Daniel Bensmann is a tattooist, hunter and artist. His speciality is paintings on animal skins. We visited him in Hindelang
The skin painter
For Daniel Bensmann, early memories of his childhood mostly have to do with “skin”: even as a little boy, this native of Hindelang spent a lot of time in the workshop of his father, a trained tanner. “I grew up with it. Working with leather was the most normal thing in the world for me – and it had a lasting influence on me,” he says. “If it wasn’t for my father’s profession, I certainly wouldn’t be painting animal skins now.”
Motifs drawn from ancient inspiration
Parchment made from deer-, stag- and cattle hides serves Daniel as a canvas for his artistic motifs: weather-beaten character heads, animals and landscapes of his homeland. “A lot of it is derived from old inspiration,” he explains. “I put in all the feelings and impressions I can filter out of people’s faces. Plus the wildlife and nature, which I find truly impressive.”
Daniel first had to develop the right technique, as animal skin absorbs the paint to different degrees and does not release it again: “It took me a while to determine the right mixing ratio of water and carbon for the ink,” he says. “The moment a drop or a stroke touches the skin, it doesn’t go away. I can’t correct anything after that.”
Body art as a piece of eternity
“The fact that the skin doesn’t forgive any mistakes makes painting more difficult, but it’s tremendously appealing for me because I already know it from tattooing." For about eleven years, Daniel – who immediately catches any onlooker’s gaze with his own tattoos on his shaved head – has been running his studio “Hütmôlar” – an Allgäu term for “skin painter”. He exhibits works in the adjoining gallery.
“Tattooing has interested me ever since I was young,” says Daniel. “For me, it was much more tangible to become a tattoo artist instead of getting into the art scene.” He’s particularly captivated by the fact that he’s creating something for the client that will last forever:” There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that, of course, and at the same time, so much trust is placed in me.”
Painting with sustainable material
For the people of Hindelang, Daniel’s work took some getting used to at first: “The people here have traditional values, and tattooing was something new. When they realised that I was becoming renowned internationally and was starting to enjoy real success, they accepted it. And it was actually the same with painting. Since then, I’ve become someone here,” he reports.
The idea for skin painting came during hunting
His membership in the local hunting cooperative certainly contributed to his acceptance. When hunting, Daniel not only feels connected to nature, and it was ultimately what led to the idea of skin painting: “The skins are a waste product of hunting,” Daniel explains. “They are mostly disposed of. Such waste has long gone against the grain of conventional wisdom.”
Three professions by vocation
In the meantime, Daniel has struck the right balance between his three vocations: “Each has its own components. Tattooing and painting are close to each other and both are somehow also based on hunting, where I gather inspiration for my motifs. And everything happens here in one place. I live, work and hunt in the same area all the time, so to speak.”
However, he still feels a sense of alienation when people call him an artist: “When it comes to tattooing, it is quite clear to me that I am a craftsman through and through. And with painting, too, art is a difficult, expansive concept. Maybe the term arts and crafts fits here.”
More about Daniel and his art at hautmalerei.de (only in German)
... from Daniel
Alps in the “Hinterstein Valley”
I recommend our alps in the Hinterstein Valley to everyone. Some are used for agriculture and are well signposted. They are located at different altitudes and are, in part, only accessible on foot and by bike. Each and every one is beautiful and worthwhile in its own way.
Culinary magic on the alp
A visit is worthwhile, for example, to the “Zipfelsalpe” or the “Sennalpe Laufbichl”. Both serve fantastic food and the panoramic views are in a league of their own. I also particularly enjoy being on the “Hirschalpe” in the Hirschberg-Spieser area.
hirschalpe.de (only in German)
Three mountains are ideal for a panoramic view of Bad Hindelang: The “Hirschberg” is our local mountain, and their is a nice little mountain tour that takes you to the summit. The most beautiful ascent for me begins with the path through the “Hirschbachtobel”. There are even mountain railways for hikers to the other two panoramic mountains, the “Iseler” and the “Imberger Horn”, as well as for skiers and tobogganers in winter.
badhindelang.de (only in German)