Matt Bailey modestly lists his occupation as “tattoo apprentice” on his @baileyillustration Instagram profile, but to his 200,000-plus followers he’s a vital artist on paper and in the virtual world. His simple ink drawings, usually captioned, don’t necessarily scream “tattoo”; indeed there’s a medieval, tarot-card simplicity and darkness to them.
And for lack of a better word, they’re catchy: Provided you’ve got a sense of irony and sarcasm, they’re immediately gettable. Sometimes, the caption aligns with the image, as with a skeleton-archbishop who says “God sent me here to make shit worse.” Other times, the picture and words seem at odds. We find ourselves pondering, for instance, the simple, desperate desire underlying a phrase like “I just wanna dance wit you baby”—to what extent are we all dead men walking, skeletons-to-be, just trying to grab ahold of something young and soft and pure while we can, before our brief time on the merry-go-round is up?
But perhaps we overthink. It’s also a completely valid reaction to simply admit that these designs are wicked freakin’ cool, and to consider getting them inked (if ink is your thing) onto your body. A request, though, from Mr. Bailey: Please don’t steal them. If you’d like a Matt Bailey tattoo, pay Matt Bailey do it for you. He’s based in Cheltenham, UK (it’s lovely there, really—visit the Cotswolds or attend one of many cultural festivals). If you’d like Matt Bailey original art, or a t-shirt, or a cap, or a tarot card deck, or ladies’ underwear, visit Matt Bailey’s BigCartel store.