Ana and Camille create work that is like finding a secret, hidden spot..a paradise of flourishing sentimental value, true love, and everlasting beauty. They bring the aspect of collaboration to a whole new level within tattooing: working together as creative life partners, their oeuvre is a blend of skin, sweet tears, and ever thriving blooms...a reminder that true romance and bliss does exist.
Can you talk a little bit about your background? Did you always want to be artists as children, did you go to art school, etc.?
A : I grew up in a family of architects and have always been surrounded by art books, my mom took me to all the exhibitions she could find in our small Siberian town in Russia. That wasn’t a very common parkour for someone who grew up in 90’s Russia so I was really lucky to have that education. Later I studied graphic design in Saint-Petersburg and then graduated at an art school in France.
C : I didn’t have an artistic education from parents even if they are very curious people, but I have always been interested in art on my own and I grew up with a pencil in my hand. So, I decided to enter into an art school when I was 17. As long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by all that could be added on a body in order to modify it. When I was a kid, I drew giant dragons and snakes on my arms with colour markers, I remember I felt stronger with all these scribblings on me. Now that’s permanently the case.
How did you two meet, and why do you both work together? What is the process like collaborating?
C : It’s all about a love story. We met in art school, Ana started her first year in France. Soon we wanted to do things together. We became partners in work and in life at the same time. As Ana was a tattooist in Russia before arriving in France and me...I wasn’t satisfied with the quite abstract concept of my work in the art school. I started to think about elaborating our tattoo project which is more connected to reality. At school I was working on the relationship between body/identity so tattooing naturally become one of the subjects of my research. I love to find the ideas, assemble them. In our duo I am behind the social media, constructing our visual identity, I am developing some additional projects and also always looking for new ideas for tattoo designs.
A : I think we are completing each other. I adore the manual work and have a lot of patience, I really enjoy the moments of concentration when I make a tattoo. Camille didn’t even succeed to finish her first handpoked tattoo she started on me once. So I guess she’s much more into creating new ideas, managing social media and the communication around it- things I am not familiar with.
How did you, Ana, get into tattooing and why was it something you were drawn to ?
A: I used to study graphic design but have always been attracted by craft, I wanted to have a special manual skill and needed to be physically involved in a creative process. So after graphic design I went into art school and was directly interested with hand printing techniques and sculpture, especially clay. So tattooing for me is wavering between my major interests: the image, design, plastic arts and crafts. For me it relocates frontiers between genres. In the beginning I didn’t feel a particular interest for the tattoo industry, I was more into the research of a perfect match between the images I like and the human body.
Who are your artists heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that you feel influence your artis- tic output?
A : An inexhaustible source of inspiration for me are macabre Flemish paintings, especially still lifes of Frans Snyders and Jan Fyt, a lot of surrealist artists like Yves Tanguy and Dorothea Tanning. I like surrealism for the attention to details, dark humor, enigmatic and magical feeling it gives to a viewer. Since I make tattoos, going to a museum is like chasing- besides the pure aesthetic pleasure I always look for elements I could catch and use for the next tattoo design.
C : We both are attracted in all matters in which Art may be involved, Art History and techniques. I am passionately interested in painting, with a kind of wonder for details. Our work is heavily inspired by Romantiscim: Artemisia Gentileschi, Rubens, Ingres and Delacroix are my big favorites.
Paris has a wealth of artists and culture within the history of the city. Can you talk about the tattoo com- munity of Paris, and how it is different/special from others? Beyond Paris, where is your favorite place to be and why?
C : In fact, we don’t really feel inserted into the community of tattooists in Paris. We briefly know a few shops because Ana is guesting in some of them. It’s all about opportunities, meetings with different people. In a way, we are outsiders also because we are currently living in Caen which is a city 2 hours away from Paris near the sea. So, we are more used to the life in a smaller town, «en province». I really appreciate the way of living here. Caen is the city in France where there are a lot of tattoo artists for the number of inhabitants and all the shops are quite similar with no proper identity. Once we asked a guest at a local shop and they asked us not to tattoo our designs but to tattoo infinity signs and small carpe diem because they had too many requests, it’s crazy! I mean this is not necessarily a bad thing because it’s cool that the tattoo industry exists and develops here in France, the place where it had always been stigmatized. That proves there is still some improvement to make and work out tattooing and ensure its evolution. To me, tattooing is a very positive thing, very beautiful. So to keep drowning in this ocean of same designs or not to show that other forms exist to people, it means to close tattoing in itself. It’s challenging to find a way to show people that there are a multitude of styles and universes, and to propose something different even if we are not revolutionary. We do what we like to do.
A: I am an explorer for the moment, the tattooing helps me to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet and go to places I wouldn’t normally go. Being constantly on the road doesn’t give me a feeling of belonging to the Paris tattoo scene more than to any other city. All my guest spots have been great so far and I am still discovering European tattoo environments; trying to visit small private studios and big tattoo shops as well.
Do either of you have an artistic philosophy ? What motivates you to create art and why is it important to you?
A : I make art first of all because I enjoy the whole process in my own work. I feel excitement when I search for images and ideas; later when sketching brings those elements together into a complete form I start a new project, it’s a ongoing process. When someone wants my drawing as a tattoo it’s a powerful and meaningful moment for me which gives the sense to the work.
C : I feel there is no particular message in our work, it’s mainly emotional, soft-hearted and sentimental. For me it’s all about feelings and this is the way we chose to express them. We try to stay very sincere and keep enjoying working together.
Beyond tattooing/creating art, what do you both like to do in your spare time? What do you do on vacation?
A : I can’t really separate my time for tattooing and something else cause since I am serious and very passionate about it, everything seems to be connected to creation and don’t really need to interrupt the process. I hope to go back to sculpture one day and find a connection between these two activities.
C : It’s permanent vacation because it’s a pleasure to create and we don’t considerate tattoing as a full time job. I love to share a drink with my friends. But when we move we love to go to mountains or to the sea and just shut down phones and everything to find ourselves.
Are there any plans you have for 2019 that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, merch releases, etc
C : Yeah sure! We will continue to travel in Europe, come back to Italy, go to Spain, we also dream to go to USA: this is a country where vision and practice of tattooing seems to be quite different from here, and I am sure we have a lot to learn there. We think about opening our own shop but we don’t where/when. We already have a name Vague à l’âme. I want a safe place for everyone who wants to get tattoo and it would probably be a pluridisciplinary actvities space, a bubble where exciting things happen. For me it makes all sense to open this shop in a small town like Caen which is near and surrounded by rural areas, because this kind of city needs openminded and inclusive spaces, especially in the current climate.
A: I would like to work more with ceramics and release some ‘tattooed ‘ utilitarian objects, like a full tattoo suit for a vase. I think it could be cool to extend our practice to other mediums and surfaces. And of course I would like to evolve my tattoo technique and do large scale pieces.