Sandry Riffard is a master of the macabre. His dark, black and grey, gothic skulls are realistic, detailed, and frankly, fucking terrifying. Working out of his own studio, Au Dela Du Reel Tattoo, French artist Riffard is The Skull Guy. His boney creations lunge out of the darkness, or leer ominously, and they're real as can be.
Riffard's skulls are powerful because of their firm roots in realistic oil painting techniques. Every single visual detail is taken into consideration — the shape of an oculus arch, the stippled and cracked nature of how bone ages. He has a handle on lighting that makes his tattoos seem utterly photographic.
His clients' skin looks like we've stumbled upon the catacombs. Skulls pile, bones break, teeth shatter — we are truly in hell here, folks. The fact that Riffard can so truly capture this dark subject matter in such a realistic way is otherworldly. We wonder, did he maybe make a deal with the devil himself?
Realism is a tightrope. Walking it is a fine line between perfection and terrible failure. We all know what skulls look like. They're a part of us, they're a part of anatomy, they're a part of Halloween — we gaze upon them constantly, they're their own special motif by this point. So going realistic means you better know what the fuck you're doing. A misstep is all the more obvious because of the realistic, easily recognizable nature. Riffard proves he's a master tight rope walker over and over again. His tattoos look like someone took a photo and pasted it right onto his clients.
Follow Riffard over on Instagram, and see more of his skulls. His other work is just as fantastic, and plays to his other realism strengths.