We were thrilled to be invited along to the launch party of Tattoorialist’s 3rd book release at Le Quartier General in in Paris. It was a night of music, drinks, customisation, tattoo’s and our Dr. Martens photobooth of course. We sat down with the Tattoorialist team Nicolas Brulez & Mylène Ebrard who travel all around the world to meet and learn from people about their unique tattoos. Check out our interview and the highlights from the evening below.
Hello, we are The Tattoorialist team: Nicolas Brulez & Mylène Ebrard. Nicolas is a portrait photographer; Mylène is the project’s copywriter and also manages all communication aspects. We travel all around the world to meet tattooed people. We publish our work in books and on our website, we also put them on street walls throughout the city.
Can you tell us about how you got involved into the Tattoo scene?
It all began 5 years ago when Nicolas was working during Paris Fashion Week, making portraits of fashion models and others. He got tattooed a few months ago, and one night he was staring at the ceiling on his bedroom, searching for that one idea, the one that would gratify you to the point where you wake up every morning with a huge smile. He then saw in his head a picture of someone in the street showing his tattoos. A few minutes later he was on his computer to search if other photographers had been working on any similar projects.
The name of the project “The Tattoorialist” is a joke, a nod to Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist. Now it’s like a very big family!
What are your personal tattoos?
Nicolas has more than 30 tattoos, on both arms, the chest and his right leg from several artists: Gumo, Krull, L’Androgynette, La Renarde, Zzizziboy, Jiro, Vincent Brun, Dominique Bodkin, Kuvera, Noémie Alazard, Rachelmkong, David Coté, Pauline Tabur, Sixo Santos, Tarmaz, Metamose…
Mylène is a bit wiser with only a dozen tattoos only on her right leg and left arm. Created by David Choquette, La Renarde, Krull, Philippe Fernandez, No Raison, Gumo.
Can you tell us a bit more about your work / books?
We’ve published 3 books. The first one was released in 2014 with around 100 portraits taken in Paris, Berlin and Montreal. The second one was born in 2015 after a trip travelling to 11 different cities throughout France. The aim was to discover the history of the tattoo scene in France, our country. We’ve already met over 400 people! The third is the latest one: it’s like a retrospective of our work, a selection of among 50,000 pictures, several thousand meetings, and we’ve also added 11 new portraits, taken in Paris, Montreal, and Seoul, among other places.
Our work is like a Trojan horse, I like tattoos but I am fond of meeting people, I really love hearing their stories, their secrets. Talking about tattoos is the best excuse to meet new people every day!
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
Music is everywhere when I’m working. I can’t live without it. I play it loud, I need it to feel things to imagine my next photo shooting.
I take my inspiration from my everyday life, I read a lot, I love art, and go to lots of exhibitions. Our home is full of art books, everywhere (even in the bathroom). I’m a real fan of Gregory Crewdson— such a tense atmosphere in his work. Depardon is the reason why I took up an interest in photography. I also like Dega’s drawings, and Charles Burns’s work. Movies are an important influence in my work : Cronenberg, Lynch, Amenabar, Alejandro González Iñárritu …
Music is everywhere when I’m working. I can’t live without it. I play it loud, I need it to feel things to imagine my next photo shooting. When I close my eyes a second before I push the shutter button of my camera, I wait to hear the silence and then to let my mind play the perfect music or melody I need to feel the connection between me and the model.
Do you have a picture of someone (or a project) you’re most proud of?
I’m not always (or never) happy or proud of my work. It’s very difficult, you know, to be proud of a meeting. But if I have to choose one, I’ll pick the first one, back in 2012. It was in Essaouira, Morocco. This guy was drinking a coffee with his wife, outside of a coffee shop in a tiny street. I was afraid to disturb this private moment. I walked away 2 minutes later, and then ran to him and asked if I could take some pictures of his tattoos. It was the real start of my career as a photographer.
You mentioned to us that you’ll be travelling quite a lot in 2018? What’s the new project all about?
It will be the last book of our project, but also our masterpiece. Until now, we have only been working with tattooed people. Now we will work with tattoo artists around the world. We will go to London, New York City, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris of course, and we hope we can add more cities like Seoul, Moscow, San Francisco to our list.
This book will be more like a travel book, our logbook about all the people we will meet on the streets, at the tattoo parlours, in the airport, or at their place… wherever we find them. It’s the biggest project we have ever worked on. We are under a lot of pressure and fully enthusiastic about it. We might even organise some art exhibitions or events during our trip. ..
Do you listen to music whilst you work? What’s your favourite band? Name three tracks you can’t hear enough of:
Hell yeah! I love rock’n’roll music. I love when the drums hit me hard, I often listen to Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Nothing but Thieves, and Kasabian … Three tracks I’m listening to right now are:
You hosted this great event in November. Can you please tell us about the people who were involved?
For the first time, we wanted to imagine every aspect of our event. In the past we organised parties at Bus Palladium, Divan du Monde, Renard Theater, Miss KO restaurant… and this time, we just want to join forces and condense everything into one place.
We considered all the things that our Tattoorialist family loves and enjoys! So this includes live tattoos (real or temporary) video games, concerts, young designers (jewellery, screen printing…) and it was just so obvious to have Dr. Martens on-board! During our 5 five years of shootings around the world, we saw so many people wearing DM’s, girls and boys, young and old… And we liked the idea to join art & shoes during our Crazy Tattoo Party so that’s why we suggested to get some boots customised prior to the event, and exhibited at the event! Thanks to the tattoo artists Gumo, Krull, Alixe Cooper, La Renarde, Neco and Nag who also customise DM’s throughout the party!
Tell us your favourite thing about the city you live in:
Paris is a city that never sleeps and we love “her” so much. Museums, architecture, history… what a pleasure to go around this city! The best for us is to go around Paris on a motorbike. I like drinking cocktails at the Jeffrey’s, to eat fabulous French food at Coq&Bock, or I join my friends at the Rivolux to drink beers. We don’t go out very often simply because we work a lot! We like to invite friends at home.
What does Dr. Martens mean to you?
Dr. Martens represents the kind of shoes you can wear every day, casually, with a rock’n’roll style or in a chic way for a wedding or a job interview. For a girl or a boy, it’s the perfect way to complete an outfit. It’s sort of like the unconscious ‘Britishness’ that lies in each of us!
Photos credit – Matthieu Gibson
Illustration and artwork by nag.draws.