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C: Tell us about this project…
Marcus Kuhn: The Gypsy Gentleman was an idea I had at the end of last summer. I had leased part of my art studio in Brooklyn to my friend Richard, who is a filmmaker. I had been mulling the idea of using the position I hold in the tattoo world to create something that could transfer some deeper truths…
I realized that I had the capacity to make a film that would introduce this new approach. I began to put together concepts for the first episode. My goal was to present a more intimate and honest portrayal of tattooing and life then had previously been shot on film. It was a very fast process, within a few days of realizing the idea I had gotten the Ruben museum in Manhattan on board and also Thomas Hooper and Virginia Elwood.
As I was awaiting the first shoot I began to get more and more positive feedback friends and started to realize I was onto something that was long overdue. It was just a matter of energizing and coordinating all these creative people and bringing out there best efforts. The filmmakers, the artists and all the great people involved certainly realized that this was an opportunity to do something special and they all rose to the occasion. It has been a sometimes crazy process and at times I feared that we would not make it.
I tattooed at night to make enough money to scrape through the first episode and a few friends contributed some small amounts of cash, (which were greatly appreciated!) My great editor Richard has poured his heart and soul into the project without receiving a red cent. I have spent all my savings and have simply committed myself to shooting for the moon –a life half-lived is not worth living! I believe in what we are doing and believe that if it is a wave of something positive then it will find a path to come into being…
C: How have people responded to the idea?
M: It has been a tremendous experience to see so many people resonate so warmly to the idea; many artists whom I respect immediately recognized the integrity and earnestness of artistic expression and they contacted me to tell me to keep on going. I am grateful for all the positive feedback and hope that as all these great artists tell others about this film project we will surely find enough support to continue filming and presenting new episodes.
C: What are some of the visions you have for future editions?
I have ideas to film an episode on the Trans-Siberian Railway traveling across Russia, tattooing Russian tattoos and drinking vodka with the locals; using Russian folk art and music as the inspiration.
I dream of filming in the deepest slums of Rio and Cape Town. I have already got my friend Chad Koeplinger on board to go to Ghana and then South Africa to tattoo on that continent and I’ve spoken to friends in New Zealand about a winter episode there for this year.
I have planned the London episode for September with Valerie Vargas and Ian Flower… Again it’s one male one female, one star and one rising star of tattooing. The possibilities are endless! I would like to film all night on a temple in India, tattooing the Indian people. (All the tattoos in the episodes are free.) Doing Hindi and Indian tantric art and filming the sun coming up on the Ganges River in the morning as we still sit on the temple overlooking the water. I have approached Miyazo and Shige about doing the Japan episode and using beautiful Japanese architectural details and modern Japanese pop-culture for inspiration.
I would like to shoot Berlin with Lus Lips and Paris with my friends Tin-Tin and Laura Santana. I know all these cities quite well from my travels so those episodes should be easier to coordinate. I would like to tattoo with a silent machine inside a cathedral in Rome or Milan and have classical music and classic style as the focal points. Endless ideas…
I am very proud of what we have achieved on just a belief in something real, and how we used our determination and our time and our voice to affect human change. Please go to www.gypsygentleman.com and support us.
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