August 28, 2017

Spotlight: Mari Rosk

Mari Rosk's dreamy, mystic tattoos and illustrations are reminiscent of sparkly wonderlands.

Mari Rosk, also known as Mr. Fish Ink, handpokes tattoos that consist of charming and gorgeous subjects often set within a sparkly aura. Sometimes, however, the tattoo she is creating is not so innocent and yet her illustration style renders it alluring and high femme. She has an expansive collection of tattoos that are compelling and distinct, as her style resembles the use of pointillism to create dimension. Mr. Fish Ink's other-worldly tattoos result in dreamy imagery, appealing to ethereal and/or mystic imaginations.

Mari's art portfolio extends far beyond tattoos. Working off her impressive level of talent in illustration, Mr. Fish Ink enjoys engaging media such as embroidery, painting, and collage. She even made a beautiful sculpture of a face out of soap! Consequentially, she creates art that tackles feminist issues, such as body image and self-love, with humorous, seductive, queer, and boldly colored female subjects. Her work constantly evokes relatable feelings of insecurities, desire, and dreams of a majestic, sparkly world that anyone can share.

TLS: Your body of work varies in regards to media. So when did you begin making tattoos?

Mari: I started making tattoos in February of my second year in University. I had this love/hate relationship in University with a queer witchy punk, and during a period of love, they asked/demanded I give them a sticknpoke tattoo. So one rainy February night I had given them a Hayao Miyazaki inspired monster creature, and was so intoxicated by seeing my illustrations in skin.
After a few tattoos, I started Tumblr to showcase my work and then my stuff began to get reblogged by Hannah (@smokeghost) on their popular blog “Poke Appreciation Society”, and things took off from there. I started getting clients who weren’t just people I knew through school, and I felt powerful and politicized while connected to the niche, backalley, astounding work we all do.
Unlike the other mediums I work with, tattooing is inherently collaborative. For some reasons, I love that aspect, and for other reasons I am frustrated by it. But regardless, it’s a exercise of collaboration, flexibility, stamina, and trust. So much fucking trust. It’s a completely unique medium.

TLS: A lot of your tattoos look like sparkly wonderlands, is this deliberate?

Mari: I could not be more pleased by the assessment of my work as a “sparkly wonderland”, and yes it is most certainly deliberate. I decorate my body with tattoos as a radical act of claiming my body. A body is rife with signifiers that contribute to the way an audience “reads” our body. By tattooing, I can control the grammar, or font style (choose a metaphor of your choice), of the text that is my body. By making tattoos that are beautiful, surreal, eerie, lovely, otherworldly, I can make my body that too.

untitled, 2017, stick n poke tattoo

TLS: I really love your murals for the Degree show exhibition. Can you explain what the exhibition was about and the significance of these pieces?

Mari: The murals I made for my degree show exhibition were entirely made from colored chalk pencil. I was experimenting with different mediums that matched my process of art making. My “process” is that I work quickly, get bored fast, and sometimes struggle to embrace the rougher, messier aspects of my aesthetic. The chalk mural was a way for me to play and be messy, like an excited child. It was also a fun place for me to recreate images from my childhood. The mural included a lot of chunky PC computer desktops, LG flip phones, and various internet explorer windows dispersed throughout the whole wall. I had a lot of fun creating textiles and patterns, which came across as textured, due to the imprecision of the chalk and the roughness of the wall underneath. And of course, like in most of the images I make, I represented many chunky, fat women, haphazardly dressed and lounging around one another.

untitled (for Degree show exhibition), 2016, chalk mural (left half)

TLS: Your cardboard cutout series features women putting on make-up. Is this series a comment on women and their body/self-image?

Mari: The aesthetic and conceptual content in my illustration is the result of beautifully failing to possess or embody a specific manifestation of girl culture that was marketing to me in my formative years. Think Polly Pocket, Limited Too, Smackers, Lizzie McGuire, the original furby, tamagotchis. I see this revolution of women getting in touch with the girl shit they once loved and still love. We take these signifiers of sparkly, innocent, adolescence and we use it to frame our fat, hairy, tattooed angry bodies. It’s empowering to create our own aesthetic goals out of the shambles of the once we were once prescribed by an early 2000s consumer culture. The cardboard cut out series was an embodiment of this kind of culture. The culture of fabulously, unapologetically disgusting women finding extreme pleasure in their disgusting and sexy bodies, which includes body hair, fat, tattoos, and cosmetic products. So yes, it’s about an experience of being a person who wears, plays and experiments with femininity with whichever body that they have. I am most obsessed with fat bodies because I am a fat person. These relationships are not necessarily positive and healthy either, they are a non-linear process of coming to terms and working with the body you move around the world in.

untitled, 2016, multi-media: cardboard cutout, sculpture, illustration

TLS: Which artists have been most influential to your own work?

Mari: There are countless artists who have influenced me throughout my practice, but I’m going to focus on contemporary, living artists, who make me excited about their current work, and eager to be better in my own work.

Laura Callaghan (@lauracallaghanillustration) takes everything I loved about barbie coloring books from the 90s and makes it a thousand times more visually interesting and relatable. There are endless stories to be gleaned from a single image

Mackenzie P. (@ruffenough) is one of my all time favorite sticknpoke tattoo artists. Their tattoos look like effortless sketches in human skin. The tattoos are light and graceful in style and content, but always with subliminal messages of femme hardcore badassery and resistance.

Gina Wynbrandt (@wynbr) is a comic book artist who rocks my world. She does these gorgeous and grotesque autobiographical, self deprecating comics about the flailing, dysfunctional and talented young adult that she is. I would kill a baby duck for her sense of humor and her ability to imbue that humor in perfectly rendered visual narrative. Her most recent book is called “Someone Please Have Sex With Me” and it’s my most valued possession. It’s my bible, actually.

TLS: Anything else you would like our readers to know?

Mari: I am currently making a comic book about my experiences with and observations on adolescent femininity. The whole story takes place over the course of one Friday, following five 15 year olds girls as they make their way from the end of the school day to a house party in East LA. I’m currently looking for publishers.

untitled, 2017, soap sculpture

More of Mari's work can be found on her tumblr and Instagram.

Sarah Peskin, who is an art history major dancing through life with a heart of disco and pink glitter eyeshadow. Believing that teddy bears can be tough too, she never lets fear keep her from becoming a real adult. Find her on twitter @fuckyeahsarah.