Sang Bleu—the direct translation, “blue blood”—refers to blood, color and ink, a fitting banner head for Maxime Buchi’s many exploits. Driven by his passions, Maxime has seen each of his ongoing endeavors start as a labor of love, and blossom into something much greater. As an artist, designer and art director, Maxime is continually trying to shine a light on his subjects of interests that lean heavily towards the other. Whether it be printed in his publication, needled in on skin, or screen-printed onto T-shirts, Maxime’s interest in underground subcultures and marginalized art forms influences the output of his work, and also serves as a driving force behind each and every one of his projects, despite the stigma placed on such topics by society.
Aside from the term’s visceral reference to tattooing, Sang Bleu, “blue blood” refers to nobility—its origins based on the medieval belief that the blood of the noble class was indeed blue. Says Maxime on the name choice, “I just wanted to show together all the things I thought were noble and beautiful with disregard for the usual cultural and social categories of what is glorified as fine or frowned upon as underground or marginal cultures.” For Buchi, Sang Bleu has been an amalgamation shaped by his highly specific, fringe interests. Sang Bleu magazine attempts to share a contemporary, experimental vision of modern culture and style, using art, fashion and literature to depict the growing subcultures of tattoo, body manipulations, fetishes and beyond.
When asked why he began the publication in the first place he answered quite obviously; “The simple fact that it was needed and didn’t exist.” Maxime created the magazine for the like-minded, the target audience being people who shared his interests. He quickly discovered that there were many individuals like him, from around the world. Sang Bleu magazine has been able to call many esteemed locations home. The magazine has been stocked in highly regarded stores such as colette and Maison Margiela, and also in established art spaces like the Museum of Modern Art. Now existing mainly in the digital space, Sang Bleu continues to push the envelope: exploring often taboo topics like gender, presenting sociocultural critiques and introducing new forms of erotic, fetish and provocative art.
From curating to creating, just a few years after starting the magazine, Maxime began his journey in tattooing—a path that would eventually lead him to opportunities around the world, making his mark on thousands. Unlike the well-known traditional, tribal and Japanese categories, Maxime’s work is a medley of styles. Though distinctly marked by a unique blend of geometric shapes and clean, bold designs, Maxime’s artwork is clearly influenced by his long list of eclectic interests. “It’s a mishmash of my own culture and upbringing: hip-hop, skateboarding, punk, modernism, classic, contemporary art, fashion, mysticism, typography, sciences…” the list goes on.
In 2014, Maxime started his second large undertaking with the opening of his own tattoo studio. Sang Bleu London is part tattoo studio, part art gallery. Like all of Maxime’s other projects, the space is filled with subcultural relics. Mounted on the walls, displayed in exhibitions, permanently dawned on human skin, the work coming in and out of Sang Bleu London depicts the radical unabashed art. Maxime sees the opening of this studio and art space as a logical development, a part of the overall progression. “Opening a shop was just a logical step in the evolution of my vision and my desire to bring together not only tattooing, but also the other facets of Sang Bleu such as fine art, publishing and fashion.”
Clearly, progression is not something that can be forced. It is the natural byproduct of enduring passion and interest over time. With the most recent addition under the Sang Bleu umbrella, Maxime describes his clothing line as being produced organically. A staple subject in Sang Bleu magazine, fashion was always a major component of all of Maxime’s projects. Although Maxime had no formal education on fashion, his interest in the matter led him to create SBiX, Sang Bleu’s line of products. Maxime explained that the growth of SBiX, from the occasional T-shirt to a full run of unique pieces, also came naturally as a result of the success of the Sang Bleu London studio. The brand itself has continued to expand and develop as the demand for product grows—fueling the budding potential of the brand. MxM, as he is referred to across social media platforms, expressed excitement in his upcoming fashion endeavors, not only his burgeoning clothing line, but also upcoming collaborations with a wide range of establishments. From working with contemporary industrial design company, Gabriel-Scott, to teaming up with his friends and musicians, Armes/BMC, Maxime has again been able to align his interests with his growing opportunities. When asked about these recent developments, Maxime spoke emphatically, “The product side is definitely taking a very interesting turn!” In all of Maxime’s undertakings, there always seems to be a genuine amusement in the opportunities created organically, as seen with his upcoming three-year collaboration with Swiss luxury watch brand, Hublot.
Throughout Maxime’s progression as graffiti artist turned type-designer, and his gradual morph into artist, designer and creative director, it has never been by chance that Maxime’s career has flourished. With Sang Bleu magazine, the London tattoo studio, SBiX, and other design endeavors, Maxime is the epitome of the contemporary entrepreneur. Now 10 years after he first began Sang Bleu, with all the ongoing developments, we asked him how he is able to manage everything while continuing to grow his brand. His answer consists of three key points that parallel the balance of a comprehensive three-course meal. First he explains his mentality. “I never accept the idea that something is not possible until I try. A lot of things are impossible for all kinds of reasons, so I don’t want to even reduce the amount of things by risking to miss them without having tried.” Spoken like a true modern-day vanguard. The mindset free of doubt, to create, is key to being successful in your discipline, whether that be publishing a hundred-page magazine or designing a new tattoo. The second resounding piece of advice Maxime gives is indicative of his entire career. “Being true to yourself is the only way you can enjoy your achievements. If you achieve through deception, you will never truly enjoy and it defeats the purpose.” Maxime epitomizes the idea of staying true to yourself, your own personal interests, and your passions. Respect—having respect for yourself, and for all the different subcultures, no matter how marginalized by society or disfavored by the public. This is indeed what set Maxime apart, and drove him to create what now can be classified as a modern-day enterprise. The final point Maxime promotes is a sentiment that can be applied to each and everything he has embarked on. “And lastly, share the love and the joy of what you do.” Sharing has undoubtedly been a huge part of the work Maxime has done in the last 10 years. Sharing is the ultimate motivation behind publishing countless number of pages for the magazine, spending thousands of hours perfecting his needlework, and constantly iterating on designs for his clothing. For all those with his shared interests, for all those intrigued by the multitude of outside subcultures, Maxime created for. Referencing his wife Hope specifically, “My only drive to take responsibilities and time to create the things I did was to share it with my loved ones.”