In every single (relatively serious) children’s cartoon, there almost always a regality and sacredness associated with the forest animals. In The Lion King, the entirety of the African savannah was considered hallowed ground, the entire Disney-ified storyline of Pocahontas was based on the notion that the earth and its’ creatures were considered sacred. This idea translates impeccably to the realm of tattoos, and no one does it better than artist Laura Weller. Based out of Benyur’s Tattoo Studio in the UK, Weller has only been tattooing for three years, but in that short amount of time has managed to create some incredible headway in realm of mehndi inspired animal portraits. Intricately detailed, with an unprecedented majesty about them, Weller’s sacred animal portraits are a delicate and beautiful homage to the animal kingdom.
Working predominantly in black and grey, Weller creates realistic animal portraits through the use of line work, dot work, and impeccable shading techniques. In lieu of fur or feathers, she instead creates depth through varying intricate patterns. The haunches of the rabbit, the folds of the elephant’s skin, and the depth in the lion’s mane are all still there, but instead are illustrated through beautifully delicate mehndi-inspired patterns. This in turn gives them a sense of regal adornment, suggesting a certain sacredness about them. While a good majority of her work is comprised of animal portraits, her mehndi inspired pieces carry over into other subjects as well, like the moon, mandalas, and even some botanical pieces on occasion.
Weller wasn’t always an aspiring tattoo artist, in fact she was studying graphic design at university when she was contacted by her now boss about potentially starting a tattoo apprenticeship. “At first, I didn’t know what to say,” says Weller, “then I had a think and I agreed to give it a go! It was honestly the best decision I have ever made. I love my job.”