Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia (Kiwi) Daly.
Alicia (Kiwi), we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
At a super young age, I knew I had inclination for the arts. My favorite thing to do was making things with my hands. I loved drawing, sculpting, making collages, all of it. After a while, what started as me making things for myself turned into me creating things for others. My mom taught me how to sew, and I began making my own clothes around age ten. I picked up a camera around age 13 and fell in love with capturing moments. I had a lot of free time to explore my talents and creativity since I was homeschooled for high school, and, with the help of the internet (Tumblr to be specific) I found a little tribe that would share what we made and encourage each other to try new things. My Uber religious family wasn’t the most supportive, so having that community really empowered me to go against the grain and pursue a career in the arts. I studied photography in college as well as graphic design and started doing that on the side as a business in Chicago while also working part-time in retail.
Right before I was set to graduate, I made the decision to move to Los Angeles. Well, the decision had already been made by 12 years old me – thanks to my sister and her husband. They moved to Garden Grove when I was around that age and, ever since I visited them every year. Thanks to homeschool, I was able to spend extended periods of time in California; learning the OC, Long Beach, Gardena and Inglewood (where my OTHER sister lives). I knew if I really wanted to thrive, I would have to go where I was the happiest and most challenged, and a challenge it was. My couple of years in LA, I was on the verge of homelessness a few times! Thankfully I had (and still have) a tribe that made sure I saw it through.
Currently, after spending two years in Las Vegas finding myself, quarantining, learning new skills and building my clothing brand, Daile, I’m back in LA and guess what?
Now I’m a tattoo artist!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Firstly I had to get past my super religious parents and upbringing. Pursuing the arts is very looked down upon unless it’s for religious purposes. My family didn’t stifle me, but they definitely didn’t encourage me either. Then my look/demeanor started to evolve and my parents and I started butting heads; which is why I ended up moving out during my last year of homeschool. That was a struggle itself since I had to figure out how to start providing for myself.
Aside from struggling to cover LA cost of living, sometimes your art isn’t valued the way you as the artist feel it should be. There’s also the whole “co-sign” thing. If some big name artist or musician isn’t co-signing you then no one really pays attention. My biggest obstacle though is being taken seriously as a woman, a black woman, in this industry. When I would shoot shows in Chicago for then local rappers who shall not be named, the word “groupie” would be thrown around a lot, or sexually harassing comments thrown around like nothing. Like, you see me with this big ass camera and lens, looking crazy disheveled from running around to get these shots in and the first thing you think of is groupie? Cmon man lol
I was also in a three car accident in August with my two close friends while on our way to see an apartment in DTLA. Had us out for months doing physical therapy and being on bed rest. That kind of our a damper on things but, fortunately all three of us had minor injuries that are healing well and quickly.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I‘ve decided to put most of my time and energy into honing my new skills as a tattoo artist.
In April, a month after quarantines started, I was upset that I couldn’t get the tattoo I had planned on. Then I got a crazy idea. Why couldn’t I tattoo myself? At that point, I started doing my research, ordered a machine that I felt I would work well with, and enrolled in YouTube University. I didn’t touch skin that wasn’t my own until June. Practiced on grapefruits and honeydew melons and eventually, my best friend Raven. In November, I spent the month at home in Chicago and took on willing clients. Scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I haven’t f’d anyone’s skin up yet so!
My proudest accomplishment this far is securing a spot with a black-owned tattoo shop in Downtown Los Angeles, as well as having the opportunity to apprentice with Miya Bailey, one of our generation’s best and brightest black tattoo artists and that speaks volumes. There aren’t many black female tattoo artists, and I‘m dedicated to becoming one. Additionally, I‘m blessed and proud to be back working with SkidRow FashionWeek’s nonprofit dedicated to eradicating homelessness and giving them the resources they need to survive especially now in a pandemic.
Who else deserves credit in your story?
Oh my gosh, we wouldn’t have room for them all, but my best friend (and housemate) Raven, who goes by @RaiiAlex, has absolutely supported me since college. She’s seen the good, bad and the ugly and has been there to tell me when I’m tweaking (acting irrationally) she’s an accomplished singer so she completely understands being a black woman in this industry and that is so key. There’s not a thing we can’t talk about.
My other best friend, Zanah, @__zanah also has supported me since we met freshman year of college, I was 16/17 she was 14 or 15 at the time. She is a young black woman in the film industry, so again, she understands and is wise beyond her years. Whenever I have any tough decisions to make, personal or business-wise, she is someone I can always ask for advice and will not hold back either.
Both of these women are September Virgos and share a birthday. I’m blessed to have them!
- Small tattoos: $50
- Instagram: Instagram.com/kiuiairica
- Twitter: Twitter.com/kiuiairica
- Other: Instagram.com/coterietattooco
Raven Sanders Kiwi