How strange that on the very day that I sit down to write our Creative Profiles blog post on Monsieur Cutts – tattoo artist and bright young star of the art tattoo scene – that Jon Henley should publish an article entitled: ‘The rise and rise of the tattoo’ in The Guardian. Monsieur Cutts is clearly very friendly with Lady Serendipity.
If you haven’t crossed his path, and you would know if you had, you will find Monsieur Cutts decorating the bodies of his faithful followers in the northern mecca of Leeds (UK). Once a Piction Media (KDimension) student intern, Art & Design graduate Adam Males gave up his Wacom tablet for a more pleasing canvas – skin. Now if you do happen to know anything about the world of the tattoo, you will know that tattoo apprenticeships are rarer than a dry British summer. However it wasn’t so much the Dark Arts but persistence that paid off for this artist. As the creator of most of the Beckham’s tattoos Louis Molloy has said, “You have to be like a dog with a bone”. Adam’s apprenticeship was 6 days a week for a year unpaid, so you really have got to want it.
Adam spent the first four weeks of his apprenticeship drawing portrait after portrait for his tattoo master. Only after that, working in the shop – cleaning, drawing up all the tattoo designs and talking to customers. Next came intensive observation of the senior tattooist and training in setting-up and maintaining his own tattoo machine. After a few months, Adam was finally allowed to practice on fake skin – a rubber that mimics the effects of real skin. Nice! Only when the tattoo master felt Adam’s skills were good enough could he graduate to the real stuff and eventually, a year later, obtain his tattoo licence and start earning his living from his art. Once he’d tackled the Department of Health, Monsieur Cutts was on his way. He reflects:
“I was pushed a lot into creating my own style and discovering what I felt comfortable and happy with. Modern apprenticeships are very heavily based on your artistic talent now as there are a lot of good tattoo artists out there. Competition is tough, so you have to be bringing something new to the table if you want to make it.”
American Retro is clearly Monsieur Cutts niche (that’s our opinion) and if you want a unique take on a classic style, he’s your man. Yes I know, the thought of an inked sewing machine needle punching its way through your derma is a little daunting to the uninitiated but according to Jon Henley’s Guardian piece:
“ Tattoos, suddenly, are everywhere. According to one survey this month, a fifth of all British adults have now been inked (as contemporary usage has it). Among 16- to 44-year-olds, both men and women, the figure rises to 29%.” The Guardian, July 20, 2010
Just like any other artist, Monsieur Cutts accepts commissions to work on both customers own designs and to create bespoke designs for them. His training in art and design has been invaluable but his warm and witty persona also helps people to open up to him and to be realistic about how tattooing fits into their lifestyle. What are they really trying to achieve? Like all art there’s a level of human interaction that goes beyond the aesthetic. And, just as counsellors have to receive counselling in order practice, tattooists have to be tattooed. They really do have to put their body on the line. Lets give Monsier Cutts the last word:
“It’s painfully addictive, especially as I have my own equipment. If I see something I like, I can just do it there and then really…”
Ali Kay, 2010
Join the Monsieur Cutts cavalcade on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Monsieur-Cutts/193454399849?ref=ts
Or exchange hangers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/monsieurcutts