,

*Sidenote- Tattoos have become much more acceptable, or "mainstream" if you will, because of higher profile sports figures and celebrities getting them like it was the 80's again and Colecovision just came out. A misconception that some people make is grouping all people with tattoos into a single category. Meaning, comparing the tattooed person hanging around the alley at 3 a.m. selling crack to kids being the same as the tattoed guy taking design courses at the local college/university and who is a trained chef, or the tattooed woman who hangs around the bar n' grill every night promising to get you the cigareette back tommorrow is in the same category as the tattooed girl who plays guitar, reads classic literature and collects wrought iron candle holders in her spare time etc, etc, etc. Tattoos have been around long before sailors started getting anchor, nautical stars and mermaid tattoos. (See the vid at the bottom for proof). Although this shows an acceptance of tattoo culture and history, one should only get a tattoo because they really want one. Not to "fit in" (as weird and ironic as that sounds) or because they hope through osmosis to become as popular. Below are just a few images of higher profile individuals I give as examples:

Hollywood Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie.

English football star David Beckham. Photo courtesy of

Publications that cater to the themes of tattoos have been popular for many years. Image source:

American EBM recording artist Erica Dunham

Of course I had to add a Croatian soccer (nogomet) player, in this case FC Bayern Munich and Croatian National Football Team member Mario Mandžukić. Image:

Croatian footballer Darko Bodul  (left) who currently plays for SK Sturm Graz in the Austrian League has the beginnings of a cool tat arm sleeve.

An updated pic of Croatian professional footballer and Atlético Madrid player Šime Vrsaljko with a full back and arm tats.

An updated photo of Croatian kickboxer and K-1 World Grand Prix 2017 Heavyweight Champion, Antonio Plazibat with a full sleeve tattoo. (more about that Here)

Plenty of Croatian men's water polo team members through the years have been known for their various tattoos. Image:

Marko Livaja played for the Croatian National Junior Team as well as Serie A club Atalanta B.C, his arm sleeve work has been added onto since the time of this pic. (There are plenty more Croatian soccer players with tats though, so perhaps a future post down the road about the many tattooed Croatian sports figures and celebrities)

Some of the tattoos of Croatian National Handball Team representative and Olympian Ivano Balić. More tattoos of other Olympians Here.

Tattoos have become more commonplace with Croatian women athletes also. Image:

This tat caught my eye because it's has elements of the historic Croatian Glagolitic alphabet, but also shows some of the middle ages interlace patterns known as the Croatian pleter or troplet/wattle. (See Here). I've noticed that these various historical 3 ribbon pleter knotted patterns have become popular tattoo designs  in Croatia over the years. Image:

Lots of people in Croatia get tattoos to show support for their favorite soccer teams, (and I mean lots), some are very creative, large and elaborate, or simple and basic like this Hajduk Split supporter tattoo above.

Superbowl champion and member of the New York Giants, David Diehl. Interesting stories behind his tattoos Here.

This is a photo I added of Croatian fans in Poland during Euro 2012. I know the amount of time and pain involved with back tattoos, so this one I had to add. I have some ideas for a large back tattoo for myself. I sort of like what the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency did for their emblem Here, incorporating different elements and historic designs into one. I have quite a few historic Croatian designs and patterns in mind that if amalgamated into one large design combined with a serpent, bear with a dragon's head and arrows in his teeth, nymph/mermaid with a sword and tattoos holding a machine gun smoking a cigar, a wolf with dragon wings wearing a crown, the moon and lightning and a few other things would look pretty frikin unique and cool as a large back tattoo.

Above is a photo of a Serb with Serb tattoo being big smart Serb. He coincidentally took part of Serb soccer fan terrorism & rioting in Italy and was sentenced to 3 years in jail. The main thing to remember about this tattoo story is, if you're going to lead a soccer riot you really should cover more than just your head. (and probably a long sleeve tee would have been a good idea too). Rumour has it that that when he gets out he plans on making a sequel to that Serbian Baby Fucking Film but will instead use a real life baby orangutang or a Panda bear.

Former Croatian National Football Team player and manager, as well as current Beşiktaş club manager, Slaven Bilić.

Former NBA, Euroleague and Croatian National Basketball Team member Mario Kasun.

Like I said, plenty of Croatian sports and entertainment personalities have some amount of ink (in this case Dejan Lovren, Renata Sopek, Vlaho Arbulić, Maksim Mrvica, Antonio Asanović, Žanamari Perčić, Sandi Cenov and Lana Jurčević), the point of all these examples being that tattoos aren't some new craze like selfie-sticks, fentanyl or hoverboards but have a real documented tradition history going back many thousands of years. Image:

What? Did you think cops don't get tattoos? (Wrong!)

 Scene from the Bulgaria Tattoo Expo. Image:

  Tattoofest magazine from Poland. Image:

A Czech Tattoo Convention poster. More info:

A Tattoo convention in Slovakia. More info at and Tattoo related events are widespread outside of Croatia as well.

I don't know where these tattoos were done, but it's sure way more interesting than the Calgary Stampede or a football game. (It's true, I know what I'm talking about)

Tattoo shops and magazines can be found pretty well everywhere you go in Europe. Image:

I had to add this very cool detailed and amazingly realistic looking tattoo. It represents the historic Dalmatia region of Croatia. This is one of the ancient names of the regions where the arriving Croatian tribes arrived almost 1500 years ago and founded our early states and Croatian Kingdom, and still used today to refer to the coastal Croatia. (ancient "Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum" in antiquity. More about that Here)

I updated this post with a few more related ones that are just too cool looking not to put here. Above is a skull tattoo of the first Croatian King Tomislav, very edgy and cool looking (King Tomislav may very well look like this tattoo when he rises from his grave on his horse in the future with his armies to exact revenge on our enemies and right many wrongs, there's gonna be lots of anguish and rejoicing)...and below that a similar themed one of the ancient Dalmatia region of Croatia again, both tattoos looking very realistic and creative, kudos from here. (both photos from

Astrological symbols and motifs are always popular.

(Wrong again)

(Very wrong)

Cops in Sweden. (Yep, that Sweden)

It's not a bad idea and actually makes sense to get a tat showing your descent, that way people will know right away and won't have to ask. (Yep, same Sweden as above)

Sports personality homage tattoos are occasionally seen these days. Above a tattoo of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. (Who just happens to have Croatian ancestry btw, more on that HERE). Image:

Don't ask me why, but Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tattoos are all the rage in Toronto for some reason. It's a conundrum.

Butt cheeks are always popular. (It's highly recommended that one have a nice butt though before getting one there, 9.5 out of 10 tattoo artists will agree)

It's actually not a bad idea to have a nice butt even if you don't get a tattoo there. self-explanatory. Am I wrong? (Image source:

Like I mentioned up above, the centuries long tradition of tattooing amongst Croatian women in BiH almost completely died out after the formation of communist Yugoslavia, where it was dangerous to show anything related at all connected to your ethnicity. But now the traditional historical designs and patterns have become popular again. especially among the non-granny crowd. Just 2 examples above and below... 

...This tattooing tradition originally had Pagan roots, but was incorporated into Catholicism in the region to prevent losing their virginity to/being taken as slaves by Ottoman Turks during their Muslim Jihads in the middle ages. More images and info at

The following 4 images are just a few of my own personal tattoos. Seen here is the word "Riječanin" which in Croatian means a person from the city of Rijeka. It was done in Croatian Glagolitic script, an interesting and popular ancient script in Croatian history (which includes elements of Pre-Christian pagan writing symbology from the times that Croats were also known as the Venethi in the early common era) and it's partly in homage to an aunt and the 2 whole summers I spent there when 11 and 12 yrs old. (the best summers of my childhood). Some other tattoos are an adaptation of the Croatian Trefoil based on the historic cross pattée/cross formée stylization, a few of them are secret and personal too. (see also

Various kinds of 'skull' tattoos have been a mainstay in tattooing traditions for quite some time and are probably connected to skulls in artwork from the Middle Ages and Renaissance times, (aka Memento mori/Finis Coronat Opus art). I think it's written somewhere that a skull tattoo is one of the tattoo commandments, "Thou shalt...skull tattoo..." etc. Above is my personalized version of a skull tattoo on my shoulder/arm as a sort of reminder of when I used to have longer hair at the time but tied in a ponytail. (Interesting sidenote - It also sort of reminds me of those images of frozen and buried skeletal remains of the early Europeans where remarkably their hair is still attached from thousands of years ago, or even of that oldest Cro-Magnon portrait carved in mammoth ivory from 26,000 years ago who also had long hair, amazing). Does the skull hold a mystery and tales to tell? Esoteric magic extending back to even well beyond the days of yore and to the times of the ancient Veneti and Hyperboreans in antiquity?" Probably. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. "My idea of grey and your idea of grey might...differ", as Lucas Buck used to say. That's the magiks of tattoos and of the magikal ancient tattoo mysteries...buhuhahaha)

Of course I have a chequy Croatian coat of arms tattoo also because I'm Croatian background after all. (aka šahovnica/grb). An old symbological design in various shields and coats of arm that is representative of the Croatian people and lands through the centuries going back to medieval times. The Gothic lettering at this size looked just way to busy using any capital letters and was practically unreadable, then the girl tattoo artist said tattoos are not like writing a book or a newspaper and that the person can have all lower case letters or even alternate sizes or scripts if they want... whatever, so I decided on the all lower case which made it much more readable and I also thought it was sort of cool how the lower case H is one of those letters of the alphabet that are actually still the same height as a capital letter, which is rare and also cool I thought, as well as more readable. The girl tattoo artist who did it also commended me for getting it, (she had a Norweigian tattoo herself among others), she said she respects when people show pride or acknowledge their roots and identity. She pretty well summed it up common sensically by adding "Like what are you gonna get, a tattoo of Queen Elizabeth or the Burger King guy?" 

I updated this post in December of 2014 with my most recent fresh tattoo. For those not in the know, this 11th century knotted interlace/pleter Croatian pentagram is found in a marble carved relief and associated with the rule of Croatian King Peter Krešimir IV. This Croatian Pentagram symbology and it's metaphysical associations with "order out of chaos/as above, so below", magic, esoteric knowledge, ancient sorcery and clairvoyant memory, and simultaneously with the medieval Croatian royal dynasties which is also quite a few centuries before becoming more commonplace in other parts of Europe, and since the 19th century and Victorian times especially. The esoteric historicity and eternal ancient magical principles behind it are also directly related to Croatian history in antiquity. (It's an exact copy including the chiseled lines, ancient cracks and everything, click image for more detailed view)

And this is an updated pic of my most recent ink, the word "HROATOR" on the back of my left arm which compliments nicely and balances out the Croatian pentacle on my right arm, it was still fresh about a week old so the new skin looks shiny from the flash but it healed very nicely later. (tilt your head to the left to read). This one is also an intriguing and historical exact copy from another older knotted interlace/pleter carved marble relief associated with the Croatian King Stjepan Držislav circa. 969, more precisely a very unique anomaly and amalgam of the medieval Latin version word for "Croat" and the Croatian language version of "Hrvat". (Click image for more detailed view)

The original 11th century Croatian interlace knotted/pleter Pentagram and the 10th century interlaced marble relief with the inscription "HROATOR" connected to the above tats. The above Croatian stylized pentagram is part of a marble carved relief monument associated with Croatian King Peter Krešimir IV. the Great (Petar Krešimir IV. Veliki) and was made many centuries before similar patterns were incorporated as part of more recent movements that incorporate pentagrams. In the other original stone inscription example the Croat ethnoym is written in medieval Latin but closer to the Croatian pronunciation version instead of the Latinization rules in use up to that time on other Croatian royal inscriptions ("Croator/Croatorum") which is a very intriguing and cool anomaly, the Latin text is referring to Croatian King Stjepan Držislav and one of his Dukes/Princes (DUX) during his reign in the 10th century and today both are kept at the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in the city of Split. That's a brief basic explanation about these tats but there are also a number of amazing legends and instances of magic and paranormal events connected with both artifacts that I can't get into right here and now. (I'm probably the only person in the world with these exact historical replica tats and one of the few who understand their amazing significance, which is cool and what tattoos are all about). More information about these interesting Croatian Middle Ages marble carved reliefs and their place in Croatian history HERE. Click images for more detailed views.

Back to today, I got my 1st "Made in Croatia" tattoo at Tattoo studio Točka - Rijeka and this is the guy who did my tattoo. Him and his wife own and run the shop. He was very helpful and fast since I didn't have an appointment, the place was very clean and he even used the newest very hygienic plastic disposable tattoo tips. They're located right across the street from the cleanest and best service McDonald's I've ever been to in my life in downtown Rijeka. They also gave me some local tattoo magazines and published material which I brought back as souvenirs which was cool.

As in this case of actress Scarlett Johansson, sometimes a very simple design and appearance will do. Every tattoo doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical, complicated and full of colours and intricate designs all over the place, just as everything written in ink doesn't have to be some philosopher's or poet's quote or a long excerpt from some book or novel. To each his/her own, because they're your tattoos and body probably.

For comparison here is a similarly themed tattoo as the previous one, but more realistic looking and with more attention to detail.

Sometimes people like to get tattoos of their favorite film and movie scenes, some people have strange tastes in films and movie roles. Just really take your time when deciding on movie/films themed tattoos.

Whatever you do, don't get tribal tattoos these days unless you actually and literally belong to a tribe. (a tip from a tattoo artist). Tribal tattoos were tremendously popular only for about 5 to 8 months in 1998, at the time practically everyone wanted tribal tattoos because...well, just because. ("You should get a tribal tattoo, you don't have a tribal tatoo? you gotta get a tribal tattoo, everyone's getting tribal tats man, are you gonna get a tribal tattoo?..."). It was especially popular among professional wrestlers and rapists for some reason. A tribal tat on the face after 1998 is a double wammy though and will just make you look like a stooge or a has-been professional wrestler who's now wrestling at high school gymnasiums, auditoriums or the local YWCA. There's no way in hell you'll get that job working at Ikea or as a gigolo for the serbian ladies, but then again you might.

Sometimes people like to get portrait tattoos, especially of celebs or actors. You're going into very iffy territory when you decide on a portrait tat though, I don't need to tell or show you all the totally butchered fail portrait tats I've come across, some of them just look like raisins with eyes and teeth basically or just like ghoul monsters, just absolutely awful (some of the baby and portrait tats are just plain disturbing). I added the above portrait tattoo of actress Sheri Moon Zombie because this is an example of a superlative realistic looking portrait tattoo which is rare. It looks so realistic that it's almost like a photograph. Be sure to see some of the tattoo artist's previous portrait work before he/she starts going to work on you. Image:

Hollywood actress Megan Fox (who starred in Transformers and some other movies), she is currently at 8 tattoos and counting.

  Yep, American celebrity chef and one of the most influential chefs in the world, author, outspoken adventurer and television personality Anthony Bourdain also has a bunch of tattoos, his first one at the age of 17.

A lot of people probably didn't know that actor Tom Hardy has quite a number tattoos these days. (oh you know, Bane, Mad Max, Inception, Marie Antoinette etc)

Tattooed Disney characters can be found all over the place these days also. 

Not only can one get a Barbie tattoo in various versions, you can even buy Barbie dolls who already have tattoos, amazing. Image: (More examples HERE)

An updated cool Croatian tat belonging to UFC fighter Stipe Miocic.

 Tomislav "Tomo" Miličević, lead guitarist for the alternative rock band "30 Seconds To Mars". Image:

Of course, soldiers and tattoos goes without saying. A profession with one of the most tattooed personnel per capita. Which makes sense, because if you hit the links at the bottom video, you will see that it was ancient soldiers/warriors (male and female) who were actually the first individuals to be renown for their various tattoos and inked art.

I find that knee tattoos are one of the less commonly seen tattoos, and importantly that the knees and thighs should be knee and thigh tattoo worthy. The above image passes this test in my eyes. You don't want to draw attention to your knee and thigh tattoos if you don't have the applicable knees and thighs. The above cupcake tattoo gives a very cutesy finishing touch effect. I highly approve and recommend cupcake tattoos in these instances and many other instances where the situation may require a cupcake tattoo.

Updated logo pic for the annual Rijeka Tattoo Expo in the city of Rijeka.

Tattooing culture in Japan has also been a part of tradition for centuries, including both males and females decorating large parts of their bodies, sometimes leaving only the hands, feet and above the neck tattoo free. You can run into businessmen/women and models in Tokyo these days and never know that most of their bodies are covered in ink. On the other hand, some people think differently and go for overkill and just the shock factor. Like I said, to each his/her own I guess.

 *As an important 2nd sidenote to people who may be considering getting a tattoo in Croatia, or elsewhere, I decided to add this little short clip. Just a reminder to make sure your tattoo artist knows precisely what you want tattooed on your body, and maybe also to not fall asleep while getting a tattoo. (Quite possibly also to not get a tattoo from a guy who has more piercings on his lips than you and all your friends put together)

I came across a short vid of various Croatian freedom tattoos, some of which look pretty cool.

An intriguing video and interesting look into the history of tattoos, this story below out of Russia is pretty amazing. In Siberia a frozen woman's body, among others, was unearthed and discovered to be about 2500 years old. The female body was given the name "The Ukok Princess" and "The Ice Princess" by the archeologists who studied the body. Like the others, she was found to have intricately designed tattoos across various parts of her body which look amazingly similar to tattoos that are commonplace today, looking not much different from what goes on in tattoo shops today.....

More info:

Related mummy tattoo stories:

Video: ancient tattoos:

Red haired/blue eyed mummies in China:

The Ice Princess and her 2,500 year old tattoos.

...and here we have an equally amazing and even older example of tattoos. Actually, the very oldest examples of the tradition of tattooing ever discovered, (so far). I speak of course about the famous Ötzi, also known as "the Iceman." The nickname given to the well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived around 3,300 BCE, more precisely between 3359 and 3105 BCE, with a 66% chance that he died between 3239 and 3105 BCE. The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, hence the nickname "Ötzi", near the Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. He is Europe's oldest known natural human mummy, and has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic Europeans. Later research into archaeological evidence for ancient tattooing has confirmed that Ötzi is indeed the oldest tattooed human mummy yet discovered, 5300 year old tattoos.

The Iceman’s body is covered with 61 tattoos.They have the form of groups of lines or crosses. Unlike modern tattooing methods, the tattoos were not produced with needles but by means of fine incisions into which charcoal was rubbed. Interestingly, most of Ötzi’s tattoos are located on parts of his body that must have caused him pain during his lifetime due to degeneration or disease, so the tattoos would not be strictly for just show. Astonishingly, many of the tattooed areas correspond to skin acupuncture lines. Before Ötzi it was thought that this art of healing had only originated two thousand years later in Asia. A few of them are also believed to be of a religious or identification nature.

Ötzi the 5,300 year old Iceman and his 61 tattoos.

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