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Anouk Aumont

"When I encounter people in the stairwell of Shila, it feels like we both know something that other people don’t ".

Also known as ‘Funkadelics’, Anouk Aumont is a hand-poke tattooist by trade but explores everything from painting and illustration to sculpture and ceramics. Born to French parents, she moved to Los Angeles at the age of 23, where she became an accomplished tattooist – before setting her eyes on Athens, where she is currently based.  

 

Photography JUSTIN TYLER CLOSE       Interview HOUSE OF SHILA

HOS: You recently stayed at Shila Athens, a part of our residency program. What are some memorable moments of staying and creating in our space?  

AA: The start of every day at Shila is memorable. The joy I had rolling out of bed shuffling over to my desk, charcoal in one hand, Americano in the other.  

HOS: What is it about Shila that keeps you returning? 

AA: It’s the perfume concocted like witchcraft that stays with me even when I’ve left. It’s in the thought behind every restored detail meaning there is no lack of inspiration when I am here. When I encounter people in the stairwell of Shila, it feels like we both know something that other people don’t.  

HOS: You were born into a French-American family, from parents who are both artists; one a designer and one sculptor. What have you taken from your own lineage into your work? And have your parents taught you anything about being an artist? 

AA: It’s been really empowering to see how both of my parents have genuine and enduring practices despite not having any academic background or formal artistic training in their mediums. I’m also self-taught, and I’ve understood recently that regardless of not having any qualifications from higher education/ art academies, I can pave my own way. They’ve shown me that operating outside of the prescribed system is possible. That repetition leads to failure and successes, and the only way to know is to D.I.Y. 

HOS: During your Shila residency, you painted on a velvet canvas. How important is material to you?  

AA: Experimenting with velvet got me to reconsider my use of material. It made me realise that if I lack depth or my paintings feel flat, than I can change the foundation of the entire piece by using a new backdrop.  

“Paintings a timestamp of my psyche… they are vehicles to help me move through feelings”.

HOS: When did you discover that painting was something you couldn’t live without? Did you choose this medium or did it choose you?  

AA: I remember painting in my bedroom at a young age and having a strong sense that this was “it.” I couldn’t articulate at the time, but in retrospect, we chose each other, it was a mutual decision. 

HOS: Do you usually know what you’re about to paint or does the painting unfold throughout the process? How would you describe the first steps? 

AA: It goes both ways, I typically will set a background colour and if I’m open and willing I almost always see an image already in the strokes and shadows of just that one color. In other instances, if I’m working within a series of paintings I will draw it out in my journal and workshop the concept as I’m painting it out. 

HOS:  I know that you’re a self taught artist and worked as a hand-poke tattoo artist in Los Angeles before moving to Athens. Why did you choose Athens?  

AA: When I decided to leave Los Angeles in June ‘23, Athens felt like the most familiar country outside of France to me. The closest I could get to the sea without abandoning a vibrant artistic ecosystem, and a place where I could potentially prioritise and sustain a painting practice. The rhythm of Mediterranean life, the cost of living, the light, these were the ideal conditions for me to decide to make Athens my home base.  

HOS: How is tattooing your art on strangers’ skin, different from painting on a canvas? And is there a bond that’s cultivated with the subject, during your sessions? 

AA: Tattooing is a really wild experience. It involves a level of trust that isn’t comparable to any other discipline I’m familiar with. It feels unreal to start out as strangers and one or two hours later I know such intimate details about the inner workings of this person.  It’s an honour that a drawing that was once mine finds a new permanent home and it always humbles me in a way that’s indescribable.  

YG: Much of your paintings have themes of sensuality and intimacy, what turns you on? 

AA: Eating figs right off the tree, a perfectly cooked seven-minute egg, shadows and light, nice hands, the space right behind an ear, salty skin, long unbreaking eye contact, topless swimming in the sea, people that are bilingual, humour, having high self-esteem, tipping well, smell of vanilla and tobacco on skin, bisous, a lot of bisous, more bisous 

“Tattooing is a really wild experience. It involves a level of trust that isn’t comparable to any other discipline I’m familiar with”.

HOS: How do you know when a painting is done? 

AA: I’m not sure if I ever know if a painting is done, if it stays in my studio for too long, I’ll paint over it so in essence a painting is done when it leaves my studio. I think paintings are somewhat a timestamp of my psyche, because my feelings change so rapidly the second I’ve ‘finished’ a painting it’s no longer relevant for me. They are vehicles to help me move through feelings. 

HOS: Where do you find motivation? 

AA: My partner, who is the most hyperactive, creative, productive person I know. I don’t think it’s my most healthy quality to compare and despair, but it’s his drive that keeps me on my toes.  

HOS: In your studio, is it quiet or loud? Both can be true.  

AA: There’s almost always a pulse in the studio, the pendulum swings from manic to peaceful but I’m always listening to something in my headphones.  

HOS: In the last week, what lessons about art making have you learnt?  

AA: Give myself more time than I think I need, and be patient. 

HOS: What is your morning routine? 

AA: Wake up, meditate for 20-ish minutes, check my emails and socials, brew a big pot of green tea while I drink a coffee, read and write including a list of five things I’m grateful for, five things that I did well the previous day, five things that are out of my control. Eat breakfast and get going in the studio. 

HOS: Tell us a secret.   

AA: I’m a 12- stepper. 

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