‘Gepeto’ is a project of Chilean custom artist, Kartess. Under the concept of "rebirth”, Kartess searches antique shops and flea markets across South America for antique dolls that he tattoos with new meaning for art collectors. The skin of these dolls are reborn under a new concept of beauty; a new personality. He removes the dust and delivers new messages through them, "because they once were important to someone and can now be important to another. I feel like, and I love to think that this project is like, a case of a modern-day ‘Geppetto’”.
Tell us about the 'Gepeto' project. How did the project come about?
For a long time I have customised objects, but I started to take it seriously when I once found a doll that my daughter had left. I cleaned it and I began to illustrate the style of the Yakuza tattoo, I was better than I expected, and good. When I realised that I could do it at the request of a client and give it a personal meaning, I took it even more seriously. I felt like a modern day Geppetto (from the story of Pinocchio). Hence the name of the project.
Where do you find the dolls you use?
The dolls must have a personality (and be made) of a specific material. They should tell me something. They are very specific. I have found dolls here in Chile in antique shops, flea markets, and I’m also going to look around Argentina. (These two that are available I found in Buenos Aires)
How long does 1 doll take you to complete?
Approximately one or two weeks.
Has the reaction to the work been positive?
Very positive. In my (heart), I knew that a lot of people were going to like this project. Well, there are also those who hate them or are scared by them. I have always thought that what you project is up to each person, (but) I only see beauty in them.
You describe your work as custom handmade creations. How important is customising each piece of art you produce?
Very important. The relationship that occurs when "cocrear” (co-create) is very intimate. The collector must tell me very important things, and I respect this by doing the best I can to "tatuarlas" (the tattoo) in each order.
You are based in Chile. How would you describe the art scene where you live?
The market is rather traditional, but with a lot of potential in illustration.
Who's work inspires you?
I am inspired by the processes of the artisans. The work of tattooists also inspire me a lot and the custom vinyl toy makers. As far as inspiring people, I like what you guys are doing, also the Spanish designer Jaime Hayon and Jason Freeny, to name a few.
What else do you have planned this year?
This year, I plan to finish with an expo of all my work as KARTESS. It all depends on how many orders I have. The second is to finish a clothing brand, and getting a product in ceramic, which is still a secret!
~ Interview by Aaron Craig