Artist Amanda Toy, known for her colorful “toy style” paintings, sculptures and tattoos, is making a splash on the scene. A native of Genova, Italy, Amanda is currently based out of Milan, where she opened her Toy Tattoo Parlour almost a decade ago. She is so popular that clients have to wait almost a year to get one of her famous tattoos. Toy is particularly known for her drawings of doll-like women, animals and flowers, using vivid colors and clean lines. Her style became popular outside of Italy when she began working regularly in Japan, London and the U.S. as a tattoo artist.
Amanda connected with us online to give us more insight on her unique style. Scroll down for the full interview.
You began your career as a tattoo artist, but did you ever have any formal training in the arts or are you just naturally gifted?
“I never had any formal training. I’ve just felt a sort of call from colors. I mean the motor that has moved everything has been the color for me. When I was at school, I was a kind of free spirit; never loved the rules. I’ve studied art but I could not draw really well. This kind of limit helped me to develop a different way to draw and paradoxically develop my style.”
What other artists have inspired you throughout your career and why?
“My tattoo career has been influenced from the old school Bay Area scene in the 90s, especially San Francisco where I used to work in many studios and [visited] many times. About art in general, I’ve been influenced by Yayoi Kusama, that is my queen. Basquiat, Miró, Mark Rothko and Kandinsky are my favorite artists.”
You are known for your use of bold colors like pink and for your “Candyland” pieces. What is it about these types of colors and themes that you like so much? Why do you like to use them so often?
“I love all colors, of course. But I especially have a deep, strong connection with pink. It comes from childhood. I love pink and orange together. It’s my favorite color combination. Also, yellow and pink. For colors, I’m inspired by Aura-Soma, a new age color therapy.”
Do children like your work a lot? Are you a child at heart?
“Children are attracted to my work, I see it when they walk in the street and they look at the window of my shop, they think it’s a toy shop, not a tattoo shop. I’m a child at heart of course and I’m blessed for this.”
Your work is known for being very colorful, but there are a few pieces of yours that are less colorful (i.e. mostly black and white colored). Do you enjoy those pieces as much? Do you get commissioned to do less colorful works often and is that something you ever reject?
“I pretty much work with colors. I’m in a deep connection with the essence of colors. I can do something in black and white but I think it’s less than 1 percent. Maybe one tattoo a year in black. If there is something that I reject, I don’t do it.”
Your fans know that you love unicorns and you even launched a line of unicorn poop called “Unipop.” Each of these pieces is unique. How did you come up with the idea of making unicorn poop into art pieces?
“I’ve liked unicorns since I started doing meditation around seven years ago. I like the positive energy of this mythological animal that probably was real in medieval times. I love the fact that they reach only people with high vibrations and pure hearts. About the ‘Unipop,’ they were born because I saw one in my meditation. Every unicorn poop is unique.”
What else can you tell us about the message behind the “Unipops”?
“‘Unipops’ are unicorn poo: sparkling and rainbows. They are the result of a digestive process of the magical white horses that with their spiral horn, absorb all negative energies, transforming them into a monument to positivity. Choose your unicorn and by weighing its poop you will discover how much beauty it has to give back! Each poop has a hidden superpower to discover!
EAT ALL the BAD VIBES – SH*T RAINBOW AND RISE! I think the concept behind it is the real superpower.”
You’re a tattoo artist, painter, sculptor and illustrator. Do you prefer one art form more than another?
“I love this type of art. This is my 25th year as [a] tattooer. With paints and sculpture, I feel more free. With tattoos, I work on the skin and there is a limit for the technique. With paint I’m free to experiment more as well as with sculptures. I would love to have more time to paint.”
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What are your favorite pieces and why?
“My favorite piece on me? I’ve gotten many tattoos made during all these years. Every tattoo is important for me.”
Where do you create your more traditional art pieces (i.e. your paintings, sculptings) and can you tell us more about that space?
“I have a space where I create my art pieces. It is not the Toy Tattoo Parlour where I tattoo. The Toy Tattoo Parlour is my shop where I work with my team. The space where I do paintings and sculptures is a laboratory not far from the tattoo shop. I’m searching for a new space, a little bigger. I love to create—for me; it is like meditation.”
You’re a multifaceted artist and we see your work in various forms such as tattoos, paintings and clothing. Are there other mediums you’d like to create works in?
“I’ve always [liked] to be transversal and see my work in many mediums. I would love to do an art show with my sculptures and paintings in an art gallery.”
Amanda Toy is represented by Zenith Art & Fashion. For more information about her, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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