I describe myself as an anarchist, feminist and nature and animal activist. Solidarity and being collectively together and the idea that another world is possible always gives me strength. I strongly believe that the personal achievements I have made so far are based on this approach.
Of course, the genetic talent I have for painting is also another factor that has had a strong effect on my success. Because I would not have begun making tattoos if I did not have any talent and familiarity about it.
My story began in 2000 by renting a little shop in Avsa Island to sell books and accessories. Back then, there were no more than 10 tattoo artists in Turkey. I was aware that there were only 3 or 4 tattoo artists in Istanbul in those days. I took my first steps with temporary tattoos and permanent make up. But shortly after that I realised that what I wanted to do was only permanent tattoos. By being engaged with permanent tattoos, the tattoo artists would constantly test their limits, take risks, and compete with themselves to do their best. Without a doubt there is also a secret rivalry among colleagues, but it was rather a positive rivalry that really got me excited. My jealousy has always been in a positive direction, in the sphere of solidarity and cooperation.
I have had studios in Avsa Island, Fethiye Oludeniz, Nisantasi and Besiktas in chronological order.
Afterwards, I followed international tattoo conventions and carried my experience with me abroad by being a participant in these international tattoo conventions. I was a participant in important conventions in various countries, such as Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, I was the first woman tattoo artists from Turkey that participated in certain conventions; ‘Dutch Ladies Tattoo Convention 2014’ in Harlem, Holland and also ‘Lady Ink Days 2017’ in Berlin, Germany.
I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. In South Africa, particularly The Soweto Tattoo Convention greatly contributed to my experience on working black skin.
In 2017 my book ‘Rebellion on Skin’ which researched tattoos on imprisoned women was published. The main styles I enjoy to work in are black shadowed realistic and watercolour but, in addition to these, I have experience with many other styles.
Tattoo art is sometimes directly related to harmony between the tattoo artist; one who makes the tattoo and the people who are getting the tattoo on their bodies. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have information about the style, methods, and character of the tattoo artist before you get a tattoo. The right harmony between the customer and the tattoo artist has a direct affect on the quality of the tattoo you will have. Lastly, I want to add that we carry on our works as Amazon Dövme in a studio run by myself and my husband Jonathan Payn in Besiktas, Istanbul.
Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was born and spent most of my life – when I wasn’t traveling abroad – I moved to Istanbul in early 2020.
Although I only started learning to tattoo after I moved to Turkey, where I am being trained by and am learning from Nimet Arıkan, I have been fascinated by tattoo art for as long as I can remember and have been collecting tattoos since the day I turned 18 (and was legally allowed to do so). I have been directly involved in the tattoo industry since 2017, when I started working as an assistant for Nimet Arıkan at international tattoo conventions, in South Africa, Germany and Thailand, and at various tattoo studios in Istanbul.
I have an artistic background and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in South Africa, where I worked in the television industry for over 10 years – first as a video editor and then as a graphic designer, illustrator and 2D animator. This experience definitely helped me develop my talent as a creative person, but working in a corporate environment and for a capitalist boss that didn’t care about the well-being of his workers became unbearable because of my anarchist political orientation and desire to be free and independent.
I have carried my anarchist ethics with me into my work as a tattooer and choose not to do a tattoo if I think it is beyond my skill level, if I have an ethical problem with the subject matter (anything racist/fascist or sexist, for example) or if I feel the customer is arrogant and disrespectful of our studio, the artists and our profession. This has meant that I may have progressed a bit more slowly as a tattooer than I could have, and meant less income for myself and the studio in the short term, but I strongly feel that my work as a tattooer must be consistent with my ethics and world view. There are far too many tattoo artists that will do any job, regardless of the subject matter or whether they have the appropriate skill level, just to make money and a name for themselves.
Contrary to this, I hope to build my clientele based on an honest and ethical approach, and to attract people who want to get a tattoo by me based on this and because they like the work I do and want to help me develop my talent.
The main style I am interested in practicing and developing at the moment is American traditional and old school, although I do dot work and small/minimal tattoos as well. In the future I would like to progress to neo-traditional.
Amazon Dövme was supposed to have a stand at the 2020 Saigon Tattoo Expo in Ho Chi Minh City, in
When we (Nimet and Jonathan) were in Phuket, Thailand, in January 2020 we were fortunate to meet with the insanely
"Amazon Dövme is a studio where art, solidarity and activism meet for me, I am happy to be a supporter."
"Nimet Arıkan took the time to listen to my personal needs and desires then did a fantastic job covering and working with a design around my scars as well as other tattoos and I would highly recommend her to anyone, to have a very relaxing tattoo experience."
Lara (South Africa)
"My dear friend, I think the best female tattoo artist is Nimet. I am proud of the fact that my 8 tattoos came from her hands. I want to get many more tattoos from you."
Ekim Coskun (Turkey)
"She is an artist that my wife and I have trusted and blindly surrendered ourselves to for years. Her workmanship is different, her friendship is beautiful. Even the tattoos she made years ago are still alive as if they were newly made! She is our first choice for our next tattoos."
Müzeyyen Semih Baskurt (Turkey)
"As a result of my long research, I feel really lucky that I had my first and only tattoo done by a beautiful person, a magnificent artist, Nimet Arıkan, who does her job with great love and devotion, about 5-6 years ago. Well done once again. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet a beautiful person like you.. What happened next? My whole family visited Nimet!"
Can Deniz Akgun (Turkey)
"I've been living with the tattoo you made on my eyelid at the Istanbul tattoo convention for 10 years. I will come to you again though :)"
"She tattooed our whole family. What can I say? 7 more just for me."
"The tattoo artist I went to years ago because she was very good and famous. Thank you so much for creating a miracle all over again by transforming my tattoo that I hated to look at."
Zahide Gulacti (Turkey)
"I had my first tattoo done by you on my back; I can say it still looks like the first day. If I remember correctly, it was 2012 or 2013. Again, good luck ."
Sinem Esmek (Turkey)
"Someone like me who is too controlling, trying to interfere in everything, listened carefully to my every request and did a great job, sending me away happy. Nimet is a medicine for the (in my opinion) too masculine and egotistical atmosphere of the tattoo community. It's only been two months since I got my tattoo done, but I can't wait to get the next one done here."
Ezgi hamzacebi (Turkey)
"A studio that can capture the intimacy of sister, brother-sister, where I have my father's portrait painted, which I will carry throughout my life without getting bored. Jonathan's expertise in old school tattoos should not be forgotten."
Ersin Çetin (Turkey)
"I would like to thank both Nimet and Jonathan for the attention to detail and patience they had with me and the work was lovely and precise."
"Dear Nimet, from whom I had my first and only tattoo, I convey my endless compliments to you every time I look at it. Thank you."
Gulce Iren (Turkey)
"I send my endless love and good wishes to my dear Nimet, who has signed her name with a wonderful work, instead of the image that has upset me for years due to Vitiligo on my leg."
Nese Aydin (Turkey)
"This is from 2015, I think you made my first tattoo in the old studio in Beşiktaş, so it has a very special place in me."
Emre Bicer (Turkey)
"A thousand thanks for giving life to my tree of life."
Emine Alpak (Istanbul, Turkey)
"I had my 2.5 year old twin boys had their ports done on my chest and back. I was very satisfied. I advise her."
Turgay Demir Doruk (Turkey)