Sometimes our lives are missing magic...we grow up and our adulthood takes a shadow; moonbeams and starlight no longer shines on our paths through the foreboding forests of reality. But this is what Lixi's work reminds me of, what it urges us towards: an awakening, a splendid return to our authentic essence, an embrace of cosmos.
In this interview with London based tattoo artist Lixi, aka sickandnormal, we talk about the depths of this created world that transforms our human skin into mantles of divination.
How did you get into tattooing, and was it something you always wanted to do?
I’ve always been fascinated by any kind of body modification or adornment. There was something about the idea that the body could be a malleable canvas; a surface open to both inscription and interpretation, that really struck me from quite a young age. I started to think seriously about getting into tattooing in my early 20's, at the time I was making Performance Art, and a lot of my work was centered around the body and transformation. I was specifically interested in ritual, and in reclaiming agency over the body, through this I became increasingly drawn to tattoos. Tattooing seemed magical - to me it represented something that could allow me to create my own narrative upon my body, a means to connect with and simultaneously transform the skin I live in.
...a dystopia where it's always nighttime and inhabited by beautiful and strange personas.
Your style is incredible. Can you talk about how your work has evolved over the years, and why you’re drawn to illustrative works?
Thank you! I don’t have any formal fine art or illustration training, but I’ve always enjoyed drawing. When I paint or draw I don’t usually have an end-goal in sight, I like to sit at a blank piece of paper and kind of see what happens. The progression to using only black and white in my work came very naturally - I’m attracted to the duality of dark and light and using it to play with negative space. Likewise, the absence of vivid colors has allowed me to construct this monochromatic fantasy world - a dystopia where it's always nighttime and inhabited by beautiful and strange personas. I think this attraction to illustrative imagery is influenced by the art that resonates with me most: the striking contrasting panels of graphic novels, and the decadent European art of the Fin-de-Siecle.
The London tattoo community seems to be super tight knit and supportive. Why do you think London is such a great place for artists? What’s it like being a tattooer in that particular city?
Yes, the London tattoo community is incredibly supportive and respectful. There are so many phenomenal artists and studios in this city, it’s really exciting to see the variety of styles here and to see artists pushing the boundaries and limitations of tattooing. I feel really at home working at Sacred Art, its such a supportive family and I think as a team we all give each other a lot of support and encouragement. Whilst London can be a hard city to survive in, there’s so much inspiration to be found here, whether that’s visiting galleries or museums, going to see a show in someone’s basement or even just having a walk as these streets feel carved with the city’s history.
Who are your artistic heroes?
Aubrey Beardsley, Leonora Carrington, Harry Clarke, Julia Bardsley, and my parents - who brought me up with a paintbrush in my hand.
You’re trapped on a desert island. You can only have one book, one film, and one record to enjoy for your lengthy stay. What would you choose?
A sketchbook (is that cheating?), Female Trouble by John Waters and Modern Mirror by Drab Majesty.
Being a working artist is incredibly demanding, especially with the added addition of social media as a means to support your business. How do you self care or deal with the stress/pressure to create content?
It’s a bit of a balancing act, but I’m slowly learning to get better at self care. I completely agree that there’s a tremendous pressure to constantly be creating and especially to be ‘visible’ on social media - it can really consume you and fuel a lot of anxiety. This year I’ve been trying to prioritize my wellbeing - even if its just small things like making time to read, going to an exhibition, or playing with the cat.
You’re made Ruler of Planet Earth. What is your first decree?
To eradicate fascism!
Do you have any travel plans or projects coming up that you want to share?
I’m really excited about going back to Switzerland in October where I’ll be working alongside my friend Grim Antihero and the team at Noir Tattoo in Fribourg. In terms of projects, I’m really aiming to finally do my graphic novel within the next year, this is something I’ve been working towards since I was a teenager and I feel its about time that it comes to life!