Sacred Art with Tattooist Suni Banik

Creating Existential Art while Staying Sharp


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Staying sharp while creating sacred geometry tattoo masterpieces is no easy task, and artist Suni Banik has worked hard to perfect her craft. While she regularly consumes cannabis, her connection to the plant is more than just a tool. “My process of making tattoo designs, paintings, or masks, happens quite organically,” Banik explains. “My art makes itself, but being a little stoned can definitely guide my process.”

While her tattoos are out of this world, Banik was not always aiming to be a tattoo artist, although she knew from a young age that “art was her destiny.” “Before tattooing my life pretty much revolved around painting and trimming weed. I’ve probably trimmed over 1,000 pounds of cannabis within my lifetime. I used to live in Humboldt County. So you can probably put two and two together.”

A masked Banik crouches and lithely entends one foot while bright eyes on a black mask stare unblinking.

After feeling the urge to expand outside her small town upbringing, Banik moved to San Francisco, and in sharing her craft with the artistic community there Banik began to shift into the world of tattoo to fill the artistic void. “My journey into tattooing happened overnight. I moved to Los Angeles and began my apprenticeship under Corey Divine. And boom, within six months I was tattooing, had honed in my style and started molding my life into what I had always envisioned it to be like.”

Currently, Banik works out of Sri Yantra Tattoo in Oakland, and rocks her art in a male-driven industry. “As far as being a woman and doing what I do, I personally have only felt an advantage to being female. I can surely say that is not the case for every female. It’s true that tattooing is a predominantly male dominated field,” Banik reflects. “I’ve been lucky enough to only encounter a handful of douchebags so far. I think it’s important to take any negativity that you encounter and use it as fuel for your kick ass and take names.”

Banik stands in front of one of her painted pieces, geometric lines and circles in yellow and black acrylic on canvas.

Speaking of fuel, the tattoo industry is noted for its acceptance of cannabis. “The tattoo industry welcomes marijuana use! At least as far as I know. So many of my clients smoke weed, take CBD or bring their vape pens to their sessions. Same with a lot of tattooers I know. We all love weed. I live in California man! Whether you smoke or not, cannabis is a part of our culture and many of us were, or are, involved in the weed industry in some way shape or form.”

While weed use is traditional in her line of work, Banik describes a greater use of cannabis within the tattoo community. Its impact lives deeper than that of creative assistant. “Smoking helps me with pain, no doubt, but not like CBD does. Tattoo artists need to be mindful of our bodies. Hands cramp and bodies ache. CBD and cannabis help tremendously with managing pain.”