For my latest installment of Illustrators with Ink, Vancouver-based illustrator and tattoo artist Nomi Chi is sharing her ink and drawings. She has a fantastic artistic style, and I’m especially fond of her tattoos—they have the spontaneity and dynamism of pencil sketches! (All of the tattoos you see here is work that Nomi has etched on her clients.)
So, without further ado, here’s Nomi!
How did you get in to tattooing? Did you ever envision yourself doing it?
I had a very fluid and relaxed apprenticeship, most of what I know I’ve learned through observation or through the general diffusion of knowledge that comes with working with people more experienced than me. I began tattooing quite young, but I never imagined my work would be sought-after, at least not to the degree that it is today.
How much of your time is spent tattooing and how much of it is spent illustrating?
Most of my time is spent either tattooing or doing preparatory drawings for tattoos. In the future, I would like to be illustrating more.
How does your illustration style translate into tattooing? Do you see much of a difference between the two?
I try not to illustrate the way I tattoo. Both practices share the same vessel (me), so there is going to be some cross-pollination, but at the moment I try to keep them relatively compartmentalized. Tattooing is not only a technically restrictive medium, it inherently involves the preferences, desires and vision of another person. In my illustrative work I try to explore themes and technical possibilities that I could not/would not in tattooing. Tattooing has its own wonderful qualities and does not have to look like illustration to be visually appealing.
Your tattoos are beautiful and feel like energetic sketches. What are the inspiration behind the tattoos you create? Are most of them your vision? If not, how much input do clients typically give?
My interest in visual art was spurred by animation, so capturing movement is important to me. I also strive to implicate a kind of immediacy in my my tattoos, so there’s a lot of improvisation — It keeps the process fresh and fun for me. I’m glad my clients like it too, of course!
As for subject matter, that’s usually provided by my client. I am often given room to apply my own kind of twist to the concept as well.
What is the most memorable tattoo you’ve given?
The first tattoo I made on another person. The experience is etched into me like a sigil. I remember every detail of the room we were in, it’s surreal how clearly I can recall that moment.
What’s the inspiration for your illustrations?
Lumpy things, fleshy-ness, squishy hairy things, feelings, feminism, desire, death — not necessarily in that order.
How long have you been illustrating?
Gosh, I don’t know. I learned at a young age that there are people out there who will pay money and give me praise and attention for drawings, so I’ve been hustling art for about as long as I can remember.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
I am very soon releasing a sketchbook of sorts, in an unconventional and exciting format, with my publisher vonzos! I’ll definitely be talking it up all over my social media pages as the release date draws near, so keep your eyes peeled.
What tools do you use for creating your work?
Lately I’ve been returning to classic illustration staples: pen, ink, gouache, etc. But I’m also into CNCing sculptures from MDF board and painting them, and building figurines with Sculpey.
Thanks, Nomi! Make sure you follow her on Instagram to keep up with her work.