Name: Raven (Zi)
Tattoo, performance, sculpture
Birthplace / Current City: Danyang, China/
Los Angeles, CA
Describe the path that lead you to the work you do now:
I grew up in a small city in China with two parents that make their living through music and music education, both of them are very sensitive towards arts and literature. Growing up, I remember my dad would cry at sunset and write poems and my mom was doing the interior design of our entire home herself (like including light fixtures, staircase orientation etc). So naturally I gravitated towards art making since I was little. Then when I was older, I started to make works relating to my queerness and how that intersects with my close tie with my family and cultural tradition. So in short, family is what leads me to the work I make now.
Outside of your work, what do you care about?
Friends, community, food.
How do you find balance in your work?
As someone with 4 capricorn placements...this is a tough question lol.
Sometimes I find so much fulfillment and joy in my work that I forget where else my life is. I have to force myself to actively and intentionally leave time for myself, for my friends and just separate living and working a bit more - e.g. having a separate studio space from my living space so I don’t go crazy lol.
Do you see your work as part of an artistic tradition? Where does your work depart from tradition and move into new territory?
Coming out of art school and internalizing a lot of elitist ideas of how art is supposed to be and how art should be so rigidly categorized, I have to actively unlearn a lot of that. Therefore, I do see my works stem from an artistic tradition - I was trained in oil painting and sculpture (woodworking, metal fabrication) but my current practice is definitely in a new territory as my works embodies a lot of performative elements and incorporates tattooing (something still not being recognized as a possible “fine art” medium by a lot of people).
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
When I find my community members all have tattoos done by me, I feel as if they become an extension of my body and my spirit. I know I am loved and cared for, therefore I could live forever and everywhere all at once.
What is your studio like?
I share a tattoo studio with three other Asian American tattoo artists in DTLA. The studio space is beautiful, with a lot of plants and always some supply for snacks:) I have a more fine art focused studio at my school, but with the COVID19 Pandemic I currently have no access to it.
Do you ever clean it?
I do.... sometimes :3 Sometimes the mess in the studio is kind of comforting and that’s really not just an excuse for me to not clean haha.
Do you have a work outfit?
I don’t. Sometimes I dress up too extra just to go to the model shop and do physical labor. But dressing up makes me happy/inspired, so I’m not compromising that even though that means sometimes I get my favourite outfit ruined:)
To find more about the artist, click here
Photographer: Ira Dritsas Chernova