Captain Caveman Biography

Posted: May 26, 2009 by yellowman in Tattoo Artist Bios
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Micronesian Mesh Tattoo Shirt by Captain Caveman

Micronesian Mesh Tattoo Shirt by Captain Caveman

Half Dutch half Caribbean, Michel Thieme (a.k.a. Captain Caveman) completed high school and found the offerings of continuing education to be unappealing. With ants in his pants, he did all kinds of jobs earning enough to allow him to travel far and wide. Seeing high quality tattoos peaked his interest and, before too long, he got his first tattoo. A telling sign of things to come, it was a design from Borneo on his wrist.

He was always being asked to draw tattoo designs for friends. The local shops were traditional old school specialists without a clue to the newly popular tribal designs. Michel didn’t know much more, but drew original tribal flash inspired by his world travels that left them hungry for more. He kept busy painting everything from interiors for decorators to body painting Go-Go girls. Getting tattooed by Hanky Panky (a.k.a. Henk Schiffmacher) and the crew at Amsterdam’s legendary red light district tattoo shop and museum became a regular occurrence. His eagerness to learn to tattoo was met head on when, in 1994, Henk offered Michel (then 23) the opportunity of a lifetime: an apprenticeship which would begin with sweeping the floors for a year or so. Two weeks later, he moved to Amsterdam and took the plunge into the world of tattooing. He jumped into the deep end head first apprenticing under the expert tutelage of none other than Henk Schiffmaker himself (a.k.a. Hanky Panky). Their mutual interest in tribal tattoos and cultural background had them collecting books and visiting museums.

These adventures planted the seeds for Captain Caveman’s current vocation as a dealer of tribal art and antiquities. Henke’s shop was a favorite meeting place for tattooists from around the globe. The personal introduction to the world’s top tattooists created endless travel opportunities. In addition to tribal designs and cultures, his scope of tattooing was broadened to include many other styles. Captain Caveman’s first hand exposure to traditional Americana and Asian motifs and techniques was a priceless learning experience. Though tribal tattoo designs remained his first love and has led him to travel several times to the interior of Borneo studying the styles at the source.

Together with his wife Lotus, they ventured into Polynesia which lead to him getting a traditional Samoan tattoo called Pe’a. Captain Caveman has collected many tattoos and amassed an incredible array of tribal art and artifacts. From Marquesan war clubs and stone idols to shrunken heads and Dayak shields from Borneo. In 2000, his eagerness and enthusiasm for these tribal cultures led him to open a gallery specializing in Oceanic and Indonesian Art. He has since retired from tattooing (how many times did Frank Sinatra retire?) and his focus is on the gallery. An odyssey spanning a decade has come full circle. His business is simply called Michel Thieme.

  1. Stanton Gene Kawaihinano Otero says:

    Aloha, and Talofa,

    What is this? Why do Euro Centric non-Polynesian / non-Oceanic people like yourselves find it necessary to appropriate my culture and heritage? You do so without thought of the cultural and familial history of ongoing colonialism and your making profit at our (Polynesian and Oceanic people) expense? We loose our lands and our cultural identity on a daily basis in your hotels and your hula and luau tourist shows all presented in the black face caricature that you Euro tourist so love to watch and be entertained by…amusing yourselves with yet another version of “Playing Indian” with these offensive, sickening, barbaric “pseudo skin” Tatau Moku shirts…you colonialist mindset artist need professional help. Be happy with your own peoples culture and your own ethnicity and stop fantasizing and appropriating mine and my people. Mahalo for your time.

  2. yellowman says:

    Thank you for your heartfelt and valid comments.

    Please take a moment to read the history and philosophy behind YelliwMan and it’s founder, Peter Mui:

    YellowMan is built specifically on ethnic pride, identity, and authenticity. To achieve that aim, founder Peter Mui spent many years seeking out and developing relationships with the most respected, authentic artists he could find, in order to honor and respect cultural origins and history.

    Peter Mui is unfortunately no longer with us, but if he were, he would have responded to you personally, and I think you would understand that he was as passionate about preserving cultural identity as you are.

  3. Palau88 says:

    Alii and Hafa Adai,

    I am half Palauan and part Chamorro, in other words 75% Micronesian.. and I have been studying art, including Micronesian art at the University of Guam and have been very fascinated lately with micronesian tattoo art. Many Micronesian friends of mine have been getting Polynesian tattoos and it has become a popular thing for other micronesians, especially Chamorros. Captain Caveman,I love what youve done with the Micronesian tattoo and putting it on a t-shirt. I wish I could actually purchase that here. i feel like it really gives pride to the Micronesian art, and i havent seen much of that. Polynesian art is always being promoted more than our own art and its kinda of sad. If i wanted to , could I purchase one of your Micronesian Mesh Tattoo Shirts? and probably one of the mens shirts for my dad, he would be extremely stoked to wear one.

  4. I’m a Micronesian with no Micronesian tribal tattoos. Why? Because I haven’t earned them. Neither has anyone wearing the shirt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s