Artists: Adriaan Machete
MACHETE INK GALLERY
Mainzerstr. 6 10247
FRESHLY INKED: What year did you start tattooing?
MACHETE: It was in 2005—I’d recently moved out from Mexico and came to Germany, and started living in Berlin.
How did you get into tattooing?
Ever since living in Mexico City I was amazed by tattooing and art, especially illustration and painting. When I was 17 years old I got some tattoos from friends and when I moved to Germany it was clear. In Berlin most of the people have an open mind for tattooing and most of the people have tattoos—and I mean big stuff, full sleeves, necks and hands were common to see in summer. I got both my sleeves done in no time, and since I was getting tattooed all the time at the für immer shop, I knew I wanted to be a tattoo artist.
Where did you apprentice?
It was not a real apprenticeship, but I asked a friend and tattoo artist in the für immer shop in Berlin to teach me the basics, so I was at their shop many times looking, asking, taking notes. In no time I started tattooing some friends at home. Since the beginning I’d been a fast learner, and I knew I wanted to make old-school–new-school pieces.
Do you have any special training?
I studied ethnology and photography in university, so it didn’t help out, but I had taken some drawing courses, and I got the good luck in the last years to meet some amazing illustrators and painters, which taught me more things about painting.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
For the last three years I’ve been in tons of conventions in Europe: Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Krakow, Moscow, Brussels, Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, and many other cities in Germany. It’s been really cool times and I had the chance to meet so many amazing tattooers. Last year I won the first prize for old-school and second for best large in the Berlin convention, and last December the second for old-school in the Berlin convention too. Something I really like to do when I go to a convention is walk around the city and get a small feel of it. And meeting some of the best artists in the world and watch- ing them at work has no words. I learned a lot by traveling to all of them and I get so much inspiration that after the convention I’m stuck drawing and painting at my desk for days!
How do you describe your style?
I use a mix of Mexican iconography, strong animals, beautiful women, and morbid elements, and I try to cook my own broth from old-school tattooing techniques and neotraditional elements to create my own pozole.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’m deeply inspired by illustrators and painters—I’m constantly looking and submerging myself in books of painters, like Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Alfons Mucha, Walton Ford, Chris Conn Askew or Vania [Zouravliov]. I love going to new exhibitions and visiting museums—the sculptures and paintings of the Louvre Museum in Paris are simply amazing. I had the chance to be there and it deeply inspired me.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I’m not sure. I think every artist has his own passion and style; I’m trying to make only the tattoos I like and make them in a more artistic approach. I guess I started developing more as soon as I realized that tattooing comes from illustration. That gave me a whole wide range of new possibilities. I also think that personality really affects the personal art of the artist. For a long time I’ve been into indigenous shamanism, rituals, and believing that putting a heart to everything I make gives amazing results—I mean the tattoos and paintings become more passionate and unique.
What other mediums do you work in?
I’m usually painting with watercolors and acrylics. I like mixing them and adding other stuff like markers and golden dust. I recently started with oil and I love it but it’s really complicated. I would like to experiment more with it in the future.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I’m not sure about it ’cause I can’t see the difference in my tattoos, but many people have told me that my tattoos are a mix of “beautiful and macabre.” Not sure what they mean but they agree in that. I also have been experimenting for a long time with color combinations: minimalistic, cold colors, warm colors. It was hard sometimes to try things that I thought would never work, but by surprise all these tattoos came out so special, and people were amazed by them. I also include lots of Mexican Dia de Muertos references; that kind of goes together with my whole art.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
I really admire the ones who, besides being amazing artists, also have heart, putting their passion into the things they do, and being dead friendly to other artists. Artists like Kerry-Anne Richardson and all the guys at Cock a Snook, Steffen Frey, Sebastian Reschke, Ela Berger.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I love the big and unconventional stuff, so I’m looking forward to making bigger and more elaborated pieces, like chest pieces with neck and stomach included, or full sleeves from fingers to neck—hehe, maybe a full suit!
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
Ha ha—I guess it would probably have to be my parents. But they do actually hate tattoos.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
I advise them to find the artist who suits them the most to their expectations. The designs and tattoos always become so special when the person trusts completely what I’m doing, and I’m so thankful to them to give me the chance to make something unique.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Yeah, I recently had a costumer who wanted a full front body tattoo, from neck to stomach. I was so excited about this project, but unfortunately he can- celled. I would die if somebody were to ask me to make that again.