Inked Mag Staff
July 8th, 2022
Mat Rule on learning to tattoo, creating his style and tattoo copying.
Some artists specialize in doing cartoon tattoos. Others have made black-and-grey realism their forte. Mat Rule is the rare artist who has mastered both. After falling in love with traditional and black-and-grey tattooing, he decided to combine the opposing genres to create an exceptionally unique signature style. His work literally pops off the skin and reminds us of movies like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Cool World” which brought cartoons into the real world. We sat down with Rule to learn how he came up with such a show-stopping style, which characters he loves tattooing most and much more.
Take us through how you were introduced to art? My uncle was a painter and I was always watching him paint. It was really inspiring to me and I grew up with this idea of becoming an artist. I didn’t study art or become a painter, but it was always in the back of my mind.
How did you get into tattooing? At one point, I was living in Shanghai right next to a tattoo shop. I already had a few tattoos of my own and [the shop] looked like a really cool atmosphere. They seemed really happy. I was studying and working in a nightclub. I didn’t really like what I was doing at the time, so the idea of trying to tattoo started there.
How did you learn to tattoo? I didn’t get an apprenticeship, I learned by myself. When I got back home to Paris, one of my friends was starting to tattoo and I watched him a bit for the basics. Then I started on fake skin and tattooing myself. After that I moved on to tattooing my friends and other people.
What was the first style you fell in love with? At first, I really loved the old-school traditional style. That’s pretty much the only style I knew before I started tattooing. I remember seeing some tattoos from Myke Chambers and that’s what made me start doing this style.
How did you go from doing traditional tattoos to what you do now? I was in a shop and there was no interest in traditional tattoos from the clientele. I did black-and-grey realism for about a year and when I went to a new shop, the other artists really encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. I really missed doing traditional and I really enjoyed doing black-and-grey, so I decided to combine both styles. I just wanted to make something different.
How would you describe your current style? Mat Rule style.
Do you remember the first tattoos you did in Mat Rule style? I started by doing gypsies. I made the eyes traditional and the rest of the face was black-and-grey.
What are some of your favorite characters you’ve tattooed? I like the last Albert Einstein I did with Bender’s body from “Futurama.” I also really liked doing the Handsome Squidward with the body of Michelangelo’s “David.” It was a really weird idea but I loved it. But I find enjoyment in doing any portraits with characters or animals.
What’s your tattoo process? I start with the idea and as soon as I find the character I want to work with, I look for the photograph for the black-and-grey. Then I design the black-and-grey portion of the tattoo and after that I will draw the character.
Does your style have any rules? The only rule is that the client and I both like the outcome.
Tell us about your “Alice in Wonderland” that went viral. My client wanted an Alice tattoo having a tab of acid and she let me do whatever I wanted to do. I used this picture of Dua Lipa with her tongue out and it was the perfect picture to mix with Alice. It’s shocking to see it copied so many times. I didn’t expect it to go like this. I’ve always had my work copied, but not as much as this one. This one was crazy
What advice would you give to artists who want to develop a unique style? Just try to make something that you like and know how to do. Do something that you don’t see already.
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