Dear Shaded Viewers,
I've had the pleasure of interviewing Sang Bleu deluxe art tattoo "magazine" founder Maxime Buechi:
DP: It's hard to call Sang Bleu a magazine, it's more like a book,
since you did a double issue does that mean that it will come out once
MB: True. I made it a double issue for a
double reason: First of all, I wanted to have a whole year ahead of me
to work on the future of the project. I am also launching a publishing
house (I already published 2 projects through it: a book in
collaboration with the palais d tokyo and an artistic project by
Emmanuelle Antille), working on several art shows and on a series of
movies. I wanted to take the timeto see how all these things will work
together in a coherent scope. I also run a typefoundry with Ian Party
and although it's been up and running for a few years now, there still
are some things we want to adjust and improve while I'm in Switzerland.
Additionally I am apprenticing in a tattoo studio, and I need to
concentrate on this in the next year, before I go to the "next stage"
with Sang Bleu and all its different sides. Oh by the way, to me Sang
Bleu is a project with all its different facets. The "magazine" being
just one of them. I know it makes it difficult with the nomenclature…
DP: It's hard to call Sang Bleu a magazine, it's more like a book, since you did a double issue does that mean that it will come out once this year?
MB: True. I made it a double issue for a double reason: First of all, I wanted to have a whole year ahead of me to work on the future of the project. I am also launching a publishing house (I already published 2 projects through it: a book in collaboration with the palais d tokyo and an artistic project by Emmanuelle Antille), working on several art shows and on a series of movies. I wanted to take the timeto see how all these things will work together in a coherent scope. I also run a typefoundry with Ian Party and although it's been up and running for a few years now, there still are some things we want to adjust and improve while I'm in Switzerland. Additionally I am apprenticing in a tattoo studio, and I need to concentrate on this in the next year, before I go to the "next stage" with Sang Bleu and all its different sides. Oh by the way, to me Sang Bleu is a project with all its different facets. The "magazine" being just one of them. I know it makes it difficult with the nomenclature…
DP: Is Sang Bleu your first foray into publishing or did you produce another magazine before this?
MB: I published an underground political fanzine in Lausanne in my early 20's and then, after my studies, worked as a designer for Self Service and Arena Homme Plus, and did quite a few book designs in Switzerland, but, generally, as a 'simple' designer, was always frustrated to not have any control on the content.
DP: What is your background, art?
MB: My background is very eclectic. I don't come from a very artistic family. At least no one was into production, although they all had a certain taste for art, especially literature. I studied sciences at high school, then psychology at University, then "visual communication" i.e. graphic design and typography at the ECAL. But I always kept the desire and made the effort to find some coherence between all these fields, and Art always seemed to be able to make all these interests function together. I have a very intuitive but passionate relation to Art. Like my friend Nicolas Party–from the art group "Blakam Madame" was saying: "I want to make art like we used to make graffitti: hardcore" . He meant "hardcore" not in the sense "pornographic" but hard-to-the-core–with such a dedication and passion that we would risk our lives (or our money…) for it. It is a vision I share with most of the people I work with. I think, and Sang Bleu is the result.
DP: When did you first get the idea that you wanted to get into publishing?
MB: I guess I already had a special relationship to books because of the "intellectual" values going on in my family. Books and knowledge were the only wealth we had, but we cherished it. Additionally, my father's a journalist,which increased this interest. Then it just made sense very quickly as I also developed an interest for typography and type design, coming from my graffiti days.
DP: How do you embark upon a new issue?
MB: It all is a continuous process actually. Material and inspiration never stops coming. Then it's mainly practical constraints that decide when, how, etc.
DP: I take it that the name comes from the ink and the veins? I don't have any tattoos, what does that whole experience feel like?
MB: The name is linked to the blue of the ink, and the blood, obviously. But more than that, blue blood also represents nobility. It is a way to state that everything I show I consider equally noble and worthy of interest, respect, if not worship.
The experience of getting tattooed is very special. My friend Yoan transcribed it in a very clever and subtle way in the text that's on page 12 of SB III/IV.
DP: When and what was your first tattoo?
MB: Actually the main piece I have. It covers y back, arms, pectorals, butt and thighs down to the knees and was tattood by Filip Leu.
DP: Yakusa's have the most amazing tattoos, did you ever go to Japan and meet any of them?
MB: I haven't, I'd be interest to, though, but not necessarily to talk about tattoos…
DP: Do you remember the first person that you saw with an impressive tattoo, who was it and where?
MB: It was George, I wrote the editorial of SB issue 0 on him. He was a punk in the village where I grew up.
DP: It wasn't in Switzerland, was it?
MB: Yes it was.
DP: I remember one of my first trips to Lucern, staying at the Hotel Schweizerhof and the waitress practically dropped her breakfast plates staring at me, how is it there with you and your tattoos?
MB: Swiss people usually don't express too much in front of you, which doesn't mean that they don't hate you–which they usually do. Tattoos are just one reason to hate or fear someone, among others. I got a lot of hate from my Swiss pears when I was a kid without really understanding why, so I just got used to it. I don't pay too much attention to it anymore.
DP: I could not help but notice Billy Boy and LaLa in this issue, how did you meet? In your neighborhood?
MB: They live not far from Lausanne and Jeanne-Salome contacted them. Then we got to know each other and bound very quickly (although I recently got into a huge drama with Billy, but that's another story.
DP: You've met volumes of people with all kinds of tattoos, can you tell me some of the most unusual stories that go along with those tattoos?
MB: Oops, that's a hard one. Most stories have very special, intimate and interesting stories to them. Especially as an -apprentice-tattoo artist. I tend to take every story as unusual. Eventually, all stories sound alike by their uniqueness. I think some tattoo artists make a tattoo more special than others. And these artists are the ones I try to work with in Sang Bleu. From FUZI who used to be a super hardcore graffiti writer and now lives in a remote town in the south of France, to highly charismatic people like Filip Leu, Rinzing or Thomas Hooper, to Andrew May and his 18th century-look or Duncan X who (almost) never leaves a perimeter of 100 meters around his house. These people and many others that I have the honour to count as friends make the spirit of Sang Bleu.
DP: What makes a good tattoo artist?
MB: Empathy, references, technical and graphic qualities and a business mind.
DP: Which of your own tattoos was the most complicated and took the longest time to complete?
MB: My back piece: 60 hours over 2 years.
DP: Did you ever receive the film Black Heart? I had asked the director Ada Bligaard Soby to send you, it was a very interesting story, based in NYC about a tattoo artist and a young divorcee with a tattoo that she wanted to make disappear and asked the tattoo artist to ink her to death, not literally, until her ex's name would disappear?
MB: I did! Thank you, by the way!!!
I got the movie and started to watch it just before I left to NY where I am now. I will finish watching it and then give you a proper feedback! I really appreciate that you take the time to recommend me to interesting people. I also got an email from Theo Mercier. Very interesting artist. I will have more time to look into all this now…
DP: What is it like to go to a tattoo convention?
MB: Very much depends on the convention, London and Milano are the best in Europe, but I've also heard lots of good things about the Brighton one. Conventions are interesting, but I usually go there to see friends and have fun so it's certainly different if you go as a 'regular' person… To tell the truth, I am not sure it is very interesting for someone who's not seriously into tattooing as a culture or if you are not planning on getting tattooed…
DP: The image on the left side of Le Pape et la 'Culture' La Grenouille et la Benitier is an acid trip without the acid, it's hypnotic, what is the story behind it?
MB: I can not really speak for Tom (Thomas Hooper) the artist, but his world is very much like this. He is an amazing artist, whether tattooing or painting. He has a blog: www.hooperselectric.com
. A must-have bookmark.
DP: What are your thoughts on organ tattoos and skeletons?
MB: Organs? Like a liver or a blatter? They're a bitch to tattoo! Haha. Only hearts are easy to stylize. Skeletons…Wow. Skulls are 'fun' though. Classic designs, I don't do many of them though.
DP: THe image of the swan the rose and the thorns reminds me of how Rossy de Palma spoke about her perfume 'Eau de Protection' , if you had to choose one image that reappears most frequently in tattoos, what would it be?
MB: Roses maybe. I just can't get bored of drawing the, tattooing them or simply seeing them…
DP: How do you choose the photographers, artists and subjects that you work with/on?
BP: The people I work with because I like their work, but foremost because I believe they either really understand and embrace what Sang Bleu is, or because they fit perfectly in, which is rare. A far as the editorial staff is concerned. I finally have around me a group of people I trust and admire-after a pretty traumatic experience with collaborators who turned out to be dishonest crooks-and who all bring amazing qualities and visions to the project (see page 4 of SBIII/IV!) I tend to woork with the same people over and over. The results get better and better as the mutual understanding progresses too.
And the subjects, they just come continually then I will discuss/test them with Jeanne-Salome, Ian, Adrian, or one of my friends/collaborators. Then I'll think about how to treat it, which contributor to propose it to, will it fit in the issue or should I keep it for an other project, etc. But generally all the topics should bring a new brick to the bigger picture. I also leave a lot of creative space to the contributors. I will consider any suggestion they might have. I also consider any spontaneous offer from people I don't know too.
DP: Did you ever read the Ray Bradbury book The Illustrated Man?
MB: I have…It is ..fantastic. Ludovic Balland was supposed to make a graphic essay using the introduction of it for SB III/IV, but it didn't work. I was so disappointed..I love Bradbury, Martian Chronicles is one of my top 10 favourite books. One other book I'd really like to work on one day is "Blue Almost Transparent" from Ryu Murakami.
DP: Last time we spoke you were thinking about doing another magazine, is that something that you want to talk about?
MB: It is one of these facets I was talking about earlier, I don't want to talk about it too much as I am still conceptualizing it, but if everything works out as it should, you'll hear from it in the next few months!
DP: When you google your name another Maxime comes up that creates fonts, is that you or someone in your family?
MB: That's someone I know quite well. Like an alter-ego you know? (I guess I answered this above…)
DP: I know people can order your book on your site, but where can they buy it otherwise?
Sang Bleu is distributed world wide. There is a list of retailers on the website, under Http://sangbleu.com/order/
or they can e mail: email@example.com
DP: By the way, what is your next tattoo going to be?
MB: I am thinking about a collection of birds on my ribs and front of my thighs down to the knees…
For more information:
Thank you Diane.