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The Ability to Imagine

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My name is Katia Barria. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But do not fool yourself. I didn't grow up with my feet in the sand, feeling the sea breeze. I grew up in an urban area, in the poor suburbs, far from the beach. Away from the tourist spots, I had a simple childhood.I had no idea it was possible to make a living from art. There was no reference to Artists. Everyone around me lived up to that basic working-class standard.

But as a child I had an enormous capacity to imagine! I drew, read and wrote poems, stories and imaginary worlds. I couldn't run because I had fragile health and chronic respiratory problems, but I could float in my private bubble.

I studied Fashion Design at a university far from my house, close to the beach!

I travelled daily, for hours, imagining a parallel world where a person from the suburbs could complete such an elitist graduation.

And I did it. I graduated in Fashion Design and moved to São Paulo, where I worked in the Fashion industry for 15 years, working in some of the biggest fashion companies in the country, travelling the world and having a very corporate job, not very artistic and not at all glamorous. 

Burnout set in, so in April 2012, I took a much-needed gap year and moved to London. Here I found love and ended up staying. In this city, I reconnected with my art and drawing, and I remembered this is what makes me happy. I enrolled to study Illustration at the University of Hertfordshire, became a Print Designer, Illustrator and then learned to tattoo.


Since 2019 I have been working as a tattoo artist, drawing stories, narratives, and fantasies and through my illustrations, helping people to transform their feelings into art on their skin.

The ability to imagine brought me here.


Ever since I heard about Surrealism I fell in love with this Artistic Movement! Some of the artists I most admire were the surrealists: Dorothea Tanning, Dora Maar, Frida Khalo, Remedios Varo, Magritte, Dalí! These people have imagination!

I love their ability to produce dreamlike images, imaginary realities that must arise from the unconscious, and the courage to create images that cause discomfort, excitement and curiosity.

Perhaps that makes sense to the attraction I've always felt for the bizarre, the mystical and the inexplicable (Since I was a child, I loved horror movies, even having to ask my sister to go to the bathroom with me in the middle of the night because I was scared to death, haha).

Some subjects are always on my radar: eyes, hands, mystical characters, images of women underwater, nature, and cats. I love them. I love fantastic stories and parallel universes. Anything that requires a lot of imagination.

Ophelia is another of my favourite paintings: melancholy, attention to detail, raw nature, water... Death, agony.  The pre-Raphaelite movement is also a big passion.

Living in the UK is a balm for my soul, lots of museums, ancient and gothic architecture, vintage shops... I'm crazy about vintage. These are some of the things that inspire me. My favourite museum is the V&A and I try to go there at least once a month to fuel my inspiration.

Clouds! I love the clouds, the sky, and the moon. Growing up in a world without the Internet during my childhood, I spent hours (no kidding) looking at the sky and imagining shapes. I used to say that I wanted to be like the clouds, without fixed shape, free... I have even tattooed 'as a cloud' on my arm.

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