Angelique Houtkamp is a Dutch tattoo artist I interviewed.
From swallows to knives, from pin-ups to broken hearts, all the traditional tattoo flash imagery finds a new breath in the romantic and feminine style of Dutch artist Angelique Houtkamp.
Angelique’s work has expanded to an international audience using media like canvas, clothing and sculpture. She has a real love for Australia and she plans to return before the end of the year. Anticipating the pleasure to welcome her, we exchanged some words about her journey and vision of art.
Published in Acclaim magazine.
HOW DOES A DUTCH GIRL IN HER 30s COME TO TATTOO?
When I turned 19, I figured out there were two career options for me, tattoo or music. I was a musician for about 10 years but wasn’t any good. Around that time, we had maybe three tattoo shops in Amsterdam, so I tried to get an apprenticeship but couldn’t get in. I was pretty shy and didn’t really like the people involved, so I got kind of discouraged. However, I always had local and global tattooist friends, and I went to nearly every big European tattoo convention. So throughout the years, I got a better understanding about the way things worked. At one point, I left my job and didn’t know what to do next. I asked a really good friend to teach me, and he did. By this time I was 30, and I wouldn’t want it any different though. I got a lot more wise and confident in those 11 years, and when I started tattooing I was more my own person and knew what I wanted.
YOUR ART IS REALLY OLD SCHOOL INFLUENCED, HOW WAS TATTOOING DIFFERENT BACK IN DAYS?
I like to think it was way more romantic, more about basic feelings, like love, pride, fear and death. Especially for men, it was a way to show you were tough and not to be messed with. In England and Germany, around the ‘40s, a lot of guys got their neck and hands tattooed… and that was it! They’d be wearing their jacket, and everybody would think they were covered in tattoos. If they had more cash, they’ll do their forearms, so they could roll up their sleeves. Nowadays, it’s more about conveying that you have a good taste. People spend a lot of time and thought on their tattoos and what they want them to mean. I like working in street shops because some guy comes in and wants his girlfriend’s name tattooed on his arm, just because he walked past the shop and thought it would be a good idea. Somehow for me impulsiveness is the essence of tattooing.
HOW DOES WORKING ON YOUR OWN CANVAS DIFFER FROM INKING SOMEBODY’S SKIN?
A couple of years ago, after an article in Juxtapoz magazine, Outré gallery asked me if they could sell my prints. So when I participated in a group show at their gallery last September, I came in Melbourne for three weeks. It’s the best city ever. Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, they got nothing on Melbourne. Great people, loads of bars and restaurants, good shopping, and cockatoos galore, like we have pigeons. Since then, we’ve been working on a book about my work, which will be published next October on top of a solo show at the gallery. So I’ll have to come over again. I also just designed the new poster for the Perth independent film festival Revelation. Otherwise, Kate at Chapel Tattoo in Melbourne tattooed me a Koala on my leg. Australians were making fun of me, while I tried to explain that back home I really would be crazy cool. And I am! I have gotten laid over this koala tattoo… No, that’s a lie, but that is how cool it is. I think me and Australia like each other.