Saira Hunjan

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British tattoo artist Saira Hunjan has collaborated with Tod’s on a limited edition collection of bags. Using the Italian brand’s Double T messenger bags as her canvas, Hunjan has created a set of 5 unique artworks that pay homage to the label’s heritage.

Diego Della Valle, President and CEO of Tod’s, envisages the tattoo project as a continuation of the brand’s strategy to combine contemporary culture with the high standard of traditional craftsmanship upon which the Tod’s name has been built.

Art is Alive discusses the Tod’s collaboration with the artist but also reflects on her inspiration, Jean Paul Gaultier and her best memory with Kate Moss.

How did you approach the project?
I approached designing for the Tod’s bag collaboration the same way I would design a tattoo. I felt it was important to consider all sides of the bag in order for the artwork to complement its form. I took the Tod’s signature lion head and put a mythical twist on it by giving it a dragon/serpents body. I wanted the image to look powerful and strong, yet romantic by incorporating hearts and clouds. I wanted the five bags to be similar in style but each telling a different narrative. I was given the bag in pieces so it was easier for me to tattoo onto. It was quite a lengthy process as I had to be very careful not to stain the leather with excess ink from the tattooing needles. So there was a lot of cleaning involved during short bursts of tattooing.

Where do you take inspiration?
I’m very inspired by my Indian heritage and my travels through India and Mexico. I’ve always loved intricate patterns, whether they’ve been carved, embroidered or painted. Craftsmanship is very close to my heart. I’d say I’m quite a spiritual person, so this translates through my art. I work a lot with the Goddess energy, creating images of Devi. Nature is also a big inspiration, the more I’m surrounded by it, the deeper my creativity.

Who are your biggest influences in fashion?
My biggest influence in fashion is Jean Paul Gaultier. I discovered his work in the nineties at the same time I set my mind in wanting to peruse a career in tattooing. I was Thirteen years old. His creations blew me away as at the time he was celebrating tattoos and Indian culture. I think he has a great understanding of how to enhance a woman’s beauty.

What’s your next project?
My next project is to continue building a body of work to exhibit. This will be a collection of drawings and sculptures based on the ‘Goddess’. My process involves channelling divine energy through meditation, which takes me on a beautiful journey between worlds. These works are very detailed and so quite time consuming. The sculptures of my Goddesses were made by artisans in Kolkata, India.

What’s your best memory with Kate Moss?
It’s always a pleasure to tattoo Kate Moss. I’d say the most memorable time was at her 40th birthday party. We turned an American airstream trailer into a tattoo studio. It was parked in the grounds of her Cotswolds home and was open to her guests for the night.

What’s the most interesting aspect of the collaboration with Tod’s?
The most interesting aspect of collaborating with Tod’s, was working alongside the artisans. I was lucky to travel to the factories in Italy where I could see the processes first hand. I was really inspired by watching the artisans at work and I could relate to the time and effort spent on each detail. Their expertise and knowledge on leather helped me in my process on finding this best leather to tattoo on.

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Copyrights: image Ⓒ Tod’s and Jean Paul Gaultier’s first ever ad campaign seen by Saira Hunjan.