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5 Creative Questions with… Chira Grasby a.k.a Poko Ono

Chiranjika (Chira) Grasby is a Kaurna Yerta-based artist, curator, and tattooist. I think it was through the magic of the Instagram algorithm that I first encountered her work as Poko Ono, a tattoo artist who uses stick-and-poke methods as well as machines for tattooing. The dreamy femininity of her flash sheets was appealing: mermaids, pretty winged girls, Sanrio characters, gentle lambs. Like refined, aspirational schoolgirl doodles, the kind you would find in a Sofia Coppola movie.

Chira and I both like to paint on wood and both reference our Asian identities in art. My favourite work of hers is this fu dog, beautifully rendered in oil paints on pine. Tattoo artists often have some of the best draughtsmanship around; he's incredibly tiny and perfect.

Chira Grasby a.k.a Poko Ono. Photo: supplied

Chiranjika Grasby, usually called Chira and also known as Poko Ono, is the 14th in my series of creatives to take five questions.

When my creative process is stuck, I reach for... a different outlet! Because I spread myself across tattooing, visual art, and curation, plus external hobbies, I have a lot to juggle. I only ever have capacity for two outlets at a time, so if one feels stuck I simply focus on another for a while until I’m over the creative blockage. For example, I’ve spent 2023 focusing primarily on curation and tattooing. It’s given my visual arts practice a much needed break, and I’m feeling ready to revisit it in 2024 with a fresh perspective.

The weirdest thing about being a creative human is... the schedules! Most of the time I’m my own boss - choosing what hours I work, when to do admin, and how to structure my timelines. You’d think that would be the dream scenario, but for me it’s a curse more than a blessing! I find myself slacking off and procrastinating during daytime business hours, just to be writing emails and proposal documents in a fevered panic at 10pm. Or making my tattoo days way too long and overworking myself when really there was no need to. Oh well, I only have myself to blame!

I think lots of creatives enter the world of ‘structureless work’ without enough advice or reference on how to actually make it work, and I’m *slowly* learning how to make it functional for my life.

The most unusual object in my house is... a toss up between two items I reckon. Firstly, a ceramic lamp shaped like Mother Mary holding baby Jesus - it sits on a side table facing our front door. She’s never actually turned on, and we’re not religious at all, but we love that she greets us every time we come home. Always surrounded by our keys, wallets, and whatever junk we empty from our pockets every morning.

The other would be our little collection of geese kitchen items. We’ve got a set of nesting measuring cups all shaped like a family of geese, and little ceramic measuring spoons to match. It feels like such a grandma thing to own.

I celebrate my achievements by... having a yummy dinner and relaxing. My partner and I love cooking at home, so we have some staple comfort foods or ‘special occasion’ meals to reach for. Paired always with a movie or whatever series we’re bingeing at the time. Alternatively I have a couple favourite restaurants in my city, and I’ll always take an excuse to dress up, eat a fantastic dinner, then be home by 9pm to chill out with my dogs

Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is... if we’re talking financial incentive or innovative design - probably the little chips that make our iPhones work LOL. Inventing that would’ve set me up for life, surely? Then I’d have infinite resources to indulge my creative endeavors whenever I want.

But, if we’re talking cool creations and something a bit more interesting… maybe 3D printers, they’ve opened up so many possibilities for industries and creatives alike.

Find out more about Chiranjika (Chira) Grasby here: Chiranjika Grasby. As Poko Ono, she tattoos at Half Pace Studio.

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