The November 2022 issue of Coze Magazine invites you to discover the rich universe of tattoo artist and illustrator Olivier Antoni from Strasbourg. You can buy a printed version of the cover in our online store
Cover as seen by the artist: “I was a tattoo artist for a long time… Everything tends to be standardized today with apps, the internet or new tools that ‘artists’ use and abuse. So I try to go back to basics regularly, here’s an illustration inspired by Shodo Kawarazaki (1889-1973).
We meet Olivier in his living room on the rue des Veaux. A large bay window opens to several framed illustrations, paintings of people whose work he admires, and some. When you walk through the door, you find yourself immersed in the world of an artisan who opens his shop every morning from 10am, Monday to Saturday.
Tired of the American comics of the 80s, Olivier went to the tobacconist every month to buy Gariba magazine. Its pages feature Marvel comics in particular. Comics that have followed him since childhood and that Olivier still collects today. His collection includes records, many heavy metal covers, as well as Iron Maiden postcards. It feeds on all these images that Olivier has drawn since childhood. And paintings, there are a certain number of them, because his experience is not productive.
From art history to tattooing
Olivier studies art and mostly plastic art and art history. With some interest in classical and contemporary art. After a few internships as a cultural editor, he later found himself immersing himself in the world of tattooing.
Originally from Strasbourg, Olivier leaves Alsace on occasional trips that serve to satisfy his passions. At a very young age, he went to Angoulême for a comic strip festival or even to Montreal for a tattoo convention. Back then, without the networks of today, you had to travel to discover art and meet people. Tattoo was also a more private environment, but by going to meet people directly at events, everything was very accessible back then. It was easy to find yourself talking, eventually going to a restaurant or drinking with the creams of European and American tattoo artists.
In Strasbourg, Olivier was tattooed by Reynald of the Asphalt Jungle studio in Ostwald, who knows his designs. Reynald agrees to take him on as an apprentice, and for 4 years Olivier studies under him. Back then, he couldn’t afford a car to become a tattoo artist like he can now. The tattoo artist had to order it for his apprentice and somehow guarantee it. The equipment was also more complex, from the welding of the needles to the cleaning, more complex, but very formative, which certainly brought a certain rigidity to Olivier.
After these very formative years, Olivier decides to leave his suitcases on the rue des écrivains in the heart of Strasbourg. He opens a gallery workshop with Jaek El Diablo. They organize exhibitions between tattoos and graffiti. A few years later, he moved to his current salon at 6 rue des Veaux. Today alone after two years. Olivier tries to open new perspectives, especially an event component around the invitation of guests, but also why not in meetings – aperitifs. He is also trying to develop the flash part of his business. A case to watch closely!
From pen to needle
Olivier has a lot of practice. A sketchbook always close to him, he draws several hours a day, often at night. Interestingly, he feeds a lot of images between comics, illustrations and art history, often in several current projects, drawings for future tattoos or drawings for him.
“My work changes and develops, I have stages. I’m doing it today, but hopefully in 5 years I’ll be doing something else! »
Olivier tells us that the prison was a wonderful time for him, and it allowed him to review all his projects and paint fully. In graphite, watercolor or acrylic. The drawings are mainly a research phase, but also feed his painting practice, one and the other responding to each other. His works are often in black and white. Even if he values the color highly, it seems more risky to him. Too many colors bring too much information and can also bring a lack of elegance to the final project.
Today, her palette is very diverse and flourishes with inspirations ranging from art deco with floral forms to biomechanical patterns. Shadows are sometimes treated as vaporous petals, like the misty nebulae in Hans Bellmer’s paintings. The highlight of his work is undoubtedly his attention to detail. In his paintings, especially the shadows and contrasts, we find a meticulousness worked on the realistic basis of the paintings. If you look at them, the details are very available, but do not exceed the final presentation. For Olivier, you definitely need detail in a tattoo, but with restraint: the right details in the right place. At a distance of 5 meters, the image should be impressive and legible, but at a glance you need to feel the importance of these details.
“I’m painting more and more, I’m happy at the moment because I still enjoy it so much and it doesn’t stop. I still have many projects in progress. »
So Olivier draws for him, he adapts and offers some of his illustrations for tattoos, but he also works on demand. From a small to a large project, the important thing is to move forward together, to exchange, to ask the right questions to go beyond the images we see everywhere. Olivier, who is interested in everything, is also part of a music group: The Man and the Abyss, who will release an album soon, he also writes sci-fi short stories and wants to open a private club for his old age. ! Happy app!
Questions from TAC to TAC
Favorite cultural destination in Alsace? The Blue House
Where to drink? Father farms
Your current music? Impossible to say!
A cure for the winter gloom? music, food and comics
Favorite movie? My best 4:1er Rocky, Monkey in Winter, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Knife Runner
Find her on Instagram, Facebook or directly in her store!