Madeleine Love began drawing from a young age, enamored with the possibilities of the natural world; with flora and fauna still inspiring Love’s tattoos to this day. Bouquets of flowers sit amongst fantastical animals, clearly drawing from styles found in manga and anime. Approaching her work with curiosity and playfulness, her tattoos are powerfully colored and gracefully executed.
What is your name, birthplace, and year of birth?
My name is Madeleine Love. I was born in Toowoomba, Australia in the winter of 1994.
Where did you grow up? Please describe your upbringing and sociocultural background.
I grew up in place pretty out of the way called Toowoomba, otherwise known as the Garden City. I lived my life mostly at home with my family when I wasn’t at school, exploring the gardens surrounding my house, collecting flowers and stones, and trying to befriend any animal that I came across. To this day, my father tells me that I would draw anywhere, on anything, and with anything that came to hand. When I was little I would draw on the bark of the Melaleuca tree. I used to call it the "paper tree" because the bark was so soft it would peel off into what looked like funny sheets of paper. Drawing kept me occupied for hours upon hours and my mumma had a hard time keeping me focused on anything else. As I got older I started to hang around my father's business, learning a bit here and there about canvas and vinyl. He would teach me how to use the industrial sewing machines on the weekends so that one day I might make tents like him. My mother taught me the more delicate side to sewing such as embroidery, leatherworking, pattern creation, as well as doll and toy making. I still have a little hybrid dinosaur teddy bear with leather paw pads that sits on my bookcase.
Where do you currently work? Prior to that where have you worked?
I currently work at Tailor Made Tattoo which is located in Brisbane, Queensland. Working at Tailor Made, I was able to be more of myself and work on my own style of art in tattooing. The first tattoo studio that I worked in was called Skin Art Tattoo. This is the shop that I learnt to tattoo in, located in Toowoomba, Queensland.
How long have you been tattooing?
I have been tattooing for roughly seven years now. I officially started my apprenticeship in 2010. I did my first tattoo on my boss in November, 2012.
What inspired you to learn tattooing, and what did you initially learn how to tattoo?
Once I found out that you could tattoo I was all in and so excited. I was 12 when I saw my first tattoo; it was my cousin's. I remember hearing our parents chatting in the kitchen. I wanted to know what was going on so I begged my cousin to let me in on the secret. She pulled me into the other room and told me she would show me but not to tell my mother or father. They’d told her that if I saw hers, they knew I’d want one. She turned around and flipped up her shirt revealing a massive back piece - a traditional cherry blossom tree. The first thought that crossed my mind was "WHAT?! YOU CAN DO THAT?! I want to draw on people!" It was just such an unusual and enchanting concept to me that I knew then and there that it was something I wanted to do.
Where you trained through a formal apprenticeship? Describe the circumstances of learning.
I did train through a formal apprenticeship. I started my apprenticeship while I was still in school so I went to the studio every chance I had. I was there every day after school, every weekend, and all holidays until I graduated. Once I graduated school I was there full time. I would watch the artists tattoo when I wasn’t at the front counter. It was one of the best ways to learn. I was taught how to talk to customers by the other guy working on the front counter – he had more tattoos than anyone else in the studio. He would get me to flip through big books of tattoos and have me give estimates on the price for each piece. I would draw designs for the owner and artists of the studio. Designs ranged from medieval dragons to the good ol' script in a banner; all of them on thin baking paper.
Did that training help as you learned the mechanics of tattooing?
Definitely, but you never stop learning.
How did you develop your style? How would you describe it? What are your influences?
I developed my style naturally over time and I think that for the most part it will be forever changing as I progress. The closest thing I could use to describe my style would be illustrative design. Some of my greatest influences are illustrative artists and painters such as Little Thunder and Joanne Nam; their beautiful use of color and composition inspire me daily.
What do you look for in a shop?
I look for a comfortable, clean place where everyone can enjoy their work, inspire, and teach each other. A studio becomes your second home – you spend so much of your time there it is important to be happy where you work.
Do you have any hobbies outside of tattooing?
Of course, every chance I can find to bring everyone together for a nice long session of Dungeons And Dragons is a day off well spent. I also love to read, paint, hike, and play video games. Playing video games has most definitely influenced how I tattoo. The first video game that I ever played was Poke’mon. This game and anime in particular has helped to shape the artist I am today. Video games have such a variety of concept art for the characters and this helped me, especially in my early childhood, to bring emotion to the people and creatures I would draw. I still play Poke’mon and a variety of other games, mostly released by Nintendo or Blizzard.
What inspires you generally?
Everything and anything! You can get the best ideas from the simplest things. But if I had to narrow it down I would have to say flora and fauna; I find the color and movement most interesting. I am very inspired by the stunning and peculiar things that nature has to offer, from the winding anatomy of sneaky snakes to the vibrant colors of every leaf and flower. I feel that by studying the world around me I can continue to improve as an artist and an individual.
"Do your best to learn from other artists and not to over criticize yourself."
Are any other forms of media, traditional or digital, important to your work?
I would say that the other forms of media that are important to my work is anything that tickles me at the time. These forms of media have mostly been based around manga and anime. These are things that I grew up with, I would read or watch the same things over and over again. The more times I watched them the more I picked up. I learnt my style of watercolor painting from looking at the styles depicted in the anime I watched and the books I read.
Is traveling important to you? If so where do you usually travel? Do you have any interesting experiences abroad you can share?
I think that travel is an important part of life. I have so many fond memories of silly adventures. I recently travelled to New Zealand for the first time. It was breathtaking; my partner and I even got to share breakfast with a family of ducks and a couple of nosey swans while camping at Lake Taupo. I haven’t had the chance to organize a work holiday yet but I think going on an adventure and tattooing would make for some exciting memories.
What is the main challenge of tattooing today?
I think that one of the main challenges of tattooing today is finding what your passion is and striving to progress, while upholding the traditions of tattooing. Do your best to learn from other artists and not to over criticize yourself.
Ideally, how would you like to see tattooing evolve? How do you think it will evolve realistically?
I don't know what the future of tattooing holds, but I look forward to the new advances in technology for the industry, as well as new techniques and styles developed by fellow artists. As long as we continue to learn, the possibilities for the progression of the tattoo industry are endless.