Tell us more about you and Semata Art Prints?
I am Taco Joe, a tattoo artist, and I run Semata Prints with my wife Shanta. We are an independent fine art printing and publishing company focused on Archival collectible tattoo-art prints and books.
What made you and your wife come up with the idea of Semata Prints?
I have been collecting and producing tattoo prints for years, and realised there was no such establishment in the region focused in the tattoo world providing artist an affordable and accessible platform to produce museum grade prints. And during the lockdown I wasn’t able to tattoo, so i started painting a lot. I was looking for a place here to make high quality prints, but it was either way too expensive or not meeting the criteria of how i wanted the prints to come out looking. So my wife and i just bought a fine art printer and head dived straight into the printing world. I have also been traveling as a tattooer for over a decade and have met many inspiring tattoo artist who became close friends of mine, and being able to produce the prints of the paintings I love from my friends to share it with the community here is something I am really stoked about.
Many people view collecting art as an expensive hobby. What do you have to say to people who feel that way?
Well, it’s subjective really. I find a lot of value in collecting art, or in buying books. Theres something about the physical aspect of a print: the feeling of the material, the colour, etc. or the smell of a physical book, that is nostalgic to me. As an artist my library is my wealth fountain, from the years of traveling and collecting either art of books, and referring to them when I am preparing for a drawing or looking for inspiration. There’s something poetic in that. and to me it goes beyond the aesthetics. Some people might not appreciate that and thats ok. I wouldn’t spend more than rm300 on a pair of shoes but I’d spend triple that on a painting by someone I really like. same goes to art for others.
What is one common misconception about tattooing/art collecting in Malaysia that you wish you could change?
I can’t speak about general art collecting in Malaysia as it occupies an overly-wide spectrum, mainly because I am only concentrated in a tiny crack in the wall that is the tattoo scene. But a common misconception here is that the value and worth in a ‘reproduction’ art piece or ‘print’ is underestimated and devalued, opposed to an original painting. As for change, I hope that people will realize there is value and quality in lowbrow art of fine art prints and that they are able to enjoy it and at the same time support artists in this way.
What impact do you wish to leave in Malaysia through Semata Art Prints?
With Semata Art Prints, we represent the very niche of an obscured art-section, and aim to make it more accessible to those that find interest in either tattoo art or the culture that it encapsulates. We also aim to maybe reach a wider audience here in Malaysia that would otherwise not know such a stream exists. Many people associate art collecting as something of luxury, but it doesn’t have to be. We try to contribute our small part by connecting and sharing something we deeply dedicate our lives to tattooing and its world.
Where can we get our hands on the art you have for sale?
You can head over to our website, www.semataprints.com or you can reach out to us via Instagram, @semata.print.