Written by Sophie Wyatt
When you hear people say they have missed social and creative pass times over lockdown, you may automatically think of music gigs, art exhibitions, or just sitting in the pub with your mates. However, part of the creative industry that has taken the biggest hit over this past year, is tattoo artists. In the wake of nationwide lockdowns, tattoo artists have been forced into their homes with nothing but their design pads to keep their creative juices flowing. We spoke to London based tattoo artist Adelina Sasnauskaitè about how she entered the tattoo industry, developed her incredibly unique and colourful style, and how she has dealt with the global pandemic as a creative.
So let us start at the beginning. Being such a obvious create mind (based on the layout of her social media) it’s no surprise that Adelina has been immersed in art and design from a very young age. She explained to us that although she only started designing tattoos a few years ago, her love for art stems from much earlier in life.
‘I’ve started tattooing about a couple of years ago. I have always been drawing and painting but have been wanting to find a new way to apply my artwork onto something different rather than just paper or in a form of a zine. I feel that within recent years tattooing has taken a different, new kind of path away from traditional tattooing. I have noticed that it has become more about the artist and their way of expression rather than copying images onto the skin. At that time I was obsessively looking for tattooers that I wanted to get tattoos from and then at some point I realised that it would be very interesting to try learning it myself and see where my drawing could take me with that ! Not gonna lie, I also was just really broke and exhausted from working in the bakery so also needed to find a way to make some cash haha! Both things just kind of fell into place for me at that time.’
Adelina’s work is heavily inspired by vintage erotic magazines and advertising. Using fine lines she creates vivid images which are both unique and reminiscent of vintage nostalgia. She went into a bit more detail about her style and how it has developed.
‘I am interested in the erotic body language and what that can communicate. My work is both nostalgic and satyrical. As for tattoo designs I am trying not to focus and settle too much on a particular style as I am still learning the craft, so trying to explore different things. At the moment I really like just quite fine, fluid line drawings.’
What may start as a quick browse through Adelina’s work via Instagram, will surely end with you scrolling for hours, unable to tear yourself away from her designs. This also makes choosing a favourite (or just one for yourself) incredibly difficult. However, Adelina recollected on a particular piece that she enjoyed creating.
‘My favourite tattoo that I got to do must have been the girl holding a telephone, coloured in bright colours. I loved that one as It’s very pop-arty and reminds me of 80’s graphics or cartoons. Would love to do more like that but I find people are quite scared of colours unfortunately!
I really wouldn’t focus on doing or liking one style. I think when it comes to tattoos it is best to just choose an artist that you admire as a whole, not the style alone. Also throughout the years styles you prefer will change, however you will always appreciate someones drawing just as their art.’
While Adelina clearly has an incredible natural style within the world of tattooing, her creative powers do not stop there. Over lockdown she also started to create ‘Super Honey’, a zine made up of her own illustrations and images.
‘Super Honey is a zine I have started during the first lockdown and I will hopefully continue making a new issue every year. It is basically a random mix on my drawings sort of organically creating a narrative between themselves and by themselves. It is a collection of illustrations that interpret and reflect just regular things around us like food packaging, shop fronts, magazine and music album covers etc. I feel there is way too much objectification of women’s bodies in mainstream world – of sort of everything ! It is such a huge selling point. With my drawings I aim to reclaim the erotic feminine language and recreate same things but in a more fun, ironic, sarcastic and also empowering way. I just want to be like – ” you want to sexualise our bodies ? well here you have it, full frontal nudity for your toothpaste advert ! ” It is sort of taking it back and rubbing it to peoples faces – but on my own terms. Hope that makes sense…’
While some have struggled to find motivation during lockdowns, others have struggled to find inspiration. If you hadn’t already guessed, being in your own home 24/7 does not bring an abundance of creative inspiration with it. Adelina spoke to us about how each lockdown has brought with it different challenges for her and her art.
‘To be fair, during the first part of this whole year of lockdowns, I was super happy to get so much time to draw and paint and to just fully just do that alone. At first productivity was easy and very natural ! ..however after a while that feeling fizzled out as I felt really lacking inspiration and influences that we usually naturally receive just by mingling in the city. You really start to realise how important is just a regular life routine, meeting new people, travelling, seeing gigs or exhibitions, even just shopping in markets! It has been difficult to feel motivated after some time as it started to feel a bit pointless creating something in the midst of a pandemic and the anxiety of this situation has really started to penetrate the layers of my brain.’
Finally we asked Adelina, what does tattooing mean to you? In a world where women’s forms and sexuality is starting to find it’s voice, it is vital that we amplify the ones voicing them. Adelina and her work are paving the way for not only open expression for women but also the embracing of female sexuality through creativity.
‘It gives me a voice. Drawing to me is a tool to process my thoughts and experiences. It helps me to understand the world that’s around, to sort of digest it and move on with things. I don’t give it much thought, I just get on with it ! It has always been like that…only after some time when I need to put it into writing, I can really reflect on what it all means – I guess it’s sort of like a dream interpretation.’
Head over to Adelina’s Instagram page (@sweet.as.a.nut) to check out more of her amazing tattoo designs!