The evolution of tattoos

Maxime Plescia-Buchi has inked everyone from Kanye West to FKA twigs at his tattoo studio Sang Bleu, as well as building his own publishing company TTTISM. As part of Body week on CR, he tells us about tattooing’s transition from subculture to pop culture

Growing up in a village in Switzerland in the 80s, Maxime Plescia-Buchi’s first real experience of tattoos were the DIY ones that the local punk and goths branded themselves with. After developing a fascination with the art form and the subcultures surrounding it from afar, he began getting tattooed himself in his early 20s. He would flit between the worlds of psychology, fine art and graphic design, however, before finally settling down to apprentice under Swiss tattoo artist Filip Leu in 2006.

“I did want to take Leu up on it [earlier], but I also knew at that stage I needed to have a bit of focus as I was studying art already,” says Plescia-Buchi. “He said ‘finish your studies, do what you have to do, get back to me and we’ll see’, so that’s exactly what I did. Maybe three years later I called him, and the rest is history.”

Given Plescia-Buchi’s design background, you’d think that making the transition to tattoos would be a relatively straightforward one – or perhaps not. “There is a widespread misunderstanding that tattooing is something you can do easily using your graphic design skills, which is actually the opposite of the truth,” he says.