Tattooed Lexus UX: The Artwork Alone Is Worth $140K!
London tattoo artist engraves koi carp motif onto a Lexus UX, giving it major wow factor.
To emphasize the high levels of craftsmanship Lexus claims for its vehicles, the Japanese luxury company's marketing arm worked with London tattoo artists Claudia De Sabe and her husband Yutaro to design and create a one-of-a-kind custom tattooed Lexus UX luxury compact SUV. This was the first time the duo, who both work at Pentonville-based Red Point Tattoo, had taken their tattooing skills away from human skin and onto the metal canvas of a vehicle. In addition to the challenges of getting the ebb and flow of the design spot-on, the work itself was tedious; the vibration of the Dremel tool (used to etch the UX's surface in lieu of a needle) was physically exhausting, and unlike a person, the Lexus couldn't rotate into positions more conducive to the precision required to execute the work. And yet the bespoke tattooed UX project came out beautifully. Although no price tag was officially calculated, an estimate puts the cost of the work at approximately $140,000.
The "Koi Carp" motif of the tattooed Lexus UX project pays tribute to traditional Japanese artistry, and is said to represent qualities of good fortune and perseverance. The complex design features koi fish on each side, one whose tail sweeps up onto the roof of the UX. De Sabe noted that the UX's shape—from the body lines to the shape of the windows—made it a perfect fit for the design.
Claudia De Sabe started with a pure white Lexus UV as her canvas. From design to completion, the project took about six months; the actual Dremel tattooing took five intense eight-hour days. The design used about 1.5 gallons of high-quality car paint, applied by hand. For those unfamiliar, a Dremel tool refers to a handheld pneumatic rotary tool that has different attachments available for cutting, etching, grinding, and so on. In this case, the attachment called for is a ball burr; when applied to the side of a vehicle, it will physically grinds off all the paint and primer, straight down to the bare metal. It's like a very, very, very bad, deep, and wide scratch. (As in, don't try this at home.) From what we can tell, the etched tattoo work acts like pinstriping. In addition to the painted design and tattoo work, De Sabe used gold leaf to create highlights and 3D effects. A final coat of protective lacquer made the Lexus UX roadworthy.
It takes extraordinary artistic talent and perseverance to create a display piece like the Lexus UX. It's noteworthy to mention that Claudia De Sabe is not the only one who's ever done this to a vehicle. A guy named Hank Robinson has been "tattooing" trucks with a Dremel tool for years, etching extremely intricate designs onto aluminum trucks and their accessories. Most notable of his project trucks are a 2016 Ford F-150 called Freedom Blues and a 2017 Ford F-250 named Aluminati. These trucks appeared on the covers of Truckin magazine and 8-Lug magazine, respectively. He's now sponsored by Dremel Tools and Monster Energy, engraving at live events (hey, did you hear the drone of his Dremel as he engraved trucks live at the SEMA Show?) and living by the motto, If it has metal, it can be engraved.
Major props to artists like Claudia De Sabe and Hank Robinson, who continue to push the boundaries and give unprecedented depth (literally) to formerly plain-vanilla vehicle panels.