E: Most Tattooists start by drawing first before they start tattooing. How about you?

Tom: Well, I’ve been drawing since I can walk (laughs). I’ve always enjoyed it.

E: How long have you been tattooing?

Tom: About twelve years.

E: When did you notice tattoos for the first time?

Tom: I was about eleven years old when I saw a show on TV about the Yakuza. They’re the Japanese Mafia, you cut off your little finger for, if you have done something wrong! (giggles) During the program, they showed a procession during which the leaders were carried around on palanquins. The whole ceremony was shown in slow-motion so you could see his full body tattoos and his bearers and followers also had large tattoos as Yakuza traditions call for. Silent, proud and almost wraithlike they moved past spectators who drew back in fear and respect. This fascinated me, I was speechless and something in me was awakened by it. I didn’t know at the time how I would become a part of this “Lifestyle” or how this “Lifestyle” would become part of me. I just felt that something united me with these people and that I had found my destiny in life and was ready to follow it.

E: How did you start?

Tom: I started by tattooing myself. By hand. Soon I was so good by hand that it looked like it was done with a machine (a short pause). You have to learn it from the bottom up in order to do it right. So I started tattooing friends of mine and I really never thought there would come a day when I would start tattooing everyone. Which is something I don’t really do up to this days. If someone doesn’t have the right attitude and I can’t stand him, then I’ll refuse to do work on them. A Tattoo is not something you want to able others about or a fashion trend. It should be something you really want. Something you like and you’re fascinated by. That’s the right attitude (his black eyes brightened as he was saying this).

E: You didn’t had a Tattooist, who has shown you how it is going to be done?

Tom: No. Not exactly. Because I was pretty good by hand, it made things easier by working with a machine. Realizing ideas into lines and shadows, didn’t take that long for me. Of course, It was more complicated using all the different tools. Allan from Marseille gave me my first Tattoo, using a machine. The train ticket to get there was more expensive than the tattoo itself in those days, but I had to have it done by him, and no trip was too far. I was seventeen at that time. The only problem was, I couldn’t go for a swim because of the fresh tattoo. Which is sort of a drag when you ‘re hanging around on the Cote d’Azur (smiles) but it was o.k. I was going to have this tattoo a very long time and until today I am very proud of it.