Next month, visitors to the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam can take home their own work of art, if they are bold enough. Between June 19 and 25, four tattoo artists from Schiffmacher and Veldhoen will be on call to grant Rembrandts-inspired ink on those who want to go under the needle.
Called the “Poor Man’s Rembrandt Projectthe initiative is an attempt to connect with new artists and audiences in Amsterdam.
“We see ourselves as the home of artists,” says Milou Halbesma, director of the Rembrandt House Museum, at the Guardianis Senay Boztas. “Rembrandt not only lived and worked there, but also taught his students. We want to work in our new studio space with Dutch artists to connect with the public – and we consider artists from Schiffmacher & Veldhoen. This is the challenge for every museum: to reach the next generation.
Henk Schiffmacher, a tattoo artist with a 45-year career that organizes the first major tattoo conventions in Europe, says the project is an example of “big and small art coming together”.
“Worldwide, more tattoos are sold than wall art,” he says in a statement. “A former tattoo artist once called tattoos ‘The Rembrandt of the Pauper’: a work of art more affordable than a painting by an Old Master, but no less carefully executed and selected. Many people also build up a real collection of tattoos from specific tattoo artists.
For €100 to €250 ($109 to $272), Schiffmacher – as well as tattoo artists Tycho Veldhoen, Rupa van Teylingen and Timothy John Englisch – will offer a variety of Rembrandt-inspired drawings, including portraits of the artist, his signature, and the house.
Born in 1631, Rembrandt was an influential Dutch Golden Age painter who spent many years making art in Amsterdam.
“We are all big fans of Rembrandt”, says Englisch Hyperallergicis Elaine Velie. “The loose and quick way he was able to draw something in a few lines is just amazing. And his paintings are full of real emotion and beautiful high contrast with light and dark.
Apart from looking like the work of the old master, the tattoos also pay homage to his process. Rembrandt often used a drypoint technique which consisted of scratching directly on the printing plate using a needle. Now, “people’s skin will be the plate to be etched,” Schiffmacher tells the Guardian.
“When you are in this house, the soul of Rembrandt is there”, he adds. “Especially if you are alone, there is a certain atmosphere. You almost hear Rembrandt’s children screaming or running back and forth. You can’t get close to an artist.