Spotlight: Photoshop Style Tattoos By Xoil

When I came to my appointment with French tattoo artist Xoil at Rennes Tattoo Convention, I was expecting an aloof person.

That was because of his successful international career and work with luxury industries. But I was pleasantly surprised to meet a warm, fun and down to earth man and this was a great encounter.
Xoil’s real name is Loic Lavenu. Famous for his unique and outstanding graphic tattoos, he has catched the eyes of tattoo lovers and magazines from all over the world and made several guests in prestigious shops and tattoo conventions. He is currently working in the town of Thonons les Bains in the South of France in his shop Needle’s Side Tattoo. Let's get to know him in this interview and make sure to follow his Facebook page..

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Hello Loic, could you introduce yourself ?

My name is Loic Lavenu, also known as Xoil. I was born in a small village in the South of France where nothing interesting happened. There was no art school, no art life. I’ve been introduced to tattoo and seize the opportunity. The rest is a story of a lucky star and a lot of work, of course.

Your style is called « Photoshop » on internet : why ?

It is because of a Myspace page I’ve created years ago. I had a folder called like this with my artwork and people completely threw themselves into it. The name is a bit, let’s say it, rubbish but ironically, rubbish things are what usually work the best ! My style has been inspired by the work of Belgian tattoo artist Jef of La Boucherie Moderne : when I saw it first, I’ve decided that it was truly my thing.

photoshop deer
photoshop deer

What is your creation process ?

I ask my client a summary of what he wants and I do exactly the contrary ! (laugh) Actually, it is at the same time true and false. I try to induce ideas, colors and textures in my mind according to the client’s request and his whole life and then, I create what could be described as an allegory, a metaphor of himself on paper. Clients are giving me the global idea and I try to turn it into a powerful symbol that would transcribe their personality.

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apple
apple

Where do your interest and experience of collage is coming from ?

For me it is the most natural form of art : it is what you do at school as a kid. It is easy as hell and immediately you have a result that rocks ! I have started working in music and I was doing the posters for the shows. I am not really good at drawing and when I’ve decided to really tattoo my way six years ago, collage was obvious. You can easily set up an original and efficient composition, with sensations and emotions easy to understand. When you are working on a poster, the band’s identity need to be evident. It is the same for my clients. I’m trying to tell their stories without words.

mermaid inspired animal tattoo
mermaid inspired animal tattoo

You are mixing vintage elements and more modern ones : what are your references and inspirations for your tattoos ?

Unfortunately, I have some gaps in my art education. But when I was younger, I had the luck to met painter Sergio Ferro. I didn’t realized straightaway, but I have unconsciously absorbed his art. He has influenced my work and will do it again. I am truly honored to have met him and I love to talk about him to people. I also find my inspiration in traveling, going to new cities, meet new people. I also like the relationship with my apprentices : I teach them what I know but they also teach me things ! Working with other artists is the best thing to progress, for tattoo and also painting.

How do you see the job of tattooist nowadays ?

There are so rad aspects and those that are less cool … I’ve started tattooing 15 years ago and at that time everyone was just doing flashes. Now, tattoo art has exploded. Everyone is doing it, taking lots of apprentices who are doing sick things from the outset ! I don’t think it is bad that tattoo is getting popular. It has always existed, it is human history, it belongs to it. Everyone i shaving a tattoo ? That’s fine for me ! Now, it is a new challenge for artists : how to stand out from the crowd, how to deal with creation and business, how to make something stronger … That’s an hard situation, but I love it, I’m a bit of a Darwinist !

cosmos inspired deer
cosmos inspired deer

You have recently worked with Chaim Machlev : how did you meet him and how was your collaboration ?

I wasn’t expecting a meeting so exciting. He is someone really interesting ! I don’t believe in chance and we didn’t met by chance : our careers brought us to the same point. We get on well immedately. Our first collaboration piece is a great symbiosis between our two styles. For a beginning we have set very high standards I think ! It was the first tattoo of our client and he gave us carte blanche. I usually don’t think that tattoos are art, too much ties and dogmas, but for me, this one is because we really let ourselves go and did what we wanted. That was a perfect client. And I like to think that his piece is more installation art than a tattoo.

Collaboration piece by Xoil and Chaim Machlev.
Collaboration piece by Xoil and Chaim Machlev.

You have also designed a car for a famous French car brand : would you carry on this interaction between tattoo and design, maybe with other mediums, other industries ?

Sure ! I currently have a project with luxury Swiss watches. For the car, it was a big company and they limited me. For the watches, I am totally free. I have also contacts with Italien home designers. You will see that next year … I want to keep my tattoo identity, but I don’t fit into the tattoo industry. It kills my time for my family, my four children. I want to focus on big tattoos only that will truly rock, go on projects coherent with my wishes.

Xoil working on the design of the Peugeot 108 Tattoo.
Xoil working on the design of the Peugeot 108 Tattoo.
Xoil and the final design of the car.
Xoil and the final design of the car.

How do you see the future of tattoo ?

I hope it wouldn’t be too sterile and megalomaniac. I am really curious to see how it will evolve. Of course, it will overrun design and art. Tattoo artists need acknowledgement. Working with reputed artists will give them their letters of nobility, like a good contamination. Highbrow people need to stop seeing us as service providers but genuine artists.

What are your projects ?

I want to take time for my children, work at home. I will probably do an event by month with Chaim Machlev, work on more design. I want to have a private parlor, I think it is more relaxed. It really brings you to the original sense of tattoo, like those guys in Asia who tattoo in a hut and are almost shamans … You’re suppose to give magic with tattoos. It is a biological relationship between the artist and the client, full of emotions. You’re loosing it with a shop, with all the material aspects …

female figure
female figure

What would you like to say to someone who want to be tattooed by you ?

First and most important : contact my manager Cham ! (laugh) Send me an email. And, if you ike strange things, people that sing and play guitar and if you like chocolate, well, we could really do something good together !

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skeleton inspired bird in a suit
skeleton inspired bird in a suit
the pointing finger
the pointing finger

jentheripper

@JenTheRipper

Writer for art related medias. Fell in love with tattoo while researching for another passion, crime history. Travelling, admiring, sharing.

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