Cracked mind eggs, full moon faces, and chasmal portal doors dot the landscape of checkerboard floors and desert dunes. But although these lands, figures, and objects seem to descend from the masters of surrealism, they illustrate a deep sense of emotional reality. And this is now wonder, Inaki Aires considers his work the extension of a lifelong spiritual journey.
What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer and how did you get into tattooing?
I grew up in a very creative environment. Both my parents are graphic designers and most of their friends are artists or work in art related areas. So, most part of my education was based on pushing all limits to reach creative freedom. This added to having no TV or video games, mainly focusing on traveling, listening to all kinds of music, reading and going to the theatre/concerts/museums.
As for how I got into tattooing…after I decided to quit high school, in an act of rebellion and lack of self-consciousness, I quickly understood that I had to find a way to earn a living preferably with my illustrations or with what I always loved to do: drawing. So, I had this friend that was always inviting me to his place, where he’d be tattooing, and trying to get me to learn how to do it, until I did.
I’d never thought about tattooing until I met him. Until I was lucky enough to witness the blend of illustration and the skin.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that inspire you?
Besides my grandfather, who is a sculpture and a philosopher, and a few tattooist friends, what inspires me the most is music. It gives me the ability of letting myself go with what I’m feeling at the moment. When I put my headphones on I start my personal ritual and only then, with a clean mind, I draw.
Of course, as I said before, cinema, literature and all visual culture is crucial for me, but at the present moment, tattoos are what I love the most.
Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?
My work reflects on the kind of life I have, which is a spiritual journey. And this comes with many variants, everyday I try to know a bit more of the inner self, and everyday my drawings reflect more on it. What is wonderful is to realize that my clients come to me because somehow we share this interest on what is real or illusive, on mystery, on spirituality, on the sensitivity of the world and distorted egos, on ourselves. And this is both my life philosophy and the motifs for my work.
I have such respect for my work, and tattoos in general, so I want to break the commercial and conventional ideas and barriers of tattooing without depreciating the roots of tattoo culture.
Regarding success…When an artist doesn’t need to sign their work, when their work becomes their signature, when you can translate yourself clear and honestly into your work and everyone recognizes you, one could say it’s on the right track. This is also funny since tattooists don’t ever sign on somebody’s skin.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?
Can’t pinpoint the best advice anyone gave me, people are special and share special thoughts/advice in different ways. But as far as the best advice I can give, even though I don’t feel like I’ve experienced enough to do it, I’d suggest to run out of your comfort zone - both physically and emotionally. Travel within and outside.
You've traveled a lot...what is your favorite travel story? What is the best place you've ever been, and where on earth feels most like home?
I wouldn’t say I have a favorite travel story, all my travels were important in different ways…even the ones that are not so good are important. But the place where I feel the most at home is definitely where my family is, wherever it is, when I’m close to them it always feels like home.
Beyond tattooing/creating art, what is most important to you? What do you wish you had more time for?
Meditation and spending time with my beloved ones.
Do you have any plans for 2019 that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, projects, merch releases, etc?
I don’t really like to make any plans but I guess to keep on traveling around the places I haven’t been and exploring other art media is something that I’m working on for the future, as well as collabs with fine art artists and artisans.