There are some artists whose work whispers of ancient things, of primordial magic depth, of sacred universal connections. These artists glean inspiration from powerful deities, far away lands, and galaxies of love. Xapiripa creates work just like that. Each tattoo, each painting, makes you feel as though you were cradled by a force beyond understanding, but full of compassion and wisdom.
In this interview with Xapiripa, we talk more about the energy and influences behind her work which resonates so thoughtfully and clearly like an ancient Tibetan temple bell.
How did you get into tattooing? Why was it something you felt drawn to?
I think it started when I worked in an art gallery in San Francisco, I had a lot of exposure to really amazing artists and artwork and just always thought it would be so awesome to have that kind of talent. I also thought heavily tattooed women looked so badass and started just wanting to get lots of tattoos and never imagined that I would be qualified enough to ever tattoo, but I didn’t really care, I just really wanted to paint and draw flash, it just looked like so much fun. Then just a lot of obsessing over drawing and painting flash came very naturally, and trading flash and getting to connect with other artists, until I just jumped at it. It was pretty rough for the first year or so, but it's become such a huge inseparable part of my life, I can’t remember what I was doing before I was obsessing over this.
Your style is filled with spirituality. Can you describe how your spiritual practice and philosophies inform your work?
When I started tattooing I had no idea why I was doing it and why, I just felt drawn to it. Even when it was really hard I felt like I had to push though it and I’d eventually understand why I was doing what I was doing.
More and more I understand my obsession with symbolism and beautifying something with harmonious images.. images and symbols that create harmony, through their meaning, through their shape, their size, their energy. Seeing these strong beautiful images is like listening to a perfectly harmonic tune, it can be very healing to the body and spirit! I feel like it goes very deep, but I understand the importance of there being harmony in my art and also in the tattooing process.. I feel like it can be an extremely life changing experience as its been for me many times.. as the artist and as a client as well!
What artists, tattooers or not, inspire you? What visuals, films, books, etc. inspire you to make work?
There are so many artists that inspire me, especially in tattooing, but I think what inspires me the most is Shamanic art. Shamanic art has as its main focus imitating nature as a form of healing. Nature is the image of harmony and perfection. This art is brought back from experiences of other dimensions that we still haven’t even begun to understand, and there are infinite possibilities, but again, shamanic/tribal art always brings back the symbols, the harmony, it reminds us how to be aligned with our nature. And I’m not limiting tribal to one specific tribe, tribal art from all over the world has its meeting point here!
So I look at a lot of hand-crafted art work from remote regions that still keep a tribal tradition - their clothing, their architecture, their jewelry, it always has a connection to something greater.
You also run the Instagram page Cult of Hera, which is full of incredible photos, art, and motivating positive speak. How have you learned about the things you support in this page, and what advice do you have for others who would like to live in a more enlightened way?
Thanks for bringing up Cult of Hera, its become really special and important to me to keep feeding it, as it really stimulates me to become better at communicating clearly, which I feel is essential for a good artist. I started posting it privately as a way to remember all the really valuable information I had either read, heard, seen in a movie, or come to the conclusion by myself after some kind of profound experience. The strong images helped me to remember what was what and a way for it not to become just lots of writing. Besides painting I spend most of my time studying, reading, watching videos on subjects that interest me, just because it is a hobby of mine and I’m a very curious person, but it’s kind of turned into something more experience based for me where I can just open up and start a dialogue about subjects that are on my mind. I decided to start sharing it because I felt that these small lessons and reminders of our true nature and what we are plant seeds in our minds that help us reach a certain understanding, and the more understanding of the way things are the less resistance there is to it, which for me at least helps me live my life in a much more harmonious way, with less resistance and a more open heart to new experiences. If it can even minimally or unconsciously help anybody out there, it seems worth doing for me.
Which deities, goddesses, gods, spirits and more do you find that you identify with or become inspired by the most and why do you think that is?
Well I’m clearly very heavily influenced by Indian art and culture.. I can’t really explain why, it just speaks to me very loudly. In the Hindu traditions there are over 30 million deities, all with their own temperaments and personalities and peculiarities, which is fair because there are so many different types of people in the world, so many different facets even in ourselves of our personalities that it makes it easier to relate to and identify with certain aspects of the godhead as opposed to once central religious figure like in Christianity. I’m not really a devotee of anything, but when I focus on a certain type of energy, because I am a very visual person, I can get very involved with whichever deity it is that I’m calling on. As someone who grew up with a gypsy lifestyle, gods and goddesses of destruction have always been very protective of me, and I relate to the concept of constantly destroying everything to build new things and seeing the beauty in it, although it can be very painful sometimes as well, as they sort of go hand in hand.
There is also a very strong female force that I worship to the extent that I can, just by being very thankful and appreciative of life. Whether its referred to as Kali, or Pachamama, Lansã in Brazil, I feel it as a mother who is strict because she loves me and wants to see me do well, and it inspires me to be better all the time.
Do you have any travel plans, projects, collabs or guest spots that you’d like to share?
Yes actually, for all of 2019 I’m going to be traveling and guest spotting where I can. I’ll be in Asia for the first part of the year, India, Bali, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and I’m pretty open to whatever happens so maybe some other countries as well.. and hopefully in Europe for the summer. I’ll be updating my whereabouts on Instagram hopefully regularly!