Ybor tattoo artist, Marcus Lund, takes what you'd see on a painter's canvas and puts it on skin

YBOR CITY, Fla - Georgia O'Keefe brought her watercolor paintings to life on canvass in the early 1900s.

Fast forward a century and Marcus Lund is taking watercolor painting to the next level, tattooing watercolor images onto the skin of his customers.

"It is part of the Avant-Garde movement," Lund said. "It is to emulate the style of watercolor. It is taking a medium and creating another medium with it."

A trained painter, Lund creates his masterpieces at Old 7th Avenue Tattoos in Ybor City.

The native European explained that this type of tattoo is sought out by females and has softer effects.

"The tattoo technique is still there but it is superseded by a painting technique," he said.

Only a handful of tattoo artists across the world have the talent and artistic background to successfully create tattoos of this type. 

To emulate watercolor, the colors have to look suspended and appear transparent. There is no water on the skin to help Lund. He must recreate watercolor from his imagination and know how to mimic brush strokes with standard tattoo ink.

"You have to know where your highs and lows are because you have bristles that are going to be hitting and bristles that aren't going to be hitting when you are pushing the actual brush across," Lund explained.

Sometimes Lund will even use a paint brush to create somewhat of an outline before he whips out his tattoo machine.  He also will use a Sharpie to draw the images freehand, shade them and then go over his work with his machine.

Lund continuously studies his craft.

"I'll sit at home with the watercolor and paper and just sit there and pull streak and do little abstractions, splashes, little blowouts, things like that, so I can see how it is physically done," he said.

Lund's skill allows him to create anything from an abstract painting to Hello Kitty on his clients.

It is also why people around the world seek him out. Some clients even fly in from overseas.

Tess Martinez is from New York and researched Lund before deciding she wanted him to ink her.

She is inking her entire left arm from shoulder to wrist and wants an octopus eating an elephant.

"I did a lot of research and then he was the guy," said Martinez.

Martinez is so confident in Lund's talent she is letting him decide the design and the colors to use.

She will likely have to sit through multiple sessions before her tattoo is complete.

Lund's tattoos are now garnering him national attention. Buzzfeed named him among the top 28 watercolor tattoo artists in the world in April .   He is accompanied by tattoo artists from France, Turkey and Russia.

He is making a name for himself just like O'Keefe.

"A person buys a tattoo just like they would buy a painting, the only difference is it is not hung in their home, it is hung on their body," he said.

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