Screwing Censorship One Skull At A Time: An Interview with Matt Bailey

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Screwing Censorship One Skull At A Time: An Interview with Matt Bailey

A fan of satire and dark comedy, Matt Bailey gives us a little insight into his tattoo practice in this exclusive interview.

As a producer, curator and journalist I come across a great deal of censorship, which is both infuriating and, depending on my mood, hilarious. So, when I came across the work of Matt Bailey I was deeply satisfied. Middle fingers blazing to all internet trolls, tits out and big booties high, Matt's work is not only darkly humorous, it is also incredibly apropos to many of societies gloomier aspects. Succinct in both political and philosophical concept as well as aesthetic, the artwork he creates will make you laugh with glee in the face of every anal retentive web snob. 

How did you get into tattooing? Was it what you always wanted to do?

I can't say that it was ever really something I was working towards, until I realized that I could do it. I was already getting tattoos, and while being tattooed by Kola Hari, he asked me why I hadn't tried my hand at it. 
At the time, I didn't have a good answer, and working as a tattoo artist definitely beats doing freelance work, so it was a bit of a no brainer. 

How has your aesthetic or style changed over the years? Have you always had the very bold, graphic style that you have now? 

Like a lot of artists, my early work was very inconsistent in my early years. I didn't really have a direction or an idea in mind of what I wanted my work to look like.  While I was in university, I really took to relief printing, particularly woodcuts and lino blocks.  To cut a long story short, I basically stopped drawing for almost a year. By the time I returned to it, my drawings looked like woodcuts.

What artists, visuals, movies, music, etc. inspire you? Who are your artistic heroes, tattooers or not?

What a question! Too many to name, and I'd forget half of them. 
Top illustrators for my money would be: Jeffrey Alan Love, Becky Cloonan, Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley. 
Tattoo artists: Scott Move, Kola Hari, Henbo Henning, and Dan Sin
Movies: No Country For Old Men, Ninja Scroll, Blood: The Last Vampire and the Heavy Metal movie. 

A lot of your work has to do with telling those who believe in censorship to fuck off...which I love. Can you talk about how you deal with the social media habits of censorship? How do you think we can work to progress beyond the fear of nipples, sex, and the body?

Haha, I don't really see it going anywhere fast. There will always be conservative thought to do with nudity and genitalia. On the good days I get to feel like I'm helping to normalise it a bit. On the bad days, it feels like you're swimming up stream and whats the point?

You seem like a very politically involved/aware person...so what do you think is the responsibility of the artist? 

I don't think I'm any more aware than most people! I try to limit how much it bleeds into my work, as I'm not trying to make too much satire or commentary. On the other hand, who doesn't like seeing an. Image of a lynched kkk member? 

Beyond tattooing, what are you passionate about? What do you do on vacation?

I don't really have any, to be honest. I'm a bit of a workaholic, so art is all I've ever really been that passionate for. When we're on vacation, I just do my best to sightsee, art museums, and draw a bit less. That doesn't always work out though, haha. 

Any plans for 2018? 2020?

For 2018, hopefully finish the year? Haha. I feel very lucky to already be in a very privileged position both in recognition of my work, and to be working at Parliament Tattoo. Ideally by 2020 I'll just be doing the same stuff but better. When I look back at my work from two years ago it was crap, so I guess that I look forward to looking back on my current crap.

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