In conversation with..... Emily Malice
October 13th, 2020
“I never get tired of talking about tattooing or art, it is the blood in my veins”
Interview by Alice Snape
What first drew you to the tattoo world?
I’ve never really had a plan in life, I’ve always followed my heart and I gravitated towards tattooing. I’ve always struggled with my hearing, so I would vent this frustration through my other senses. Drawing became my way of communicating and creating a salvation for my frustration and angst. I see myself as an artist using tattooing as a medium. Growing up, a lot of my friends were older than me and had tattoos, and I would hang out in tattoo shops while they got tattooed. Being there felt exciting and scary, watching the artist creating a tattoo onto the skin.
How did you decide you wanted to become a tattoo artist?
I always made art. I grew up in various small towns across the UK, which I didn’t really feel connected to, I always felt like an outsider, and thought that surely there was more to life than the slow pace of these sleepy towns. I didn’t want to settle down. Art was my escape, my ability to express the frustration, and the passion that I had bottled up. I would see family and friends with tattoos and I was fascinated at how you could wear art on your skin, the ability to express yourself, to adorn yourself. I used to feel so vulnerable and naked before I started getting tattooed. Tattooing seduced me. The whole concept of having a 9-5 job that you moan about or don’t even like – while thirsting after money to buy the stuff you don’t need – is insanity to me.
How would you describe your tattoo style?
Crude, vulgar, simple, and sassy – just like me. I used to draw tattoos that I guess looked like traditional tattoo designs because I thought that was the deal, then I discovered what was going on at Into You (where I used to work, sadly it closed down in 2016) and my eyes were opened to the fact that you can do anything! That’s when the real fun began. Realising there are no rules lit a fire inside me and I relentlessly started drawing from the heart. It was interesting to see that people seemed to relate to it and wanted to get my designs tattooed – which is awesome.
I like to be able to get the ideas floating around in my head out and drawn relatively quickly and I communicate with lines and dots. My art is personal to me, events that have happened, or conversations with friends or emotional interactions with people. You can usually tell if I am having a good or bad day from my drawings.
A lot of your designs are a bit kinky and naughty, do you think that reflects who you are?
My art has always been autobiographical, I think all great art has that spark, the ability to make you feel things, you know? I have always been drawn to the taboo. I like to provoke and tease, like a mermaid luring people to their doom. It’s all about love, sex, and death, right? I am all or nothing, and these powerful emotions of lust, love, or heartbreak always find their way into my work. I have always been drawn to fetish art, I just get seduced by the shine of latex or the point of a stiletto shoe.
Are tattoos an inextricable part of who you are?
Absolutely. When I am not tattooing, I am drawing at home or visiting galleries or seeing performances and exhibitions. London is a city rich with talent, inspiration and excitement. A lot of my friends are tattooists or artistic eccentrics and we usually end up talking about tattooing and sharing ideas and tricks or awesome artists or shows we have seen. I never get tired of talking about tattooing or art, it is the blood in my veins.
You can find Emily on her Instagram @emilymalice.
This article is written by Alice Snape, who is the editor of Things&Ink magazine.