A real para­dox

French tat­too ‘ king’ strug­gles for recog­ni­tion of his art.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

THE undis­puted “king” of French tat­too artists says his in­dus­try is strug­gling to win recog­ni­tion as an art form on a par with paint­ing or mu­sic.

“Ev­ery­thing proves that we are artists ac­cord­ing to the UNESCO def­i­ni­tion,” said Tin- Tin, whose clients have in­cluded fash­ion de­signer Jean- Paul Gaultier, the rap­per Joey Starr and ten­nis leg­end Yan­nick Noah. The main or­gan­iser of a re­cent world- class tat­too expo, he quotes the UNESCO def­i­ni­tion of an artist ver­ba­tim – “any per­son who creates ... and who con­sid­ers his artis­tic cre­ation to be an es­sen­tial part of his life, who con­trib­utes in this way to the de­vel­op­ment of art and cul­ture.”

In France, those des­ig­nated as artists – painters, as well as pho­tog­ra­phers, writ­ers and com­posers – are able to charge greatly re­duced VAT rates to their cus­tomers.

“For now, ( the govern­ment is) killing us, con­sid­er­ing us as sim­ple mer­chants,” said Tin- Tin.

The founder and head of the Na­tional Union of Tat­too Artists, Tin- Tin has also launched an on­line pe­ti­tion that has gath­ered more than 14,000 sig­na­tures.

In 2014, Paris's in­dige­nous art mu­seum Quai Branly re­cruited TinTin as an ad­viser for an ex­hi­bi­tion on tat­too­ing that drew 7 00,000 vis­i­tors.

He said the only thing in the way of win­ning recog­ni­tion as artists is that tat­too artists “cre­ate on the skin”.

“It's a real para­dox, but we will win one day,” he said.

Held at the Parc de la Vil­lette in the north­east of the French cap­i­tal, the tat­too expo Mon­dial du Ta­touage at­tracted 360 tat­too artists from 35 coun­tries from Bul­garia to Thai­land, the Nether­lands to Ja­pan and some 30,000 vis­i­tors.

“It's a very pres­ti­gious con­ven­tion, I would say prob­a­bly one of the top five con­ven­tions in the world,” said an ex­hibitor from Puerto Rico who goes by the name Fibs.

“So it's very honourable to be here, to be part of th­ese great artists,” he said of the fair, whose poster fea­tured work by prom­i­nent Ja­panese tat­too artist Hide Ichibay.

Like just about ev­ery­where else in the world, tat­too­ing is no longer just for sailors, sol­diers and bik­ers in France, where a re­cent poll found that the per­cent­age of 25- to- 34- year- olds re­port­ing hav­ing a tat­too has dou­bled to one in five since 2010.

And from around 15 tat­too par­lours in 1982, France now counts more than 1,500.

Tin- Tin said he got his first tat­too as a teenager to get out of ball­room danc­ing con­tests that his par­ents were forc­ing him to en­ter.

Among myr­iad trends on dis­play at the fair, hy­per- re­al­ism is in at the mo­ment, said Tin- Tin, who has a huge Ja­panese art- in­spired fish tat­tooed on his back and dragons adorn his arms up to the shoul­ders.

“There are more and more in­cred­i­ble artists who do tat­toos like pho­tos, with an ex­tra­or­di­nary graphic qual­ity.”

Ja­panese- style and Poly­ne­sian tribal are still strong trends how­ever.

Then there is “trash polka” in­vented by Ger­man duo Si­mone Pfaff and Volko Mer­schky, a mix of real­ist and graphic el­e­ments in red and black, usu­ally cov­er­ing a torso.

Tat­too fash­ion presents a para­dox. Tin- Tin said, “Fash­ion is by def­i­ni­tion ephemeral, while tat­toos are per­ma­nent.” – AFP Re­laxnews

Ac­cord­ing to Tin- Tin, the tat­too artist in­dus­try is strug­gling to win recog­ni­tion as an art form. — AFP

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