We talked with one of the many artists working and tattooing at Mystery Tattoo Club in Paris. And breathed in all the dedication infused into his Japanese art.
Yom, what was the spark that led you to embrace the craft of tattooing?
I discovered this world when I was about 10 years old. My father had been tattooed with small flashes but his passion grew quickly.
He had lots of magazines and it was especially in these magazines that my future love of the craft was seeded.
I discovered the big pieces that covered the whole body and was soon fascinated by this Japanese culture.
I waited till my 21st birthday to get my first tattoo and it was this encounter that decided me to start. I was a cook at that time and I wanted to change my life. So for me it was the right alignment of the planets! (laughs)
How many years have you been tattooing?
After a few complicated years to access the necessary machines and know how, I eventually got started. I’ve been tattooing for 16 years now and it feels like it was only yesterday.
How did your stage name “Yom” come about?
It’s very simple, I didn’t look so far! (laughs) It’s just the second syllable of my first name which is Guillaume. Yeah, it’s not that exciting a story!
Did you come to the Irezumi style step by step, or did you feel an irresistible fascination with this way of tattooing from the very outset?
Yes I was attracted Japanese toattoos from the start. I’ve always loved this culture and I grew up with lots of references around me. So it was obvious!
Who have been your most important teachers so far?
Well, throughout my career from the beginning, I can say that I have only met good tattoo artists and beautiful people who have allowed me to advance and understand this profession. But it’s true that 3 people have influenced me more than others…
Tell me these three names.
The first is Fred OM (IG: @om_frederic) who helped me a lot at the very beginning with drawing and my first steps in tattoo. I started from nothing and I learned a lot from him because he is very talented.
The second is Easy Sacha (IG: @easysacha_mtattooclub), the boss of Mystery Tattoo Club in Paris with whom I have been working for 11 years.
He opened the doors of his knowledge and experience when I had only a few years of practice.
He has an impressive technical solidity. Last but not least, the third is Just (IG: @classicjustin) with whom I also work at Mystery Tattoo Club and who has a very exciting and solid Old School experience. I owe a lot to these three people.
Do you think Irezumi requires extensive areas of the body in order to be given full artistic expression. Or can this be achieved even in a tattoo of a few inches?
Yeah it can only be successful if it expresses itself fully on the whole body; it was studied as a garment during the Edo period. I mean – a single tattoo for a whole body. It needs several combinations to be solid and effective. Without “Gakubori” (the background) it loses its power and charisma.
How do you approach these fundamentals?
Well, “Gakubori” is almost the most important element in an Irezumi, but I also like to make drawings without backgrounds. Personally I don’t close myself to this way of doing things either and the Japanese term is “Nukibori” (without background). The main motif lives on its own until one day the wearer decides to add background motifs. You just have to study the placement well before!
Would you like to describe the Mystery Tattoo Club in Paris?
It’s my second home. We feel good there and we have a very friendly atmosphere. We have known each other well for a long time. Like I said before, I have been there for 11 long years and have been working alongside Sacha – the boss of the shop – and Just.
The team has grown since those days. Now we have Chris (the manager); Wonka (IG: @tattoobywonka) who came from Spain with a very crazy graphic style; Manon (IG: @manon.spectrumtattoo) who does ultra solid NeoTrad; Gary Burns (IG: @garyburnstattoo) who does ornamental handpoke; Gael5xp10 (IG: @gael5xp10) who does crazy Japanese at Tebori and many other guests from all over the world.
And your famous last words are… ?
I don’t really have famous words but for me the most important thing is to wake up and tell myself that I am lucky to live from my passion, and to be able to share it. We must not forget that without our customers we would be nothing, so I thank them every day!