The black, vivid, glitched-out tattoos of LOUIS.LOVELESS marry a dirty, punk style with a new media artist's sense of digital malfunction. The artist, who gave only his alias, defies tattooing as an artform and flies in the face of the subculture's decades of tradition. By his own admission, he got kicked out of a tattooing apprenticeship within a few short months, and this problem with authority finds its way into a design aesthetic that seems to obey no rules but his own. The London and Paris-based artist denies the very ideas of elegance and refinement, instead choosing to explore his whims in monochromatic blank ink, which calls to mind South Korean tattoo artist Oozy's work.
LOUIS.LOVELESS tells Creators that he didn't absorb the ways and imagery of traditional tatooing. Instead, he sought to find his own way of doing things because, as he puts it, "flowers do not grow on the well-trodden path."
Early on, LOUIS.LOVELESS was into linear, solid graphics, and more experienced tattoo artists advised him to add shading and other traditional techniques to his work. Aesthetically, he declined their input. "I knew what I liked and what direction I wanted to go in from the start, even if this did not conform with what was going on at the time," he says. "Now, amongst people of my generation, this is quickly becoming a popular 'style.'"
Over time, LOUIS.LOVELESS's application of ink is becoming less technically clean. These days he favors more fluidity and a certain quality of dirtiness, while preserving a high-contrast aesthetic. For him, each tattoo is an opportunity to make his designs conventionally "untattooable."
"I think we are currently living in an age revolving around social media and an influence of a digital nature," he observes. "These things have an effect on our social etiquette, blur perceptions, and effect real human connection, paying more attention now to online alter egos rather than actual reality… [it's] constant documentation for the benefit of others and to feel validated."
LOUIS.LOVELESS suspects that social media is responsible for new trends in tattooing, including his own style. This, he says, has both positive and negative effects. For his part, he only agrees to glitch certain images—things that are inherently symbolic.
Skulls are something that LOUIS.LOVELESS will happily glitch, because they represent the death of real life interaction in the digital age. He will also glitch statues because, for him, they represent justice, power, and authority. By glitching them, LOUIS.LOVELESS is trying to bring attention to what he sees as the mirage of the justice system and society's blind obedience to power structures. He also creates glitch tattoos of religious icons to lay bare the facade of false idols.
LOUIS.LOVELESS's process is a bit different from what one might expect. Making the glitches requires a different way of sketching, which he at first executed by making his stencils and drawings by hand, since he is admittedly not very technological.
"It would be a process of making the design twice to scale, then shifting the tracing paper, and redrawing it on another layered piece to create the glitch effect," he explains. "I now just use a plastic surgery app that I found on my iPad. I then redraw it by hand so the glitching process has actually transitioned from handmade to digital."
"Thanks to a social media-sparked insecurity epidemic, we have apps enabling us to edit and change our faces," he adds. "I now have an easier way to glitch my designs… LOL [sic] the irony."
Click here to see more of LOUIS.LOVELESS's work.