As Tattoo Cultr, whenever we meet tattoo artists for the first time, and tell them more about our product, the initial reaction generally is on the lines of ‘But you know, I don’t like social media… I think it is killing the craft…’. Rarely, we come across artists who are open to express an embracing notion towards technological communication. Now, this is interesting because modern tattooing is completely dependent on the internet, and very few artists are able to stay away from it. Yet, many choose to sound eccentric about the topic.
At Nepal Tattoo Convention 2017, I met one such rare artist who has no qualms accepting the contribution of technology in the growth of tattooing; Dillon Forte. Globally renowned artist, Forte is famous for his geometric large scale tattooing, but that is not all that is there to this young champ. Dillon has been involved with other forms of design and art apart from tattooing, too. Photography, painting, tech design, mural art, you name it.
Tattooing today is a global village primarily because of Instagram, and Dillon couldn’t agree more. “What Instagram has done is made it possible for a guy here, in Nepal, to look me up, and if he/she wants to, get tattooed by me. Without the internet, I don’t see that happening.” And, for a modern artist like Dillon, the power of the internet is not restricted to just communication. “I have been tattooing for 12 years now. I started off when I was 15, I guess. But, I have been always associated with art, in some form or other. Be it painting, tattooing, graphics, or anything else, I have tried my hands in all forms possible so far. Individually, each has its own challenges and specialities, so what I am trying to do is blend them all.
If you ask me, I think anatomically, tattooing is much closer to fashion than any other art form. A lot of artists find tattooing resonance in painting, but apparels are the closest identical fit tattoos.” Tattooing as fashion, Wow! That idea reveals a whole new dimension of looking at body art. Dillon makes a great point when he says that it’s better to look at tattoos as wearables, and not pieces of art. “You get so many bad tattoos as pieces of art. It has to fit your body. You can’t just look at it as a flat, two-dimensional art form, because it’s not on a canvas, it’s on an interacting, expressive, living body.”
I find the most interesting characteristic of Dillon to be his versatility. He doesn’t look at himself just as a tattoo artist. “I consider myself more of a photographer, than a tattoo artist. Even when I tattoo, I am approaching it from a POV where I want to see the final product in the form of a photograph. That allows me to see how well the tattoo is flowing with the body, and that is very important to me.”
Dillon’s nature as an artist reflects in his world view as well. As an artist, he is always trying to blend all his different abilities, and with his tattooing, he wants to collaborate his skills to create something new. But even as a community, he feels the only forward is in togetherness. “I think the root of all problems with our world right now stems from the idea that we are separate from another. As a race, we need to feed the idea of oneness into each other. In this melee of trends, we need to understand that all of us are connected to each other and the cosmos to be able to come together and create something new that focuses on the connection, rather than the separation.”
As Dillon spoke out loud his ideas of tattooing, art and future, I couldn’t help but comprehend that as a race, how we are going forward, there will probably soon come a time when we reach the pinnacle of knowledge and communication, and at that time of our civilisation, our tattoos will be our markings. Our markings will tell which tribe of thought we belong to.