Artists aren’t born with a signature style; they need to go on a journey to find it. Sometimes that means traveling all over the world to experience different cultures on their quest to find artistic inspiration. Anaïs Chabane grew up in France, but she was highly influenced by the Arabic art she experienced as a child visiting Morocco. When she got a little older, she became entranced by henna tattooing on a trip to India. This form of temporary body art made an enormous impression on her, and it’s become the basis of her tattoo designs to this day.
How did you first become interested in art?
When I was a child I liked drawing a lot. My parents are Arabic and my father lived in the Middle East for work, so I went there often to see him. We had a holiday home in Marrakech and I loved to walk around getting 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 find out about tattooing and how did you get started as an artist?
I discovered tattooing when I was 18—about 10 years ago. I was in my last year of fashion school and I met people who started tattooing, then with time I started to take an interest in it. I told myself that it was what I wanted to do, so I finished my studies and turned directly to tattooing at the end of the year.
When did you start doing ornamental tattooing and what inspired it?
I started doing ornamental [work] soon after I began tattooing. I tattooed a bit of everything for six months, then I started specializing in my own style. In 2014, I stayed in India for three months 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 back 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 by seeing it on members of my family. What I love about henna is the way it decorates the body, the way it looks on the fingers, the delicacy of the ornaments... I love absolutely everything about it.
What are your favorite body parts to tattoo and why?
My favorite parts of the body to tattoo are the hands, fingers, shin bones and feet. These parts of the body are the most popular places for henna. I find these parts of the body to be very elegant and henna tattoos dress them up nicely. The hands are an especially strong place for tattoos as they often affirm one's identity.What are your favorite elements or symbols to incorporate into your decorative tattoos and why? Recently, I’ve really liked adding moons to my tattoos. I find that they finish the piece off well and they don’t have a specific meaning. I like arabesque patterns a lot and I’ve been putting them into my drawings more and more. These are very elegant finishing touches, which help to underline the delicacy of my tattoos. I also like to use body jewelry such as pearls and diamonds, which are the symbols of feminine elegance.
How have you grown and evolved as a tattoo artist?
I started tattooing when I was 18 and I opened my first studio at 21. A lot of things have changed since then. I’ve explored the world of ornamental designs from several angles and my style has evolved a lot because of this.
What other artistic mediums do you work in besides tattooing?
I launched a line of temporary tattoos not too long ago and I love doing those. I really like to tell 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 younger self?
Work hard, persevere and believe in yourself.