Today I’ve decided to do a little Q+A with my husband James.
James is the “famous” one in the family. He is a traditional tattoo artist and known throughout the world.
I confess, I never had any interest in tattoos prior to coming to Tahiti. Yet once I was here, I found myself enchanted with the art form.
For me it is obvious Tahiti is the birthplace of tattoo as both men & women here, are even more beautiful because of their tattoos.
Q. For those who are unfamiliar with tattoo, we should probably describe the difference between traditional and machine tattoos.
Machine tattoos are made with a tattoo gun. The sort of thing you see on LA or Miami Ink. But one big distinction with me is that I do not use flash. Flash is like tracing paper. You do the design on paper and then transfer it to the skin. Then you basically fill in the dots. What I do is free hand. Also I will never do the same tattoo twice.
Q. So what exactly is a traditional tattoo:
A traditional tattoo the way of tattooing as my ancestors once did. I can use a shark tooth or wild boar tusk. Most of the time I use boar tusk because it is easier to get. So I carve the tusk into a small comb and then attach it to a stick. The comb is then “tapped” into the skin. The “tat tat tat” sound it makes is where the word Tahitian word “tatau” came from.
Q. A lot of people are under the impression they need to do their tattoos at the end of their trips because they can’t go in the water:
Since you’re in charge of my agenda, I think this drives you crazier than it does me. But no this is definitely not true. It is fine to go in the lagoon after you tattoo. In fact, my ancestors used to jump in the lagoon immediately after a tattoo to help speed healing. Another thing to consider is the sun. I’ve had people wait until the end of their trips to get tattooed and by the time I see them, they are sunburned. I definitely can’t tattoo over a sun burn! So really, getting tattooed at the start of the trip can be a good thing!
Q. I was fascinated to see in one of your old history books, the name of your family is acknowledged as being one of the original tattoo artists way back in the 1500’s.
How does this make you feel?
Kind of cool. It makes you feel like you have a very old family.
Q. Do you feel like tattoo is something you want either of our children to do?
They will both know how to tattoo and they will have the knowledge of their history. Whether or not they decide to tattoo is up to them.
Q. Do you like your clients to have a specific idea of what they want or do you prefer they let you come up with the design?
Really I like when they can tell me what they want the tattoo to represent and if they have an idea of size or location that is great. I don’t need to know more than that.
Q. How do you feel about sharing your art with so many people around the world?
I love tatau and for me it’s an honor to share my culture with people around the world. And it’s cool when people feel inspired to share their culture with me. I’ve had clients send me reindeer antlers from Sweden, crocodile teeth from Australia and buffalo horn from Chile. Making the world a smaller place, one tattoo at a time 🙂
Q. Anything you’d like to end with:
Yes, check out my website and email me sooner than later. Nothing worse than someone contacting me the day before they’re leaving and I’m already booked.