Once, when avant garde tattoo artist Taiom lived in Bologna, he was approached by a history student. Taiom was asked to create a tattoo based on a concept by Historian Reinhart Koselleck that centered on the notion that each present moment was once an imagined future.
Designing this tattoo involved an in-depth study of a book. It's important to Taiom to tailor his tattoo designs to the concept, the body, and also the person. The subject’s ideas, stories, and memories all influence the process that goes beyond creating a drawing or checking the fit.
In his VAWAA Online “Tattooing and the Artistic Mind Behind it”, Artist Taiom taught us about the inspirations and creative processes that are behind his avant garde tattoos. (Taiom also hosts an in-person VAWAA in his studio in Brazil for people to learn how to tattoo.)
Redefining tattoo art
A few years into his journey as a tattoo and visual artist, Taiom stumbled upon the creations of Yann Black, which would turn out to have a lasting impact on Taiom’s artistic journey.
A tattoo artist, Black had a radically different style from anything Taiom had seen. Incorporating simple, fluid lines and scribbles, Yann’s tattoos were a departure from the mainstream tattoo design principles.
The contemporary tattoo world Taiom had learnt from stands on three pillars of design
- Japanese tattoo designs
- Old school tattoos
- Indigenous tattoos
Taiom observed that Black’s tattoos were created using strong lines, with a contrasting playful element to them. This introduced to Taiom the radical notion that being a great tattoo artist was not necessarily about having the best drawing skills, or mastering techniques such as shadowing and lines. Black’s designs were fluid and free-flowing, often showing wonderfully distorted perspectives.
Taiom, who studied visual art in University, had been a practicing artist for years. However, he found that this exposure to Black’s style led him into a realm of entirely new possibilities.
Taiom at his tattoo studio in Brasilia, Brazil.
Developing his tattoo design technique
Taoim grew up in Brazil in a home surrounded by design. Unlike those lucky few who have the opportunity to embark on a tattoo apprenticeship under Taiom, he did not have any formal tattoo training.
But his Father was a graphic designer (back when all graphic designers used ink). Taiom created his very own homemade tattoo machine using his Father’s china ink and his Mother’s sewing needles.
He began by practicing on oranges — the beginning of his incredible journey. After his exposure to Black’s designs, he no longer felt any limitations based on older schools of design. Taiom began collecting references which inspired him — thoughts, objects, and visuals. He began to incorporate these elements into his designs.
As he mastered creating tattoos combining different visuals and textures, his techniques evolved. This involved combining the right reference with the client’s ideas, resulting in experimental, and often abstract designs.
Years into doing this, Taiom realized that while he had mastered his technique, he wanted to now focus on his own creative voice. For him, this involved journeying back to his raw creative spirit.
Tattooing the intangible
Taiom now had a specific intention: to tap into his raw creative energy. To do this, Taiom went back to the most basic creative principles.
Each morning, Taiom would wake up and draw. Without any final idea in mind, or direction, Taiom drew what came to him at that moment in time. By plastering his daily creations on his wall, he created his own archive of ideas and visual references.
Taiom also created mind-maps of his worries, curiosities, dreams and interests. This enabled him to ultimately connect all these dots, to birth his very special style – one that represents the intangible and the human across time and space.
His style has no limits. Influenced by nature, graffiti and fine arts, Taiom experiments with watercolor, abstract art and geometry. The result is moving and inspiring.
Taiom’s perspective: all perspectives
While creative exercises are important, what’s equally crucial is examining how you view the world. Taiom recommends seeking out different ways to change your perspective, and collecting diverse references for inspiration.
He recommends listening to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s wonderful TED talk about the danger of the single story. She speaks about the importance of reading, listening and absorbing different viewpoints.
Taiom’s journey as an artist and a human being has been shaped by such paradigm shifts. After all, seeking to gain varied perspectives not only fosters creativity, but also empathy and kindness.
Inspired? Make your next travel adventure a learning experience.
Visit his artist page to learn the art of tattooing from Taiom in his studio in Brazil.
Written by Kimsuka Iyer
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