Art

Tattoo Club

Behind every line, dot, and square is a hidden personality. Chaim Machlev’s Abstract patterns and mandalas are appealing to the eyes at first glance, but upon more careful investigation reveal themselves as profound illustrations of personalities and daydreams.

Interview by Drew Bateman - drewbateman1000@gmail.com Photos by Chaim Machlev
Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Citizen Brooklyn: Biggest life changing experience?

I used to live a comfortable life as project manager at an IT company in Tel Aviv. I was in charge of twenty-two workers and had a very comfortable materialistic life until I started thinking of getting a tattoo. I was hesitant at first because in the desert we associate tattoos with drugs and crimes and other negative connotations. After my first tattoo by Avi Vanunu at Psycho Studios I somehow felt that I was in my natural human state. I couldn’t stop thinking about tattoos and I decided it was time to change my life.

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: How did you do that?

I convinced my friend to let me practice on her by drawing a little sea star, which actually came out pretty good. The second tattoo is another story; from there I went to get another tattoo to better understand the process. I couldn’t stop thinking about tattoos, and so I spent five days in the desert, alone with the endless horizon and my own thoughts, something that could alone bring spirituality to an atheist. I learned there that I needed to be a tattoo artist, and a shiver of excitement ran down my spine. I decided to sell everything I had and move to Berlin.

 

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: And what happened in Berlin?

I couch-surfed for three months, in search of a home and a shop that would take me in. I met so many artists but had no portfolio or work to show them, only motivation. Finally, I found a shop that gave me a little room in the back to practice on punks that didn’t care what their tattoos looked like, that would clean the shop in return for their tattoos. After two months I finally began to feel comfortable tattooing, I felt like I was tapping into some ancient subconscious when I held the needle.

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: How has tattooing changed you?

I still think about this daily. In a basic sense, I lost the negative feelings I held towards tattoos, as well as other things that society deems wrong or unacceptable. I’m a very spiritual person now and follow my intuition. I recently travelled to India for a year and adopted a buddhistic lifestyle.

 

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: Can you describe your style?

It came to me in a dream originally, every person I saw I would start to think about lines going through their body. I though how interesting it would be to decide which lines flow better for an individual person. So it would be hard for me to categorize my style, but I suppose you could call it minimalistic and geometric. My tattoos are a reflection of the computer kid still inside of me, along with the new spiritual man I’ve become.

 

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: What are your consultations like?

I tattoo one person a day. I think of my tattoos as a spiritual experience, and doing more than one a day would take away the religious aspect for me. I studied computer science and psychology in the past and I try to work that into my art. It’s interesting how lines and dots can have life and unique behavior. Some of my best tattoos have come out of consultations where the client had no idea what they wanted but a strong will to get tattooed. It is all a matter of personality and what the customer is like. How he moves, how he talks, how he is describing himself like and how he wants to be described

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: Technically, how do you execute your tattoos?

I make my designs according to the body of the client, so I can never make a sketch before. When they come, we talk and brainstorm about what would look good on them. It’s very hard to find the right line to float through the body, because as humans, our body isn’t symmetric, and when we try to put a symmetric design on an asymmetric body it looks like a sticker

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

CBK: Any Final Words?

It is hard to learn to tattoo, but not impossible. The way to learn is not necessarily a long and hard apprenticeship. It’s less about what you have and more about how bad you want it, like every dream we have. We all want something, but we see it as unattainable, before ever even trying. If I managed to come all this way and be a tattoo artist that people travel to get tattooed by, can’t everyone be what they want? If you don’t fight for your dreams, what will you fight for?

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Chaim Machlev 0024

Photo © Chaim Machlev

Photo © Chaim Machlev

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