These tattoos do not belong to any period, they are utterly unique, timeless, and the man behind them is Guy: an exceptional artist, with an adventurous life and so much to tell us. So without any further ado…
Hi Guy, I would like to start this interview by asking you to tell your story: what are the most important steps that led you from New Caledonia to this present moment?
Hey! The most important step is probably when I moved to live in Australia when I was around 21 years old, following a girlfriend at that time who was studying there. So I left my father’s tattoo shop in New Caledonia to work with Paul Brannif, quick shot, not working story, but when I came back my father said: “You left the shop, you can’t come back, you can’t work here any more”. So, really pissed off, I had to leave New Caledonia.
I arrived in France with 2 friends and we opened a shop near Perpignan for the summer. I had no choice than to figure it out myself, find the way anyway. My whole life has always been like that since a really early age. DIY life! So you do what you have to do. But I think this moment was a really relevant one in my career as a whole. And probably the one that has driven it ever since.
How much have you changed, as human being and as a tattooer over the years?
I don’t think I’ve changed since a really early age. As I said, I needed to figure it out myself with no financial support from my parents or family from around the age of 16 when I had to leave my mom’s house. It was the policy there, no nice family cocoon, just do your shit and figure it out your way.
And because I was a problematic kid in a way, I had to deal with my shit outside of it. My dad took me back to show me a way of living inside tattooing when I was 18, but it was a quick shot, and I was working 6 days a week at his shop, doing all the tattoos while he was fishing for 900 euros a month anyway.
So, it was easy to do the math. He just didn’t give me any choice and kicked me out again.
I should thank my parents for that. It might sound pretty rough, and in a way it is, but there is nothing nice about this world, and in a way I’ve been learning about how tough it is ever since. At such an early age this helped me to never be disappointed and to learn how to swim in this world… So, from that my career as a tattooer was driven by all this stories, I think I’ve become more kind over the years, less pissed off, and realised how flawless this world is if you understand how things work.
Let’s talk about your powerful tattoos: what are your cultural influences and your artistic references?
Powerful tattoos? I don’t know…. But my references are what catches my eye every day, what the people I tattoo bring back to me, the stories, the references, the implications in this world. I love to tattoo genuine people. If I feel something is not right in what someone is asking for, most of the time I let it go and pass my turn. I want to tattoo the first guy with the good idea, the woman who is really going to wear her tattoo like a princess, the thousand guys after this one unique person who are going to want the same tattoo because it’s cool are not the kind of person I want to tattoo!
People have always asked me if I am not pissed off that I am copied like that on every move or new idea I process step by step. Well, first of all, what I can do? Second, as I say, this second vibe after the original one just doesn’t interest me! The power of each tattoo is made by the owner, not by the tattoo. Only one or maybe just a few can have the power! The rest are a copy. And you can’t get the power via your tattoo, you are the power and your tattoo shows it to the world, or your beauty. Whatever the tattoo means to you! Beauty, warrior! So that’s why in a way the tattoo fame can’t work the same way, the tattoos get so flat, so non- unique, boring in a sense.
That is something most of the people don’t get. I’ve been growing in tattoo shops since 1992, and I’ve seen people before with ideas coming in, people with stories, but not any more! Only a few! And these few are the people I’m looking for! The rest don’t matter to me! So you want to know about my cultural influences or artistic references? The people! And only the people and what they teach me!
Are there any rules you follow, to make a “perfect” tattoo?
Don’t tattoo people who don’t get it!… Why? Because the whole thing at the end is not going to work anyway!
What about your equipment and techniques?
My equipment is just a tattoo machine, mostly coils, noisy ones, a power supply, shitty needle cause I don’t like the fancy ones, high voltage, metal tube, a tattoo table! My technique is going as fast as I can cause I don’t like to get tattooed by slow people, fast healing, fast recovery, basically get covered before you even realise to minimize the pain!
How would you define your tattoos by choosing three simple words?
Timelessness is the only word! I don’t want to make a tattoo that looks like a tattoo in a fashion period! I’ve been in the tattoo industry for enough long to understand fashion and tattooing are two words that really don’t go together! Because what the fuck are you going to do with your fashion tattoo after the fashion has passed?! You know what? You’re going to go after this other new fashion that’s hot now.
Why? Because you don’t understand tattooing is a personal thing, it is writing your story, not someone elses’s story be cause it’s cool at the moment!
Be the one with tattooing, not the thousands of followers behind you who think they are as cool as you because they got the same! Because they are not! You are you! You are the one! Try to be better! Try to be crazier! Don’t be another sheep in this industry! Don’t be a sheep in this society! Thinking because you are tattoos you are not a sheep is not true! you are even more a sheep because you have tattoos in 2020! So at least do it right! Don’t be just another one! So timelessness is the word!
… And how would you define yourself?
Passionate! Maybe too much. Fully Gemini. With a big mouth, and more and more so as I get older! I don’t like injustice in any form, and I love to feed myself with creatives soul around me.
How important is your relationship with your clients and how do you plan your work together with them?
Relationships are essential to me! If I can’t work with someone I have to give up cause I’m not good at all at pretending! Being a polite 2020 tattooer is really not for me! If not I would be a hairdresser and not a tattooer! Tattooer service work is not for me! Not my style! You can say Im not cool, I’m fine with it! Because if I’m not cool it’s for a relevant reason and you should know it! I’m here to tattoo passionate people and that’s all!
So how do I tattoo these people? I just listen to them because they are interesting to me, I listen to their stories like a first date with a new lady, get why they want to get tattooed, what they want to look like, what is the purpose, what is the investment in it, where they want to go with it etc. etc. etc. etc.! And after all that, I shake everything in my box, and start to draw on them what I felt about everything they said, but at this moment it’s no longer my responsability, what you said, what you showed me is exactly what you’re going to get! That’s why the investment in your own tattoo is crucial to me! Without it, I can’t do anything!
Do you also paint, besides tattoing?
Yes I do! But this is a totally different approach and stories.
What are your projects, plans and hopes for the future?
I have a million ideas at the minute in my head and I haven’t accomplished one percent of them! So, we will see! Just keep on going and doing I guess!
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we close?
Please humans, be unique. If not… they’re going to win!