Body of Poignant Prose: Tattoo Artist Maison Métamose
In this interview with tattoo artist Maison Métamose, the influences, motivations, and philosophies of his work are articulately expressed.
An artist known for his organic and often abstract work, Maison Métamose creates tattoos that curve around the body in a Chagall-esque dance of poetry and prose. An authentic appeal to the deepest desires and reactions within, Maison Métamose pulls the most human aspects of our natures out and embraces them in an emotive, ritualistic fluidity. In this interview he talks more about the influences, motivations, and philosophies of his oeuvre.
What is your artistic background? How did you become a tattoo artist?
I always wrote stories, from my youngest age. Abyssal visions books, with psychological and physical violence, until the transcendence of the being. Then, I began to picture it in comic books for many years. I was drawing my cathartic stories, obsessed by the fragmentation, transformation, mutation of the human body. It was my way to stay alive, catch beauty and crystallize my desires.
One day, I understood that the world I had created to survive would be my future prison. I had to face the world and connect with others. I wanted to discover all the lives around me and create from it. Personally, ink had been a beautiful way to go through a lot of things. From this point, tattooing became an evidence : I had to find an inner light, and transfer it to people.
How did you develop your style? Who are the artists you admire?
My style has been carved by hypersensitivity, sadness, curiosity and hope. These feelings made me compose a mind map with its human treasures as its shadows. A delicate violence combined to my most precious part : fragility. In other words, an equilibrium between the chaos and the best of each being (human, animal, vegetal..) on this planet.
I also evolved because of poetry. When I started tattooing, the person was giving me a story ; I was writing a poem, then I was translating the words into lines, points and faces. The writing part was the intellectual one, and the second one its graphical mirror. Now, I am more interested in the pure energie, the raw emotion ; but language of poetry deeply soaked my visual expression. It contains the heartbeat’s grammar part, but this is more implicit, because I am searching for the naked truth. I felt that a story could be told in one line, that’s why my style became more intuitive.
Your practice includes aspects of poetry, improv, photography, etc. How do you bring them together so gracefully? What is the process like to get a tattoo from you?
Indeed, all these faces constitute one and only prism. When I write, when I tattoo, paint or sculpt, it’s about the same thing : searching for the missing «morph» part (form in Greek) to the Metamorphosis (Métamorphose in french, which gives Métamose without this part). The name itself is in constant progress, nothing is frozen. This only can be found through connexion with others, through words, movement and silence. Deciphering my language requires to take the time for it : to pay attention to details and forget about what society made you learn. It’s about the essence.
People share something with me, only the d-day. It can be a a music, a poem, a souvenir, a photo, a perfume... whatever they want. Or nothing. Obviously, I am more interested in the way you talk to me about a thing than the thing itself. I always wonder what is the most precious thing I can offer to each one. I try to catch a movement, something dancing. That’s why creation can be either designed on the skin with a pen before, or straight with the machine. It all depends on the project, its echoes. It’s a process which needs to be brave, really focus on ourselves and trust each other. To forget any concept of failure, and to give everything right here. First of all, it’s a day with themselves : I give them the possibility to connect with their deepest being, without any boundaries.
How do you think your culture has affected your work? What is the Paris tattoo scene like?
My culture pushed me not to be afraid of the difference and people’s opinion. Matthew Barney (director of the Cremaster’s saga), Leo Carax (Holy Motors), Jodorowsky, Mamoru Oshii, Dave McKean, Taiyou Matsumoto, Nicolas de Crécy, Kim Ki-Duk, Kurosawa, Egon Schiele, Takeshi Kitano, Patrick Mario Bernard and Trividic, Satoshi Kon, Lars Von Trier, Henri Michaux, FJ Ossang, Roméo Castellucci... I grew up with these great inspirations. They all had/have a complete faith in their visions. They put their entire being in art ; a sacrifice and a transcendence in the same time. Somewhere between disappearance and illumination. I always had faith in what I do, and a part of these pure convictions is probably hearted from them. * * *
To be honest, I don’t know what to say about the Paris tattoo scene - I don’t know what to say about any «city scene». I am just interested in brut, naive or different art to feel vibrations, something not consensual. I will never be consensual. One day, I received this : «What you do is upsetting. I want to cry, smile and vomit at the same time !» ...And it’s only the beginning.
You do a lot of large, full body pieces. How does it feel to have clients that completely trust your vision? What is your philosophy behind creating tattoos?
People trust me because I consider the value of things, the value of our existences and how sacred are our bodies. They often write me few days, weeks, months after we met and tell me that they now feel complete, or «cured». I just made them realized or remembered how much they are beautiful. This is the heart of my philosophy.
When we create, I have faith and I feel that I am exactly at the right place at the good moment. We can do anything. It’s about freedom and respect. People trust me because I pay attention to their landscapes. I feel surfaces, observe moles composition, deviations, all these beautiful obstacles to transcend, trajectories, memories. There are also silences to respect on the skin. People trust me, because I always take the time for them to feel comfortable, we discuss without any clock above our heads. People trust me, because I don’t just put ink on different bodies for different stories : each tattoo is made to fit with each morphology, to express the beauty of each of them. It must reveal all what you already have. And sometimes, you don’t know it yet. A woman I tattooed told me : «Tattoo artists dress the skin. You undress it.»
Writing is a huge part of your process. Your IG bio includes the words: “chaos by finesse, to defend your beauty” and I love the idea that your tattoos are like delicate traces of armor. Can you tell us more about the poetry behind your tattoos?
An armor is a good protection, but the real protection only can be born by acceptance. Often, people get tattoo to build a dam between their being and the others. Tattoos I realize don’t «mask» people. The armor appears in the deconstruction of the social and body language. People who come to me, feel good because it speaks through their soul. I explode the stratums of fear for the others and for oneself. But working on the human implies a responsibility : decency. That’s why the tattoo still remains an enigma. I give birth to a human rhythm, which is worth fighting for. A partition, lines field with notes, regardless of the hight or echo - they all are a sound. These notes can be revisited and understood differently everyday.
The process and the experience is as important as the tattoo itself. It is a mirror of life. Someone wrote this beautiful sentence about my work : «When the lines disintegrate, explode and disappear, to reconstitute themselves in trees, like thousands of atoms, thousands of atoms that build our Little Living Fires.»
Do you have any projects, collabs, guest spots, etc. coming up that you’d like to share?
I will continue to do my best to preserve pieces of the Orchestra.
Indeed, my prism contains other projects. A poetry book should be published soon, Jusqu’au Silence. Take time to discover more on maisonmetamose.com, an expansion of my social platforms - not only dedicated to tattoo but analog photography, graphic poems, and upcoming releases as well.
I also recently realized a performance in July : The Circle, which will take part of a documentary («Charbon») coming out in September. One Line for 8 people, strangers to each others, tied together, all tattooed in improvisation during a night. The line blossomed on one reunificated bodies plant, but also found others specifically directions on each of them, according to what they independently shared with me before. We evolved into a black circle painted on the ground, with the impossibility for anyone to get out from it until the complete end of the performance. It became magic from the moment this sphere couldn’t be all-sufficient to live by itself : the naked 8 were cold in the night, intimidated by the looks of the public, hungry, tired and hurt by the machine. After several hours, the public started to act and interact with the «inside» of the Circle : they gave food, blankets, cigarettes, water, words of comfort. It wasn’t a passive show anymore. The inside and the outside were finally equally important to keep subsisting and feeling better in the place dedicated to everyone.
The most beautiful gift life could have offered me is to connect so many different people through my art, and make them realize that we all are the same in a way ; despite our different paths, attracted, obsessed and hurt by similar things. I am a voice of the human heart’s ramifications, and I have to continue to speak through them. That’s why I breathe.