interview with Thomas Carli Jarlier

  Hello Thomas Carli! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. I was lucky to be raised in a family where artistic activities were an important part of life, my mother is a painter and she encouraged me to draw since I was young. She gave me a permission to get a full sleeve when I was 16 and I think by working and tattooing I have proved that I was quite serious about it at that time! I grew up in the depths of the French countryside, so I had all the time in the world to do what I liked and I chose drumming and drawing. I was on it 24/7 I have never really partied or drank when I was a kid. I was able to catch up with all the party drinking thought when I went to a music college in London :) but that lifestyle was not really for me, one year of it was enough, then I got professionally into tattooing.

Q: Was it hard to learn the basic skills? Did anyone help you?
A: Of course it is a constant battle to learn and master new skills, you never stop learning in tattooing, sometimes you spend sleepless nights thinking about how to improve or learn a new technique. Overall it has to be a passion, otherwise it is impossible to advance and get better. I learned most things by myself, by trial and error. The rule is you do ruin a few pieces in the beginning before you understand the basics. Every artist, even famous, has a piece or two from their early days that they are terribly ashamed of! My advice for young artists - talk with different experienced artists, read magazines and forums about techniques, keep searching and absorbing all the information you can get!

Q: Something that I find fascinating about your style is the texture, the depth. Such a beautiful balance between black and white ink, that makes every tattoo look really special, even when the tattoo heals.
A: Thank you! Understanding ink is important, but also skin, how it reacts with different needles, depth of ink deposition, shades you are using, machines, etc. For me pure black ink is the cornerstone of any tattoo in black and grey. If the blacks are correctly deposited and well saturated, it will heal well and stay contrasted.

Q: What details are the most challenging to work on?
A: I find that understanding the anatomy of the face, skull, muscles is a key. If you see where the light hits the skin, where the shadows fall, how deep they are you will be able to keep good balanced proportions. I first thought about it when I read about the works of Da Vinci - he was actually dissecting corpses to understand every bump and pit on the body and was sketching body parts in different positions. What can be even more challenging then a portrait itself, is tattooing an image of a hand or hands (that can be a part of a composition with a portrait). Keeping perfect proportions of hands and fingers on the design is a key here.

Q: The Mr.Bean tattoo... ah favorite! It brings a lot of childhood memories! :) I love the two images of him mixed in one beautiful piece. Tell me more about the creative process.
A: Thank you, it is one of the funniest tattoos I've done. He is my hero. I use photoshop a lot to create compositions and also different brushes, many of which I make myself. Usually I find the right images and then spend time arranging and modifying them until the composition is balanced.

Q: Do you accept refference photos?
A: I think it is very important to have a good discussion with the client before booking, to make sure that the client is happy with the design. If you are not happy about the piece you are tattooing - the emotion will simply be conveyed in it. To be honest I'm quite selective (the right word is probably "annoying" haha:) when it comes to choosing images for the base of the tattoo with the client because the better the picture is the better the render will be on skin as you can put more details and definition to the subject. I would never tattoo the same design or even image more than once. You want the client to have a unique piece, but also it would be boring to tattoo the same thing twice:)

Q: What is the biggest challenge in this job?
A: The main challenge is to stay true to yourself and not change who you are no matter what happens. The industry will want you to fit in, there will be haters, envious people, but if you stay who you are, you will get over it. Stay humble and learn, that's my recipe for being happy professionally.

Q: Where are you located?
A: Our studio Noire Ink is located in Clermont Ferrand France, in a beautiful region where I was born.

Q: How traveling changed your perception?
A: It's definitely very important to go to conventions and meet talented artists, exchange thoughts and knowledge with them, it surely makes you grow. But it's also very important to remember the primary motivation: you tattoo for your own clients, to make them happy, not to be appreciated by other tattoo artists. It's destructive to the industry that some play the "popularity game" and are in tattooing to manifest their personality/attitude: let's not forget that we tattoo because we deeply like the whole process - just like blacksmith is passionate about working with metal, glazier - about glass, a tattooist - about the skin and ink. A convention is a scene for art, not your ego. Well, the downside is, I am usually one of the least well dressed people at events.

Q: Any advice for the new artists?
A: Take your time! Don't rush, it's very important. Be patient, in the beginning you might need to spend 5 hours on an inch sized piece (poor tattooed person - but hey, they chose to be your test subject) to make it good, and as I said earlier, there is no way to succeed without failing a few times. Just be passionate about the subject, do it for the right reasons, again, because you love it. You only have things to prove to yourself.