Today we have an interview with a renowned tattoo artist whose art has captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide. He was born in Israel, where he began his journey in an IT company as a project manager, but fate led him on an unexpected path - becoming a tattoo master. His style, based on lines and dots, has become truly iconic, and his name is known to anyone who finds inspiration in ornamental tattoos. His talent has not only attracted clients but also caught the attention of major brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Please welcome Chaim Machlev, also known as @dotstolines.

Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you decide to become a tattoo artist? What were you doing before tattooing?

- I'm originally from Israel. When living in Israel, I was a project manager in an IT company, in charge of many technicians working long hours a day. I was burnt out and tired. When I reached 30 years old, I decided to get a tattoo. I was never into tattoos before, but I decided to go for it. That's when everything changed for me — the process of tattooing and the feeling afterward was something I had never felt before. I felt completely full of life and excitement again. That's when I realized that I wanted to become a tattoo artist. Except I had no artistic background, but I was willing to do everything possible to achieve it, which led me to move to Berlin.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

How did your career start? Who was your teacher? Were there any difficulties in mastering this profession?

- I moved to Berlin with a little backpack on my back and tried to search for someone to give me a chance. It was extremely hard as I had no artistic portfolio. I found a shop and a great guy who took me under his wing. After 6 months, I decided to try it on my own, spread my wings, and opened my own little place. I lived there and tattooed as many people as I could to learn this ancient craft.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

Is tattooing art, work, or something else for you?

- It's totally an art form when it's been treated with respect, both from the tattooist's perspective and from the client. I do one client a day and don't tattoo every day. I do all the design and tattooing together with my clients on the fly during the appointment. I don't think that I can design something individual for someone if this person is not in front of me, and I see their body structure, posture, character, etc. Otherwise, it's not individual for me.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

Dotstolines has become a household name for many people in the world of linework and ornamentation. You've talked about it many times before, but could you please share with our readers why you decided to pursue this particular style of tattooing?

- Honestly, I didn't know how to do something different than lines and dots. I never had the passion to learn how to use colors (though I appreciate the art, craft, and execution, and enjoy seeing colorful stuff). After I got my first tattoo and decided to leave my life behind and become a tattoo artist, all I could see was lines on people's bodies.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

What is the most important thing for you in a tattoo?

- The harmony between the composition and the character of the individual who wears it. You see, it's my art, but it's not mine. And I want my clients to be proud to wear it and feel attached to it through the process of achieving this tattoo and take ownership of their body. So it's not necessarily the tattoo that's important. It's the process and the whole ceremony around it. The tattoo is the result of it.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

- I love nature and music and find all the answers there.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

You have an incredible career and such a diverse portfolio! You design tattoos, interior objects, cars, and we even saw one of your visualizations for a Biffy Clyro concert. Did we miss anything? How do you manage to do all of this?

- I only do things that I love and feel connected to. It doesn't feel like work. Rather, it's like a mirror to my soul with a tender reflection of myself.

How do you rate your popularity, and how do you think it can be measured?

- For me, the biggest compliment is when people choose me to be the person who will tattoo them. It's a great honor, and I treat it with as much respect as I can. I have clients flying over from all over the world and waiting months, sometimes years, to do it together. I think it's the biggest compliment a person could get.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

I’m not really influenced by the number of people following me on social media. I love the fact that my art can reach extremely remote places in the world, and I enjoy seeing pictures of clients meeting other clients with my tattoos by pure chance.

I received a message that two people who met while traveling started to speak because they both had my tattoos, and they have been together since, and just got married. How cool is that?!

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

You have a huge number of followers on social media, including both collectors and professional tattoo artists. Can you give a piece of advice based on your own career on what new tattoo artists should do to follow in your footsteps?

- I don't think anyone's target should be to gain a lot of followers on social media. It wasn't my intention. I started to share my work online because I realized that it opens a lot of people's eyes to tattoos from a different perspective. Many of my clients are not the typical tattoo lovers, and I’m truly flattered to see people who never thought of getting tattoos fly over to the other side of the world to get one from me.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

Do you travel a lot for work? Where and with whom have you had the opportunity to work? Could you tell me about the most significant experience for you?

- Yes, I do travel a lot. Mostly between Berlin and LA, where I have my private studios. I only tattoo one client a day and don't tattoo every day. I don't think I can create something individual on a daily basis or even twice a day. It's important for me to strive for perfection from my side. I don't usually tattoo as a guest artist because I prefer to work in privacy and I want my clients to be influenced only by their own ideas when they come to get tattooed, without distractions from other people in the same space.

The most rewarding experience for me is when I sit one-on-one with an artist who does everything they can to bring my clients' ideas to life in their own artistic language.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

Which country do you consider to be the best for a career in tattooing, and why?

- I don't think it's limited to a specific country. I love tattooing in LA because of the weather, and I love tattooing in Berlin because it's where I learned the craft. In both places, I feel like I create from a different place within myself. However, most of my clients fly in from other states/countries, and they come from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

We know that you have participated in many tattoo conventions. Share your experience and results. How many awards do you have? In your opinion, how important is participation in such events for a modern tattoo artist?

- I tried working at a tattoo convention once when I first started tattooing, but I quickly realized that I couldn't give my best in that kind of setup. I don't think I can truly tattoo and design at my highest level with so many people watching. However, I have had the opportunity to judge in many tattoo conventions.

Tattoo artist Chaim Machlev

We've seen a lot of cool collaborations with other famous artists. Can you tell us how you choose the projects for your collaborations? Also, could you tell us about your most significant or favorite collaboration? And how can a modern tattooist become a part of one of your projects?

- I love collaboration, as long as there is no ego involved. Ego is a killer for me and my art. I've had a few collaborations where I felt that ego was involved from the other artists, and I couldn't continue. On the other hand, I've had amazing collaborations with older and much more experienced artists like Filip Leu, and I learned so much from the process.

Tattoo collaboration: Chaim Machlev and Filip Leu

Tattoo collaboration: Chaim Machlev and Filip Leu

I enjoy collaborating with big brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, etc., because I love how we can show the world that tattooing is another form of art. But I also enjoy working with young and eager artists or designers who have a vision.

Collaboration project: Chaim Machlev and Mercedes-Benz

Collaboration project: Chaim Machlev and Mercedes-Benz

What are your career goals?

- My career goal is to continue doing what I do until the day I die. I love it so much and can't imagine my life without it.

Tell us about your plans for the near future.

- I just had my first baby daughter. I plan to spend time with her and watch her grow while conducting my private tattoo ceremonies in my studios in Berlin and LA, and enjoying the process.

I have some super cool collaborations coming up that I am very excited about. Stay tuned.