Simon Wittenberg checks out the first-ever car in the world to be inked.
Tattoos have become a common sight in society, and are normally associated with intricate artworks carefully drawn on the skin, not something made of metal. Vehicle manufacturer Lexus has done just that and commissioned the world’s first tattooed car in celebration of fine Takumi craftsmanship and traditional Japanese artistry.
The one-off Lexus UX compact SUV has been designed and created by leading London tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe, and if sold, it would carry a price tag of around £120,000.
This project was actually the first time Claudia had used her skills on something that wasn’t human, and therefore found both similarities and new challenges in this unique commission.
Using a white car as her “canvas”, and a Dremel drill tool in place of a fine tattooing needle, Claudia created a sweeping design featuring koi carp fish along the entire length of the UX. The koi is a familiar motif within traditional Japanese art, representing good fortune and perseverance.
She then drilled away the surface paint to expose the metal underneath in order to create the complex pattern. Following this, she applied five litres of high-quality car paint by hand to bring out the details. As a finishing touch, she applied gold leaf to create highlights and give the design a stronger 3D effect, before the whole UX was given a protective lacquer coating so that it can be driven on the road.
Assisted by her Japanese-born husband Yutaro, the artwork took six months to complete from the point of the initial drawings, with the “tattooing” accomplished over five eight-hour days of intensive work. It was physically demanding, with the vibration of the drill and working with an object that, unlike a human customer, couldn’t be moved into a comfortable position as the design progressed. WhIlst any small slips in a human tattoo can quite easily be worked or coloured into the pattern, the “engraving” with the drill required total precision.
Claudia said: “When you tattoo a person, you have to think about the muscles and tissue beneath the skin. With the car, it was about the way the bodywork changes shape over the framework. The best thing about tattooing the Lexus UX and the reason why this car was ideal for the project is its streamlined shape.
Everything from the lines on the side of the body to the shape of the windows, everything is just so dynamic and beautiful. It was a perfect fit for the design and the concept itself,” said Claudia, a co-founder of the Red Point tattoo studio in Islington.”
Takumi craftsmanship is found within the DNA of every Lexus model and can be clearly seen in the design details and flawless finishes achieved with human skills perfected through years of dedicated training. Similarly, Lexus embraces traditional Japanese aesthetics in its vehicle designs, in elements such as the UX’s washi paper-grain cabin trims and the seamless merging of the interior and exterior through the front screen, echoing the engawa architectural features of Japanese properties.
Lexus UX – Where and How?
For more information on the Lexus UX, visit www.lexus.co.uk/car-models/ux.
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