This is one of my very favorite things ever created with a Sharpie. It’s a music bench delicately decorated with henna-inspired art. The woman behind this beautiful bench is artist (and cellist) Alysa Sallade (you can see her work on Flickr). I found Alysa and her bench on Cafe Mom.
Alysa is also a member of a group called Henna Tribe where she is known as Satharielle. Henna Tribe is an online community and professional network for anyone interested in the ancient art of applying henna to skin. I don’t know why I should be surprised to find such a group – henna art has a huge following! Henna is actually a plant that is made into a powder and then a paste to create Henna body art. It has a long history and is often associated with marriage and fertility. It has a distinct look that can be easily replicated with a Sharpie (fine and ultra fine tips are ideal) when more permanence is needed (note: Sharpie is not recommended for use on skin). Here’s a link to some templates on Henna Tribe if you want to give a henna design a try yourself.
Now, a little background on how Alysa created her Sharpie bench, and some insight into what inspires her art:
How did you get started as an artist?
I started with pencil drawing and then pen and ink. I currently love body art via henna, watercolor painting, sumi-e, acrylic painting, and digital art using Adobe Paint and Photoshop.
Tell us a little about your art. Are there lots of artists who do what you do? What makes your work stand out from the rest?
I’m not much for self promotion. There are so many wonderful artists out there with so many styles. There are ways to say we’re all similar and then if you really look, see that even if the medium is the same and the style is similar, the art is actually totally different. All true art is an expression of some aspect of the artist’s vision and ultimately their soul, be it their light-hearted stream of consciousness on a sunny spring day or their dark subtle nightmares from a memory best forgotten, or anything in between or beyond.
How would you describe your style?
In this piece, more flowery mehndi mandalla style. Styles are so hard to catagorize.
How did you come to use Sharpie markers in your work?
I wanted to do my henna body art on my bench and other non body objects but wanted something that would mark treated fabrics. So I picked up a Sharpie from my desk and started drawing.
What about Sharpie markers makes them your medium of choice?
I like the variety of tips and the strength and flexibility of tips. I like how they tend to be a bit more permanent than some other inks (though could be more permanent imo)
Tell us about some of your own favorite work. What seems to get the most attention or is most coveted by others? Why do you think people are drawn to your work?
People really like my bench, I think mostly because it’s a custom job and to non henna/mehndi artists, it looks complicated and hard to do while being delicate and flowery.
Can you describe the process you go through to create your work? How many hours does it take? Is it a free-hand approach or do you create a template in advance?
I’m totally free hand, each piece is different though. Some pieces take only a couple minutes, others hours. The bench took a couple hours as I was waiting to make sure the Sharpie was dry before changing spots as I had to hold the bench top where I’d just Sharpied and didn’t want it to smudge.
What are your inspirations?
Life has all sorts of inspirations. From the vines and flowers in the garden, to something someone says. I just want people to feel something. Don’t just pass by so busy with your mind on work and stresses, stop, look, feel. Emotion heals even if it hurts at first.