Tattoo Me with Mike Watt


Take a drawing of a character, and have other people add tattoo’s: Artist Mike Watt explains how a sketch on a wall has evolved into a book and collaborative art project with over 100 other artists.

Tell us about the Tattoo Me project?
It started at a Halloween exhibit about two or three years ago. There were some markers and felt pens, and people were drawing on the walls. I drew a fat guy with an axe and people started scribbling on him. It was interesting to see how he developed over the night.

How did the project develop from there?
I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I started contacting others and pushing them to all get some work done. I now have 98 finished pieces and am waiting for 12 more by the end of the month. I have been waiting for some for over a year. I’m putting them together for a book. I’m going to have a character on the cover and I’ll write all the artists names on. That’s why I want to have all the pieces submitted.

How did you select the artists to be involved?
It was a mix of other artists, friends, people I met up with. A couple people I didn’t know, I introduced myself to. I didn’t want to say people couldn’t be involved because they weren’t an artist. One guy I knew on social media. He liked my work and was just starting out himself. Another girl was a printer. Anyone wanting to do it.

Tell me about the characters you created for the project?
Every character is different. One character had two heads. Another was an astronaut with a trashed suit and broken helmet. I started matching characters to the artist, but then got the artist to choose. When asking people, it sometimes took time to get back. I love doing detail, but had to hold back, which was tricky. Some boring characters came back amazing. I sent a cyborg to another Drawing Book artist, Andrew Millist. I was embarrassed. I have trouble with metal since my style is more loose. I didn’t hear back from him and thought he hated it. He sent it back and made the metal look so amazing.

What will happen next for the project?
I’ve printed the cover so I can draw on it. I like hands on drawing as much as possible. I’ll finish collating the pictures, and get it finished into a book. I’m thinking of putting it on something like Kickstarter, to get an idea of what people like. Then maybe do an exhibition and a website, if it makes enough money.

What other projects have you got in the pipeline?
I’m looking at the third in the series after Super Ugly and Double Ugly, then look at taking a break. I’m also doing a collaboration with a Brazilian friend. He created collages out of macro-shots of moss when we were staying up north in the summer. They looked like an alien world. I’m going to draw in an astronaut. He will find a dead guy hanging in a tree, so he goes looking for whatever did it…

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the upcoming Tattoo Me project?
I just want to say thanks to everyone. Thanks to everyone for being patient. I am very grateful.

Watch this space - T