Smoke and Mirrors; the art and style of Miss FX
by Matt Haddon-Reichardt Collaborator on Sep 27, 2019
Many tattoo artists are content ploughing the same furrow but Miss FX is cut from different cloth. Aside from her dotwork tattooing she is a film maker, hand tap tattoo artist, trapeze performer and philanthropist. Now she has branched out in to the world of interior design with a range of mirrors and wallpapers inspired by her unique tattoo work. Yayo sent Matt Haddon-Reichardt to Miss FX’s Hove studio to get the low down on her latest artistic enterprise.
Miss FX’s studio is a beautiful mix of cosy and spacious and avoids the clichés so many tattoo studios fall into; there is not a flaming skull or Marvel superhero in sight. Looking round the studio its clear the stimulation for her artwork comes from an amalgamation of past and present.
“I take my inspiration from classical pattern making found across global culture and contemporary graphic design. It’s a mixture Islamic art, tessellated tiling, Lai Thai traditional architectural patterns and Mendhi henna techniques. All these influences infuse my organic mandala designs while my more transitional pieces are influenced by M.C. Escher.”
Miss FX’s style translates easily into different mediums and it’s exciting to think that tattoo designs are not simply limited to skin.
“I've been drawing tessellated patterns and mandalas for many years and I have a library of patterns from my tattoo stencils. This catalogue of work has been used to create the backbone of my design process. I have been working closely with Matt Corbin who designed for Alexander McQueen, Timgberland and Old Navy. Matt has helped me learn more about digitally processing my artwork as vectors and combining my pattern making to create seamless transitions that are ever evolving. Skin, paper and metal are very different canvases but the designs work well on all of them.”
"The screen printer who I first placed an order with had a panic attack trying to align the screens with my intricate pattern"
Miss FX’s first 4 metal mirror designs are A1 in size. The mirrors are polished aluminium making them very light weight and shatter proof. While they are available individually Miss FX has specifically designed them to work together in manipulating light to generate liminal space.
“When placed opposite each other, the mirrors work collectively reflecting infinite patterns. The designs are printed onto laminate and applied to the mirror to create this affect. It looks stunning and I’m really impressed with the result. You never know how it’s going to look until you have the finished product on the wall and thanks to working with such a professional group of colleagues I’m very satisfied I can offer people a truly unique product.”
“When placed opposite each other, the mirrors work collectively reflecting infinite patterns."
Miss FX is also involved in philanthropic work raising money for the ocean conservation charity Sea Shepherd.
“I have also created a series of sea creature mirrors including a stippled Octopus, mandala Lobster and Crab. Sea Shepherd HQ hosts a copy of the Octopus on their tattoo studio wall in Amsterdam. I love playing around with optical illusions and my Smoke and Mirrors designs give me a chance to expand on this.”
Miss FX’s geometric dotwork wallpaper designs would certainly add contemporary flare to any room and work to transform square space into something more transcendental. The reaction from Miss FX’s tattoo customers has been very positive.
“My clients have seen this artwork around my studio for years. It was my customers who first asked if they could buy the wallpaper and mirrors. I’m really proud of pattern design I’ve created where the pattern transitions in every direction seamlessly; the design is very personal and totally unique. I’ve been told by more than one person I’m doing something that’s never been attempted before and it’s humbling to break new ground.”
The process of going from design to finished product wasn’t without its challenges.
“It took me months to find the right printer to work with for creating these large scale bespoke products. The screen printer who I first placed an order with had a panic attack trying to align the screens with my intricate pattern. A digital company I corresponded with for months thought it was too complicated. I have now found the right people to source the printing with and a really reliable fitting service so everything is running smoothly.”
"Skin, paper and metal are very different canvases but the designs work well on all of them.”
Interior design ambitions have not dampened Miss FX’s love of travel or her ongoing work documenting indigenous tattooing around the world.
“In 2017 I made a film about the tattoo history of Borneo called Point of No Return. Next summer across 5 venues in and around New York the film will be screened alongside a photography exhibition of my work studying the tattooing of indigenous tribes. I will be using Smoke and Mirrors to make this a multimedia experience and link all the aspects of my art and design work together. The exhibition in New York City is angled towards bringing attention to my next documentary film which will uncover the tattoo history of the remote Mentawai tribes of West Sumatra. The filming is planned for December 2019 with the film set to be released in 2020. After that I'm doing an annual guest spot making a pop up tattoo studio with AYLA inc. in Perth. The funds generated from this studio will go to supporting a cultural school in Mentawai.”
A final thought from the author: "I was lucky enough to be tattooed by Miss FX back in 2012. Seven years on the Iban hand tap tattoo she did looks fantastic but it would look even better if I'd have healed it with Yayo. Remember if you want your tattoo to look the best then use the best. Use Yayo."
Yayo... its a family thing.