Wednesday, 27. June 2012
Skin Deep Magazine: Dirk Behlau Feature/Interview - Part One
The eyes of a stranger - Part One

Quite publicly, I have gone on record as saying great writers are born not made. Sure, I’ve taken my fair share of heat – normally from students staring down the barrel of £30k of debt – but I still believe it to be true. When the money runs out, who will you find still writing? The born or the made? The same is true of photographers, on which note, allow me to parade Dirk Behlau before your eyes

I originally came across Dirk’s work when working with Scary Guy a few months back – although now I come to check that fact, I see it was nearly a year ago. It’s not as simple as you think to shoot somebody who has a personality to take care of. Timing is everything – and I suspect that the more you work with people like this, the more you become aware of your sixth sense doing a lot of the work for you. You get to instinctively know what is likely to happen next and be ready for it. Dirk is one of those guys and he somewhat backs up my statement of ‘born not made’. Having hung out with Dirk for a little while and seen him action, it’s clear to me that he doesn’t even think about what would make a good photograph. He doesn’t think about framing and is probably only marginally aware of the technicalities behind what he’s doing.

The genius of Dirk is that he simply thinks ‘photography’. He sees the subject and knows what he wants his work to look like at the end of the session – from there on, it’s simply a matter of letting yourself be driven by time and space. Yeah, I know. I make it sound like a dark art best left to those who have sold their souls. maybe that’s how it should be. Since every mobile phone under the sun has a camera on it these days, the world and his dog seems to think they can make the grade given half a chance.

“Actually my goal is always to get the best out of the person I work with. make them look good, larger than life, epic, stylish, iconic. I don’t have a special concept before a shoot and I always try not to think about what I’m doing while shooting.

“I like to be kind of unprepared and spontaneous. It’s more about getting into the flow of the action, getting in the mood. Don’t let your brain do the work – let your feelings guide you. I use the camera like I’m shooting a movie, trying to create an atmosphere and a special feeling. It often happens that I say out loud, ‘wow, great shot!’ during a session because to see a good shot makes me happy immediately. The shots have to convince me in the first place otherwise I won’t publish them. I’m not producing photos in a way people may expect it. I’m shooting them the way I love them.”

See. I was telling the truth. And when you think about it, how else are you ever going to make a name for yourself if you’re not doing the kind of work that makes you happy. You’re a long time in the game if you’re going to play by somebody else’s rules. Being a Dirk has been doing this for one hell of a long time now, I wonder exactly how much forging his own path influences what he’s able to do now.

“I get a lot of requests from models – male and female — who want to work with me, but I’m quite selective and I’m not doing many ‘Tfp-Shoots’ because of the lack of time.

"From time to time there are models like victoria van violence, who you had on the cover some issues ago, who contacted me when she started modeling and I immediately see the talent in the person. But this is kind of rare. most of the shootings are clients’ work and I often combine them with shots for my own output.

“Bands and other clients contact me because they have seen my photos somewhere, come across one of my books, or just by the word of mouth. It’s been like this for six or seven years now. clients are coming from everywhere because I never focused on just one subject.”

One thing that stands out in Dirk’s work with tattoo is his ability to capture masculine and feminine character traits in a way that you certainly don’t see everyday. I kind of had it in the back of my mind to ask him if this was purposeful, but I really don’t need to anymore, but on that subject, we try to elaborate a little as we talk about framing the subject in the mind’s eye. "It just happens that way. Whether a girl or guy, I always try to make them look timeless to allow the photo to stand the test of time. A lot of people also want to work with me because they know they will get a lot of media noise as well, which pushes their career...”

He leaves the comment hanging, which is fair. That’s part of the game of getting on in your chosen field, and it’s perfectly valid for those who can live with working like that, but it wasn’t always like this. As with all lone- gunmen, it’s hard work digging the path as you go along.

“I started out shooting hotels, interiors and other design-related themes. About eight years ago, I started focusing more on the whole rock ‘n’ roll world with fast cars, pin-ups, rock bands – one day I found that it all just came together for me. I worked, and still work, for a lot of design and lifestyle, hot rod and motorcycle mags around the globe. I never really pushed it that way, but I’ve been very active in the graphic design field for over 15 years now and people already know me. I really can’t explain it. I always just did what I love and with a lot of passion.

Sion Smith

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Friday, 22. June 2012
The Pixeleye feature in Picture Magazin 4/2012

8-pages artist feature/interview in german Pictures Magazin

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Thursday, 21. June 2012
The Pixeleye feature in Skin Deep Magazine #213

Out next week on the newsstand in the UK! Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine #213 with the second part of my artist feature/interview! More directly from Editor-in-Chief Sion Smith at his blog:

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The Pixeleye feature in Driver Magazine #9, Poland

5-pages Artist Feature in Driver Magazine Poland

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Wednesday, 6. June 2012
The Pixeleye Signature Belt Buckle

The Pixeleye Signature Belt Buckle available soon!

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Tuesday, 29. May 2012
Skin Deep Magazine: Dirk Behlau Feature/Interview - Part One

Five pages feature/interview - Part One in the UK's best selling tattoo magazine! This is one of the best written features in the last ten years! Thank you so much Skin Deep!

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Thursday, 19. April 2012
New Feature at Schraubergott: Das Auge

"Dirk Behlau ist Pixeleye. Designer, Filmemacher und Fotograf - Dirk Behlau ist ein Multitalent. Der 1971 geborene Chronist der Kustom Kulture entwickelt seit 1999 Ideen in seinen Designstudios „Pixeleye Interactive", dreht Filme, fotografiert und gibt Bildbände heraus. Er gilt als teilnehmender Beobachter der kreativen Community rund um alte Autos und Bikes, Pin Ups, Vintage Culture, Tattoos und Fashion. Immer unterwegs, mit immer neuen Ideen, widmet sich Dirk Behlau der bildlichen Aufarbeitung eines bunten Paralleluniversums..."

Read the whole interview here:

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Thursday, 22. March 2012
Dirk Behlau Feature/Interview in TATTOO Magazine USA

Here is the interview/feature in issue 278 from the american TATTOO Magazine 2012! Enjoy!

The Pixeleye
What with the plethora of stripped-down, affordable versions of Photoshop and other image editing programs, and the ever-growing assortment of special effects apps for camera phone photos, photographs often don't seem as "real" as they used to be. You look at a captured image and you wonder what techniques… cropping, filtering, tonal tweaking, masking, etc - the photographer used to create the image.

But while we amateurs are happy to fix up our happy snaps with apps and adjustments, old-school photographers strongly prefer to get it right in the camera.

Dirk “Pixeleye” Behlau is a picture-perfect example of this sort of thinking. He likes to take photos that have a cinematic feeling and look, that make people and scenarios look cool and epic -- larger than life. But it's critical to him that his work is created naturally, without any special effects.

"A photo is a photo and not artwork where you remove or add things later on the computer," says Dirk. "My photos are real. I prefer to shoot in real locations not in clean studios. Ideally want to capture things as they happen, not re-creations of events. I don't crop photos or retouch or anything else. It has to be a perfect shot in the camera. The framing, angle etc. has to be chosen before taking the picture. Otherwise I could compose an artwork and build it together in Photoshop later on. For me that has nothing to do with photography. I hardly spend more than a couple of minutes on a shot. Of course I remove a pimple on the nose if the model has a bad day but that's nearly all I alter."

Dirk is based in Mannheim, Germany, and is well-known globally as a photographer of "Old Skool/Kustom" lifestyles. He published several photo books and you’ll find his work making regular appearances in magazines worldwide.

"Kustom Lifestyle is just about doing your own thing in life without following trends and what the mass media is trying to tell you what is cool," says Dirk. "Create things, improve every day, learn and have fun with the people you love. The Kustom Kulture thing has everything I could every think of... cars, bikes, music, art, pin-ups, tattoos and much more. But basically for me it's about living my life like I want to live it."

Dirk got his first camera at a very young age, it was a little Agfa “Ritsch-Ratsch” - a simple kind of camera that you have to “wind up” for every picture. Back then, Dirk loved to shoot the battle scenarios he built with Lego and Playmobile figures. As an adult, his first professional jobs were photographing design hotels and other interior design work. It may seem like a big switch to move from capturing artsy, stylized buildings to the world of street art and popular culture, but the unifying thread is the visceral appeal all of his subjects hold for him.

"I was into rock'n'roll, American cars, girls and heavy metal since I was a kid," says Dirk. "But I also love the clean look of furniture and huge white walls with nothing on them. So after shooting design-related themes for some years I wanted to portray the lifestyle I live myself in my very own special view. I just did it my way."

The art he wears on his own skin is all in black and grey.

"I have a 50s Sci-Fi Pin-Up from my friend Joe Capobianco on my right leg. I also have two full arm sleeves done by another good friend of mine called MAZE from Santa Sangre Tattoo from Cologne, Germany – hot rods, flying eyeballs, 50s monsters, flames, comics. Another tattoo is the lettering on my chest, “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” one of my favorite Metallica songs done by my friend Andy from Body Electric Tattoos, he also did a sacred heart with the name of my daughter and a 50s rocket with the name of my son on my left leg. The latest one is a little TCB-related one on my neck from ROZ, Pin-Up Tattoo in Austria."

Dirk does more than photography. His studio, "Pixeleye Interactive" was established in 1999. He does a lot of graphic design, product design, record covers and films/music videos work too. And he travels a lot, last year he was on the road for about 200 days.

"I don't consider the stuff I do every day as work. I do what I love and I would do it even if I didn't get any money out of it," says Dirk. "It's great that I have been able to make a living out of it since more than 10 years now. I'm very grateful for that but basically I just do what I have to do. And I do it for myself. If the things I produce do not convince me then I'm not going public with them."

His latest project "Flake & Flames," is an upcoming documentary film he is working on with his buddy Jesper Bram from Denmark. It's a portrait of the Kustom Kulture scene with international artists, car and bike builders and other creative types.

"We visited most of the guys at home and in their garages and studios to get kind of a behind the scene view. It will be released later this year on DVD, first we have to finish the editing and then submit it to film festivals. Check out the Teasers at
You might like it if you are a little bit into rock 'n roll, tattoos and cool people."

Check out Dirk's websites for more info:

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Monday, 12. September 2011
Reebok Classics Artist Feature: Dirk Behlau – The Pixeleye
“Kool Lifestyle”. Dieser Begriff steht für amerikanische Hot Rods aus den 1930ern bis 1970ern, schwere Custom Bikes, glamuröse Pin-Ups, Tattoos, Rock ´n Roll, Rockstars und außergewöhnliche Menschen mit dem gewissen Etwas.

Für den Designer Dirk “Pixeleye” Behlau ist es aber weit mehr als ein Begriff. Es ist eine Lebenseinstellung. Den 40-jährigen Kölner darf man mit gutem Gewissen als Multitalent aus dem Bilderbuch bezeichnen. Nach Stationen als Geschäftsführer einer Unternehmensberatung, Marketingleiter in einem IT-Systemhaus und Chef eines Metal Vertriebs-/Plattenlabels, hat er sich seit Jahren u.a. mit der Fotografie voll und ganz seiner Leidenschaft verschrieben. Aber auch das ist ihm natürlich nicht genug. Denn neben seiner eigentlichen Arbeit als Designer ist er außerdem als Filmemacher, Fotograf, Marketingplaner und Verleger tätig. Und alles im Zeichen des Lebensgefühls des “Kool Lifestyle”.

All seine Fähigkeiten bündelt er seit 1999 unter einem Dach im eigenen Designstudio “Pixeleye Interactive” und arbeitet dort sowohl für nationale als auch internationale Kunden an hochklassigen Projekten. Doch sein Wirkungskreis ist nicht nur auf die Wände seines Studios beschränkt. Weltweit fotografierte er bereits für viele bekannte und namhafte Marken.

Seine Kunden wissen Pixeleyes Flexibilität zu schätzen und profitieren von seinem einzigartigen Stil, der auf klar erkennbare Einflüsse der Punkrock-Szene aufbaut. Firmen, die auf den ersten Blick überhaupt nicht in Dirks Repertoire passen, verlassen sich auf sein Gespür und es entstehen kleine Meisterwerke, wenn er z.B. die deutsche Torwart-Legende Sepp Maier für “Franken Bräu” fotografiert. Am nächsten Tag dokumentiert er das Heavy Metal-Festival “With Full Force”, bevor er mit den Leningrad Cowboys durch Mexiko tourt und sie auf ihren Konzerten fotografiert und filmt.

Eine Liste aller zufriedenen Auftraggeber würde hier leider den Rahmen sprengen. Wenn man sich aber auf weitere namhafte Kunden beschränkt, dann wären da z.B. das Artwork der „Singstar“-Poster und -Flyer von Sonys Playstation und Fotoserien für die „West Coast Choppers“. Das komplette mediale Erscheinungsbild für die Tattoomesse “Tattoo Ink Explosion 2“ in Mönchengladbach, sowie eine Fotokampagne für die Tierschutzorganisation PETA mit dem Top-Customiser Marcus Walz von “Walz Hardcore Cycles” unterstanden ebenso seiner kreativen Leitung.

Der Sender DMAX vertraute bei der Ausstattung der “Der Checker”-Werkstatt auf Dirks begehrte Hot Rod-Fotografien und hat die Räume mit drei großformatigen Drucken seiner Werke dekoriert. Auch zwei Schweizer Filialen von Burger King wurden mit übergroßen Abzügen seiner Bilder verschönert. Ebenso ein High-Class Tattoo Studio namens Burnout Ink in Palma, Mallorca.

Schon im Herbst 2011 wird Dirk eine weitere Kostprobe seiner Vielseitigkeit veröffentlichen. Mit dem Buch „Inkarnation - Tattoo and Lifestyle“ verbindet er wieder all seine Fähigkeiten als Fotograf, Grafiker, Autor und Verleger. Das 240 Seiten starke Buch, das sich mit dem edlem geprägten Ledereinband schon auf den ersten Blick von üblichen Publikationen abhebt, ist eine Kooperation von Zeixs Publishing, Feierabend-Unique-Books und Pixeleye Interactive. Interviews mit bekannten Customisern, Piercern und Tätowierern wie Joe Capobianco oder der Hardcore-Band “Sick Of It All” werden aufgelockert von Bildern wunderschön tätowierter Menschen. Das Konzept und natürlich auch die Bilder stammen von Dirk Behlau. Ein wahrer Leckerbissen für jeden der sich für Tattoos und den gezeigten Lifestyle interessiert.

Dirk “Pixeleye” Behlau steht aber nicht nur für die Produktion von Kampagnen hinter der Kamera, sondern schlüpft auch gerne manchmal selbst in die Rolle des “Models” und begibt sich vor die Linse. So hat ihm z.B. die Sendung “auto motor sport TV” ein Special in der Sendung gewidmet, ebenso DMAX, ZDF und Kabel Eins. Durch die diversen Kooperationen mit TV-Sendern scheint Dirk Behlau auf den Geschmack gekommen zu sein und griff selbst zur Videokamera, um sein professionelles Auge für einen Filmdreh zu nutzen. Und nachdem, was wir bisher über Dirk und seine Werke erfahren haben, ist es natürlich klar, dass der Film nur von einem handeln kann. Richtig. Kool Lifestyle!

Zusammen mit dem ebenfalls international anerkannten Pinstriper und Künstler Jesper Bram arbeitet er momentan in Los Angeles am 75-minütigen Dokumentarfilm “Flake And Flames - The Kustom Kulture Adventure”, der in bisher nie da gewesener Form alle Aspekte einer einzigartigen Kultur zusammenfasst.

Von Kalifornien über Europa bis nach Japan trafen und treffen die beiden Filmemacher Legenden und Nachwuchskünstler, die in den verschiedenen Bereichen hochbegabt sind. Einige der weltbesten Auto- und Motorradtuner, Tattookünstler, Pinstriper und Pin-Up-Models erzählen bereitwillig Ihre Geschichten, plaudern aus dem Nähkästchen und verraten das ein oder andere “Betriebsgeheimnis”.

Der Film wird im Sommer 2012 auf ausgewählten Festivals aufgeführt werden. Ab da soll er dann auch auf DVD und Blu-Ray zu kaufen sein, so dass sich jeder einen Hauch des Kool Lifestyles ins heimische Wohnzimmer holen kann.

Flake and Flames:

Weitere Informationen:

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Wednesday, 27. April 2011
My son Q on TV: grabbing the mic!
Yesterday evening my girlfriend Jessie and my son Quentin appeared on german TV (Prosieben "taff") interviewed at Frankfurt Tattoo Convention 2011... check it out, starting at minute 1.25! :)


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