Inked Oinkers: Tattooed Pigs by Wim Delvoye

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Tattoos have become less of a taboo and far more mainstream in the past decade. Two reality shows are focused on tattoo artists, many magazines are published specifically about the craft and tons of products have hit the market that either sport tattoos or are tattoo-inspired, be them dishes, furniture or clothes.

Belgian artist Wim Delvoye launched an Art Farm Pigs Growth Fund whereby people can invest in his swine farm outside Beijing in China. This farm, established in 2005, has nine boars and sows which are tattooed with a variety of designs created by Delvoye and three other tattooists in residence. The pigs art fund will be an official Chinese company which I hope to launch in the next few weeks, he says. “The new bonds and pig farm shares scheme make the mechanisms of the art market so transparent, he added.

above: The gates to Wim Delvoye's Art Farm and some of the inked oinkers.

This initiative is in its early stages, said Mr Delvoyes assistant Gianni Degryse. “We may set up a similar bond scheme for the pig farm. People may even be able to purchase one of the animals

A vegetarian who tattoos live pigs, in the name of art. Wim claims it's ‘Because they grow fast and they are so much better to tattoo than fish.

above: Louise, a stuffed pig (yes, sorry folks, she's no longer with us) sporting her Louis Vuitton Tatts.

Below are live pigs with Wim's artwork permanently inked on their backs. Project and photos taken at Artfarm China in Yang Zhen, Shun Yi District Beijing, China.


above: Wim at work

Jonathan West of Vice Magazine asked Wim a few questions:

Vice: Why did you start tattooing pigs?

Wim: I started tattooing pig hides, which I’d get from the slaughterhouses, in 1994. It was only in 1997 that I started to work on live sedated pigs. I tattoo pigs because they grow fast and they are so much better to tattoo than fish. I tattoo them when they are young and I like the way the artwork stretches and distorts over time. Essentially, we invest in small tattoos and we harvest large paintings.

Have you ever tattooed a person?

Yes, of course. I have tattooed art critics, art dealers and art collectors, and lots of butts. I come across my needlework everywhere I go. Some designs I try for the first time on people and, if they work, I will surely re-create the tattoo on a pig.

To the close observer your work is laden with contradictions. For example, aren’t you a vegetarian?

Yes, I am a vegetarian. I am also very, very clean. I wash my hands like 100 times a day.