Artist Nomi Chi Shares their Inspiration for Vancouver Opera’s La Traviata Poster

By Nomi Chi

If you’ve ever asked around about talented tattoo artists in Vancouver, Nomi Chi is almost certain to have come up. The other-worldly storybook creature meets organic yet alien style of their work brings an endearing gentleness to sometimes grotesque forms. A tattoo by Nomi, to say it simply, is distinct. It’s no surprise that the Vancouver Opera, who has chosen boldly non-traditional art for the past several years, contacted Nomi to design posters for their 2019/20 season, which opens on Thursday October 17th.

Not just on skin, Nomi’s work can be seen in gallery shows throughout the year, and most publicly as a part of the Vancouver Mural Festival with a piece at 333 West Broadway, which Nomi says, “is likely how I came up on (Vancouver Opera’s) radar!” To get some insight into their artistic process, I asked Nomi a bit about what their inspiration for the La Traviata poster was.

Have you seen or listened to La Traviata yet? If so, could you tell me about a favourite music piece?

“I’ll actually be seeing La Traviata in it’s entirety for the first time next week with the VO! So I can’t yet speak to a favourite music piece or moment. There’s a lot of Easter eggs and nods to La Traviata in pop culture, though, which I appreciate: I think a Crystal Castles song samples one of the play’s overtures.”

Can you tell me about the character depicted in the poster?

“For La Traviata, we decided to depict the protagonist Violetta (the flowers in her fan are violets) and lean into floral elements blooming and peeling away from her to gesture towards themes like youth, romance and tragedy. I spent most of my time researching historical posters and production sets, looking for similar recurring themes so that I could approach the project from a fresh angle without deviating from the overall feel of the production, and its contemporary and historical contexts. It was fun to look into costuming, the visual language, the mood, and history of each production and pull images from the fray that would hint at themes without giving too much away.”

Can you share a piece or pieces you have tattooed that are similar to this poster or may have in some way helped inspire it?

“I tattoo a lot of figures with flowers integrated into the design, this being one of my favourite examples:”


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La Traviata is playing October 17 – 27 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver.

Tickets are available here.

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