ITW – Caroline Karénine, the art of details…

7 MN

ITW – Caroline Karénine, the art of details…

It’s 6pm, the sun is setting, and Caroline swings open the door of her tattoo studio with a big grin on her face. Nestled in between two steep streets in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, the place plunges you into a boundless initiatory journey. The tattoo studio looks like an Asian curiosity cabinet. It’s here that Caroline Karenine works, an incredibly talented tattoo artist with an unmistakable style, half way between vintage ornamentalism and a mix of ethnic influences. We’ve been in love with her high-precision work for a while now, and wanted to ask her a few questions in order to learn a little about the art of tattooing that she masters to perfection.

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Hi Caroline! You started tattooing at a very young age. How did you get to where you are now?

I started tattooing when I was seventeen, whilst I was still studying graphic design. I tattooed a little at my house, and then in a beauty salon and by the beach. There weren’t that many tattoo shop’s back then, so I tried to stay connected to tattooing as much as I could up until my 20s. Of course, I went to other tattoo studios in Montpellier but there wasn’t enough work around for them to hire me full time. I then went on to study art history when I was twenty, but I quickly realised that I was wasting my time. So I found a tattoo shop, worked there for two years, and then went to Insolite tattoo in Nimes, where I perfected my technique, notably with grey realism. Then I went to Tribal Act in Paris where I tested out all sorts of styles (childlike realism, colour realism, illustrations etc.), without really sticking to a traditional style – I was never really fond of that. Then, I began travelling on my own. I went into the Tunisian Sahara and something clicked when I saw all those Berber designs. Prior to that, I really wanted to master a failproof technique, and when I came home I had to create a tattoo flash for a magazine. My drawing style completely changed – it’s what I do now. From then on, I began to reveal myself a lot more in my illustrations.

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Has drawing always been a part of your life?

Before tattooing, I used to draw, but very badly. I wasn’t really gifted. It took a lot of work, and it still is a lot of work. I always liked drawing, it’s probably that that made me want to draw everyday and progress more and more.

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What drew you to the art of tattooing?

I accompanied my brother to get a piercing in Avignon when I was young. When I entered the shop, something inside of me just clicked. I realised that working didn’t have to be a chore, but that you could combine a passion with your professional life. I loved the freedom I felt there. The people that worked there were breaking all visual, aesthetic and professional codes. The idea of having a job that still gave me some freedom stuck in my head. Since I’d been drawing from a young age, I wanted to do something linked to illustration whilst still keeping contact with the body. I come from a small village in the South of France, and my parents were totally alien to the art and tattoo worlds. I told myself that if I wanted to make it, I had to go to art school. I didn’t like it to begin with, but I did some work experience with a tattoo artist and that was it. At the end of it, I was certain I wanted to become a tattoo artist.

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Your inspirations are very ethnic, and your tattoos are incredibly precise. Where do you find your inspiration?

Mostly from my travels, and especially architecture, sculpture, Asian temples, Barcelona’s cobbled streets and facades. I like to take photos of them and then draw some inspiration from them. Books, as well, I like to look for old books in bookshops. From materials as well, like old rugs, silk-screen prints, or traditional costumes, as well as jewellery for their ornamental shapes.

 

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You recently tattooed portraits of women of different ethnicities. What do they represent to you?

The theme of women is one I really love, maybe because I am a woman doing a guy’s job. I had wanted to do a portrait series on women for a long time when the art gallery Clémouchka in Lyon asked me to do a collective exhibition based on feminism. At the same time, I was really into my “Femmes du Monde” series, and it’s thanks to that exhibition that I was able to really develop it and give meaning to it. I always start off with a woman as a foundation, an African woman for example, and then draw inspiration from other ethnicities with the patterns around it, so as to not have something with too much of an identity. It’s like a unity of different ethnicities, a true woman of the world. I like to bring that socio-political message to my tattoos.

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If we really wanted a Caroline Karénine tattoo, where should we go?

Nowadays I mainly tattoo in my Parisian studio in the 18th arrondissement, but I also guest at Drop’in in Switzerland and at Purple Sun in Brussels. I would also love to do conventions abroad.

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Do you ever refuse to do requests that don’t fit with your graphic style?

Yes, but rarely. I have to choose, but according to the size. I prefer working on bigger projects rather than smaller ones. I have to feel a vibe at the beginning, when I open the e-mail or when I meet the person, until the end of the project. I want the tattoo to really mean something to the person.

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And who did your own tattoos? Do they all have a particular meaning in your eyes?

I’m not that tattooed. I got some done by people I really appreciate. I’d love for my whole body to be tattooed one day, but I want a unity to them all, I don’t want that whole patchy tattoo thing. I did a few knowing that one day they’ll have to be covered or modified.

 

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We recently did a collaboration with tattoo artists Supakitch. You trained him, didn’t you? Can you tell us a bit more about that encounter?

We know each other from Montpellier because we have quite a few friends in common. We met before he left for New York. He told me he wanted to get into tattooing and we immediately clicked. My boyfriend suggested I prepare a little tattoo kit for him. I didn’t really feel capable to train someone, as I’d been trained in an old –school manner, training to me seemed long and tedious. My boyfriend really encouraged me, so I caved and ended up training Guillaume (Supakitch) and sending him that little kit. We then spent two weeks together in a New York apartment where I taught him all about the art of tattooing. Guillaume sort of used everyone around him as guinea pigs so that he could learn – it all happened quite naturally. He then worked at Bleu Noir and I popped in from time to time to give him bits of advice. But he was immediately very good at it; he was very skilful with lines and had a real passion for tattooing.

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I noticed you dabbled in other art forms. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I wanted to change mediums a bit so that this desire to mix different cultures could be open to everyone, not just one person. I tried my hand with canvases, especially collages, painting outside, in the streets. I found myself again thanks to these new challenges. I’ve been tattooing for twelve years now, my tattooing foundations are solid, and I don’t feel that rush anymore. I needed to find it elsewhere, and with painting and collage, I feel that adrenaline once more. I really take to heart where I place my collages or paintings. I like to walk around cities to find the perfect spot. In Brazil, for example, I was walking down the street and I told myself “Yes, right here, it’s the perfect spot!” It’s like that all the time, as if everything just comes together perfectly. The first collage I did in Paris, I was with a friend and I’d only bought the glue; we walked 100 meters and I found a bucket and a small piece of wood. It enables me to let go, I really like that!

 

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What is your ultimate dream?

Shit! What’s my dream as a tattoo artist… I’d like to keep going as I am, and travel more for my work. I’d love to work in Japan and Hong Kong. Now that I have this studio, I’m luck to have great working conditions. I’d love to be able to travel and bring my young daughter with me, but I have to wait until she’s a bit older so that she can busy herself whilst I’m tattooing. Actually, I’d love to put aside months at a time for me to travel and tattoo at the same time, like “inspirational roadtrips”, that would enable me to jot down my inspirations immediately. Yes, I think that’s it, that’s my own little dream!

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The artist’s website

Interview réalisée par Marion Bureau
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The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

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However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

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If the Order has not been shipped yet at the time the Vendor receives the cancellation notice, the Delivery is effectively cancelled and the Customer is reimbursed of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the cancellation notice.

If the Order has been shipped at the time the Vendor receives cancellation notice, the Customer is still entitled to cancel the order by refusing the Delivery. The Vendor shall then reimburse the Customer of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the returned products in the same condition as they were sent and must have their original label. The return expenses remain at the cost of the Customer.

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The Customer can follow the track progress of his/her Order on his/her account on the Website. Regarding the delivery progress, the Customer shall contact the Company to obtain a tracker number, to follow the progress.

Prix et délais de livraison précis

Shipping cost

> 1 kg1 > 2 kg2 > 4kg
5.56.57

Delivery time

3-5 working days

Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Finlande, Grèce, Hongrie, Italie, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, République Tchèque, Suède, Ukraine

Shipping cost

> 2 kg2 > 4kg
9.511.5

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Andorre, Biélorussie, Croatie, Islande, Monaco, Norvège, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Suisse, Turquie

Shipping cost

> 2 kg2 > 4kg
9.511.5

Delivery time

5-8 working days

Bahamas, Canada, États-Unis, Mexique

Shipping cost

> 1.5 kg1.5 > 4kg
1519.5

Delivery time

5-9 working days

Argentine, Brésil, Chili

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

Shipping cost

€24

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-10 working days

Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

How do I return my package from France?

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package.

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

The return costs are at the customer's expense (cost of shipping by the transporter chosen by the customer and any other related costs: customs duties, taxes, etc.).

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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How to order?

Please follow the following instructions in order to submit an Order:

  1. Visit the Website;

  2. Follow the instructions on the Website to place your orders and especially the instructions given to create a Customer account;

  3. Fulfil the Ordering form. After extended inactivity you may encounter an automatic cancellation of the Goods you submitted. You shall start a new Order of any Good and Service you wished to order;

  4. You shall check the Goods and Services you Order, and if necessary, please identify and correct the error;

  5. Confirm the Order, the Total Price as well as the All-Inclusive Price (the “Order Confirmation”);

  6. Follow the payment Website instructions in order to pay the All-Inclusive Price.

After you have submitted an order, the Customer receives by email and without delay a confirmation of his approval of the Order.

The Customer also receives by email and without delay, a receipt of the order sent electronically, regarding as a confirmation of the order (“Order Confirmation”).

The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

The delivery shall take place at the location indicated by the Customer at the time of the Order.

Additionally, by undertaking these different steps to Order, the Customer accepts to strictly comply with this Agreement, in accordance with section 1316-1 of the French Civil Code.

The Vendor undertakes to deliver the Goods and Services subject of the Order Confirmation. In the event that a Good ordered is unavailable, the Vendor will promptly inform the Customer about this.

However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

Place of Delivery

The place of Delivery shall be determined by the Customer within the Territory, under sanction to refuse the Order.

The Customer is exclusively responsible for any error in the Delivery due to a lack of indication contained in the Order.

Amount of Delivery Charges

The amount of Delivery Charges depends upon the amount of the Order and upon the Method of Delivery the Customer chooses. In any case, the amount of Delivery Charges shall be indicated to you before the Order Confirmation.

The Delivery Charges are free if the amount exceeds EUR 200,00.

Delivery Term

Delivery Terms are available for review on the Website. They may change depending on the availability of the Goods subject of the Order.

Delivery Terms are expressed in working days and correspond to an average time for preparing and shipping the Order to the Customer.

Delivery Terms shall begin to run at the Order Confirmation date.

Delays

In the event of delays in the Delivery, the Order is not cancelled. The Vendor shall inform the Customer by electronic mail that the delivery will take place later than what was contemplated by the Parties. You will be then entitled to decide whether to confirm or cancel your order and shall send to the Vendor a cancellation notice of the Order at service-client@olow.fr.

If the Order has not been shipped yet at the time the Vendor receives the cancellation notice, the Delivery is effectively cancelled and the Customer is reimbursed of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the cancellation notice.

If the Order has been shipped at the time the Vendor receives cancellation notice, the Customer is still entitled to cancel the order by refusing the Delivery. The Vendor shall then reimburse the Customer of the payment he/she made, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the returned products in the same condition as they were sent and must have their original label. The return expenses remain at the cost of the Customer.

Tracking

The Customer can follow the track progress of his/her Order on his/her account on the Website. Regarding the delivery progress, the Customer shall contact the Company to obtain a tracker number, to follow the progress.

Prix et délais de livraison précis

Shipping cost

> 1 kg1 > 2 kg2 > 4kg
5.56.57

Delivery time

3-5 working days

Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Finlande, Grèce, Hongrie, Italie, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, République Tchèque, Suède, Ukraine

Shipping cost

> 2 kg2 > 4kg
9.511.5

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Andorre, Biélorussie, Croatie, Islande, Monaco, Norvège, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Suisse, Turquie

Shipping cost

> 2 kg2 > 4kg
9.511.5

Delivery time

5-8 working days

Bahamas, Canada, États-Unis, Mexique

Shipping cost

> 1.5 kg1.5 > 4kg
1519.5

Delivery time

5-9 working days

Argentine, Brésil, Chili

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

Shipping cost

€24

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

Shipping cost

€27

Delivery time

6-10 working days

Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

How do I return my package from France?

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package.

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

The return costs are at the customer's expense (cost of shipping by the transporter chosen by the customer and any other related costs: customs duties, taxes, etc.).

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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