Did you always want to be a tattoo artist? Not…
Stay Cold talks to Matt about changing careers, moving to the USA without speaking English, and his biggest fears.
Not at all, to be honest I never thought about tattooing until I turned thirty. I used to draw all time when I was younger, I went to art school, but I was more into design and digital marketing. I loved tattoos for such a long time though, I was heavily tattooed, but I didn’t think about going into it. But after years of working in the digital industry, I became tired of being on the computer and working for big clients, and I really wanted to draw again, to do it for myself, to have my own vision. My friends brought up tattooing, I was probably not ready for it before, but it felt right at that moment, so I looked for an apprenticeship.
Well, I was already thirty-years-old, but I really wanted to find a shop where someone could teach me the basics. I didn’t want to start off on my own. It was so hard in France five years ago to find a shop that could give me the advice I needed. I tried so many times, but nothing came of it. I became tired of living in France, living in the same place for so many years. I was bored and I knew I needed to change things in my life. I decided to move to the US to try to find a shop. I worked a full year in different shitty jobs to make some income, so I could try my chances in Los Angeles. I went there the year after, without being able to speak a word of English, and after some searching, I found a place that offered to give me some help. The owner of Golden Daggers Tattoo saw my portfolio and liked my work, so they asked me to come in three days a week to work in the shop, to clean it, to draw with the guys. I stayed there a year as an apprentice. I watched four talented guys while they worked and helped out. It was there that I learnt to speak a bit of English! It was the best apprenticeship ever, a real one, right from the basics. I will be always grateful to those guys for helping me out so much.
All my friends were crazy supportive, probably because they wanted free tattoos! My family was ok because they knew I had lots of tattoos on me and I liked them. I was already old when I started in this industry, so it wasn’t complicated like if I was a kid who want to stop school to start tattooing. It was just doing something artistic in a different way than designing on a computer, anyways the digital industry was becoming more difficult so I thought, why not try something else? Moving to another country was a real necessity and people knew that. They were more worried about me because of the travelling and leaving France.
I think I will say the same thing as everybody else! It’s the freedom of course, to be able to manage your life as you want. But there's many other things too, I have met so many talented people, I have travelled a lot. It's really the best way to travel and to improve my skills at the same time.
Like I said, I started late at thirty-years-old, so it was such a big challenge to start something totally new at that age. I have been doing tattoos for five years now, so I'm still a beginner, everything is still a challenge for me. Every trip for a guest spot is a challenge, but it's the best way to learn.