Tattoos for the souls as ways to transform into new states of being
Our today stop for the Seven questions to… column is in Australia and it is all about the tattoo for the soul.
In particular, we are talking with The Mark of Nara, who has a unique way of conceiving his job.
The process, Nara says, encloses three aspects: the physical, the metaphysical, the spiritual. In the end, what you get from Nara is a therapeutic tattoo.
Actually focusing on large scale geometric and pattern-based pieces, Nara believes that each tattoo has its own, irrepetible story. It is also really connected to a cross-cultural use – as he defines it – of motifs in tattooing amongst traditional and indigenous cultures.
How did you become a tattoo artist?
I think all tattoo artists become what they are through determination. It takes a lot of perseverance. Especially artists that started their journeys 10+ years ago because we didn’t have social platforms such as instagram and facebook. So I would say it was the power of will that allowed me to become a tattoo artist, I wanted it so much. And it is only on reflection that I am able to see just how monumental that decision has been and how well it has allowed me to bring through timeless concepts into this new age. I must of been attracted to the ability to create change for someone. Helping them transform, or mark a particular moment.
What is “therapeutic tattooing”?
A tattoo of therapeutic nature, in my work, refers to a tattoo that exhibits healing powers. Having a beneficial effect on one or more of a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical states of wellbeing. It is an intimate and sacred undertaking requiring both technical knowledge and ancient wisdom. A blend of the physical act and spiritual knowings.
Therapeutic tattooing has a lot to do with a mutual recognition between myself and a client of their intention and the reason why they are receiving the tattoo in the first place. It involves consciously determining what the tattoo will energetically mark and hold. Intention, to me is the single most important aspect of the therapeutic process.
Are your geometric, pattern and indigenous cultures’-based pieces related? If yes, in which way?
Yes, to put it simply all the patterns represent nature and its lores in a visual language. There are patterns that represent material aspects such as plants and animals, others are more elemental such as the wind or the ocean. On an even more abstract and deeper level they mirror our internal landscapes. A lot of geometry represents the interplay of the energies and forces at work in all levels of life, macro and micro. This same visual information about nature bleeds into the spiritual beliefs of many indigenous cultures. Through experiencing and learning about these belief systems and spending a lot of time in nature, I am creating patterns from my own awareness, patterns that are intrinsically connected/related to all other indigenous patterns.
Often I say that my work is the old being done in a new way. This is because we are new people in a new world. So the constant energies that create and form life are dynamic and have to evolve and be expressed in a way that has a current place so that information doesn’t get lost.
Have you ever been influenced in your works by travel or a specific culture that you met?
Travel, especially to culturally different destinations never ceases to deliver a shot of inspiration. So all my travel and all the cultures I have experienced have developed what I do in some way. It’s a constant adjustment and refinement that happens as you are exposed to more ways of perceiving. And in tattooing it is a case of perceiving the same things in a different way.
As I mentioned earlier the motivation to tattoo and the motifs that are used are usually very similar in all cultures they are simply interpreted differently, and sometimes have a different place and/or meaning in that culture.
Tell me something about your studio.
I am currently living and working on the road. However my wife and I are expecting our first child so we are looking to nest and open a studio in 2018.
So, I will tell you the vision. A sacred space, away from the city, in nature. You take your shoes off at the door, and enter a room full of aromas. You can tell it is a special space, where work is done in a good way with good intentions, you feel comfortable. Y you can hear birds and the sounds of the australian bush. It’s far enough away from the busy world that you have to take time out to come and receive your tattoo, but not so far that it’s an inconvenience.
The client’s experience is as important as the tattoo itself. I have been creating this space temporarily for many years while travelling and I’m excited to have a permanent place to work, grow, teach and enjoy.
Do you have any tattoos?
When I started my apprenticeship I didn’t have any tattoos. I didn’t want any to be honest because tattooing didn’t interest me in that way. I was not interested in tattoo popular culture so to speak and had not yet discovered or understood traditional tattoo culture. Tattooing didn’t really suit me. My Boss at the time said “you’re not allowed to start tattooing till you get one”. He wanted me to feel it first. I however, wanted to do my first tattoo before I got my first tattoo, because I wanted the date I did my first tattoo as my first tattoo. So I smuggled some machines home from work and tattooed my brother. Then had “08” tattooed on me the next day. I have plenty of tattoos now, my own tattoos being some of my biggest lessons.
I have to give my first boss some credit for his position on being tattooed first to feel it before being allowed to tattoo. Through experience I have come to understand that you cannot fully understand anything by rejecting it. With tattooing this is very true especially when working on large scale work as I do, or experiencing how transformative the experience is, not just in a physical way but an emotional and psychological way also. The letting go process is so important with tattooing.
Which is the typical creating process of your tattoos? How do you find a matching point between your art and the client request?
For me the process has thoroughly refined itself and through observing how I work I have learnt to trust the process. It requires a lot of both thinking and non thinking. I read the request or have a consultation. With this information on hand I will draw the a night or two before, or the morning of the appointment. This is so that I am only tattooing what is coming through on the day. It is always relevant.
I have a very unique clientele, so when someone is after something therapeutic the trust is there from the start. In my early years of tattooing the design process and getting my mind and the clients on the same page could be a struggle. But ever since my intention turned towards doing tattoos in a more conscious way, recognising the act, it changed. It has been a gradual change, the less I compare and compete the more my work seems to unfold. The process has become smooth and comfortable and I can feel the flow. So finding the matching point is usually a very comfortable process. A lot of the time the design and placement works itself out and myself and the client know because it feels right. There is never any pressure, and usually any nervousness from the client is put at ease when we go over the design.
I just wanted to add a thank-you to those who have taken the time to read, and probably re-read parts of this conversation. I encourage anyone that wants to know more about therapeutic tattooing to contact me via my website. Also to make a booking, follow our journey and be updated on our moves please join the mailing list.
Isn’t it fascinating?
Find more about The Mark of Nara browsing the gallery here below or on the Instagram profile.