Respect, Art, and Ink: Electric Mordor's Philosophy in Tattooing
Step into the fascinating world of tattooing as we sit down with Electric Mordor (Juan Pablo Badilla), a visionary tattoo artist from Santiago, Chile. In this exclusive interview, Juan Pablo shares the unique journey that led him to the world of tattoos, reflecting on his early days experimenting with ink on friends from the neighborhood to the pivotal moment when he decided to professionalize his craft in 2013. Join us as we delve into Electric Mordor's self-taught approach, navigating the challenges of a tattooing landscape that was less accessible and inclusive. Discover the fusion of traditional tattooing techniques with unconventional themes that defines Juan Pablo's distinctive style, rooted in a lifelong fascination with fantasy and grimdark aesthetics.
Let's start with our traditional questions: tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what were you doing before tattooing, and how did your career actually begin?
- My name is Juan Pablo, and I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. I started tattooing before finishing school, in an irresponsible and precarious way. I did tattoos on my friends from the hood. It was not until 2013 that I began to professionalize my career. It was a long journey, but it was definitely worth it.
Who was your mentor? Were there any difficulties in the beginning?
- Back then, in my country, things were a little bit different; there wasn’t much access to information, and tattooing was set aside and sheltered for a small group of selected people who had no intention of sharing their knowledge, especially if you were a poor kid from the hood. That’s why my tattoo journey was totally self-taught. I learned by making bad tattoos for those friends who sacrificed themselves for the cause—friends who believed in me and trusted that something good could come out of it someday. I learned by asking every time I got tattoos from artists I liked, but I never had the chance to get an apprenticeship with a mentor.
For you, is tattooing an art, a job, or something else?
- I think tattooing has a bit of both. Without question, it’s a job with measurable parameters and clear rules, but nowadays it could also be an art where each one tries to develop a personal spirit inside tattooing and reflect an identity in every piece.
Your works are something special! You combine the technique of traditional tattooing, but your themes are by no means traditional. Tell us about your style. What features of your work do you personally emphasize?
- I’m a slave to fantasy, especially to grimdark. I’ve consumed this kind of content since I was a kid. I was introduced to LOTR and D&D at 10 years old, and that changed the way I look at things forever. Nowadays, Warhammer, Berserk, and Dark Souls influence my imagination when it’s time to draw.
What designs are your favorites? How do your projects come to life?
- I have the pleasure of saying that I enjoy every single tattoo I do since I have the luck to have clients that share this taste in fantasy with me. They always come up with great ideas, but my favorite projects are definitely back pieces and big projects where I can take drawing to the limit and add all the details I want.
What is the most important aspect of tattooing for you?
- Sincerely, respect. If you respect tattooing, you will draw, paint, and do things right. If you respect your clients, you’ll give them the best of you. If you respect your colleagues, you will never step on or steal what isn’t yours. If you respect yourself, you could do something real and original.
Do you have favorite tattoos, clients, projects, or perhaps some unusual stories in your career?
- As I mentioned before, my favorite tattoos are back pieces and long projects that take many sessions. I think this ritual takes both of the people involved to extreme levels, generating an intense experience and an unbreakable bond through time. A memory, a connection. Lots of times I’ve told my clients, who start projects like these, that they’ve started the ritual of becoming adults. Even though it’s always as a joke, it ends up being a very realistic metaphor because after all that crying and bleeding, you’re not the same anymore.
Do you travel a lot? Where have you been already, and where do you feel most comfortable?
- I don’t travel as much as I would like, but I hope to change that soon. I’ve been in different locations in my country and also in Argentina. Last year, I went tattooing for the first time in Europe and visited countries such as France, Belgium, and Italy. In France, I had the privilege to feel very comfortable with some Chilean friends, but in Italy, even though I didn’t have that kind of contacts, the boys in the three cities I visited made me feel at home.
What about tattoo conventions? How many awards do you have? And what convention was the most significant for you?
- I didn’t have much interest in participating in conventions until now. Unfortunately, where I live, tattoo events usually have some kind of unfavorable situations. Many Chilean tattooers have stayed away from those events, specifically the ones that do traditional tattoos, as some conventions here don’t even consider having the category. Recently, I was lucky to participate in the Wild Tattoo Show in Namur, which was really incredible to me. So, I went back to Chile pretty motivated to participate in an event where I won my first prize, the category traditional tattoo.
Many artists, when answering questions about sponsorship and proTeams, talk about their efforts to influence this part of the industry. You collaborate with several tattoo brands, so tell us what sponsorship means to you?
- I am very grateful to those who support my work, particularly with brands that really have an interest in tattoo growth. If anyone is looking forward to working with me, you can send me a message.
How do you assess your popularity? And in your opinion, how can it be measured?
- I think it’s just a result of my constant work. I’ve been almost 15 years obsessed with drawing and creating something real. I’m always trying to draw new stuff, trying to solve with intelligence, studying different types of art expressions to increase my cultural capital. I consider people like my work because they can translate to a magical world with mysterious creatures. We’re related in that; nerds are all over the world.
Many successful tattoo artists strive to share their acquired experience. Tell us if you have any such activities in your life and for whom they are.
- Recently, I published my first sketchbook. For me, this is an important milestone in my life. In this book, I share a big part of my experience through all the drawings I’ve been creating since 2018. My main goal is helping those who really love tattooing to solve an idea or maybe generate a new one. Right now, I have the intention to share a class or a seminar in digital illustration and flash making for tattooing, but this is just being cooked.
What is the most important thing in your career as a tattoo artist? What goals do you set for yourself?
- My main goal is to contribute something real and tangible to tattooing. Tattooing saved my life and taught me to value myself. It showed me that I am good for something and that people also liked what I did. I want to give back to this job all it gave me.
Share your creative plans for the near future.
- I have tons of projects on my task list, but I wish to travel to tattoo around Latin America. I’m in debt with neighboring countries.