Tattoos give bare walls eye-popping edge
You’ve never had the guts to get that lower-back tat—you know, a tramp stamp like Angelina Jolie’s that would peek from your gonch when you bend over. You’re way too chicken to tattoo you. But you don’t need cojones or any special skills or tools to tattoo your brand-new condo’s bare walls stunningly cool all by yourself. If something is going to be hipper than you, why not your own crib?
Rod Tasaka and his cutting-edge design group, Surface Collective, sent golden koi swimming up a sheet of glass separating a kitchen and bedroom in a Crosstown condo. In a Gastown loft, Tasaka’s 1970s-sexy image of a wild-haired woman flows across a low wall. In a house in Burnaby, a tendrilled graphic twists from one wall to another, and in a New West home, exotic vines curl to red-lit ceilings.
What’s up, exactly? What’s up is that all these eye-popping works of wall art are—ta-da!—decals made of matte vinyl. Those fish that look etched in frosted glass are actually a frosted-vinyl decal stuck smoothly to the clear pane to create seriously striking bedchamber privacy. But what’s really happening is that wall tattoos are getting global interior-design heat.
Forget that ugly-ass abstract you bought while apparently blindfolded, or, ahem, those flowery watercolours your mom painted. Now we’re “thinking outside the canvas”, Tasaka says. On a recent afternoon at the Vancouver studio of the company that trademarked wall tattoo, its owner/creative director wears a T-shirt bearing his own coolly poetic flock-of-birds graphic. Flock is, natch, among Surface Collective’s scads of bewitching wall tats. “Wall tattoos are dramatic, and our price points are low enough—like $39 to $150—that most people can afford them. For people living in high-ceilinged lofts with big open spaces, you’d have to put up a lot of frames or one big canvas. That’s hard and really expensive. Tattoos are about seeing how you can change your space with graphics and having a theme within your space.”
For Tasaka—who has designed for NBC, Nokia, Atari, and PlayStation—body tattoos, jaw-dropping wall graphics in Copenhagen’s megahot Hotel Fox, a hand-painted wall design in a hip Sí£o Paulo home, and European street graffiti all spelled inspiration. “Seeing this graffiti, I thought, ”˜This should be in people’s homes,’ ” he says. “Not necessarily hard-core graffiti, but graphics within an interior space.”
That translated to Tasaka’s hand-picked design collective, with artists from Sweden to Sí£o Paulo creating tat-cool designs for Surface. Tasaka himself leads the way, with his tendrilly Flo, Eastern-exotic Siddhartha, and Tarantino-edgy Killjoy, in which a chair-bound dude is punched bloody, artistically speaking. “Some people don’t necessarily like violence on their walls,” he says, laughing. “But some do.” Also on-board: Brazilian all-girl design trio My.S’s exquisitely modern graphics, and beguiling kiddie art by Meomi, Vancouver–L.A. designers of the 2010 Olympic mascots.
Tattoo fever is catching. Home Depot carries wall tats ($16 to $65)—including Keith Haring prints—from Venice, California, hipsters Blik. IKEA does playful wall “stickers” ($9.99 to $16.99). Moe’s Home Collection (1728 Glen Drive), Benjamin Moore’s Dunbar and Yaletown locations, and Lofty Living in New Westminster and Richmond all carry Surface Collective selections. (See www.surfacecollective.com for all retailers.) At Moe’s, whose own walls are tatted, feathers and flora rule. “Anything that’s nature, birds on branches, is very popular,” Tasaka says. Also hot: “damask, cherry blossoms, swirls”. At Hip Baby (2110 West 4th Avenue), owner-artist Jen MacCormack’s own Surface Collective creations are, yep, hip.
What? DIY tat? “One person can put up our smaller designs in probably under an hour,” Tasaka says. “Ultimately, it’s peel and stick, plus scissors and an old credit card to rub the tattoo. If you get a wrinkle, peel it off and smooth it out.” Surface Collective’s jumbo tats generally take two to stick ’em up. The company, which custom-designs too, also installs.
Stick ’em where? “Popular places are above the couch and bed,” Tasaka says. “If you have columns, you could do, say, goldfish flowing up your columns.” Smaller tats, like Lost Lenore’s gothic bird, look wild on mirrors or as “corner accents”. “The beauty of tattoos is after a while you can take them down and put up something new. It’s all about what mood you want for your space.”
The wall-tat trend report? “People request quotations like, ”˜Do you do “Live, Love, Laugh” ?’ I don’t,” Tasaka says, laughing. Relenting, he says he’ll design “scripty” fonts, letting people choose their text. He’s adding new surfaces—like shower curtains—and some iconic faces. As with his laptop tats, his heart belongs to edgier, sexier art. On a shower curtain, his Killjoy would be bloody hilarious. Nevertheless, he says, “Who am I to say ”˜Dance like nobody’s watching’ is cheesy on your wall?”