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PLEADING INSANITY



In Conversation with Shoreigh Williams



Interview and Images by Anitah Diggs

11.23




Tattoo artist, designer, and visual artist Shoreigh Williams has been pleading insanity since 2020, immortalizing herself as a muse in her work as a vessel of self expression. Recently, the artist opened up her tattoo studio in Downtown Phoenix, dubbing it  “Pleading Insanity”:an ode to the phrase that has catalyzed her recent clothing projects, exhibitions, and now her work space and community hub. We visited the artist in her brilliantly saturated studio, following it’s opening on September 16, to get our own tour of the space and hear more about that artist’s journey into the space they’ve manifested.  


Anitah Diggs: “Pleading Insanity” started out as a painting exhibition you did, tell me more about that and how the name came to you. 


Shoreigh Williams: Most of the pieces are in here right now. The collection started at the end of 2021, and then it was fully executed in 2022. And then literally just fast forward, I went on a trip to Europe, I tattooed out there, and it made sense to me to come back home and open up my own spot, whether it was a shop, boutique or studio. And I came here and kind of just followed the steps to do so, and one thing led to another. And I was tryna think of a studio name, and it was right in front of me the whole time! Everything just clicked together.

The name came about because in 2020 with the pandemic, I was gonna have another show, that show was called “I locked my keys in my car,” and you know how it goes with shows, like you spend all this time preparing for them. So then the pandemic happened and that was a week before my show, so I had to cancel it. And I was just so sad, and I actually came up with the name “Pleading Insanity” in 2020 because that's like how I felt; I felt like I was committing to this. I had just started my apprenticeship too so it was an interesting time.





AD: More on your trip to Europe and where the love for tattooing emerged?


SW: When I was younger I used to say that I wanted to be a tattoo artist, but I just always wanted to be an artist, period. But my aunt did just end up buying me the machine, and then that's how I happened to start tattooing my homies, family, shit like that. And then got an apprenticeship, kept following the artwork for sure though.


AD: More on self portraiture?


SW: Very often, I say that’s my go to. Just because it can actually express how I'm feeling. Just because a lot of my work is self reflection. So I feel like it starts with ourselves, because you start with yourself, you change your family, your family changes the community, yunno what I'm saying? My work is a lot of self reflection, because if I have a feeling I wanna draw and I'm the only person there as the muse, take it right then and there. Because also drawing too, drawing is like, or any form of art, it comes from such a divine place so it’s like when you catch it, put it out.





AD: Any pieces on sentimentality in the studio?


SW: Shoutout to this one, it’s called “Changes.” This one is actually one of my younger sisters. That one’s going in a show, actually just got into the “Juried” exhibition at the Found:Re. I like that one, that ones also special too because when I started it, it looked so different, and I had a block on it for awhile, so like I didn’t touch it for a minute, and then I executed and finished some other pieces in the collection, and then came back to that one at the end. Actually the background was like this dark green, like this weird dark green. I like that one too also because it symbolizes like it's not easy going through changes, and that  specific sister is very good at adapting.





AD: Other pieces in the space?


SW: The pieces that are right in front of us are from the other tattoo artist that’s in here, her name’s Anna, we met at Fifth Finger, we tattooed there together. There’s a piece right there that’s from Liz– she’s our apprentice –we actually all were at that same tattoo studio together at one point, and then I have some work from CJ Banks.


AD: How was the studio opening?


SW: Lit! We had it on, all of us did. We were able to open up the whole upstairs space for the night, so any of the vacant rooms we hung up artwork in, and everyone had their own room with artwork, their own merch, whether it was on clothes, prints keychains. We just all got down. And then in the middle unit we had three pieces that all three of us collaborated on, and banged those out in a month actually. That was kinda the whole set up, and then all of our peoples coming out popping out.




AD: Future plans for the space, and additionally, what importance to you place of holding space?


SW: As far as importance, I feel like if you wanna go fast, go alone, but if you wanna go far, go together. And we already need a bigger space, like we just got here and it's already time to expand. We definitely are moving pretty quickly. We love art, we all get down on art in our own ways, we tattoo, I even think at some point doing classes, things like that. We all make clothes as well, so probably investing in heat presses, screen prints, things like that, definitely some warehouse shit too.


AD: Anything else to add?


SW: Really just thank you, to everyone that’s shown love. Everyone that’s been showing love and had found out about it recently and is showing love. Shoutout to my girls Liz and Anna, I'm super grateful.
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