Meet That Mandala Girl | Tattoo Artist, Iliana Rose

Author: Coco Marett / Photos: Natalie Harvey

Iliana Rose, aka That Mandala Girl, stumbled into the world of tattooing after her husband offered her an apprenticeship while she was looking to get into graphic design. People worldwide fell in love with her mandalas and nature-inspired designs, and she is now a full-time artist specializing in black and grey work. Aside from being a tattoo artist, Iliana is a world traveler who draws inspiration from all of the beautiful places she discovers. Read our interview with her below to learn more about her journey and how she has developed her unique style of tattooing.

Tell us a little bit about who Iliana Rose is…
Iliana Rose is a UK-born, Sydney-raised girl. A lover of all things art and always looking to stretch my creative boundaries. I’ve been in the tattoo industry for a few years and a full-time artist for 2. When I’m not working, I’m a wanderer. I love traveling and drawing inspiration from all of the places I visit.

How did you come to be a tattoo artist?
To be honest, being a tattoo artist never crossed my mind. Ever. I actually fell into it whilst looking to get my foot in the door of the graphic design world, which was a very competitive industry to get into at the time. I used to go into work with my husband, Ron, who is also a tattoo artist (@ronstagram) and spend the entire day helping out around the studio whilst frequently dabbling in art. After a few weeks of this routine, Ron came up with this grand idea to make me his apprentice. Of course, this would mean I’d be trading the idea of becoming a graphic designer for becoming his personal slave around the studio for the next year or so, but if it meant that I’d eventually get to do what I loved to do in the long run, it seemed like a win/win situation.

How did you develop your black/grey, mandala-inspired style of tattooing?
From such a young age, I always enjoyed drawing realistic portraits and landscapes, which is what I initially wanted my niche to be as a tattoo artist. However, as an apprentice, after doing a few mandala/geometric type designs and posting them on Instagram, I’ve been getting requests for that type of style ever since. To fulfill my true passion, I threw small realistic pieces into the mix to show a bit more range and thought it would be a good way to distinguish myself from other artists.

Would you say that it’s important for every artist to have a signature style?
Definitely. As with any industry, it is always important to find your own style and stay true to you and what you love doing. It sets you apart from the crowd.

To put a piece of art on another person’s body for life is quite intimate - what’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?
Just the fact that people trust me enough to design their tattoos, let alone permanently mark their skin, is rewarding. It’s very humbling, to say the least.

"...don’t ever compare yourself to other artists, stay true to your style and passion. Your only competitor should be yourself!"

What are the challenges of being a female in a predominantly male industry/art - if there are any?
I wouldn’t say there are too many challenges in the industry, probably just that the ratio of men to women in the industry is more dominant. Girls are definitely capable of anything men can do. For sure!

Both you and your husband are super talented tattoo artists - what’s it like having an S.O. who’s in the same industry as you?
With the risk of sounding corny, it is empowering. We learn so much from each other and I owe him a lot in terms of becoming the artist I am today. He taught me everything I know. Of course, spending time with each other 24/7 can be a little challenging haha, but surprisingly enough, I enjoy it. I guess it helps that we are both very easy going people and although we do work side by side every day when we’re tattooing we’re in our own little world, which gives us a break from one another.

You’re both avid travelers - how does travel and seeing new places inspire you and your art?
There’s always a refreshing element that comes with landing in unknown territory. Being immersed in different cultures and surrounded by their individual aesthetics is very inspiring. I’m always camera ready when I see something that evokes an idea for a potential tattoo/design.

You wrote a touching New Year’s post about discovering strength through hardship and letting go of hatred. Can you elaborate on this?
My dad was suffering from aggressive dementia for the past 5 years and it was a very sensitive and hard time for my family and I. I resented the fact that this was affecting my family, let alone the most gentle, caring and loving man I knew. I took it pretty hard. We lost dad earlier last year, but although we are deeply saddened by not having him physically here anymore, we find great comfort that he is no longer suffering.

What advice do you have for aspiring female tattoo artists?
WORK HARD! Perfect practice makes perfect. When the going gets tough, push through it. Every experience counts! And don’t ever compare yourself to other artists, stay true to your style and passion. Your only competitor should be yourself!

What are 3 hidden gems in Sydney?
1) I am obsessed with Asian cuisine and Luyu & Yum Yum in Newtown tops my list for that. I especially love to devour their affogatos and matcha creme brulees for dessert!

2) In the summertime, you’ll find me soaking up the sun on Camp Cove Beach, which is a lot more secluded than other beaches.

3) Love Cabins in the Blue Mountains. The perfect romantic getaway for couples and an amazing way to reconnect with mother nature.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH to me embodies the empowerment of females! Definitely a great platform to discover all of the talent across the creative spectrum.

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