Felix Gardell’s striking new artwork features King Carl XVI Gustaf holding a Dala Horse and a tube of Kalles Kaviar (smoked cod roe that is popular in Sweden), topped off with an elk horn hat.
The Stockholm resident revealed it to the world earlier this week with a post on his Facebook page captioned ‘Belated congratulations King, 18 days after you turned 70’.
Gardell told The Local that the original idea was to simply pay tribute to the King's 70th birthday, but it soon snowballed to become the ‘most Swedish tattoo ever’.
“Someone came up with the great idea that I should get a tattoo of the King, but it took about a year before we got it done,” he said.
“Then we came to the conclusion that we should do the most Swedish tattoo ever. So on the same day we were about to do it, the tattoo artist said ‘What the hell, we’ll add a tube of Kalles, a Dala horse and an elk hat’,” he added.
According to Gardell, reactions have so far been positive, though he wasn’t sure how well non-Swedes would grasp the concept.
“My friends think it’s really cool. To start off with they said I’m an idiot, but with a bit of a gleam in their eye,” he explained. “The tattoo is very Swedish. I reckon only Swedes and people who live in Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Finland will understand it, but if someone asks I’ll absolutely take the time to explain it.”
Felix Gardell. Photo: Personal
As for how he may feel about the tattoo in the future, Gardell insists there will be no regrets.
“I’ve had a lot of the typical comment that I’ll regret it, but I just say no, no I won’t. I thought about it for a year before I got it. I don’t regret anything about the mess on my body.”
Tattoos are hugely popular in Sweden. In 2014 the country was said to be home to the world’s most-inked population outside of tribal societies, while comedy tattoos are also common.
A famous case occurred last year, when a 24-year-old Swede woke up with Justin Bieber’s name inked on his buttock after a drunken night out.