By Sara Barnes – Faustine Tarmasz, known simply as Tarmasz, is a French illustrator and tattoo artist who also has some impressive ink of her own. I had the opportunity to speak with her about her non-traditional tattooing style as well as the awesome adornments on her legs, collarbone, and back. There aren’t many illustrators that double as tattoo artists, but Tarmasz does it, and does it well. Learn about her own ink, tattooing others, and how she creates her signature illustrations, too!
How many tattoos do you have?
Well, it is quite difficult to count tattoos, but I would say around 20, big and small pieces.
How old were you when you first got tattooed?
I was 17, I did 3 tattoos the same day, and now all of them are covered… tattoos before 20 years old are mistakes.
Did you design any yourself?
I would say that half are designed or tattooed by myself. It was a way to train myself at tattooing when I started to practice, but I stopped tattooing myself, because I want to save some space for all the super great tattoo artists I am tattooed by!
Are there any special stories attached to your tattoos?
I like tattoos for what they look like and not for what they mean. So, I do not have deep personal emotions related to my tattoos. But, each of them of course has a story, depending on the tattooist, the situation, the place and the way it has been done.
One of the things I really like about tattooing and getting tattooed is that you meet so many people! Illustration is a lonely activity, you spend your time drawing all alone at your desk; tattooing is for me a way to go out and socialize. I already met so many awesome people thanks to tattoos!
How did you get in to tattooing? Did you ever envision yourself doing it?
Well, I started to tattoo because I was in a period of my life where I really wanted to experiment with different art mediums. It was basically curiosity but, I started to like it, and shit got serious… but I never planned to do it as a job since I never thought there would be enough people requesting my drawing to get tattooed.
How much of your time is spent tattooing and how much of it is spent illustrating? I tattoo 1 week a month and the rest of the time, I spend drawing illustrations and working on comics.
You mention on your Tumblr that you don’t design any tattoos — they are all existing drawings you’ve done. Why is that? I used to take orders and draw for commissions for each customer, but I started to have more requests and I couldn’t find the time to do all of it anymore, since tattooing is not my single job. So I had to make a choice: give up illustration and just tattoo full-time, or just draw some flashes and let people pick. I chose the second option and stopped commissions. And since I tattoo each flash drawing only once, my tattoos are still unique and the customers still have ownership of it.
Where do you normally tattoo? (At a specific shop? Do you travel?)
I tattoo each month at the studio Sweet Needle in Fontenay Sous bois (Paris’ close suburb). Sometimes I travel in France but it’s really rare. France is not a big country and most of people pass by Paris at least once a year, I do my best so I can fit the appointments in when they come. I don’t usually leave France for tattooing, but last November I went to Brazil with 2 of my tattooist friends, for 1 month, and it made me feel we should be doing that more often!
What is the most memorable tattoo you’ve given?
I have a lot of good memories related to the tattoos I’ve done because I tattooed a lot of my friends, and even my mother! But my most awkward tattoo experiences were the early ones. My friends who were my guinea pigs were so relaxed and trustful, while I was freaking out.
What’s the inspiration for your illustrations?
I am really a big fan of mythology, antique, medieval arts… I like all of this because it is really fixed, graphic, pictorial, and void of any perspective and dimensions. I like strong pictures where symbols are more important than realism. My favorite artists are Mike Mignola, Carson Ellis and Keith Neigley.
How long have you been illustrating?
I’ve been drawing as far as I can remember, but it started to be my job 3 years ago. After high school, I went through 2 years of illustration formations.
What tools do you use for creating your work?
I do my sketches with pencil and then I use a light table for the clean version. Sometimes I use ink or watercolor, and most of the time I finally color it by Photoshop.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Well, I have a comic book project, which should be ready for September. And as I said earlier I plan to go back to Brazil tattooing, and maybe to reach USA and Canada. I’d like to travel more and to make more books in the future.
Sara Barnes is a Baltimore-based blogger and project planner. Her background is in illustration and fine arts, and she writes for sites like My Modern Met, Beautiful/Decay, and Craftsy. In addition, she runs her own blog called Brown Paper Bag that celebrates beautiful and clever illustrations. It highlights the field in its many changing forms and finds inspiration from illustrators working in ceramics, paper sculpting, tattoos, embroidery, and more! Follow Sara on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.