tea-break with: LILY ANAIS

 Lily Anais is a tattoo apprentice, visual artist and small business owner based in Perth. I sat down with her over matcha in a plant-filled corner of Stackwood's warehouse cafe to chat about how her tattoo apprenticeship is going and how she started out on her creative path. You can find more of Lily's work on her Instagram @lilyanais.tattoo and @apriciti.design and grab one of her prints at our upcoming Art Market on Sunday the 10th December. 

Lily Anais. Photo credit: Deni Robinson

tell us a bit about yourself and what you do:

Hi! My name is Lily and I'm 25 years old. At the moment I'm a tattoo apprentice at Main Street Tattoo but before that, I did art as a hobby and as a side hustle. I co-own my small business, Apriciti Design, with my twin sister, Deni. We have both been making art since we were around 10-12 years old, which is also when we started our first small business. At Apriciti, Deni and I design and sell our artwork in the form of prints, stickers, tote bags, key rings, bookmarks, pins, and notebooks! We have an online store but we mostly work to sell our artwork at local markets around Perth.

how did you get into art and what do you like about it?

I've always just loved drawing. I started off with realism and portraiture after I noticed I had a knack for it. It was always really satisfying to be able to replicate a photo, and it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. I started out using graphite pencils on paper, and I still do draw these for a lot of the art commissions I get, but for the purposes of becoming a tattoo artist, I began branching out into digital art where I was also able to easily explore more styles and techniques relevant to tattooing. I love that digital art has given me the opportunity to explore more styles and allowed me to really push my creative boundaries and develop more creative skills.

what are your favorite things to draw and how would you describe your art style?

My favourite things to draw include lots of nature, witchy, and feminine type subjects. Particularly frogs, women, bugs and plants, etc. My art style is really about as consistent as my music taste, it's all over the place. Ideally, I would love to create my own unique style but I do love to draw just about everything in any style.

Art by Lily Anais

what does a typical day as a tattoo apprentice look like for you?

I'm still at the beginning of my apprenticeship so I do a lot of drawing haha. As an apprentice, I will get to the studio around 8:30-9am and begin the opening duties. So this includes vacuuming, mopping, lots of cleaning, paper towel prep, checking and unpacking stock, doing coffee runs, setting up and packing down other artists' stations etc. When I'm not helping out around the studio, I'm allowed to find somewhere to set up and work on creating weekly flash sheets. At the end of the day, I will do the closing activities which involve a lot of the same cleaning activities, laundry, dishes, taking out bins etc. I finish at 6pm, I head home, I work on some of my flash sheets or commissions and then do this all again the next day. It's been a little tiring but I'm learning so much and it's really been so fun and so rewarding.

is there any advice you would give to emerging artists just starting out?

I know it can be controversial, but if you're just starting out don't be afraid to copy people's work, but ONLY IF you ensure that (if you decide to post it anywhere) you appropriately credit the artist and obviously don't try to profit off of it. But art is one of those practices where it's hard to develop any skills unless you learn and copy from the best. Art is all about inspiration and learning from one another. When you realise what it is that you love, you can practice it over and over again, making small changes until you have mastered it well enough to add your own unique flare to it. Soon enough you will have developed your own unique style. Don't be afraid to try something new, or make mistakes, because it's the only way to learn how to get better and to learn what you love.

Art by Lily Anais

what drew you to tattooing?

So I actually started posting silly little tiktoks of my silly little drawings, just for fun, in 2021. To my surprise, a couple of them went viral and I gained a small following of people who really wanted my art as stickers and/or tattoos. People around the world even ended up paying for tattoo tokens so they could take my art to their local tattoo artists to get tattooed. I ended up starting Apriciti Design with Deni, and yet again, at markets people would ask if I was a tattoo artist or if they could get my work tattooed. At this point I was getting towards the end of my psychology degree. Originally, I was studying psychology to become an art therapist, but I was beginning to realise I didn't have quite the same passion and drive for psychology as all my other peers but I still wanted to make a difference in people's lives in the form of mental health. After much encouragement from friends and strangers on the internet, I decided to just finish my degree (I had one year left and had already been studying for 6 years at this point) and then I would pursue tattooing instead. In my mind, tattooing is another form of art therapy. One that I felt would be better for my mental health. But also, as an artist, people come to you wanting a piece of art that brings them joy, happiness, nostalgia or is a memorial piece for loved ones. All of which can be so healing, validating and can contribute to a greater sense of identity and self love. So to me, I will still be fulfilling that part of me that dreamed of being an art therapist. It also just felt like the right choice; like I was honouring myself and choosing joy and authenticity over just doing what I believed society expected of me.

what inspires you?

Other artists, people in all the different communities I'm apart of, my friends, music, nature. So many things, big and small.

Art by Lily Anais

what do you like to do in your free time?

I obviously love to draw, but when I'm not drawing I will also read, go on walks or hikes, go on picnics, and try new cafes to get a coffee and a sweet treat.

are you working on anything at the moment?

I work on new flash sheets every week which is quite time-consuming. I'm also working on some Christmas art commissions, as well as working on some artwork and products for Apriciti's upcoming markets that we will be attending.

do you have any long term dreams for your creative career?

In the near future I would love to develop my own unique and consistent style. Something that's recognisable and really feels like 'me'. And once I'm well established in my career, I would love to travel with my tattooing, and tattoo people around the world. Maybe even further down the track I could start up my own studio that promotes inclusivity for all types of people.

Apriciti Design tote bags

Interview by: Cailin Dumma

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