Royal College of Art graduate develops a personal tattoo machine 

Jakub Pollág, a Royal College of Art graduate has developed the Personal Tattoo Machine which allows users to create markings on their skin to be associated with memories and meanings, rather than art. “Personal Tattoo Machine democratises the tattoo industry,” he said. “It puts a tool used only by a limited group of people into the hands of enthusiasts, who are seeking an alternative and unique way to permanently mark their meaningful memories onto their skin.” 

 Pollág has some homemade tattoos on his own skin that he executed with a needle and ink, but he wanted to try and make this diy experience more “user friendly” and accessible. The same way that prisoners fashion tattoo machines out of found objects is what influenced Pollág’s design for his own machine.  


Pollág allows only one thickness of needle and a much slower speed within the machine so that it allows the user to focus on what they are drawing…hopefully enabling more precision. 
 So far the machine prototype has been used to create 30 tattoos on 20 different subjects. However, Pollág still recommends visiting a professional parlour for more accurate designs. “This machine is not aiming to replace tattoo parlours,” he said. “It’s there to offer a more personal option. If you want a realistic portrait of your, let’s say, cat, you should still go to a tattoo parlour and not use this machine.”
Pollág is presenting his project at this years RCA graduate show in London which ends today, July 5th. 


Sunburnt in the name of art

While we’re all slathering ourselves – and our tattoos – in factor 50 during the summer sunshine heat, others appear to be burning “art” onto their skin in a strange, and dangerous, new social media phenomena: #sunburnart. Also called a sun tattoo or sunburn tattoo.

Search the hashtag #sunburnart and over 80 images come up that feature intricate art sunburned onto people’s skin. One guy has even created the Mona Lisa.

The hashtag has caused concern amongst dermatologists, and Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, the Skin Cancer Foundation’s senior vice president, released the organisation’s official position on sunburn:

The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly advises the public to avoid sunburns at all costs. A sunburn is not only painful – it’s dangerous, and comes with consequences. Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk. In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends adopting a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade, covering up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use.

Guys, our advice to you: Be safe, don’t burn. Get quality tattoos instead – they look cooler too.

Interview with a Tattoo Artist: Claudia Ottaviani

Italian tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani is currently backpacking around the world and guesting at different studios. 

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to her about her love for the power of tattooing, here is an insight into her karmic journey through life.  


Portrait by Esther Galvan




How would you describe your style and how did you choose it? Even if the subjects are not always inspired by traditional style, I would say it belongs to old school, both for the technique and for the colours. Last year I also approached  ornamental and dotwork style. I can not tell which one I would choose, this profession is constantly evolving, but in the end I definitely remain a colour lover!

An Italian girl around the world. Tell me about your experiences abroad. Do you find any difference between Italian and Central European customers? My work experience abroad began more than one year ago, when I moved to Barcelona to work at LTW. This year, in February, I started to organise a small tour in Europe which led me to work in many  studios: Admiraal Tattoo Studio, True Love Madrid, The Bunker and many more! When invited to do guest spots, most of the customers will choose you because they trust your work.  There is no need to convince the customer to get something less commercial, let’s just say I’ve had better luck abroad.

Can you tell me about the feelings your travels gave you, both as a person and as an artist? I started travelling when I was 19, and at 23 I found myself as a backpacker in South America, an experience that has definitely changed my outlook of life.
I’ve realised that, as much as the tattoo itself, even the travel is fundamental and should be a goal to pursue. And here I am today. New places, new tattoos, new cities, landscapes, cultures and languages. It’s very stimulating and it opens your mind.

Have you ever met obstacles along your way? How important is the support from family and friends? Obviously I found obstacles, as everyone does in their life. Rome was not that easy for me. That’s why I decided to leave it more than once, but I have never felt like an unfortunate victim. It’s life, everyone makes their path!
My family is a good one, I am really proud of them. They have always helped me and believed in me, even though my mother still does not talk to me for three days after I get each new tattoo. Friend are also a huge source of energy.

What do you like best about being a tattoo artist? How deeply can you feel your subjects while preparing them and how important is your state of mind as you create them? Being a fundamental part of the process of creation of indelible marks that people decide to carry forever on their skin is always a great honour. While travelling, the drawing part is physically more difficult, but a lot easier mentally. I will try to explain it better: in the beginning, I sometimes had to force myself to find inspiration and then start creating. Today everything is much more spontaneous and instinctive, there is no need for a particular state of mind, maybe just a general wellness.
What are your favourite subjects? Women, flowers, hands, Kama Sutra positions, everything I see as classic and elegant. This oriental inspiration reached me thanks to a friend and colleague of Barcelona, Alexis Jofre, who one day took me to a nice library. We were right in the centre of the Asian art department. My mouth was wide open in front of those beautiful books! So I had to buy one, it was about musical paintings of ancient India. I could already see a thousand new ideas in my mind. Thank you Alexis!


Are you also interested in religious and sacred images? Is it a choice linked to your beliefs or purely aesthetic? I am not a believer, or rather not in the strict sense of the term. I believe in many things and my vision of life is certainly closer to eastern philosophies than to western religions. That said, there are symbols like crosses, svastike, tao, om that are to me simply fascinating. I like to see the power that these simple cultural lines have, if only put together.

What do you think of the tattoo culture today?  People I’m encountering in my path and the experiences I’m having are extremely positive. Regarding the negative side, there is always karma!

Which artists do you admire and give you inspiration? Whether in the world of tattoo art or art in general. Inspiration comes from many people, and the list of names would be infinite. I admire some artists I have personally met, or with whom I had the pleasure to work with. Rodrigo DC, Alexis Camburn, Angelique Houtkamp, Lina Stiggson and many, many more!

Is there a particular subject you would like to tattoo or one you would you never tattoo? I do not like politician tattoos. I think I would love to start tattooing more animals and oriental religious figures.

What tattoos are on your skin and by who would you get a tattoo in the future? On me I have amazing pieces by: Diego Brandi, Alessandro Turcio, Cassandra Frances and many more! I really hope to get something by Tony Nilsson, Guy le Tatooer, Jaclyn Rèhe, the list could never end!


SemiColon Tattoo

Project Semicolon  is a non-profit faith-based charity encouraging people to draw semicolons onto their skin to show their support for mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, self harm and suicide.

The popular punctuation mark shows that the wearer’s story is not over or finished and how they have the power to write their own future. The tattoos are bringing people together as they convey a sense of unity to anyone suffering from mental health related issues.

The semicolon has been branded as a symbol of hope, reminding those who have it that they have the strength to overcome obstacles and that they are not alone.

On the Project SemiColon website it states that:

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.


Wim Delvoye: Tattooed Pigs

Wim Delvoye is a Flemish contemporary artist, whose work breaks boundaries and challenges notions of ethics. His art aims to be provocative and that is certainly what Tattooed Pigs and Art Farm does.

He started tattooing pig skin in the early 1990s and wrapped his art work around polyester moulds. It wasn’t until 1997 that Wim started to use live pigs as his canvas and in 2004 he bought a farm near Beijing, where animal welfare laws are not as strict as other places.

Art Farm sees the piglets cared for by specialists who clean the pig’s wounds and moisturise the pig’s newly tattooed skin regularly. The animals are anaesthised and tattooed by up to three people at a time, with images including Disney Princesses and fashion brand logos.

Buyers can choose whether to buy the tattooed pigs alive or as taxidermy specimens when they die of natural causes. The pigs are not killed for their skin but they live and grow to be older pigs, in order to produce the live canvas that is their skin. The tattoos grow as the pigs do, images stretch and get bigger as does their value and desirability.

The animals skin is has been known to sell for more than £55,000, skin was sold to Chanel to be made into two exclusive handbags. Animal rights campaigners have complained that the pigs are put under unneccassary trauma and being abused for commercial profit.

Wim has also tattooed a man’s back in 2006 with a mixture of Japanese koi fish and Christian iconography. The piece was sold and the buyer will collect the piece when the wearer has died.

What do you think about Tattooed Pigs, is it art or animal cruelty?


Tattoo Inspired Leg Braces

Hope Laliberte is an eight-year-old Disney lover who has cerebral palsy, a condition she has lived with since birth.

She has to wear leg braces and has always had them decorated with skulls or superheroes.

When it came to getting her leg braces redecorated she dismissed the pre-made designs offered to her by the hospital, instead she wanted Disney Villains.

Her mum decided to contact family friend – tattoo artist and owner of Up in Flames Tattoo, in Massachusetts – Aaron Guillemette, who faced the challenge of customising Hope’s leg braces.

The braces are made from resin and acrylic plastic so instead of painting them Aaron decided to create huge stickers with Ursual and Cruela de Ville on them. The polyurethane surface will protect the designs aiding their durability.

Images from Herald News

Music Review: Brand New

Our guest blogger is inventory buyer, freelance writer and creator of Typewriter Teeth blog,  Amber Carnegie. This is the first in a series of music review posts in which Amber will be documenting her experiences at various music shows. First up is her review of the band Brand New who played at The Glee Club, Birmingham earlier this month… 

Earlier this year Brand New announced a small amount of intimate dates across the UK, in the minutes that they sold out, we were held in a sort of  limbo. Were we about to experience something that you can never find in an arena or witness knee deep in mud at a festival?

Mic-stands wrapped in flowers stood patiently waiting on the stage in a nod to The Smiths, before the band shook them as they opened with ‘Mene’, Brand New’s first recording in five years. Taking the lyrics ‘we don’t feel anything’ as our own before progressing into ‘Sink’ as if working back through their discography. In a raw instant the crowd was exposed and swept together into a close moment that could only be embraced in a venue like this. ‘Gasoline’ then followed the same fervent route, the distorted end constructed the quieter moments into ‘Millstone’.

For everyone in the room there is a track or an album that has pulled them through something or become a soundtrack to a period in their life. ‘The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me’ illustrates something to me and that is what is so perfect about this set, to everyone in the crowd there was a meaning. But the moment that Brand New continued with ‘You Won’t Know’ is one that as fans we could share.

‘Sic Transit Gloria… Gloria Fades’ erupted into ‘Deja Entendu’, these favourite songs that still generate the same responsive passion that we all felt the first time we heard them more than a decade ago. Tracks that now stir emotional drunk sing-alongs at club nights and never fail to draw a crowd. ‘I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light’ and ‘Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’ fittingly continued the teenage angst choir that had taken over the crowd with:

The kind of song that makes people glad to be where they are, with whomever they’re there with.’

Brand New persistently deliver incomparable shows, no matter where they play. With such a tight discography it is impossible to find a set list that doesn’t ensue an ardent atmosphere between the band and crowd. We were treated to an incredible full band version of ‘Brothers’ or ‘Untitled 03’ which is something I had never witnessed live before. Hearing a tracks like live for the first time really enhanced the night, making it stand out against all the other live shows I have been to.

‘Jesus Christ’ marks the final track to be performed by the entire band, winding down from an impassioned and perfect set, filled with everything that gets missed in a recording studio. Stirring every sentiment of nostalgia and of being in the moment.

Closing the show saw Jesse Lacey take the stage and lay every emotion out there for ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’. Usually at this moment the audience take the track for themselves,but in this close-knit venue Lacey clutched onto his words in an emotive and pained repetition with altered lyrics and a room silent in awe.

‘I’m just jealous cause you’re young and in love.’

Donut Tattoos

Donuts are everywhere at the minute, sprinkles galore! We are bombarded with sugary pastel coloured fashion and homewares covered in these sticky fairground treats. We have picked a box of a dozen of our favourite donut tattoos designs to share with you…













Do you have a donut tattoo?

American Tattoo Flash Day at Occult Tattoo

On 4 July 2015, Occult Tattoo Studio in Worthing will be paying homage to the roots of American Flash. From 11am, tattoo artists @mymorg@fede_borgia and @wulfbaron will tattooing american flash all day at heavily discounted prices.

Join the Facebook event!

About the artists:

@mymorg – Morg was born and raised in Philadelphia,  she used to tattoo at AKA Berlin, her super solid heavy traditional style features wry observations, surreal situations and respectful twists on traditional tattooing.

@fede_borgia Rome/Brighton based Federica is an Italian tattooer and genuine rude girl. Loves american and Japanese traditional. Simple bold and cheeky tattoos.

@wulfbaron Charlie grew up in New Zealand and splits his time between making grim and brutal black metal influenced tattoos and illustrative slightly surreal pieces. Tongue fully in cheek.


You Won’t Regret That Tattoo

Australian director Angie Bird has created a short yet heart-warming documentary, ‘You Won’t Regret That Tattoo’, that shows the stories and memories connected to the tattoos of an older generation. The film seeks to challenge the idea that ink is something that people will come to regret. The tattoos are there to commemorate occasions, whether good or bad, show love for those in their lives both past and present, and some of the tattoos are simply for fun, to make people laugh.

To hear more tattoo stories watch the documentary below:

If you’re anything like this group of interesting people you certainly won’t regret your tattoos later on in life…