From graffiti to Old School: this young French tattooist from Avignon tells us how his love for tattoos was born and presents his eBook Dedication to the readers of Tattoo Life. Let’s get to know him better through this interview.
Hi Hervé, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Hervé. I am 24 years old, I work in Avignon, in the South of France.
When did you start tattooing and how would you define your style?
I started getting interested in tattoo when I was 15-16 years old, by chance. At that time I was mad about Graffiti; doing that I came across some tattoo images. In the beginning I was not so drawn to it but then I became more curious about it and I was increasingly attracted to this art form. I started drawing flash and, step by step, I came naturally to Old School – a style in a codes which was a perfect match for me. As a consequence, I created a book and when I was 18 I began to contact many kind of shops, no matter how good they were. I tried in many towns, looking for an internship contract but with no success. Nevertheless, by doing that I was able to get information and lots of advice. I finally bought the tools of the trade and learnt by myself. At the same time, I was still looking for job in a tattoo shop.
I also learnt a lot from being tattooed by others: I used to ask a lot of questions and carefully observe how it was done it.
A few years later I was able to do basic tattooing. I started doing guest spots in different French towns to meet new people and increase my knowledge. During all this time my style changed a lot and now I work especially in the early Traditional style, with just enough of a design to ensure a strong impact. The idea is to go for a kind of neglected but balanced look that keeps the essence of the design.
Has it changed over time?
Yes, keeping Old School as a base line, my style has evolved a lot. At the beginning, it was “bolder”: big lines, not so much detail. Afterwards, I added more and more detail and refined the lines. At the moment I have come back to a less detailed style, I go for a neglected side: I strive for the essence of the design without that much detail or colour. I try to focus on the visual impact which goes with the way I place the design on the body. I am curious to see what will be the next step.
Since the beginning, I have worked in this style with the same amount of passion, and my research leads me to new things all the time.
I am utterly fascinated by this process. At the same time, there are some styles I study a lot such as Japanese or Tribal. I think it is important not to lock yourself in a single style. It is very helpful and valuable to ensure your own vision evolves.
Is it important for you to also paint and draw, besides tattooing?
Yes. I think it’s crucial. Drawing and painting designs besides tattoing helps me develop, refine my style. It helps me try new techniques, take more risks. Even though it is more or less conclusive, it is a significant base to me. And it is a true driving force in my case.
What are your favourite subjects and techniques?
At the moment, there are two designs I cannot seem to get away from: tigers and dragons. Half the time, I want to paint them, so I try to force myself to take a look at other themes, in order to avoid locking myself. As regards the technique I use, it is basically a pen with a nib for lines, and ink to shade and colour everything!
Where did the idea of this eBook come from?
It was purely by chance! I applied for the London 2020 tattoo convention and put a web link to show my artworks, then Miki asked me if I would be interested in publishing an e-book. I was all for it! At the time I was thinking about how to use all my paintings. I paint a lot, it is my passion – something like 50 canvases a year. This e-book was a challenge, because I am very attached to material things, to objects. My paintings are the result of intense thought. I spend a lot of time painting and aging them: I work the material so I can achieve the exact result I was looking for from the outset. As you can imagine, I am not a big fan of digital work, and that work proposal made me smile. It was a very nice experience!
What are your plans for the future?
Lots of things are in the pipeline. I am joining a tattoo shop in the near future… I’ll be announcing it soon. I have also collaborated with a clothing range, the collection is out in 2021. I would love to manage more collaborations, I feel that working on different type of materials is very instructive, you can discover new axes of evolution. I will continue working hard, and I have another ongoing project which consists on painting a series of backpiece designs, almost life-size. It is always a great honor when someone contacts me for big project like a backpiece, I am so grateful every time it happens.
I really want to continue to meet passionate and fascinating people I can share with, that is how I manage to make my work evolve as far as possible.