It's like techno rootkit viruses have invaded the skin and cyberpunks are out on the street screaming "Hack the planet" to a soundtrack of Aphex Twin and Lords of Acid. Circuit boards have been embedded into the body while Noh masks hang, suspended in the air, like holograms from another planet. This is the type of imaginative force behind the work of Julian Llouve. It's surreal, and warped...like Neuromancer come to life. The dystopian merges with vivid colors in glitch form to illustrate a dream world that you can have forever marked onto your skin. Julian was kind enough to sit down with us to expound on where these visionary pieces flourish from.
How did you get into tattooing? Was it what you always wanted to do?
A close friend who was already tattooing professionally, got me into tattooing. He kinda showed me the ropes. I started tattooing my thighs shortly after then eventually my roommates. I originally wanted to make music full time but tattooing became my full time gig. It drove me to create pieces that people loved, and consumed all of my time. Music is still one of my hobbies, I play as much as I can these days.
How has your aesthetic or style changed over the years? What artists, visuals, movies, music, etc. inspire you? Who are your heroes?
Over the years, I got bored tattooing with only black ink. I started getting inspired by futuristic movies and sci-fi imagery, using the colors that stood out to me. I am inspired by dystopian movies and nonlinear experimental music. I can really appreciate the beautiful chaos of certain sounds and visuals. The skill it takes to sculpt and collage a piece together from the discord of it all is something that influences me. I would say some of my heroes are Terry Gilliam, Tim Hecker, Terrence Malick, and William Gibson.
A lot of your work is very psychedelic. Do you consider yourself a surrealist? What is it about psychedelic visuals that fits with your personal artistic philosophy?
Surrealism and the disorderliness of dreams are something I’ve admired. I took a class on the stream of conscious, and I’ve always appreciated artists who were able to come up with original ideas without thinking too much. I started glitching images and warping them on a laser printer because of its otherworldly effect. The visuals I come up with are a form of “automatic writing” because I believe you are able to discover so much in the free play of thought.
What do you like to do when you’re not tattooing? How do you spend your vacations or down time?
I’m usually making music on my down time. Ive started my own collection of synthesizers and electronic instruments that I mess around with although, I have a feeling I’ll be investing all my time in the new studio I’m about to open.
What do you love or hate about New York City?
New York City attracted me because of its intensity. Many people here aren’t afraid to be authentic to who they really are. That encompasses everything about the human experience. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I guess something I dislike, is how cutthroat it can be, sometimes it’s a little too real. One thing I do love to do here is walk to the middle of the Williamsburg bridge, and face both Manhattan and Brooklyn as the wind forcefully tries to knock me down.
Any plans for 2018?
I have been on the road for a while so Im finally taking a break from traveling. For now the only plans I have are finishing up creating my studio in Brooklyn and focusing on tattooing more surreal imagery.