Atli Jarl Martin is a madman—a metalhead, trucker, barman and tech aficionado. He also may be the most hardcore ThinkPad fan on Earth. We knew this already but last September he took it to the next level. While attending IFA in Berlin as a guest of Lenovo, Atli got inked. Think-Inked. We spoke to him from his home in Hveragerdi, Iceland to get the full story.
OK, first question. When and where did you get your first tattoo? How old were you?
I always wanted a tattoo. From the age of seven, if I recall correctly, but I waited a very long time until I was 25. My first (and biggest) tattoo represents the metal album that influenced me more than anything else in the world. It was not spur of the moment. I got it at the right time. I love it.
Did you have any apprehension when you got that first tattoo--not for the pain (it does hurt, right?) but on the off-chance you would regret it later?
No, never. I was absolutely certain I wanted this homage on my arm. As the saying goes: “No pain, no gain.” But getting tattooed is not painful. It is a slight irritant physically but watching it becoming a part of oneself is miles more gratifying so the pain doesn't really venture into the whole deal.
I don't have a tattoo but I get the sense people who do have a special bond with one another despite being strangers. Is that true?
No. I have no bonds with other people that have tattoos. My ink is entirely my own. I get them to commemorate certain events in my life. For now I have my metal album, the Decepticon logo and the ThinkPad logo, which I placed on a strategic part of my arm that I can build on. I've designed a whole arm art that portrays the ThinkPad in its entirety. So what's next for me is building on that tattoo.
Interesting. So before we ask you about the ThinkPad tattoo—which we're still in awe of—take us back to the beginning. When did you first fall for ThinkPads and how did it happen? (Answer carefully. We'll be psychologically analyzing every word with the knowledge it led to the tattoo!)
Good lord...am I doomed? Well, falling for ThinkPads wasn't hard. I serviced all these ugly white/beige desktops, run-of-the-mill desktop workstations. All of a sudden we had a freaking mobile device that could do everything the big, bulky, ugly devices did. I was not only impressed by the performance but the black, boxy, all-business looks of ThinkPad. In 1999 I got myself a 390X, which was at that time one of the most expensive computers you could buy. It was worth every penny. I still have it and it runs like a dream.
Oh man, it still runs 16 years later? So how extensive is your ThinkPad collection now?
My ThinkPad collection now incorporates pretty much all the breakthrough models, including the 701C from 1995, but I mostly collect the T/X series. Of course, I've got almost all the W Series, which are my favorites. I have about 65 ThinkPads overall, all the usual ones plus the Helix, Yoga and a ThinkPad 8 tablet. I've also just purchased a ThinkStation P500, which will outlast me by some 30 years!
Maybe so—those things are tanks. OK, now take us back to that night in Berlin. You were attending the big IFA conference as Lenovo's guest so I have to believe you were "under the influence" of all our brand superpowers. Did you land in Berlin with the intention of getting a ThinkPad tattoo or did it occur to you while you were there?
The IFA conference—or really the beautiful company I had there with my fellow Lenovo INsiders—re-sparked the idea of a ThinkPad tattoo (which I had planned for a long time). I kinda thought out loud that I should find a tattoo parlor during one of our fine meals and presto!—there was a parlor nearby. Getting a tattoo in Berlin requires you to sign a very lengthy agreement where even your passport is scanned in but it got done and Adam, a traveling artist, did the deed. It was a wonderful night.
What was Adam's reaction when you told him you wanted a ThinkPad logo on your arm? Did he feel your forehead for signs of fever?
Haha, no! He just said. “Oh man, a logo. That means very straight lines and that’s hard!”
Nice. I trust you didn't go to the tattoo parlor alone--did any of your friends from Lenovo INsiders accompany you? #PeerPressure
Yes, even [Lenovo INsiders coordinator] Yuszela accompanied me. But Jasmin got the photo duties during the session. Zero peer pressure, everybody was just having fun with the whole thing. I'm extending it this month, whereas I have designed it to be like a snapshot of a bottom-right area of an actual ThinkPad, ending in the Lenovo logo on top. A ThinkPad half-sleeve of sorts.
Impressive. You realize even our CEO got wind of your tattoo--what were the reactions like from your friends and colleagues?
They were not at all surprised that I did this. And my daughters think it's kinda cool.
Needless to say, you've reserved a place for yourself in Lenovo folklore--The Man With the ThinkPad Tattoo. Lenovo employees have an awful lot of pride for our company but you've managed to outdo us all. We salute you, Atli. Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story.
My pleasure, good sir!
Atli is a member of Lenovo INsiders, our elite program for Lenovo superfans. You can follow Atli on Twitter here. Learn more about the metal festival he helps organize here and the craft bar where he works here.
Gavin O’Hara is Lenovo’s Brand Newsroom Lead.