If you want to learn a thing or two about incredible tattooists, don’t sit and browse blogs or read magazines – oh, no – just spend a few hours with Martin’s leg.
A couple of years ago, tattoo collector Martin Dobson had an awesome idea.
Since that light-bulb moment he’s been committed to fulfilling what became his own personal project – covering his entire leg in an artwork that brings together different works by some of the world’s best tattoo artists. In this beautiful hexagonal collage, mini artworks by tattooists from all over the world sit side by side.
As he travels the world to add to the growing collection, Martin’s leg is fast-becoming a unique artistic representation of the wealth of extraordinary tattoo art being created today. I feel that one day in the distant future his leg might find itself in a museum, perhaps!
I was excited to interview Martin and find out more about this insanely clever and original tattoo idea.
When and why did you decide to get this collage piece?
New Zealand, New Year’s Eve, 2015. The idea came to me to start getting small tattoos from different studios as I travelled the world. That idea then morphed into getting them within a hexagon. I wanted to research and find artists that I liked and allow them to do whatever they liked in each space.
How many tattooists have contributed to it so far?
I’ll give you a full list at the bottom of this interview! But so far I’ve been tattooed in New Zealand, Sydney, Singapore, London, Morocco, Paris, New York, Brooklyn, Austin, Tel Aviv, Sri Lanka and Berlin.
Do you have a favourite section?
My favourite changes all the time – usually the newest becomes my favourite! They are all great and I’m very lucky.
Hanging out with Duncan X was a highlight – he’s such a lovely and interesting guy. Getting Matty D’Arienzo to tattoo me in the last few days of Into You before it closed in London was an honour but also quite sad.
Having John Anderton tattoo me at The International London Tattoo Convention – people were noticing my idea and commenting on it. Getting tattooed in Tel Avi, in Sri Lanka, by Ami James… too many memories to name them all!
My first tattoo in the piece with Chloe Mayes was memorable, when I didn’t really know what the project was. We were just stepping into the unknown a bit and hoping for the best. It came together though!
Who is on your list for future additions?
- Jacob Wilman, from Sweden, at the Brighton Tattoo Convention
- Ildo from Korea who is coming over to London next month
- Grace Neutral is going to do a hand-poked design later in the year
- I have sessions planned with Khan and Nikko Hurtado
- I’d like to get something by Niki Norburg but he has a 5 year waiting list and you have to travel to his studio in Gothenburg to get an appointment!
- I’m hopefully going over to NYC to have Eva Krbdk add one as her style will be perfect
- The list goes on and on – Jeff Gogue, Andrea Lanzi, Tomasz ‘TOFI’ Torfinski, Joe Carpenter, Fishero… I need to extend it!
What does the piece mean to you personally?
I love the art. I love meeting the artists, hanging out in their studios, being part of the scene in a small way. I love the travelling.
I love the fact that I don’t know what the tattoo is going to be until right before we start. I love that the artists have really thrived on the idea and been inspired by it, also challenged by how small the space is. It’s all been fun.
I’m already running out of room… now I just need to extend that grid!
All that’s left to say is, let’s see the current list of artworks, their contributors and where you’ve been tattooed…
- Chloe Mayes, Queenstown, New Zealand, January 2016 (IG @chloetattooos)
- Inma, Sydney, Australia, January 2016 (IG @inmatattooartist)
- Chris Corleone, Singapore, January 2016 (IG @familiarstrangerstattoostudio)
- Rich D’Amaru, London, UK, January 2016 (IG @richdamaru)
- Julien Ramage, Marrakech, Morocco, February 2016 (IG @marrakechink)
- Alice Rigal, Paris, France, February 2016 (IG @alicerigal)
- Lara Scotton, New York, USA, March 2016 (IG @larascotton)
- John Sultana, New York, USA, March 2016 (IG @johnsultana)
- Steve Byrne, Texas, USA, March 2016 (IG @steve_byrne_tattoo)
- Luca Polini, London, UK, June 2016 (IG @luca_polini)
- Avi Vanunu, Tel Aviv, July 2016 (IG @avipsycho)
- Rosie Evans, London, UK, August 2016 (IG @rosievans)
- Ami James, London, UK, September 2016 (IG @amijames1)
- John Anderton, London, UK, September 2016 (IG @john_anderton_art)
- Kelly Violet, London, UK, October 2016 (IG @kellyviolence)
- Matty D’Arienzo, London, UK, October 2016 (IG @mattydarienzo)
- Mo Coppoletta, London, UK, December 2016 (IG @mo_coppoletta)
- Duncan X, London, UK, January 2017 (IG @duncanxtattoos)
- Roshan Rodrigo, Sri Lanka, February 2017 (IG @livingart_studios)
- Flo Nuttal, London, UK, April 2017 (IG: @flonuttall)
- Mario Hartmann, Berlin, Germany, April 2017 (IG @mario_hartmann_tattooist)
- Chaim Machlev, Berlin, Germany, April 2017 (IG @dotstolines)
Follow Martin’s progress by visiting his profile on Instagram @martindninja.