Art is a magical place where anything can happen. You can create new worlds and imaginative creatures with just a pen or, in Shani Nizan’s case, a tattoo machine. Nizan draws spectacular animal/human hybrids that seem straight out of a children’s book. We sat down with her to find out how she found her signature style, how she approaches designs for her clientele and much more.
Tell us about your upbringing and how you fell in love with art. In almost all of my childhood videos, I’m shown sitting on the living room rug drawing, gluing, cutting, or building something. In high school, I noticed that drawing made me “cooler” and even naughty kids enjoyed drawing, unlike my piano or saxophone playing. I don’t think I chose to get into art, it was inevitable.
How would you describe your signature style and how did it come about? I didn’t choose the semi-realistic and naive style of drawing that I have. Looking back, I was someone who wanted to do a bit of everything. I was never keen on going into detail or tweaking, instead I was always on the lookout for the story. I think it also explains the influence of children’s books and the fragmentary and undone aspect of my tattoos.
Where did you get the idea of putting animal heads on human bodies? At first I drew them separately, the animals because it was good practice and the people because I drew my friends. One day, I showed my drawings to my great-aunt Galia, her opinion means a lot to me, and she said to me: “You copy well.
After a few days off, I saw a video called “Everything is a Remix”, which showed me how some great works of art were a combination of two things that already existed. I tried to do the same thing and mix two of my interests. Since then, it’s been difficult to draw anything else.
What are some of your favorite animal/human hybrid tattoos you’ve done? I could never choose, but I can say that it depends on the connection I have with the client. I really love doing tattoos with a meaningful story that can be elegantly captured through a simple sketch. I can’t thank those clients enough who come up with an idea and give me the artistic freedom to interpret it as I see fit. These are the tattoos I love the most.
What is your favorite animal to tattoo? Why? It comes in waves. The hare is always on the favorites list and I also love the long-necked animals which make the hybrid creature a little weird. Today, I am in an Oriental Shorthair period. Look at them, they are adorable.
If you were an animal/human hybrid, what would you be? It’s easy, a giraffe. As a 5-foot-9 tall person, it’s hard not to be identified that way. I can also understand their clumsiness and their need to be surrounded by loved ones.
What does your design process look like? Usually I will wait to meet the client in person to work together on the sketch. Sometimes I prepare something beforehand but I am often aware that I will have to start over. The connection between me and the client when we build a sketch together is the most important part for me. It’s the time when we can both feel that it’s not just a logistical process, but a meaningful experience. People can be surprised or stressed when they come to get a tattoo and a sketch isn’t ready, but I think that’s the magic.
What else should our readers know about you? It sounds corny, but I’m happiest when people ask me for advice, opinions, or direction. It makes me feel honored and fills me with joy. I hope that if anyone has a question for me, they will not hesitate to do so and I will do my best to help them.