Tom of Tattooland: Dublin Artist Inks Queer History Series

A Dublin-based tattoo artist has embarked upon an exciting Tom of Finland-inspired project celebrating queer history and subcultures.

Tattoo design inspired by Tom of Finland : black and white drawing of a man wearing a harness

If you’ve never heard of Tom of Finland, the pseudonym of Finnish artist Touko Valio Laaksonen (best known for his stylised hyper-masculinised homoerotic fetish art) here’s the leather-clad low down:

From an early age, Laaksonen (May 8 1920 – November 7 1991) had an appreciation for the male form. Over time he progressed from surreptitiously sketching the male labourers he saw as a boy to creating images of extreme hyper-masculinity that we recognise today of ‘butch’ men in uniform: sailors, lumberjacks, policemen, construction workers.

Tom’s fondness for uniforms (including the leather and denim ‘uniforms’ of the S&M subculture) represented a desire to display a rugged queer masculinity at odds with the prevailing ideas of time of gay men as passive and effeminate.

Laaksonen would later say that his interest in uniformed men stemmed from encounters with German Wehrmacht soldiers stationed in Finland during the 1940s. “In my drawings I have no political statements to make, no ideology. I am thinking only about the picture itself. The whole Nazi philosophy, the racism and all that, is hateful to me, but of course I drew them anyway—they had the sexiest uniforms!”

(Despite only comprising a small percentage of his body of work, Laaksonen’s images of men in Nazi uniforms were a source of controversy during his career. Critics targeted a supposed “flattering visual treatment” as an indication of the artist’s latent fascist sympathies, leading Laaksonen to later disavowed these works.)

Whatever one’s opinion on Tom of Finland, the impact on the queer cultural landscape is evident. Laaksonen’s images have been referenced in The Simpsons, turned into a series of stamps and a movie, not to mention countless exhibitions, clothing lines, discussions and in German Ferrerioa’s case, tattoo tributes.

Argentina-born tattoo artist German Ferrerioa has steadily being building a reputation as a one of city’s hottest artists (with a particular fondness for The Simpsons) since starting work at Dublin’s Ink Factory.

A self-described “Old School” fanatic, Ferrorioa’s usual tattoo style is Traditional but a new project sees him tattooing a series of Tom of Finland-style images in a nod to queer cultural history.

I caught up with Ferrorioa (who incidentally graced the cover of GCN this time last year) to discuss the inspiration behind the series.

Hi German! Where did the idea for your Queer History Tattoo series come from? Was the idea based around stylistic choices – like a desire to do Tom of Finland-style retro tattoos – or was it for other reasons?

Basically, I just want to project in my designs the beauty of the male body, using different gay subcultures as inspiration, but little by little I want to be able to do designs for the entire LGTB community.

There are different artist that inspire me and one of the biggest ones is, of course, the one and only Tom of Finland.

Do you have specific queer events/ characters ready to tattoo? If so, who/ what?

I have different queer designs available, and I love to design custom tattoos for my customers, so anybody with cool ideas is more than welcome to contact me!

I like to do any kind of designs, but lately different customers and friends are asking me to tattoo on them scenes that represents their favourite fetishes, and I really love to do them!

Is there an image/flash you’re most eager to do? Do you have a series prepared, or are you doing up images/ flashes as the ideas hit you?

I draw whenever I have available time, and most of the time I prepare designs of whatever is in my head that day. But definitely the designs I want to tattoo the most are my sexy men flashes.



What’s the most NSFW tattoo of the series?

I usually do sexy designs, and not a lot of explicit sexual ones… but…. I have a nice flash available with six completely explicit designs available for tattoo, so any person interested can contact me to check the designs.

Do you have any plans to exhibit the finished collection of Queer History pieces?

Yes, I’m starting a new collaboration project next to my friend and amazing photographer Babs Daly, and the result is going to be a printed version with all the drawings. We are looking for male models to volunteer for this amazing idea, all kind of bodies and styles. I always use as a reference guys from internet, but for this project I want to draw people that I can talk and spend time with them so I can translate their personalities into the drawing.

Any volunteers can contact me to be part of this.

Why do you think queer people are so into tattoos?

Nowadays most of the people are into tattoos, queers or not. But what I see now is that people are more open minded, and they feel free to express very private and intimate situations with a tattoo.

Sex is something that we all do, and we love to do, and getting a tattoo related to that I think is amazing. So, if you like a hairy ass I can tattoo you one on your arm so you can have it for the rest of your life!


German Ferrerioa works at The Ink Factory, 15 Wellington Quay, Dublin. You can check out his work here, or for booking, visit

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.