Tattoo patterns and their origin – Arabic geometry

James Nidecker effortlessly combines his love for graphic designs and specific love for tattoo patterns and Arabic art in his tattoo’s. How? He relates to it like he relates to music. A few questions to get a better grasp of his profession and tune into the dynamic process of being a creative tattoo artist.

How does music influence your work?
‘Electronic music has always been an important outlet for me. Like Arabic Art, techno is direct. If you listen to Kraftwerk for example, you’ll hear an expressive straightforwardness. A musical artwork. I become restless when I see or hear to many conflicting figures in one work. It must be visually attractive. I try to find depth and beauty in simplicity. Like techno. My designs have a certain rhythm to them, a beat and a silence. Together that forms the pattern that constructs a design or arrangement.’

What’s your affinity with Arabic Art?
‘I like clean work with not too many bells and whistles. Historical Islamic architecture and artwork have that complex subtleness I look for when I’m creating a design. Within Arabic decorations you also see ease. The use of human figures is restricted in Arabic mosques, so instead they would use patterns. Islamic geometric patterns began in the 9th century. They decorated holy spaces with clear-cut circles and lines. It’s inspiring to see how complex a design can become by only using such basic and simple forms.’


Mosque decorated with geometric patterns

In what way are Arabic Patterns different than Asian Patterns for example?
‘Both are historical artistic movements; they go back for centuries. The Islamic vision uses forms like hexagons, octagons, decagons and 6, 8 and 10 point stars. Asian designs depict more human forms and uses elements from nature. Dillon Forte for example is an artist that’s very much influenced by Asian artwork. His craftsmanship is beautiful and complex. It has many layers, it’s another kind of depth with a strong spiritual influence. If you put this against Arabic forms you can see the difference. Arabic geometry has a bold anti-angelic look to it. Like a computer program, zeros and ones, on or off.’

Are geometric patterns a new movement?
‘Since the last 4 to 5 years you’re seeing more and more tattoo patterns combined with geometric art. The interesting thing is that tattoo artists are inspired by so many different influences that you can’t really speak of one movement. Arabic and Asian are only a couple examples of historical influence within the industry. And then you also have crossovers of different visions combined. I think what’s happening in the tattoo industry is definitely a new movement, within art in general.


Tattoo by Maria Margolis

How has the art changed in the last couple of years?
‘Since we can now work with affordable digital workstations like iPad Pro and the Wacom Cintiq, combined with Adobe Illustrator and Procreate software, we’re able to create the wildest ideas, quick. And we’re able to digitally ‘stick’ tattoo patterns for instance on a model or your own picture. That gives cool insights and endless possibilities that we can show our clients directly. I can create your design super quick AND show you how it will look on your body.”


Tattoo by James Nidecker

If you are interested in more in depth reading about Islamic patterns you should read “Islamic design” by Daud Sutton, to buy the book click here

For more examples of tattoo patterns please visit the portfolio pages of Maria and James.