Chronic creatives are a force of nature. Dealing with debilitating illnesses, but still keeping their pencil and focus sharpened. With that in mind, and after some delay on our behalf, we bring a Q&A with the multi faceted artist Delia Weber aka @sarunya.blck on Instagram. Graphic design, tattooist and Crohn’s disease veteran, Delia gives us the lowdown of her day to day.
Delia has been following us, and we’ve been following her with great interest for as long as we’ve been active on Instagram. We’ve always had the policy of following as many creatives who deal with IBD on the day to day. Whether that be visual artists, musicians or those who dabble in the written arts, GCASFM wants to get an idea of what makes people tick, and if choosing a path of creation and making will bring a sense of calm to their lives.
Hey, Delia when you look from the window what do you see?
That’s a nice question! I see the beauty of nature, I see the sun and clouds and I appreciate this view every single morning.
Whereabouts in this crazy world are you located? What is your nationality? Have you always lived in your current location?
I live close to the big city Zurich in Switzerland. I lived in the city for a long time, but I really needed more countryside and that's why I moved away from the busy & loud city life.
I was born in Thailand in 1989, and was adopted by a wonderful Swiss couple when I was 6 months old. So I'm kinda more Swiss than anything else.
What's on your workbench/desk?
*Laughs* Well there's a lot! My bullet journal, which I carry with me everywhere, to write down notes and to do some quick sketches. My graphic tablet which I’ve used for years. No graphic tablet, no work! Also I have some nail polish here, because well…I don't find a lot of time to have a beauty routine, so I do my nails and work at the computer.
Growing up as a kid, was art a large part of your life?
It was/is my life! My grandfather was a artist, he practised acrylic painting and aquarelle. You could find me drawing and painting almost everywhere and everyday. And I'm really thankful he showed me art, and what it can bring you in life.
Did you study art as part of your schooling? Design school or further education?
Yeah, I studied graphic and media design for 4 years. Which included photography, printing, storytelling and a lot more. But if it comes to tattooing, there's no school, there's no education, you always have to learn from others and by yourself.
Has art and design been your sole career path, or have you had other vocations?
I'm always on the run, I’m always in search for other passions in life. Most of them are creative in some way. I was a professional dancer for ages, and I earned my daily money through that. I also found a big love in writing about my life, problems and stuff people don't like to talk about.
Have you ever illustrated, or created any material for zines or printed material?
As a graphic designer I did a lot of stuff for big companies here in Switzerland. I illustrated for party flyers and dance battles.
What and who are your influences from an artistic/design point of view? Who have you looked up to for source material and really admire as creatives?
I have a lot of books, but I had to stop buying so many of them because I wanted to travel light. So books are not such a common research tool anymore. Most of the influences I get are from the people around me, my friends and family. But I really do love art which has a message, something which makes you think.
My absolute favourite artist is Jeremyville.
GCASFM: Yeah Jeremyville is DOPE! Certainly someone we admire too!! Would love to get him involved someday.
You're now an established tattoo artist and piercer. How did you embark on this creative path? What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part of the job?
It started when I was 15 years old. We had a small tattoo studio in town and I went there to get a belly piercing with my mom. The whole shop was full with old school flash sheets of tattoos from ‘Sailor Jerry’ and I was really inspired by how simple art can be. From there on, almost every moment of my free time, I hung out there. I got my first tattoo and learnt a lot about the tattoo industry there.
I think most challenging part of being a tattoo artist is that every day, every hour there's a new person thinking “Hey I’m going to start tattooing!” Also being trying to stay unique or different from all the other artists, is very difficult, it’s all about discovering your own style. Being a tattoo artist is a battle almost everyday, but you have to keep going and believing that you are something special. Most importantly is remembering that not just good work will make you a good tattoo artist. Being kind, approachable and clean makes it a nice experience for the client. Having a happy client even months after you tattooed them is what gives me a smile everyday. Seeing someone walking by, with a tattoo by me is what makes me as a tattoo artist happy.
What is the biggest or most challenging piece you've been asked to create?
Once I had to tattoo a girl who had sadly lost her mother a few days previous. The tattoo itself wasn't really challenging, but having a human being in front of you, asking for a tattoo which means the world for her, and because it was something so heartbreaking, is what made it so challenging.
The moment she looked at the finished tattoo, she started to cry because she was so happy to have her mom on her skin forever, that was mind-blowing. The hug she gave me at the end, I was thankful for that, because it was challenging for me not to cry and tell her it will be good my dear.
How would you describe your own style?
Well, my style is called fine-line tattooing. I'm a master in doing straight lines and everything which needs to be perfectly done. Actually this is not a style, it’s just being super precise, but it's something I can say is my thing.
Thanks to you discovering us via Instagram, we are Crohnies for life! How many years have you been dealing with this damn illness? What was your knowledge of the illness prior to diagnosis?
I think it all started back in 2009, when I was diagnosed with Lactose intolerance. Something really simple, but since that day I had trouble with my colon. A few years later I was new diagnosed with IBS, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I had my first flare up. At first they thought I had CU, so I was treated for that, but nothing changed. The symptoms got worse and worse everyday, and after 6 months they gave me another colonoscopy. And there we are “Hello Crohn’s disease!”
My ex had Crohn’s disease, but to be honest, I didn't really know anything about it. He had to take medication and had some awesome shits, but that’s all I knew at that point.
Give us a little fast track of your Crohn's 'Road Map'! Any surgeries, what medications are you taking etc?
I had a loooooooong cortisone therapy which really fucked up my whole life. After that I had immunosuppressants. Now I'm on Humira (Adalimumab injection every other week) for almost 3 years. No surgeries, so I’m being blessed til now.
How does your daily grind work around this condition? Are your colleagues helpful and understanding?
Well, I got fired in 2015 because of Crohn's. I lost my job, my boyfriend and my self-confidence. But after that, I realized talking about my illness, being open minded is the key. All of a sudden everybody around me helped me, understood me and really got my back. Being positive in almost every situation helps me a lot. This is why my life attitude is PMA all-day, everyday. (PMA means positive mental attitude)
Do you stick to a strict diet? Any food-based remedies that you find help you?
I did yes. But from time to time I just eat what I like. For sure there's some kind of food I can't handle such as milk products, too much meat or raw veggies.
In my opinion to eat what you like is my best diet I ever had.
What is the medical support system like in Switzerland? Do you have a good team looking after you at your hospital? Are there many support groups raising awareness?
I have a really cool gastroenterologist, he even gave me his private number before Christmas, so if I ever have any issues I can call him anytime. Also we have a biiiiig IBD wave in Switzerland, of people that don't want to be silent about autoimmune disease, people are getting more and more interested in diseases, where it comes from and how to handle it.
Have you found your artwork helps as a form of therapy?
Making people happy with my art, helping people by talking to them while tattooing, sharing stories, I think yes this helps me a lot.
Any artists you think we should try and approach to help raise awareness?
Maybe Anastasia? :p hahaha well no, I don't know any other artists with Crohn disease. :(
1) Favourite Food
2) Are you superstitious?
3) Least favourite colour?
4) Best book you've ever read?
5) Your worst habit?
6) Sneakers or shoes? Example...
Sneakers for sure! Favorite atm: Nike React
7) Biggest fear?
Losing my loved ones.
8) If you weren't a designer what would you be?
9) Music of the moment? Band or artist...
10) If you could smash something into a million pieces, what would it be?
My brain. Just to sort it new again.
A massive thanks to Delia for sharing her story and for being such an amazing supporter of GCASFM. You can find more of Delia’s work via her Instagram HERE