Artists are not born with a distinctive style; they have to take a trip to find it. Sometimes that means traveling all over the world to experience different cultures in their quest for artistic inspiration. Anaïs Chabane grew up in France, but she was strongly influenced by Arab art which she experienced as a child visiting Morocco. When she grew up a bit, she became fascinated with henna tattooing while traveling to India. This temporary body art form made a huge impression on her, and it has become the basis of her tattoo designs to this day.
How did you first get interested in art?
When I was a child, I really liked to draw. My parents are Arabs and my father lived in the Middle East for work, so I often went there to see him. We had a vacation home in Marrakech and I loved walking around with henna on my hands and feet. My father is also an artist and he has been a great pastry chef for 20 years. I think it all started from there.
When did you discover tattooing and how did you get started as an artist?
I discovered tattooing when I was 18, about 10 years ago. I was in the last year of fashion school and I met people who started tattooing, then over time I started to get interested. I figured this was what I wanted to do, so I finished my studies and went straight to tattooing at the end of the year.
When did you first start doing ornamental tattooing and what inspired you?
I started to make ornament [work] shortly after starting tattooing. I tattooed a bit of everything for six months and then started to specialize in my own style. In 2014, I spent three months in India for the first time. I traveled alone so I spent my time with the locals. They gave me henna and we loved spending time together. I went there a second time for the Goa Tattoo Convention and it was amazing.
When did you discover the art of henna and what do you like about it?
I discovered henna very young when I saw it on members of my family. What I love about henna is the way it decorates the body, its appearance on the fingers, the delicacy of the ornaments … I absolutely love everything about it.
Which parts of the body do you prefer to tattoo and why?
My favorite body parts to tattoo are the hands, fingers, shins, and feet. These parts of the body are the most popular places for henna. I find these body parts very stylish and the henna tattoos dress them up nicely. Hands are a particularly strong place for tattoos as they often assert one’s identity. What are your favorite elements or symbols to incorporate into your decorative tattoos and why? Recently I have really enjoyed adding moons to my tattoos. I find that they end the song well and that they don’t have a precise meaning. I really like arabesque patterns and I put them more and more in my designs. These are very elegant finishes, which help to emphasize the delicacy of my tattoos. I also like to use body jewelry like pearls and diamonds, which are symbols of feminine elegance.
How did you grow and evolve as a tattoo artist?
I started tattooing at 18 and opened my first studio at 21. Much has changed since then. I have explored the world of ornamental designs from many angles and my style has evolved a lot because of it.
What other artistic mediums do you work in besides tattooing?
I started a line of temporary tattoos not too long ago and absolutely love doing them. I really like telling myself that people who can’t or don’t want to get a tattoo can wear my art for a little while.
What advice would you give to your young self?
Work hard, persevere, and believe in yourself.