Black humor rounds out Monki Diamond's beautiful Blackwork tattoos that blend Traditional with a unique Illustrative touch. Charismatic creations that tout emboldening words such as "Love is the only way." and "Not Today Satan!", Monki's pieces are killer, but cute. In this interview she was kind enough to talk about how she got started in tattooing, her creative philosophy and the best advice she can give to creative kids around the globe.
What is your artistic background? Did you always want to be a tattooer and how did you get into tattooing?
I went to university for two years to do fashion design before I started traveling and tattooing. I also did a quick course on printmaking techniques. I always liked sewing and creating things in any form. I've been painting since I was a kid. After dropping university I went to live in Edinburgh, Scotland and that’s how I fell into tattooing. I worked in bars during that time and started to get tattooed myself since I was 17 so lil by lil got into it and realized that’s what I really wanted to do at the age of 22. Bored of unfulfilling jobs without creativity.
A friend of mine was opening a studio then in Edinburgh, where I moved at the age of 19, by that time as I said I was 22 and I asked for an apprenticeship. He decided to take me in and I was taught how to pierce and basic tattooing, customer service etc etc and other trade tips.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that inspire you?
I always loved history of art, modern art, contemporary and Dadaism, surrealism... My heroes, probably every single painter who chase their vision beyond money making. From Monet, to Dali, to Kandinsky, honestly I don’t really have heroes but visionaries. I’m a big fan of films; anything from Amelie to Edward Scissorhands, normally independent movies with a touch of darkness.
Many artists have a philosophy or motivation behind their work...what would you say is yours? How do you define success?
My philosophy: never stop creating. During the process you really find more juice than on the final product. Also, very inspired by heaven in hell, the dark and light, the love for life and death, the yin yang and anything that polarizes reality and dreamland. My head is always somewhere else.
For me success is all about perspective: what’s important for me might not be for you.
Being successful in my opinion is never giving up on your own dreams, understanding the true inner self (something I always work on) and staying true to your path and the people around you. That’s success. Living life to the fullest with love and respect. Money means nothing, status means nothing.
You do a lot of portraits of women that are really full of character. Who are they based on? Why do you think you’re drawn to recreating the female form?
I have always loved the female form, the depth of every inch of our bodies and our brains! Hahahaha love women and how powerful they have been through history and time.
I lived in a family of all females: 2 sisters, my mother, my grandmother (who also paints and writes poetry) so always surrounded by their energy.
Since I started learning about tattoo history and saw all those ladies in the 1920's, 30's, 40's, till the 60’s fell in love with the iconography. Fell in love with those pictures my grandmother and mother used to show me. Black and grey, soft eyes, lil sadness behind them, but also hope and pure inspiration. I try to use them as references and create something new for our generations that they feel identified with but also has roots or a connection somehow to keep the beauty of traditional tattooing ongoing.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What is the best advice you feel you can give?
Best advice received...Probably from my sister: life is now. She always reminds me how important is to be present in the moment, to stay true to truly experience and understand the beauty of what’s happening.
Best advice to give: Never stop making your dreams a reality. No matter how far or difficult they seem anything is possible in life with the right intentions.
Beyond tattooing/creating art, what is most important to you? What do you wish you had more time for?
Beyond what I love most (tattooing and using painting as an outlet) I’d say family, and friends. Keeping everyone close even tho I’m from Spain and I’m currently living in Canada, I always try to keep the loves ones close to my heart. Also my mental health, I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 this year and personal work, mindfulness, spiritually and finding inner peace is always something I’m working on. I wish I had more time for traveling, but not guest spots. True traveling, being next to the sea, swimming, leaving all routines behind and truly exploring.
Can you tell us a little bit about your cute af pup? What else, would you say, you cannot live without on this planet?
Ohhhhh my love: Paco, a year old chihuahua I got on my last trip to Spain. He had to be from the homeland so I feel close to my roots. Oh boi, he gets me like nobody. I have registered him as a service dog for my anxiety and social awkwardness hahahaha so he can travel with me in trains and planes! He also comes to work with me some days and it’s just an absolute angel from hell, a fairy from dreamland that came to my rescue when I most needed! .
Another thing I absolutely can’t live without is the sun. I know it seems abstract and obvious that the sun is always there but honestly it's the best reminder to know that every day will be a new start, a new chance to grow. Something less abstract: kindness, chocolate on my period days, and the beach. Alos, MUSIC EVERY SINGLE MORNING AS I WAKE UP, I'D DIE IF I HAD TO GIVE IT UP!
Do you have any plans that you’d like to share? Travel plans, collabs, projects, merch releases, etc?
I’ve already done my year visit to Edinburgh, Leeds convention and Spain. I’m writing this as I come back from Quebec City, heading back to Montreal where I’m planning on working at Le Mausolee this year. I’m also making new merch, long sleeve t-shirts, and granny panties! I really wanted to make something a lil different. In November I will be guesting in Toronto and I would love to squeeze another stop before Xmas if possible if not, 2020 it’ll be the right time for traveling and maybe heading more to Europe, different cities and try be a lil more nomadic for a year