My “adventures in ink” series returns today, and with that comes the introduction of a wonderfully creative Australian artist who goes by the name of Neko Marie. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, this international lady caught my eye from a modelling standpoint at first. Upon further investigation, I found out there was even more to Neko Marie than beautiful imagery. With modelling her hobby, it’s crafting and tattoos that are Neko’s passions and these passions have translated into gorgeous results on both fronts. Her jewellery and accessories are kooky and fun, but look splendid on the wearer, and the art she has adorned her body with is truly joyous. This lady is a marvel to behold, full of energy and life, and so pleasant to work with. I know for some this interview will be a first contact with Neko Marie and her work. If you’re like me it won’t be the last involvement you have with this dynamic individual.
Q: Hello there Miss Neko Marie. You’re very kind to take the time to be interviewed for my blog, it’s a pleasure to have you feature. How are you doing today?
Neko: Great thanks, and it’s my pleasure to be speaking to you!
Q: There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to your many creative sides Neko, but can we start by discussing your wonderful modelling work. Can you tell us a little about your background in the industry? When were you first photographed as a model, and is it a career option for you or more of a hobby?
Neko: Ahh, that’s so kind of you to say.
I started modelling when I was 13, and soon realised I wasn’t cut out for the mainstream modelling world. The pressure on me when I was that young drove me insane. I knew from that moment that I wanted to express myself freely and openly.
I always did freelance stuff, and had some cool opportunities in the past, modelling for clothing brands such as dusk moth, and being featured in some awesome tattoo magazines.
My only modelling goals these days are to be featured in more tattoo mags, I would love to be on the cover of one. I was lucky enough to be on the cover of FINGER mag, an Adelaide based arts magazine.
It’s never been a career: only a hobby!
Q: Your modelling work is excellent, but even your candid personal shots show you in a remarkable way. Are you just naturally photogenic, or is it something you have to work hard at?
Neko: I have absolutely no idea. People give me a lot of crap for being a “poser” or always having a “model face”, but honestly I just do what comes naturally. Take that as you will!
Q: Your modelling is only one aspect of what makes you such an interesting person to try and discover. I’m very interested in your arts and crafts projects. You’ve got your own store online, and produce very collectable pieces of jewellery, accessories and all manner of handmade delights. Where do you get your ideas for designs etc? How long have you been making these items?
Neko: I started making jewellery for Etsy last year, but I’ve been crafting my whole life. I’ve gone through phases of making greeting cards, collages, books, cupcakes… I just like to MAKE things. I first had the idea to make geeky jewellery when I realised I had some spare figurines in my collection (hundreds of nerdy collectables!). I thought they’d be cute as necklaces or earrings, and NEKOTAKU was born from there! I’ve also just started making origami, and am creating customised flower pots with paper flowers as gifts.
Q: What would you like to see happen with your designs in the longer term? Again, is it just a hobby, or would you like to turn it into more?
N: It’s only a hobby… I don’t see it being a career path, but if it ever grew I would be really happy to pursue it! I think my store means more to me than I realize… I hope to put some money together to start promoting it! :D
Q: Yet another project you’re involved with is your vegan and gluten free cookery blog. Cooking must be a passion for you, and your blog looks and reads like a cookery book. I think gluten free cookery is a market in need of publicity, and crying out for dynamic recipes from an enthusiastic cook. Is it hard coming up with gluten free and vegan alternatives?
N: Gluten free and vegan options are more readily available these days! It all started when I had to cut out dairy and gluten products for about two years. I was so frustrated at the lack of resources around me, so I started hunting and creating, and the food blog came about simply because people were asking me for recipes. There are a LOT of resources out there if people know where to look, and are prepared to search through it!
I also published a little cookbook, which started only because a friend asked for one for her 21st Birthday. I ended up selling about 100 and the process was really fun :) They’re made to order here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1853217
I love the challenges, it’s one of the reasons I still cook like this. It’s different and interesting!
Q: A subject I really wanted to discuss with you in this piece is your superb tattoos. You have some breathtaking designs, and taking them all in is an experience in itself. May I ask you about your relationship with the art of tattooing, and where it all began for you?
N: I was 17 when I got my first tattoo and it was the simple stars on my hips. I wanted to start with something generic just in case I wasn’t into the process and never wanted to get more again. I was hooked, of course, and haven’t been able to stop. If I love something, truly and desperately love it, I become a fangirl, I obsess, and I naturally want to share my love by marking my body with an image from what I adore.
Q: You’ve got quite a lot of coverage on your body, and must have sat in the tattooist’s chair for many hours. How do you find that experience?
N: I absolutely hate the process. It’s incredibly painful, and has only become worse for me in time. Some people enjoy it, but I know about two of them. Everybody else hates it. I’ve cried a few times. I can’t count the hours or money I’ve invested into being tattooed, but I can rarely sit for more than three hours. I’ve done it a few times and it was awful.
Q: Now you’re at the point where you have many areas of your body covered, what comes into consideration first when getting a new tattoo? Is it where it’ll be placed on your body, or what the design will be?
N: I have at least eight more designs planned, once I finish them all it will probably be an issue of WHERE to put it, as opposed to WHAT to get.
Q: I am always mesmerized by your colourful anime inspired sleeve. It’s such a vibrant idea and such a beautiful tattoo. Could I ask who did the piece, and what exactly is depicted on there?
N: Shep from Body Art Shop did it, and it’s made up of characters from Studio Ghibli animated films. I absolutely LOVE Miyazaki, and the array of characters from his various films fit together so well. I have scenes from Spirited Away, Panda Go Panda, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke.
Q: What do you think will be your next design? Have you made any plans for your next visit to the tattoo shop?
N: I have two more appointments in the near future to touch up various pieces. Then I need to finish my right sleeve (it has to be coloured) and then colour my right calf before I get anything new.
Q: While we’re talking about your anime inspired sleeve, it’s the perfect opportunity to mention your love of Japan. Anyone who visits your pages and sites will be met with countless images and elements of Japanese culture; especially pop culture. Where does this love of Japan stem from? Have you visited the country before?
N: I have been interested in Japan since I was very young… I think it started with all the anime and video game obsessing. I have never been overseas, but I am finally going… TO JAPAN… This year! It took me 22 years to get there, and I’ve desperately wanted to for at least eight. It’s going to be a blast. I love the quirkiness of Japanese culture, anime and film… Being a westerner, it’s so different to the way we are raised and the things that we are exposed to daily. I love it.
Q: An aspect of Japanese culture I know you enjoy is Cosplay, and you exhibit some extremely fun imagery of you in various costumes and outfits. What have been some of your favourite costumes from your Cosplay past, and is there a character you would like to dress as next?
N: San from Princess Mononoke is my favourite Cosplay thus far, as I made it all myself and I had so much pride and joy wearing it! I really want to dress as Korra from Avatar next…
Q: Would it be fair to say you’re a geek at heart? I mean that in the nicest possible way of course.
N: Very fair!
Q: I say this because you’ve been to countless conventions and events, and are always snapped with celebrities like the UK’s own Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Are there any conventions coming up that you’re looking forward to? Where will you be celeb stalking next?
N: If I weren’t so poor thanks to Japan… I would most definitely be meeting Stan Lee and Patrick Stewart in Melbourne in a week or so. Fingers crossed, although it looks doubtful, saving for my trip is more important!
Finally can we end with Bernard Pivot’s questionnaire?
What is your favourite word? Sugoi.
What is your least favourite word? Bitch.
What turns you on? My boyfriend; he is tall, has green eyes, big hands, strong arms… and he’s into gaming, anime, comic books… plus he loves to eat so I get to cook for him…. total perfection, there!
What turns you off? Cockiness, arrogance.
What sound or noise do you love? The introduction song to “Dr horrible”… AND the Buffy theme song!
What sound or noise do you hate? Angry, raised voices.
What is your favourite curse word? Fuck.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Veterinary nurse OR Zookeeper.
What profession would you not like to do? Fast food.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “Welcome.”
I learnt a lot about Neko’s passions during the process of making this interview a reality. Most of all though I learnt that she is a very generous person, eager to get the best results out of everything she puts her mind to. It was wonderful to feature her on my blog, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. Spanning thousands of miles, this interview has been really great to put together, and I hope Neko Marie is as proud of the resulting piece as I am. For some very interesting links, click below, and welcome to Neko’s world.
Photos used were provided by Neko and are the products of the following talents in order of appearance:
1st Neko Marie, self portrait.
2nd Gavin Bell
3rd Brent Leideritz and Mishka Mink (Inked Mag AUS/NZ)
4th Steven Jones (Etch Studio)