Hard work pays off – that’s what Tattoo Artist Beni Van de Rutter has learned on his hard way of life. After his career as a motocross pro, the loss of a loved one, he has now made a name for himself in the tattoo scene and lives his life by his own rules.
Beni could you tell a little bit about yourself and your biography?
I have to back up a bit. In school I was not very well-behaved, if you want to put it like that, I was a so called “stritzi”. So, my interestings in learning was quite limited in these days. I was more or less an “outsider”. The first thing I could really find my interest was motocross sports. During a holiday in Spain I made my first contact with motorcycles. We have been on a motocross track and by luck I could give it a ride. Thats when my passion was born immediately. At home I got a motorcycle from my father and the journey started. I joined the Red Bull athletes team, was sponsored by KTM and started winning races. I became Austrian champion, partizipated in world championships and all doors were open for me, but it wasn’t going to stay that way.
My mother took her own life, I was crashing badly while riding and so everything went into a different direction. I began asking myself questions about life in general. and I did not understand why why these things need to happen to me. Of course my sportive environment wanted to continue to support me, but suddenly the fire in me was somehow gone. I started going to clubs, partying around and my sports performance went down rapidly. I didnt recover from these events and could not continue my successes. The exceptional talent suddenly became the outsider from my school days again. I was more or less faced with nothing.
Then how did you get in touch with tattoos?
I was always drawing a bit, not very well, but with passion and I enjoyed it. After the dramatic experiences I felt the desire to get a tattoo. I again started to draw something and then went to the tattoo artist. In that environment I felt good again after a long period of time. The people were in a good mood, the women were beautiful. So it was something I had the feeling I could earn my living while beeing surrounded by good vibes. So I tried to get an intern there. After some attempts and rejections the owner offered me a chanceI there.
How was your apprenticeship time?
As you can imagine, you dont start tattooing right away. In the beginning you are more the person who has to take care that the studio is clean. But I knew that I didn’t want to swing the broom there for a long time, but that I would finally reach for the needle. So I practiced, day after day, night after night. I didn’t let up and after a year I started tattooing. I did that for five years.
So when did you decide to start your own business?
Somehow, over time, it just sort of worked out. As a globetrotter I tattooed many people on my travels and with time I gained more and more self-confidence. Together with my wife Yvonne we decided to go to the country side and to open our own studio on 200 sqm. There I got to know what it really means to run a business. Because then we simply had to take care of everything around it. The economic aspects, the pressure came up, everything was up to us.
How did you perceive your environment during this time?
Hard to say, but you can’t rely on your environment. 90% of the people around you start telling you what is not going to work. And if we’re honest with ourselves, it doesn’t matter. You’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for you. You’re not busting your ass for them, you’re doing it for you. It’s not their dream, it’s yours.
So what was it like being your own boss all of a sudden?
I remember the first days in our own studio. The first day someone directly walked into our shop, thank God. On the second day the phone rang, but on the third day there simply silence, noone entered and noone called us. Suddenly the doubts came up. Whether we had taken the right decision to open the shop in the middle of nowhere? Whether we were really ready for it, whether I had already made a name for myself so that this could work out? But it is quite normal to have doubts, but then you just have to get yourself down and trust yourself. It was the best decision I could make, because it also brought me closer to my family, or rather my sister.
How was your relationship with your sister?
Not too good for quite a long period. I always got the attention of my parents and our environment because I was successful in sports. When my mother died I did my own thing, honestly I had to struggle with myself. Then there was just my father and she was somehow felt by the wayside. One day she came to me because she wanted to finance her driving licence and needed money, so I hired her as a support. Today she is part of our team. If I hadn’t opened this studio, I would never have really got to know her and today, besides my wife Yvonne, she is my family and a wonderful artist.
If you sum up your path till now, what would you say?
I always wanted people to come to me because I am who I am and get tattoos from me, even if I’m located in the middle of nowhere. I also have just very small wishes for the future, everything should stay as it is. I still want to see a lot of the world and of course that our family grows a little bit more.
What is your greatest insight on your life path so far?
Hard work pays off. I never had much money, I wasn’t good at school, but that’s exactly what brought me to where I am today, because if you get everything in your lap, then you have no drive. You don’t get anything in life as a gift and that’s a good thing, because you have to have goals, you have to focus and realize them. And of course you have doubts, but just because you fight and give everything you can, you will be rewarded in the end. I am now doing something that makes me and others happy and I am very proud of that.