Stories of the human condition told through the dilated pupils of Expanded Eye

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Although they do not like to pigeonhole their work, their desire to see beyond the rational and push the boundaries of the unconscious mind—to liberate thought and human experience from rigid criteria of style—see Kevin James and Jade Tomlinson’s artistic expressions championing surrealist philosophies.

“We are visual storytellers, experimenting and using art to connect and express issues and ideas. In a world consumed with style over substance, art is a powerful tool to communicate, critique, evoke emotion, and raise awareness and understanding beyond words.”

After respectively graduating from illustration in art school, the couple worked independently until their shared passions and love of the mystical began to inescapably intertwine, capturing their art and souls, and giving birth to Expanded Eye.

Expanded Eye

“The name reflects the ethos behind our work. To create art with purpose and meaning. To see beyond, and gain freedom from the known. To wonder and to question, to challenge and experiment and push boundaries. This mindset and approach has enabled our work to evolve across many disciplines from tattoo, street art, sculpture, installation, fine art, and assemblage.”

We are visual storytellers, experimenting and using art to connect and express issues and ideas

The tones and grains of reclaimed wood, vintage rustic hues of antique assemblage, the muted palettes of paint and the living body as canvas all offer various limitations and advantages that feed into one another and push Jade and Kevin’s work in new directions.

“Spending time away from making tattoos with their meticulous details and restrictive compositions and getting to work large-scale using wood and found objects is liberating and means when returning to body art, we can approach it from a fresh perspective and vice versa.”

Expanded Eye

Although everything they produce is a collaboration of two minds, it is Kevin that does the tattooing. After starting an apprenticeship in a London based street shop, he was invited to Xoil’s Needles’ Side, France: “it was a natural transition transferring art from paper to skin, but it was important not to alter our work to suit tattoo motifs and stay true to our art no matter what.”

We would like to bridge the gap between these worlds and are grateful to attract clients with no tattoos who aren’t part of a ‘scene’ or getting tattoos to look cool

Their purist attitude is borne from what they perceived to be a lack of diversity, originality and imagination in the cultural exchange between the art and tattoo worlds. As they explain, “the tattoo world has been closed off not only to the art world, but to many people who do not perceive tattoos to be a respectable art form. There appears, now, to finally be a tattoo (r)evolution taking place with many people making contemporary original tattoo art.” They hope to continue their contribution, without compromising their style, to bridging the gap between these worlds—which is why they are grateful to attract clients with no tattoos, who aren't part of a ‘scene’, or who “get tattoos to look cool”.

Expanded Eye work exclusively from the concepts and stories their clients provide. Whether philosophical, scientific, literary, or personal, they start by reading and researching to gain a deeper understanding of the story/concept. By working solely from words, absent of any aesthetic direction, this bespoke method allows them the necessary creative freedom needed to achieve their best work.

Expanded Eye

Upon starting, they work independently, a technique reminiscent of surrealist André Breton’s ‘exquisite corpse’, where artists collaborate while completely in the dark of their partner’s progress. They then come together, consult over the fragmented parts, and proceed to evolve the concept and aesthetic of the final fluid mosaic.

“We love this marriage of words and images in our process and are continually amazed and privileged at how complete strangers share such intimate details of their lives with us.”

The story becomes a part of us and in turn the client has a piece of us on their skin forever

It is this human connection—the intensity and intimacy of sharing one’s story, exploring the psychological and mythological underpinnings—that fascinate both Kevin and Jade, which is why they choose to take on few tattoo projects, offering each client the time and energy they deserve.

“The story becomes a part of us and in turn the client has a piece of us on their skin forever. It is very rewarding seeing our client’s reaction upon seeing the design for the first time and are always humbled at the long distances our clients travel from and appreciate the time we share together. For us it is about the whole experience, not just the tattoo.”