Maxime Buchi

The tattoo artist reintroducing us to poetry.

Meet Maxime Buchi – founder of Dalston’s Sang Bleu, the tattoo parlour that has attracted the likes of Kanye West and Rick Owens through its doors. Never mind his tattooing prowess, Buchi is also a man that can put together a successful publishing outlet, design clothes and now, turn his hand to poetry. For World Poetry Day – which lands tomorrow – Buchi has partnered with Viennese coffee house, Julius Meinl for a new campaign that marries coffee, poets and creatives: “Pay With A Poem”. Below we learn more.

Your tattoo designs are highly distinctive. How would you describe your style to others?

What I have done with tattooing, or what I have attempted to do is to use certain shapes and aesthetics and techniques that I studied in my apprenticeship. What I considered a certain tradition growing up was not what is usually considered as tradition in the tattoo world. When I considered getting into tattoos, I felt that it was very important to stay to what was close to me; I just really wanted to find a way to constitute a style that was representative of my own identity and origin.

What initially drew you to London, as the base for Sang Bleu?

I had the opportunity to come to London once or twice and had an amazing time. I realised that it was probably a really good option for me and to be honest, I really just had to hustle, reap and follow the opportunities. I had the opportunity to work in a design agency in London and that’s why I arrived here. I grew up with a lot of influences from Anglo-Saxon cultures in general. In my early 20s I came here and it was a really good balance between the sort of European-ness of my upbringing and the other Anglo-Saxon culture influences. They came into a perfect middle ground in London.

And you’ve just been named ambassador for the Julius Meinl “Pay With A Poem” campaign. How did that come about?

The annual “Pay With A Poem” initiative will take place globally this World Poetry Day (21st March) in 36 countries, encouraging people to awaken their inner poet. I’m joining this movement to showcase that poetry is not a practice, it’s a mind-state; the techniques are a means and poetry is the end. Customers who visit participating locations serving Julius Meinl on WPD and write a poem will receive a complimentary coffee or tea of their choice.

My father’s a journalist. I grew up with literature and with words being way more important than visual. Visual is something that I have worked with in my own life but that wasn’t necessarily me growing up. When I decided to start the [Sang Bleu] magazine in 2006, I did everything for it. I was writing most of the text and doing all of the interviews. All of the creative direction, layout and photography. There was no discontinuity between visual, text or sound. So, this is a nice opportunity to reconnect with that. I was very happy to take this opportunity. I will be showing a couple of visual textual poems, which is pretty exciting.

What do you think are the strongest similarities between poetry and art?

Even more today than ever, all the mediums of expression are much more fluid than it’s ever been in history. For me, what I do with tattooing, what I do with writing and what I do with graphic design – they don’t always overlap but they have the same vision. It’s what my artistic statement is. That’s what Sang Bleu magazine was about, the ability to show all of the these together.

Some of your tattoo clients are pretty big deals; do you have a favourite story?

Unfortunately, I don’t. The beauty of tattooing and not just tattooing, but in life in general, is that everyday something incredible happens. Tattooing is an amazing thing. It’s a thing where you are meeting people every day from such an insane diversity of backgrounds of age, political views or whatever. So, for me, what I find extraordinary is the everyday; the novelty of the everyday.

Like this? Buy the Spring ’17 Issue here.

Louise Bonner