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Stephen Voyce by Mehdi LampropoulosIn our project we try to remove borders in music styles and continents. The only thing which is important is tattoo as art. We are very happy that today we have Stephen Voyce (formerly known as VOYCE*) as a guest; he is a Canadian/ Nigerian singer, songwriter, music producer and actor. He is first of all a musician who works in Hip-Hop / Pop and the first person from Canada who takes part in our project. I am appreciating this possibility very much and I am happy about the openness of Stephen by answering the question. You can check it out now by your own…

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Stephen: I’m not going to lie to you, my first tattoo was an impulsive decision. It was a year after my mum had passed away. I was in a dark place mentally. I found myself looking for distractions, anything to keep my mind from slipping. I walked by a tattoo shop. I stopped for a moment, looked at my shoulder and decided that something was missing. I walked in and got the word “UFO”, which is the name of one of my older songs, tattooed. And that was that. What I didn’t know was that I would develop an intense love and admiration for the art. After that, I decided that every piece that would follow would tell a story that is unquestionably true to my life, now and forever.

StephenVoyce01 by NirGuzinski

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Stephen: At this point I can’t even count, because every piece is part of a much bigger story. Each new addition continues the tale, much like every passing day builds on my experience as a human being. My tattoos, for the most part, are split between two themes, one being mythology and the other based on the book ‘The Little Prince’. I’ve always seen a parallel between my life and the story in ‎Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book. The story of a boy who travelled across the cosmos looking for meaning in his life, only to realize that everything he ever needed was back home, on the planet he left behind. It’s a story that grows with the reader, with each new read unravelling new insights that you never saw before. As for the second theme, I’ve always been fascinated by the mythos behind mythologies, religions, etc. To me, there is an underlining layer that is true to them all. It’s that universal truth that connects us all to one another.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Stephen: My tattoo journey is far from over, and I don’t think it ever will be. But I take my time, because everything that gets inked on my body has to be true to who I was, am and will be.

StephenVoyce02 by NirGuzinski

RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist? In addition, who draws your sketches?
Stephen: My initial tattoos were done by various artists, but once I started shifting into big pieces, I decided that it was time to find an artist that truly understands me, and whose vision complements mine. I came across an amazing artist based out of Montreal, Gabor Zsil. We instantly clicked. It’s funny, every session is therapeutic. I feel like I learn something new about myself every time. I think it’s important to find an artist with whom you can build that kind of personal connection. I send him my ideas and he translates them into art; that’s such a powerful gift.

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Stephen: I think the pain is part of the process. You willingly choose to put yourself through it for the sake of art, for the sake of telling your forever truth. That’s the mind-set I adopt whenever I get tattooed and because of that the pain kind of just fades into the background. It’s like life, something we put ourselves through hell knowing that in the end the outcome will justify the journey.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Stephen: Honestly no. I’m very selective with what I get inked on my body. It really has to mean… everything to me.

StephenVoyce03 by NirGuzinskiStephenVoyce04 by NirGuzinski

RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Stephen: I don’t have any taboos, I like to keep an open mind. Obviously, there are certain things I won’t do, but not because I see them as taboo but because they just aren’t part of my personal truth. But if someone feels compelled to do something that I won’t personally do, I won’t judge them for it.

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Stephen: I think it’s possible to stop anything, even an addiction. I used to be addicted to coffee and I quit it cold turkey. One day I just decided that I wanted to stop and that was it. You just have to be willing to break a habit. It won’t be easy but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

RoD: Currently tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Stephen: I think it’s sad when people fail to see the art in art in general. As artists, whatever the type of art, we’re sharing ourselves with the world. When that passion gets reduced to a trend for mass production and consumption, it’s disheartening. But regardless there will always be people who admire the creative journey, who value the artist. In the end trends fall off, but true passion lives on forever.

StephenVoyce05 by NirGuzinski

RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a "good" job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Stephen: Those prejudices still exist, but I think the millennial generation has played a key role in killing off that mind-set. But the way I see it, if you stay true to your convictions, people will learn to respect you, even if they don’t necessarily understand you. That respect eventually turns into admiration. So just be true to you.

RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Stephen: Take your time… Don’t just jump into something just because everyone else is doing it. A tattoo forges a bond between you and art, so make sure that art holds true meaning to you.

Link: http://voycemusic.com/
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDQFtLW5yv8

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
All pictures by Nir Guzinski except title picture by Mehdi Lampropoulos (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009188603730)

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