My artistic path and creative process.
When I was at Uni I learned my own concept of what’s art and what’s not. My art teachers would not even talk to me about tattooing! Parallel to my art studies I was starting to tattoo and I had the chance to adjust to the new and absorb all that knowledge. It helped to forge how I draw and tattoo today.
My very early drawings were pretty much copies of everything, from tattoo designs, to comics, portraits or even humble attempts at some fine art. It was the beginning and I was shooting in all directions. It was hit and miss. Some actually looked pretty good, when I managed to focus, but others, well, it’s a learning process.
At Art Uni I was introduced to different medias, and I ended up falling in love with soft pastels. It was a very experimental time and I used to get really dirty with my hands covered in coloured dust. It was fun! We were encouraged to use large pieces of paper and it was a great experience to be able to use a studio to improve your skill without having to worry too much about anything else. Exchanging tips with other artists was great and is something I still try to do today. We used to have models for anatomy studies as well as using photo reference for portraits or still life. But whenever we were given free rein, I would choose to do abstract art.
The abstract art was so much fun as I could play with colours and shapes as much as I’d like to, and the style of blending colours is something that I still use today. I graduated as a Bachelor in Design, despite the fact that during the last years of my course my teachers would say that it was more painting than drawing. My mentor was a painter! Well I guess in an art perspective that’s quite interesting! It didn’t bother me at all, as I felt I was doing something different.
My final project was pure drawing. Black ink on large brown paper. It was a synthesis of what drawing should look like, and I still think it’s all you need. I decided to study the main cultures that developed, and in some cases kept alive, the art of decorating the body permanently as tattooing.
Paradoxically, I used the ephemeral art of graffiti and elaborated a connection between these 2 different graphic worlds. But that’s a different story. Colours though, are what make life happy.
Because I became a tattooist, I felt a strong influence of the traditional tattooing style of drawing throughout the years, and I have to say, it was a long process until I could release myself from some of those patterns and again develop a more artistic and free approach to my artwork.
As for current artwork, I’m lucky enough to live in a world that allows art to exist, and artists to make a living out of it.
However, I’m sad about the poor approach human beings have towards wildlife and little respect towards the planet. After years of tattooing and drawing random subjects, and being affected by climate changes and watching the effects this has on all life on our planet, I felt that I should do something about it. Other than what we should do on an every day basis anyway, like recycling and eating less meat, among many other things, I decided to raise the awareness about the situation on our planet by choosing mostly animals that are facing extinction. So I choose endangered species as my main subject. It is an individual little step but I believe that if everyone does something, we have the chance to save life on our planet as we know it.
I prefer to work on paper, rather than canvas or other media. I believe it helps me to ‘translate’ when needed from paper to skin. Nowadays I mostly use coloured pencils and permanent markers for my drawings. My preferred size of paper is A3 (11.7 x 16.5 inches) but I also use A4 (8.3 x 11.7 inches).
Art can paint a prettier picture of nature. Art can express as many or more feelings as there are feelings to be felt. As Kandinsky pointed out, art can be higher than nature. And I like to add a magical, or as some people have said about my work, psychedelic twist to it. It bores me to death doing the common, repetitive subjects, and I tend to feel more motivated with unusual little ideas. I find freedom when I’m drawing and this makes life worth living.
But let’s get back to the art subject. That could be a long conversation and a very interesting one, and people would have their own opinions on what is and what’s not. We can find even more distinct concepts of what art is between artists and the public. Different medias are at different paces and new media emerging from time to time. Now, how would you describe art, if I ask you?
Tattooing, as we see it today, is a very new media, considering that tattooing as we know today is not much older than a hundred years. However, if we talk about it related to how many people have been practicing it, it is a media that has grown in importance amongst the ones that study it. Once we learn about the practice of tattooing and all the taboos, superstitions and eccentricities, as well as the technique, and the intrinsic meanings, I can assure you that tattoo is a form of art and that there are many tattoo artists doing what art should do: bringing beauty to our world, but mostly, breaking barriers. There will be individual and common barriers and personal and structural concepts, and it’s down to each individual, artist or not, to judge and deal with it in the way that suits them better. Now, I like to think that art is organic, and it flows endlessly and changes infinitely. Art is as organic as life. When I think of drawings, there are many elements that I like to consider, and I can’t deny the fact that human skin is the most unique canvas. Creating artwork as a tattooist can mean walking two different paths, with one leg on each. You will be tempted to do it as a job, when your true self is asking you to be yourself regardless.
My artwork is about freedom of expression, and it’s breaking my own concepts of what I call art. The art of creating myself.