"I don't see things in boxes," Minka told us, with her shoulders marked by haunting romantic images of crows that she dreamt about before getting them done. In Carlos Castaneda's books, Minka explains that crows are depicted "as the most powerful bird because they have no natural enemy except the eagle, and they can naturally sense the energy that is building up in any sort of situation that is about to unfold. So it’s about carving your path around those obstacles and those potential negative situations." Sheathed in jaw-dropping ancient-mosaic tattoos that are an accumulation of her life story, Minka's fortitude is palpable. Though her indigenous Australian/Papua New Guinea roots are omnipresent -- with her rich, tribal bone necklaces, patterned frocks, and symbology-infused artwork -- Minka knew she had to leave home in order to pattern her own destiny.
Minka's defiance of confining categories led her to New York (via Mexico) where, after many ups and downs, she is in her creative splendor, enchanting the NY tattoo art scene. The contrast of being branded in ink while in a vintage fur stole and high-top Nikes is just a hint of her Gemini brain. "Everything is narrative for me. When I was styling, it had nothing to with that season's runways, it was here is this character and here is the discourse running through the six-page layout." Fed up with fashion industry's "egos and transient trends," the lover of artifacts taught herself how to tattoo out of a "disgusting" Brooklyn apartment. Rather then plow the traditional path of apprenticeship, Minka captured a chair after the owner of a tattoo shop saw the work she did on a mutual friend and gushed, "I need to meet that person, I've never seen anything like that tattoo."
"To live is to be willing to die over and over again," Minka tells us, quoting the Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön. Connecting Buddhist philosophy to tats, Minka announces, "I believe a lot in the ritualistic and energetic value of tattoos. If someone doesn’t have some sort of connection to their tattoos, then it’s just a weird blob on their skin. And I don’t want to be responsible for that."
Elisa & Lily
Video Edited by Adaeze Elechi.