Artist Bio:

I’m Matthew Takata Shepherd (they, he, she) a queer mixed Japanese artist born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. I currently live and work in Berlin as a tattoo artist. 

I’ve worked in visual and audio arts and I eventually found my way to tattooing in the beginning of 2020. Tattooing for me feels like a ritual and a beautiful way to connect with other people through art. Ritual can be interpreted as a serious term, and tattooing is a serious thing— it is confronting pain, takes trust, and is making a permanent decision. But ritual is also fun and joyous, as is tattooing—it is coming together to make art, it is connecting with community, and it is connecting with yourself.  

Tattoo can be a lot of things, but at its base I see it as a process of turning pain into beauty. I think that this comes across in my tattoo style. I like to express a lighthearted playfulness and I love working with pointillism, black only designs, and color.  

My work is influenced by abstract expressionism, minimalism, nature, and meditation. I like my work to have a very human element to it and I often explore themes of emotions, feelings, connection, presence, and healing. I have a meditation practice and use the techniques from my practice in my creative process. I like to draw with a short intention in mind, for example “presence,” and try to turn my drawing process into a sort of active meditation. I try to keep my attention towards expressing what I’m feeling, and if my thoughts wander I bring them back to my intention. 

My background in fine art began with drawing, painting, and ceramics. I left California when I was 18 and moved to Portland, Oregon where I finished the foundations year at the Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) with a concentration in ceramics. I left OCAC, but Portland became my home base for the next six years. I continued with my visual arts practice, worked as a baker and cake decorator, and spent a lot of time in nature rock climbing and hiking.  

I also love doing custom pieces for clients. Working with people to create custom designs pushes me as an artist to grow and explore. I love turning people’s ideas into a new tattoo. Some of my favorite designs I’ve done have been customs. One client had seen one of my “deconstructed” abstract plant designs and asked for a “deconstructed” abstracted version of her dog with flowers. It was so fun for me to work on and is one of my favorite tattoos I've done. I really appreciate the collaboration involved with custom designs. 

Self-Portrait 2011

I started producing experimental electronic pop music in 2018 and released my first album Kamikakushi, in 2019 under the artist name Vioulet. I wrote, acted, co-directed and edited my experimental music video, In the Fog/神隠し(Kamikakushi), with my sister Naomi Takata Shepherd and it went on to be featured in 11 film festivals including Outfest, an LGBTQ film festival in Los Angeles, California, in 2019. I then retired the name Vioulet and released my second album TAKATA.nwo in 2021 under the artist name TAKATA, which is my Mother’s maiden name. 

I spent one year in Zaragoza, Spain studying Spanish and teaching English. After Zaragoza I moved back to Portland and finished my undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. In fall 2019 I moved to Sevilla, Spain and worked teaching English in Spanish public schools for two years. I realized I wasn’t happy working as a teacher and that I needed to be working in the arts.  

The idea of tattooing came to me when I was getting a massage. With a swift motion the masseuse cracked my back, and I felt a flow return in my energy and I knew I had to learn to tattoo.

I came to visit a friend in Berlin after spending the COVID-19 lockdown in Sevilla the summer of 2020 and I fell in love with the city, art culture, diversity, and the feeling of possibility the city had to me. After meeting a really beautiful community of friends and getting to know Berlin a bit more I decided I would try to move there after my work contract was done in Spain.