The March of the Matryoshkas is a charity art project featuring 66 of the world’s finest tattoo artists, presented at the London Tattoo Convention.

Curated by travelling tattooer Stef Bastiàn, the exhibition composes of several sets of Russian nesting dolls (or Matryoshka). Stef has brought together over 66 of the very best tattoo artists in modern times to participate in the exhibition. Each artist received one set of Matryoshka dolls to decorate with absolute artistic freedom: and the result is nothing short of astonishing. Participating artists are some of the best in the business, with tattooers such as Filip Leu, Chris Garver, Scott Sylvia, Paul Dobleman and Alex Reinke contributing to the project.

Stef Bastiàn
Stef Bastiàn

Of the concept behind the exhibition, Stef says:

«Everything started as a simple idea, completely unrelated. Like any good projects I’ve been working on, I realized that the growth of that idea has to be organic, natural. Then you know it’s gonna be authentic. In this specific case, the very intention behind was of connecting a group of likeminded people, focusing on one common goal.

I’ve been surprised by the response and in a relatively short time I manage to reunite some of the most influential artists in contemporary tattooing. I wanted to leave them complete freedom in techniques and subjects to enable them to fully express their potential and especially to see how they would solve the structural puzzle and the narrative they would choose. Once the baseline had been drawn, the charity idea naturally followed.

I always keep in mind the importance of giving something back to the industry that gave me so much, I think it’s fundamental in order to keep a grateful attitude, to value what we have and to work towards making this craft grow for everybody’s benefit.

This can be done through inspiring and bringing something new to the table but I wanted this project to have many angles you can look at it from. One of them is to transcend the world of tattooing and setting an example of Giving, for people outside this business as well. Once more, the artists responded very positively to the intention set and showed, through their hard work, exemplary craftmanship, creativity, humor amd kindness. I’m really grateful to each one of them, as a collective they made this possible.

So, I’ve chosen Save The Children as designated charity because the Matryoshka doll was originally born as a toy, it seemed appropriate (and 15.015£ has been raised).

With the afterward perspective I can say that it’s been a wonderful journey. I loved the organizational part, which comes natural to me, even with the incredible amount of work for one man only (especially considering that I organized this whole event while being on the road and changing country every week for the last 6 months). Every penny spent to put it together, every headache, every minute is been totally worth. I feel honored for the chance to work towards such cause».

… And what’s next?

«That idea was definitely a one off, which I don’t want to replicate. Luckily ideas and will to realize them is something I never run out of. I already have a few things I’m thinking of for the future, let’s see where they bring me. Stay tuned to see the developments.

Ultimately, I would like to sincerely thanks Miki Vialetto for providing the prestigious London’s platform; Emma Kierzek, Sam and everybody at Aurora Tattoo which supported me with some of the logistics; Henrik Strehmel which generously contributed to the auction (buyin 11 artworks!) and everybody that supported my vision through joining the exhibition, the auction and overall showing love on social medias».