It is difficult to encapsulate the energy of Guy Le Tatooer in mere words. His spirit is free, but speaks of a lived life. His art stems from understanding that only comes from true experiences. His ideas stem from introspection, and his strokes are just miniscule expressions of the questioning and finding the self. In a conversation that spreads across the table, from tattooing to finding meaning in life, and denouncing the same, our editor, Shubham Nag felt truly elevated on reading Guy’s answers to his questions. Take your time with this one…
Shubham (S): What is tattooing to you? Is it a form of art culture or something beyond that?
Guy (G): Hahahahaha!!! Tattooing for me is the best question! It could be my best lover, my best party, a beautiful sex night with a beautiful stranger, my never ex, my always the best, the thing that saved my life, the thing that makes me happy, the thing I miss, the thing I can’t stop, the thing I’ll never understand but I’ll try forever, my best friend, my parents, my home, my day, my night. There is nothing on earth that can be comparable to the feeling I can get when I tattoo, the power of it, the energy form from it, the physical human touch in its best beautiful power, my heroin, my only addiction and the only thing that never disappoints me.
I could never survive in this modern world without our ancient art. But for sure, tattooing is way more than just sticking a drawing on people to make it simple. It’s the only way to show your true you. The only way to be who you are! And to stop pretending, you see tattoos probably all the same, every day, years after years. But do you really see difference in it anymore?? No!!!!
Not a lot of people get that unfortunately these days, but I believe our real tribe stays strong, far from the commercial art of tattooing. And go back to the roots of the ritual. The ritual is a strong word for some readers probably.
So, let’s talk about the experience instead. The experience to find yourself or represent who you are in this world. That’s it! As soon as you get it, you get all. After that, nothing matters…
S: Your tattooing has a lot of culture reference points, and you call it ‘intemporal’. Can you explain what you mean by that term?
G: Intemporality is the total opposite of what the world wants at the moment. That’s why I like to use this word. I use this word because intemporality is the total opposite of fashion , what they call “style” now. What is a style when you talk about tattoos? It’s two complete different words who can’t go together. Tattoos and fashion and even less style! What does that even mean?? A style!!! When we talk about tattoos, tattooing is a projection of yourself. It’s an art form of your self. No one can choose what you can look like. I heard some tattooers say, “Oh, I did… well the guy wanted that, and I sold him another thing I wanted to do more in my style.”
Do you think this is about tattoos we talk about or someone who is selling a shirt in a supermarket?? I don’t believe in new when we talk about tattoos. Tattoos have to get this thing, this power, this placement, this thing that makes you look powerful and stronger. A thing of beauty for girls, a warrior sign for men. It has been the main idea since time immemorial. Or, even the other way round. You can be who you are or become who you want. But, because we know tattoos are permanent, you can’t go wrong.
So, the idea of the intemporality is the representation of yourself for your whole life at its maximum. Of course, we change, we grow up, and that’s where the ideas of layers come from. But at least in my ideas, I try my best to give to people what they want or need until the end. To make them beautiful, stronger or whatever they want. BUT WHAT THEY WANT!!! Not what I want. And, this is the big difference of it. Anyway, to explain that properly could take a full book, so I’m gonna stop on that note.
There is no style with tattooing. It’s just coming deep from your heart in connection with others. The rest is just manipulations of mediums to make people trendy or even worst to hide the fact that they have no technical aspect of tattooing. Or even worse, no feeling of it or no heart with it.
If I’m here tomorrow, it’s gonna be fine. If someone loves me tomorrow, it’s gonna be fine. If I die tomorrow, it’s still gonna be fine. I did enough to me already. Now, I’m just looking around and I just appreciate where I am, second after second.
S: Do you think as an artist, traveling now remains the only way to make new, and nurture existing real relationships with people?
G: I never said I was an artist! I don’t even know what I am. Don’t even know really why I have this feeling with tattooing. But after 20 years of doing it, the only thing I know is I make people happy and it’s enough for me. The rest; who cares!!! Artist is just another label, as I said before. Style, artist is just some blah blah to me.
You need to choose where your path is, and you deal with it. I like to see the smile on people’s faces after getting tattooed. I like to see them changing. I like to see them more comfortable with their own self. It’s why I’m living! This human connection, this respect, this love, this friendship! The atmospheric part of it. The magic!
Traveling for me is just a way of living as I come from a gypsy family – Algerian deported after the war, hippies, bikers, tattooers; whatever is my parents’ background. All my friends are tattooing, my sister, my mother, my father, all of our tribe are completely capable to take a needle and do it! They understand the flow of it and the nature of it. For me this is what is tattooing, and of course, as a traveler, I connect with thousands of people. It’s just a way of living. I didn’t choose it, didn’t look for it. It’s just a way.
To be honest, I would love to live somewhere, have a dog, a wife and a kid. And, I used to try, I guess, but that is just not the way I live. My way of living is my way, and I know it’s hard to be around me, but it’s who I am and it’s not a choice. As I’m turning 38, I start to understand my way better and yes, I love connections, be surrounded by beautiful souls, having good times and giving love. And it is tattooing that represents all of that to me in one word, and one world with no borders, no race. Just humans connecting through one common thing.
Marking yourself and being part of the tribe. Our tribe!
S: You have spent a lot of time tattooing in this part of the world, South and South East Asia. Any interesting anecdotes…
G: Every day is an anecdote to me, that’s why people can’t stay around me for too long. My life is an anecdote. I am an anecdote.
And, I used to be on drugs for so many years. Trust me, that shit gives you anecdotes until you become your own anecdote. I did the worst for myself as much as I did the best, and it’s my anecdote. Life is a story every day. It’s my way of living – good, bad, I don’t even know… The thing is I just live that way and I’ll continue anyway, ‘cause I’m who I am and I love stories, anecdotes…
I know where I woke up, but not where I’m going to sleep at the moment, and I’m fine with that because it’s the only way for me to be happy. No plan is the best plan, isn’t it?
S: How important is it to dream, for you, personally?
G: I never dream! It’s never really happening. But when it’s happening, it’s always for some really relevant situations or things which have to change. My last dream was in Nepal, actually! I had to change it all. I dreamt about a stone. I found it. And then, my life changed, not because of me, but because all had to change.
Personally, yes, it’s important to go through ourselves in introspection. But not to find the one people around you try to convince you about. You need to find your real self; the one people don’t like, but who is just your true self. If people don’t like the projection of themselves onto you, that is another problem. And they should go more trough their own selves, instead of trying to change the world, because introspection is the key to our own reflection.
If you know who you are, you get your dreams, I guess, because we just live every day in a dream made by ourselves… Nothing much.
S: Are you someone who makes future plans?
G: I don’t even know what that means! If I’m here tomorrow, it’s gonna be fine. If someone loves me tomorrow, it’s gonna be fine. If I die tomorrow, it’s still gonna be fine. I did enough to me already. Now, I’m just looking around and I just appreciate where I am, second after second. I really don’t need much right now. My life has been too chaotic trying to make plans in the past.
But, I have realised I’m not that kind of Guy…