When Chaim Machlev left his homeland, Israel, he could not predict his dream would have come true that soon: in fact, it took him about 2 years to see his artist name, DotsToLines, as one of the most popular in the tattoo scene at the international level.
When you mention his success, Chiam just smiles with a polite, low profile approach, showing clearly that he does not like to be too much under the spot light.
It seems that the same attitude gave shape to the Berlin-based DotsToLine’s Tattoo Shop: this is located in the basement of a East-Berlin building whose sign consists of a simple writing hardly detectable through the glass of the front door.
The calling to tattoo art presented itself quite suddenly, at the time Chaim got tattooed for the fist time in Telaviv: “It was a kind of a revelation. In that exact moment I realized I wanted to be a tattoo artist”.
Strongly motivated to pursue this challenge, Chaim faced his family and friends’ scepticism: “They thought it was a rush decision, since in Israel I had a good job as a Manager of an ICT firm, which was also quite well paid. When I told them my decision, they thought this was insane!”
Whether you think of it as a rush decision or not, it is undeniable that it was at least a radical change, and also relatively quick: the decision was taken after a few days alone in the desert, far from any distraction. On his way back, Chaim knew the answer: “I packed few stuff and bought a one-way ticket to Berlin as the favourite destination to delve into tattoo art and give my dream a try”.
Once in Berlin, aged 30, Chaim started collaborations with various tattoo shops as a way to see other artists at work and start building his network. After various temporary jobs to afford his living costs, Chiam managed to buy the first tattoo machine: this marked the beginning of his research and experimentations.
Overwhelmed by the atmosphere of one of the most creative and lively environments, for DotsToLines the German capital was a great revelation.
“I come from a place where the tattoo culture is still affected by stereotypes and common say that associate it to bad lifestyle and malpractice. For instance, when I got my first tattoo, for my parents it was a sort of a big issue”.
There are no rules guiding Chaim in his profession, but habits instead. “I like to know the person that asks me for a tattoo, I like to have the chance to have a coffee together and get to know more about her/his motivation. I need to collect as much information as I can in order to draw a design that is personal,” said Chiam while making funny comparisons with psychological sections.
The close human exchange behind each artwork reflects into DotsToLines’ projects, that result into unique pieces, authentic and very personal. Accordingly, explains Chaim, he does not do more than one tattoo per day as a marking element of his style, whatever this could certainly appear uneconomic for such a popular artist.
If this short story made you wondering of getting a tattoo from DotsToLines, first make yourself comfortable: the agenda is fully booked until January 2016!
by Carlotta Comparetti