Ukiyo-e Meme Machine: Interview with Tattoo Artist Brindi

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Ukiyo-e Meme Machine: Interview with Tattoo Artist Brindi

In this interview with tattoo artist Brindi we get an in-depth look at his vivid artwork.

With vivid colors, the surreal world of Brindi's creations come to life on each patch of skin that passes through his fingers. Seamlessly blending the antique artwork of 17th century Ukiyo-e paintings with the vibrant pop culture of the 90's and more, Brindi's pieces are stunning. Immediately eye catching through fluorescent tints and tones, the chroma only highlights the absolutely incredible imaginative force behind Brindi's artistry. Like The Holy Mountain meets Akira Kurosawa, each piece is an entire world of it's own built from a vast cosmos of inspiration. He was kind enough to give us an in-depth look behind his work in this exclusive interview for Tattoodo. 

How does it feel to carry on a family tradition of tattooing? Did you know as a kid that being a tattoo artist was what you wanted to do? 

I don't think we can speak of a "family tradition". My dad owns a tattoo shop but only does piercings, like my sister. Having this common passion with my family is great though. It brought us even closer. As a kid, my dream was to be a drawer. Tattooing naturally came up as an option, since my dad and grandfather always had many tattoos.

A lot of your work is really surreal and psychedelic. What inspires your tattoos? What are your favorite artists, books, or films?

I'm inspired by many things, but I would say the main ones are ukiyo-e, memes, The Simpsons and 1990-2000's tattoo style. Various artists definitely inspired me at some point in my carreer, like Marcin Aleksander Surowiec, Ichibay, Keuns. I'm not really fond of reading, I don't have a specific book in mind. As to movies, my dad used to own a video rental shop during my early childhood, so I got to watch many. As a result, I like many different styles : 70's French cinema, horror movies (Braindead and Bad Taste from Peter Jackson are my favourites), 90's action movies (Van damme, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Jacky Chan etc...).

Many artists struggle with finding their style, but your artistic voice is incredibly clear. How did your style evolve over time and what advice can you give to other artists?

I guess my style is just a mix of everything I like, and I try to bring new elements in every tattoo, which is not always easy. One cool thing with being a tattoo artist is that our customers come to us with ideas, which gives us a source material from which we can create. This teamwork leads to unique results. Almost all of my creations come from one basic idea from the customer. For me, it's an infinite source of creativity. If I could give advice to people who want to find their own style : do what you like without trying to please everybody, have fun for yourself, always work using reference, and try to master certain classics like snake, dragon, peony, skull etc...

What is the tattoo community like in Toulouse? Why did you decided to open your own shop there?

The tattoo community in Toulouse pretty cool, I got to be friends with local artists. These relationships feel healthy and relaxed, no competition.
I studied here for one year, ten years ago, and I liked the city. That's why I chose to come back. I also feel like people here are quite educated to the tattoo world. Some legends work or used to work here too, like Tin-tin or Guy Le Tattooer. Beyond that, I wanted my shop to be in a big city, preferably with an airport so my customers could come easily, even from far away.

Intellectual property is a really important issue right now, and recently someone took one of your pieces and copied it. How do you deal with something like that? Do you think there is a way to respectfully recycle art?

There was a bit of a misunderstanding with this story. Nobody stole one of my designs, I was the one being accused of stealing it. I felt like I had to react to this accusation. Actually, for this flash that I did of a "banana shark", I was inspired by a 4chan meme from 2013, so I didn't invent it, but nor did the guy who accused me of stealing it from him. Other than that, it happens that people copy some of my designs, but honestly, I don't really care. I know I have the paternity of these ideas. We can't do anything about it anyway. When you post something on the internet, that can happen. When it does happen, I generally don't bother reacting.

What is your tattooing philosophy? What do you think is the responsibility of an artist? 

I have a genuine love for tattoo, so if I had a philosophy, it would be to just to take it higher and try to bring new things, while honoring the former styles.

My responsibility is also to honor the people who gave me the love for this job, as well as certain values which impacted my personal life in a positive way.

What do you like to do when you’re not tattooing? If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be?

When I'm not tattooing, I spend a lot of time on the internet. I always loved online gaming, mainly FPS, and these days, I spend around 4 hours a day playing Player Unknown's Battleground; Fortnite sucks.

My second passion is about making videos, more or less funny. If I was not a tattoo artist, I would probably try to do something in that field, like scriptwriting.

Any plans or hopes for 2018? Guest spots, events, conventions, collabs, or new materials/techniques on the horizon?

In 2018, I want to work abroad. I'm starting with Italy next month. I will also try to work in Berlin this year, and why not Bruxelles. Next year, I want tro try Taiwan and Hong Kong. Stay tuned!

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