"...I work around the theme of death as a way to accept the fact that we are all going to die someday...and to try to understand better the feeling of loss one has, when someone close dies..."
Peruvian artist Tania Brun talks about her fascination in the dichotomy that revolves around the theme of life and death, venturing into embroidery, and how album covers became her favourite thing to work on.
Your well known for both your monochromatic & colourful Calaveras (skulls) including themes such as death - can you tell us a bit more?
I work around the theme of death as a way to accept the fact that we are all going to die someday. I also to try to understand better the feeling of loss one has when someone close dies. I try to add humour and elements of life around the skulls - like plants and animals and my work is monochromatic due to the technique I use which is lino printing.
You did some lovely album covers for many musicians. How did that get started?
...in a very casual way, by good luck I could say!
My musician friends asked me to collaborate with them with some drawings and prints. I really like working with them because I love music and their musical aesthetics, especially the punk rock and psychedelic Cumbia.
Walk us through your transition from illustration to embroidery?
This year brought many changes to me and when quarantine started here in Peru, I was feeling worried, so I tried to do many things to not think too much about the situation. I took some online embroidery courses and realised embroidery is a very laborious activity and can be very demanding for your sight and back because you spend many hours sitting. So one day I thought why not print some of my lino work on the fabric first so then I could do the embroidery on top of that without starting with the piece from zero, it worked quite well because with the black ink and white fabric plus the colours of the threads you can create wonderful contrast and volume. I have had lots of fun doing this remix of techniques and I like the outcome of it.
How did you approach working with this new material and what challenges did they present to you (if any)?
I found out that my grandmother and mom used to do hand embroidery and my mom had some yarn that I could use (which was lucky) as the past few months had been difficult getting art materials because of quarantine.
Hand embroidery is a very challenging technique. You have to be very patient, precise and practice a lot before you can get some decent results.
Are there other artists who you're particularly interested in at the moment, or who have influenced your work?
I am very interested at the moment in the work of other printmakers from everywhere around the world, I especially admire the work of Mazatli and Kill Joy from Mexico.
How has the recent pandemic affected your work?
I don't have so many commission works as before the pandemic and also it has affected the sales of my prints, mostly because the mail system has been shut down here in Peru. It hasn't affected my production of personal work and I feel very lucky to have a workshop and a printing press in the house where I live.
What projects are you working on right now?
Aside from the online embroidery courses and working on printing my lino work, right now I am working on a children's book about what I imagine happens when someone dies, based on the beliefs of ancient Peruvian cultures and also Tibetan Buddhist conception of the process of dying.
I hope I will be able to publish the book before the end of the year!
Do you remember the very first paid job?
It was cover album art for Dengue Dengue Dengue´s first cd "La Alianza Profana" then I kept working with them on their three next album covers!
I have also done some work for other Peruvian musicians like Aeropajitas, Perra Vida, La Mente and also have done some work with a local label called Sucio Records with some album covers, logos and posters for concerts. I've also made some work for a local chocolate factory "Chaqchao" with some designs for the chocolate bar cases.
And what has been your favourite piece of work you've done and why?
My favourite piece is a portrait of my beloved dogs Iggy and Munra because they are my favourite persons in the world, they are Peruvian hairless dogs which most people don't find so beautiful I guess because they don't have much hair, but I think they are gorgeous in a very punk rock kinda way!
Also my favourite way of showing my work is to paste up prints on abandoned old houses around the city where I live, Arequipa.
What is the most difficult part of being an independent artist?
Not having a regular income and also having to do marketing on social media which is not my favourite thing to do. When I started I didn't have to worry too much about making a living off my artwork, I used to work as an art teacher on some social projects with children so I had a steady income and still had time to do personal artwork.
Is there anything that you want to share with other independent artists across the globe?
I would like to tell them to persevere with their work, and hopefully, people will appreciate more the work we do. Or maybe that it doesn't matter if people don't understand you as long as you do what you love to do, and as long as you are inventive enough to live a simple life without worries.
And if you are interested in her work, you can get in touch with her website and Instagram or need any illustration or motion graphics from anyone within our Studio Rarekind / Stickerbomb creative studio, you can schedule a call with us right here.