Madame Chän's Watercolor Tattoos Are Our New Obsession
This Barcelona-based tattoo artist will redefine your idea of what it means to get inked.
Tattooing, as an art form, is undoubtedly having a moment. The increased visibility of a wide variety of artists and styles, specifically via Instagram, makes uncovering your next piece of body art inspo as easy as searching a hashtag or cruising the 'Explore' page. Artists are racking up thousands of digital followers, becoming social media celebrities in their own rights, with year-long waitlists just to book an appointment. One such tattoo artist quickly garnering a reputation for her distinctive work in the medium is Madame Chän.
Born and raised in Barcelona, Chän has an understanding of line and color that immediately sets her apart from her contemporaries. Though her work appears delicate at first glance, with fine lines and subtle shading you’d expect from a professionally trained artist, there's a boldness to her sketches that is only enhanced by the washes of unadulterated color she throws on top of them. The pieces appear more like the soft-focus watercolors of Monet than a permanent body modification crafted with ink and needle.
With a grandfather who was an architect and a background in graphic design, Chän approaches her work like a draftsman, laying down a precise yet subtle line, and then building upon those bare bones to craft an image so fully rendered it looks as though it could jump off of the person’s flesh and join the real world, like a pair of red and blue koi fish swimming down a forearm, or tulips bursting into bloom across a woman’s lower back.
What started by chance as a hobby, picking up lessons here and there via fortunate run-ins from greats in the industry in Brussels and Berlin, quickly turned into a passion project. Unlike some tattooers, who have developed their own distinct language of iconography, applying it to any client that walks through the door, Chän looks at the medium more like getting to have a conversation between the artist and the canvas. Her customers personalities and stories infuse the work that she does, resulting in pieces that feel almost too intimate to be viewed by total strangers. A shell traveling the length of a woman’s torso, for example, feels at once quotidian and as though you’ve suddenly uncovered that person’s most closely held secret.
Perhaps, that also has something to do with the almost magical appearance of the work on the body; again, that feeling that it might disappear or fly away the second you avert your gaze. They give the impression that the body is offering up one of its many internalized truths, but could just as easily retract it. Though Chän traffics largely in imagery from the natural world, mostly working with plants, animals, and shells, her work retains a profound sense of the ethereal.
Though she currently only has around 6,000 followers on Instagram, Madame Chän is already poised to become an overnight social media sensation—if you’re looking to get one of these label-defying washes of ink for yourself, you best start planning your trip to Barcelona ASAP.