Anji Marth

Pacific Northwest, USA

Painter, tattoo artist, sculptor 

Mediums: tattooing, oil paint, watercolor, taxidermy, sculpture, fiber arts, mixed media, prose

Style: psychedelic, surreal, vivid

Favorite Quotes: “I can't tell you if genius is hereditary, because heaven has granted me no offspring.” James Whistler

“The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson

“I was always trying to make up for my size, to compensate. So to get people to take you seriously, you have to come at things with a great deal of strength. You have to emphasize that the way you are is unusual. That you don't come along every day.” Linda Hunt

Favorite Book: God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

Favorite Movie: The Woman


Spider She AnjiMarth Taxidermy


I enjoy decay and texture, the play of light in dark. I enjoy scenes which evoke tactile interest, images which draw in the hand as well as the eye. I have a deep affection and tenderness for the pacific northwest, and for tones of grey and brown. I sometimes work with disturbing subject matter; but to me it’s all exploration.

I’ve been painting and working with photography since 1990-ish. I’ve been tattooing since around 1998. I work in a handful of mediums, and pick up anything that interests me, mess with it. I like to see how I can mix everything together. It's been a struggle to be coherent in the body of work, but it's so, so fun.

Please tell us about your first experience creating.

Well, my uncle, Dave Borghi- he's an oil painter. When I was very young, maybe four or five, he and my grandmother would babysit me. He'd give me brushes and paint. I think he just got tired out, I was a really wild kid- and he'd give me art stuff, and try to show me how to draw things. I just remember being astounded that I could touch one thing to another thing and POW, there was a cat, or an elephant, or whatever.


Axolotl Totem Anji Marth Pencil


What music do you like to have playing while creating art?

I listen to a lot of death metal, doom sludge satan dark stuff. Melvins, Indian, Pungent Stench, Clutch, the Swans... I like the aggression of it, and the depth. Fury. Then I have times when I have to listen Tom Waits, instead. Hobo music. I like anything that's got a lot of low notes, I guess. Dark sounding stuff.


If you have a job besides being an artist, can you tell us about it?

Well, I tattoo, part time, professionally. I go back and forth between doing commissions, small things that people sort of pick pre-made, and doing only big massive fine art-style tattoos. I get really impatient about tattooing sometimes. I love it, I get to make art and pay rent that way. If I could tattoo with total freedom artistically, the way I paint or draw, it'd be the perfect work. I make about half my income tattooing, the other half arting.


Blue Highway Anji Marth WatercolorandPencil


What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?

It depends on the series, on the piece. Most of my work, I think, is animist. I want people to understand that everything has its own persona. Animals, plants, objects. Things have their own direction, their own path through the world. Everything alive dies.


Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion:

It starts out with me seeing something I want to work with- a skull, a sheaf of paper, a particular canvas or color. I'll usually make a lot of coffee and sit down to think about it, and do a ton of thumbnail sketches. if I'm painting, I draw - I do a lot of sketching. I look for stuff to photograph as reference sometimes, but mostly I just sort of wing it. If I am working with organic materials, bone and plants and stuff, I usually get into the sort of totemic spirit- I'll play rhythmic music, maybe wear feathers, make a mess with paint or ink. I like the tactile experience of that a lot. I feel like the materials sort of guide me.

Once I'm about halfway there, everything planned, everything laid out and started, I tend to drag my heels. I'll put on the stain that takes longest to dry or set, I'll clean my brush a hundred times.

If I am painting it can take me a week, or only a few hours, to get where I want with a piece. The taxidermy work I usually finish in two sittings at most, those are a lot more spontaneous.


Carnivores Anji Marth Tattoo


What things inspire you to create art?

Biology - how animals and plants work. The function, the engineering of living things, really amazes and interests me.

Horror fiction. And medical history. I read a lot of nonfiction.

If I see something while I'm out and about that's like, a color combination, or a shape that catches my eye. I sketch or make notes about little things I see, I take hundreds of photos of things to remind myself of later. A brick on the ground with grey sky behind it. A snail on a piece of lichen with some shine on the shell. Little things.


What exhibitions have you had?

I've mostly had shows in the Pacific Northwest- besides a few smaller things in the Northeast before I moved out here. I've shown multiple times at the Oak Street Speakeasy, and at the Museum of Unfine Art in Eugene, Oregon. Both amazing places... Unfine Art is a great place for local art, the owner is very supportive. The speakeasy is a bar- each of my art openings I've had death metal bands play, my friends' bands, and shown my taxidermy there. I love that place.

I've shown other places in Oregon and Seattle but those are the ones close to my heart, you know? I've never been represented by any gallery or anything, had an agent or... any kind of professional break.


nightowl anji marth watercolorandpencil  


Have you sold any of your artworks? How?

Lots. It's how I get by! I sell a lot of my work in person at shows, or just online- people email me, ask about something I made and I just say, make an offer... I had run an Etsy shop for a while but I got really tired of their setup, the site was not really a good place for original art. So I went back to just using squareup. I sell a lot of works at tattoo conventions, and also from my own website.


How do you promote your art on the internet?

I have my site- I post works in progress there. I post some writing there too (I have two books in print) but mostly art. I use Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, all those. I try to post different things to each. I use Instagram too.

I don't have a lot of promotional skills, so my internet promotion basically consists of posting my work, making sure it's described pretty well, and hoping for the best. I rely more on word-of-mouth, on the people I've tattooed to spread the word.

I do any interview I get asked for, also- I've been in tattoo magazines and such, been in print. TruTV's crime library site did an interview with me about my serial killer portrait series, that brought me a bit of attention.


Four Ways Anji Marth Taxidermy Assemblage


Tell us about influences.

I like Hans Bellmer, Tex Avery. I love Diane Arbus. I like Dali, Basquiat, and Andrew Wyeth. I love the Hudson River School- that epic scope. I wish I could do that.

I look at a lot of anatomical art- Vesalius.


Please recommend another artist you admire, and tell us a little about them:

I absolutely adore the work of Honey Vizer. She makes these hilarious and amazing blacklight dinosaur naked lady paintings... just incredible. Plus she does music, really well.

Also the woman I taught to tattoo, the only student I have had- Lisa Hill. She does great, loose-lined paintings and tattoos. I love her work, it's got this vitality to it that makes me very happy.


The Wires Anji Marth WatercolorandInk


Tell us something interesting in your life.

I'll make a list, I've had an eventful life.
I've train-hopped, been a hobo. I've been homeless. I shoveled sh*t on a farm as a job once. I have been to every state except Hawaii and Alaska - driving. I go on a road trip once a year-ish. I like to hunt, to go deep woods hiking far away from trails and roads and paths, and camp. I like to rock climb too, I do free solo climbing.

I'm really short. I quit smoking this year, I vape now (nicotine vaporizer). I don't drink much anymore but for years I was a lush...


Do you have an embarrassing moment in your life?

I was once nearly kicked off an airplane for crying that we were all going to die. I hate flying.


 Spider He Anji Marth Taxidermy


If you could live your life over again, would there be anything you would do differently?

No. I'm ok right here, I wouldn't want to step on any butterflies or anything.


What plans do you have for the future of your art?

I hope to just keep making it! Right now I'm working on a horror-art coloring book (for adults), a series of animal totems that I've been working on since...oh, 2010? And I plan to do a bit more skeletal articulation. I'd like to build some costumes soon as well- shamanic works and all that, I've been collecting items for that for a few years now.

I have a few large oil paintings planned out, those sometimes take a few years to come to fruition.



Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?

KEEP MAKING THINGS. Waste as much cheap paper as you possibly can. Use EVERYTHING. I mean everything! Paint with soot on pizza boxes, for f**k's sake. You don't need to buy shiny toys to create with. You don't need to read more books.

And if you like anime, please, please do some life drawing instead for a while. Get some skills to bring back to it...

If you feel intimidated by realism, by artists doing these big crazy projects that look realistic, don't be scared. They use reference, they trace, they sketch, they plan. they wasted a LOT of paper to do that. You can too, just keep making things.

Anji MarthIf you sell things, people are going to throw sh*t at you. Don't let it stick. They have a right to pick on your art, on you, once you put a price on things they're open for criticism. That's what makes the work worth anything, being able to maintain value *even in the face of harsh critique*. So learn to love, and really hear, what people are saying when they criticize you.

Arguing with criticism is amateur hour.


Anji Marth

Website: | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Zibbet | Redbubble | Squareup 

Books I've written: tar and gravel: vol. I, road poems 1992-2013 and knuckle sandwich

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  1. Thanks again guys, it means a lot to me!

  2. Probably my favorite Spotlight so far. Great interview and fascinating work!


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