Every February, thousands of free-thinking individuals descend on Paris for the Mondial Du Tatouage, one of the world’s biggest tattoo festivals. With over 400 tattoo artists and 20 awards presentations, the weekend is abuzz with musicians, creatives and alternative subcultures. In other words: it’s a spiritual home for Dr. Martens, and this season we’re delighted to be partnering with this radical festival once again.
We sat down with Esther Luling, one of the event’s organisers, to discuss the influence of Mondial du Tatouage, and the logistics of running such an enormous alternative festival.
Esther, this year marks the 9th edition of the Mondial du Tatouage – did you ever imagine it would get this big?
Tin-Tin (founder of Tin-Tin Tatouages) first organised the Mondial in 1999 – even then there were people still lining up to get in after closing on Sunday. It was huge then, and it’s only got bigger. Since the show moved to the Grande Halle de la Villette in 2014, we’ve seen more people coming every year.
What is your favourite memory from the Mondial du Tatouage over the years?
That’s a tough one – the Madball concert was a treat, but I might have to say the tattoo contests and seeing the first winners get their awards. They plan their tattoos for our convention months in advance and often shed a few tears when they get their award because it’s given to them by their biggest idols.
What do tattoos mean to you? Can you tell us about your first tattoo experience?
I got my first tattoo when I turned 18. I went to Tin-Tin Tatouage and got three blue jays tattooed by Diego Moraes. It took up my whole ribcage and was in honour of my grandfather, Jay, nicknamed ‘Blue Jay’. After that, I couldn’t say my other tattoos have meaning… I choose designs because I think they look nice and I enjoy them.
The Mondial du Tatouage is known for having an impressive roster of top-tier tattoo artists every year. Are there any new ones we should be keeping an eye out for?
We are privileged to have artists from all around the world make the trip. Tin-Tin goes through everyone’s work and selects his favourites. This year there are a few artists who stand out, since they haven’t been to the Mondial yet, or not in a long while: Steve Moore (our 2019 poster artist), Mike Dorsey and Chris Conn. They are all very talented painters and great tattoo artists.
And lastly, what does Dr. Martens represent for you?
Dr. Martens represent what I’ve been wearing on my feet for many years. I think I got my first pair when I was 13 or 14 and wore them at every concert and festival I went to. Once I broke them in, they were like slippers.
Looking for more festival recommendations? Head here.