Drawing Inspiration: The Journey to a Tattoo

25-year-old novice Yogi Leanna Daley based in West Bromwich, has yet to go under the needle, in this post she talks about when she first became fascinated with tattoos and what ideas are inspiring her future tattoo choices… 

I remember as a child listening to the gentle chords of an acoustic or the energetic sounds of my uncle playing his electric guitar. Curious, I always found myself wondering (sneaking) into his room and exploring all the hidden treasures. This expedition is where I first came across tattoos. I would look through the bits and pieces of paper I found that showcased the tribal tattoo designs my uncle would sketch up in his free time. Then one day, he came back with a sprawling black tribal tattoo snaking from his wrist, circling his elbow and creeping all the way up to his neck. As a child I was consequently amazed. So growing up I was used to being around motorbikes, video games, sketches of all kinds and magazines.
Then, there is my mother, free spirit and hippie at heart who over the years would come back with another new tattoo adorning her body. Whether it is the midnight black cat, colourful butterflies or random Tinker Bell, it now results in her boasting nine small to medium tattoos, with intentions to expand to larger designs of candy-coloured skulls and a watercolour style design. Tattoos and hippy vibes were always part of my upbringing.

One of Leanna’s mum’s tattoos

Then there’s me. Always having the intention of getting tattoos and searching tattoo designs, but at 25 I am yet to go under the needle and my skin remains (frustratingly) untouched. I’ve always admired and perceived tattoos as pieces of art rather than a permanent statement of “coolness”. I’m a perfectionist at heart and that could be one of the reasons why I haven’t got tattooed yet. I think to myself “If I’m going to go through all that pain, I better choose a  design that I will love!” Tall order in reality as tastes change, but on the other hand they are permanent reminders of what you once were and who you are today. A visual ink diary, as you will.

The other reason simply put, The Fear. It is that threshold where you are intellectually aware that it will hurt, but due to never experiencing it, in reality you have actually no clue until you take the plunge. As my mother always says so eloquently “Leanna, it’s basically a needle scrapping through your skin. It’s going to hurt. End of.” There’s not much I can say to that.

Henna from a holiday in Marrakesh

And lastly, there is the constant stream of ideas filtering my head space; “dream catchers, wolves, the moon, native American goddesses, skulls, watercolour, a scaled skinned Mystique out of X-men crossed with Grendel’s golden serpentine mother in Beowulf with the headdress of a lion with scorpion and lion like features- a hybrid (they would represent my Pisces sun, Scorpio moon and Leo rising).” Filtering comes to mind here and thus with all of the above, my mind becomes overstimulated with possibilities. So I am determined to start my journey to getting a tattoo before any more ideas take hold. I’m done with persistent imaginings and feel it is the time now to put them into physical form. It all begins with visually compiling the inspirations and ideas that have been floating around my brain for way too many years.


As an avid astrology fan, anything to do with astrology especially Pisces, Scorpio and Leo inspires me every day. However, not in the popular designs you see on a day-to-day basis. I tend to lean to a more physical representation of the Zodiac signs. In addition astronomy has always been high on my list. I spend hours looking through NASA’s Instagram page and dream of the endless possibilities of tattoos with hints of watercolour to give that comic dreamlike effect.


A year ago I bought The Wild Unknown Tarot deck and was fascinated by the illustrations by Kim Krans. They all had a dark sketchy and haunting look, but was brought to life with the subtle vibrant hints of colours, again taking on a watercolour effect. Subtle shading, bold lines and geometric designs added variety to the deck. Then there is the ever present moon in all her glory. Visually I connected to the illustrations in the yearly calendar created by the Free People graphic team. The use of black and white strokes mixed in with inky watercolours gave that mystically dark edge that I seem to gravitate towards.
There’s constantly a stream of inspiration I come across every day in different mediums and now it is time to put that all together to create an actual tattoo! Next step? Discussing my ideas with a tattoo artist that can make these ideas into an actual form of art.

Have you started your tattoo journey, where do you gather your inspiration from?

The Art of Chris Guest

Chris Guest is 36-year-old painter living in London, he creates large-scale oil paintings featuring tattooed people. We chatted to Chris to find out more about his style of work, the people he has painted and the workshops he runs… 

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Do you have a background in art? I studied illustration at Bournemouth University, and at Brunel College in Bristol.

How did you learn to paint? Other than studying illustration at uni, I’m an avid reader of art technique books, plus I do a lot of life drawing (although this isn’t painting, it does help you see things properly). With painting, you just have to practice like mad, that’s the only way to get any good – nobody picks up a paint brush for the first time and paints the Mona Lisa – you have to put the time in to develop your skills. When I first picked up oils, my paintings were awful! I also think it’s very important to constantly learn from your mistakes, I always try to think of ways that I could’ve made my work better.

Ricki Hall Ricki Hall


What medium do you use? Mostly oil, although I do draw with pencil and charcoal a lot as well. Oil feels so nice to work with and is so forgiving, once you know how to use it properly. I love the history of oil, and the fact that it hasn’t really changed much in hundreds of years (pigment mixed with safflower oil). Despite all these acrylic paints you can buy, they still can’t make anything better and they’re nowhere near as nice to use. I like the idea of producing some watercolours in the not so distant future too.

Can you tell us about the exhibitions you are involved in? I will be exhibiting some pieces at this year’s London Tattoo Convention, so please check it out if you’re coming! Seeing art framed and well lit in real life is so much better than on a computer screen, as you really get to see all the brush strokes, and the scale of the work, and get an idea of what the artist was trying to convey. As well as originals, I shall also have prints available.

DSC_2018 copy Cervena Fox


How would you describe your style? The way I paint is quite classic in style and technique, similar to 18th century painting, but a modern subject matter, painting tattooed people. Obviously my work is quite realist, but you only need to get within a metre of it to see its quite brushy up close!

Who have you painted? Several tattooed models, probably the most well known being Cervena Fox. I’ve worked with Cervena on numerous occasions now, and feel we’ve built up a good working relationship. When we talk about what I’m looking to achieve for my next body of work, I always find Cervena gets my ideas, and really helps them come to life. When you’ve built a good working relationship and your models know you, you’re both a lot more relaxed, and it feels more like friends hanging out, rather than a work thing.

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Do you paint from photographs or real life? Both actually – there’s nothing better than painting from life, and I always find the results are more pleasing, plus its more fun. Although sometimes you don’t have the luxury of having someone sit for a four hour session, or if you’re looking to paint someone outside in a street, for example, you have to work from photos.

How long do the paintings take? Sometimes paintings just seem to work, and they feel finished and complete after a few hours. Other pieces sit in my studio for months and then get revisited, so it’s really hard to put a time scale on it. Also, due to the nature of oil paint, you have to leave a layer to dry for a few weeks before you can paint over it, so if you’re impatient, its probably better to try something else!

Do you do commissions? Of course – best thing to do is drop me an email at mrguest@hotmail.co.uk to discuss your ideas!

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Where can people buy your art? I have prints and art cards available on my website store. If it’s originals you’re after, best thing is to email me for availability, prices etc. I’ll have originals for sale at the London Tattoo Convention. I also put my work in several group shows in galleries every year, a lot of them happen to be in the US though!

Can you tell us about the workshops you do?  I currently teach a ‘painting a head from reference’ workshop, in several tattoo studios, mainly in London, and a few around the UK. It’s a great way to learn some basic techniques, as I go through colour, materials, values, stuff like that, to help you achieve good results with your painting. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a paint brush in your life, or you’re the next Rembrandt, it’s more about taking part, having fun and producing your own painting. If you’d like to attend or perhaps host your own workshop, best thing to do is drop me an email at mrguest@hotmail.co.uk for more information.

Interview with our transgender beauty shoot model

Our most recent beauty editorial ‘Vanitas’ features a transgender model, and is a slightly darker addition to The Fruity Issue, focusing on the notion of ‘forbidden fruit’ and the symbolism behind it. Our model Alex’s unusual fantasy-themed tattoos caught our eye, and we wanted to explore his masculinity in an unconventional way. We recently caught up with him to get some feedback about his first photo shoot experience, working with Things & Ink, his opinions about transgender issues in the media, and his newest tattoo.

Alex transgender beauty shoot

‘Vanitas’ features in The Fruity Issue of Things&Ink, to view the full shoot, order your copy from www.thingsandink.com. There is also an interview with Alex about his transition in The Anatomy Issue.

Photographer – Heather Shuker
Photographer’s Assistant – Warren Boyle
Art Direction –  Marina De Salis
Make-up, Hair and Styling – Adrianna Veal
Model – Alex Locke
Custom leather accessories – www.clockworkfirebird.com

When we were on the photo shoot, you mentioned that you’ve previously done a few self-styled shoots. How did you feel about being styled and photographed by someone else? It was great fun! I get nervous and second guess my style choices a lot, I’m never quite sure what will work on me and I lose a lot of time to being anxious about the possibility that a look won’t work. It was nice to be able to follow rather than lead, and to see what other people came up with – I didn’t expect the chilis, for one.

What was your favourite part of the day? It sounds cliche but I genuinely enjoyed the whole day. I did like the points where people were laughing and sharing anecdotes about all the weird moments that go into creating gorgeous photos.

Alex trans beauty shoot

The transgender topic is becoming more and more visible in the media. What do you think the media can do to help people understand transgender issues better? A lot of fear and anger comes from simple misunderstanding and ignorance of the topic of what being transgender is. I’d like there to be more ‘Trans* 101’ type posts where facts are available for people to learn about what being transgender means, and how to respect someone who is transgender.

I’d like there to be a bigger push to show the world at large, just how much violence is committed towards transgender persons and how ‘at risk’ transpersons are for simply choosing to be themselves. It would be great to have more allies out there.

Alex trans forbidden fruits

Do you have any transgender role models? I have a few, mainly people I’ve come to know through shared hobbies or interests. I never consciously looked for role models from the wider world of fame because I guess I wanted to know that people ‘like me’ could change their life path. There’s an element of not really having many ‘visible’ transgender role models in celebrity/stardom until relatively recently as well.

Have you had any new tattoos since the shoot that you would like to share? I do! I was hoping to have my newest piece done far earlier in the year, but I didn’t have the time. It was done by Barry K of Tattoo Crazy (Cambridge, UK), the artwork was drawn by Lucian Stephenson. It’s called ‘Blood on the Moon’ and it’s a combination of a lot of symbols that are significant to me. If anyone ever guesses why then I’ll personally treat them to tea. It took three hours and was done in one sitting; it’s definitely the most painful area I’ve had tattooed so far.



This post is definitely one for the crazy cat ladies and gentlemen, our guest blogger, fashion design and marketing student Phoebe Lloyd being one of them! Here for you viewing pleasure is a collection of her favourite inked felines from some incredible artists… 


Guen Douglas


Dylan Kwok


Cody Eich


Amy Savage2


Sophia Baughan


Abby Drielsma


Abbie Williams


Chris Browning Bintt 2











Our Fruity issue cover star @jodydawber

Jody Dawber

Do you have a cat tattoo? Have we missed off some of your favourite artists? 

Puddings in Film

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward

The Great British Bake Off is ensnaring everyone in its doughy tendrils and in spirit of all things cake, I’ve been thinking about some of the best scenes in cinematic history involving puds. So in no particular order of preference, here are my choices. I apologise in advance for Matilda not making the list.

Inglorious Basterds (2009) Apple Strudel


Apple Strudel

Who wouldn’t accept an invitation to eat apple strudel? Perhaps not if the invitation came from the “Jewhunter” or Nazi Colonel Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz and not if you were a French Jewish woman named Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), whose family Hans Landa had slaughtered. As much as you want to hate him, Hans has all the charm and vocal fluency of a true Frenchman as he politely interrogates Shosanna about her cinema and her background. He also orders her some apple strudel and a glass of milk, which is what he was drinking when he rooted her family out. When the strudel arrives, he realises he forgot the cream. He orders Shosanna in French to wait for the cream in such an absurd comical manner it’s kind of scary. When the cream arrives, there is a hush and an intimate close up of the cream being spooned onto the strudel. This moment gives me goose bumps, not just because it makes me drool but for the quiet moment in such a tense scene. The same thing happens when Hans takes a moment to chew and the sound of his teeth working on the soft flaky pastry is so crisp and clear it makes my hair stand up. Pudding can cause tension.

The Shining (1980) Chocolate ice cream


Ice Cream

One of the spookiest yet most touching scenes involving a dessert, or dessert residue as the bowls the characters talk over look empty. Young Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd), whose dad has just started the caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel for the winter, has been invited to have ice cream with the hotel chef Mr. Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). The only thing sinister about this is that Mr. Hallorann invited Danny with his mind (probably the scariest invite for ice cream on film). Hallorann then goes on to explain that they can communicate mentally thanks to the special psychic gift they both possess. Danny says it comes from a little boy called Tony who lives inside his mouth. Thus begins a rather delicate conversation in which Mr. Hallorann attempts to explain in child’s words the hotel’s dark past that clings to its walls much as the ice cream residue clings to their bowls, before giving a stern warning not to visit a certain room. The audience, having already been informed of the hotel’s violent history, is given a fresh curiosity. Heavy stuff to discuss over ice cream. What increases the impact of this scene is, like in Inglorious Basterds, there is a lack of soundtrack and background noise, so the softness and menace of the atmosphere is heightened.

Jurassic Park (1993) Jelly



Remember, if you’re ever scoffing puddings with your sister/companion and they’re eating jelly, keep an eye on them in case they stare suddenly over your shoulder and start shaking so much the jelly wobbles on their spoon like an overweight belly dancer. Then would be a good time to scarper as they may have just seen a dinosaur’s silhouette, or a shadow-saurus.

Natural Born Killers (1994) Key lime pie


Key lime pie 

The opening scene of this carnage fest sees our star-crossed psychopathic lovers Mickey and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) stop off at a diner on their cross-country murder spree. Mickey orders key lime pie while Mallory dances to the juke box. She is harassed by two hot-blooded rednecks and the scene explodes in violent hallucinogenic mayhem, ending in Mallory playing eeny-miny-mo with the two remaining survivors, and it all started with a slice of pie. This scene sets the mood for the rest of the film, as does the sharp but sweet, squishy and sickly green nature of the key lime pie.

Chocolat (2000)… Chocolate, of course



It is night in a sleepy French town, and a Catholic priest played by Alfred Molina freaks out during Lent and sabotages the delicious window display of his most hated chocolaterie. In the midst of his chocolate-smashing frenzy, a fragment brushes his lips and within seconds he’s cramming every chocolate sculpture between his teeth, consumed by a lust for sweetness as if he’s fallen into the lap of some chocolaty prostitute, before breaking down in tears and falling asleep. He is woken in the morning, smothered in brown residue amongst the wreckage, by the concerned chocolatier. We feel for you Father, we feel for you.

Tattoo love story – The Wedding

Almost two years ago, we launched a competition to find the ultimate tattooed love story, we wanted to know if your relationship was linked by ink… (Original comp here.) The winners would receive wedding photography, by Eclection Photography, for their big day.

And the winners were Roxanne And Greg (read their story in this blog post with the other two finalists)… our Things & Ink Tattoo Love Story Wedding Competition Winners. And on Wednesday of this week, they made their commitments to each other in Ink, by getting their wedding fingers tattooed by Alexis Camburn at her studio  Two Snakes Tattoo in Hastings.


Greg and Roxanne designed the ring/tattoo together. The star and the moon simply symbolising that they are each other’s moon and stars. The four dots represent Roxanne, Greg and their two cats (cute!).  Who, btw, will be at the wedding… in the form of cardboard cut outs!

Roxanne was first in the chair and Greg joked: “at least I know the odds of you turning up are pretty high now.” Greg and Roxanne both had their wedding bands tattooed within 30 minutes.  Less time than your average wedding!


We are all very excited over here at Things &Ink HQ,  the wedding of Roxanne and Greg – the Things & Ink Tattoo Love Story Wedding Competition Winners.  They will tie the knot officially today (Friday 28 August) in East London…

Tattoo artist Alexis does lots of wedding band tattoos and people like the freedom to create what they like as opposed to being limited by what your can wear as a ring.  She has tattoeed couple’s  dates,  initials and also made wedding rings from simple bands to extensive patterns.


We will keep you all updated on the big day!



Reading And Leeds Preview 2015


Festivals can be the best opportunities to see bands you never thought you’d see – or discover bands you may never have given a chance. To help you out for Reading and Leeds festivals, we’ve come up with a list of bands who are about to make your weekend. And be sure to keep an eye out for our music writer Amber Carnegie who will be street spotting for our style pages. 


If you haven’t caught them on tour in the past year or heard them on the radio, this weekend is your chance to catch Beartooth. They’ll have you dancing around with some of their massive choruses so give them a go. Believe us, we still have dents in our shoes from the last time we saw them.

The Maccabees

We all know and love The Maccabees but with ‘Marks To Prove It’ only released last month this could be one of the first chances you get to hear those new tracks live.

Black Honey

The mysterious identities behind the band that is Black Honey have always let their music speak for themselves. Let them do that and get lost in their seductive pop this weekend.

Queen Kwong

‘Get A Witness’ is the title track of Queen Kwong’s album due out this month. With a renowned live show it will incredible to witness how this transfers to the festival stage.


We never thought we’d see Alexisonfire again so of course we’re all on some sort of pilgrimage to witness what could be a rare occurrence.


With an incredible array of influences coming through their tracks, Echosmith are undoubtably ones to watch at Reading and Leeds. They have this sweet pop feel with all the hazy undertones you can get lose yourself in.

And So I Watch You From Afar

If you’ve never given instrumental music a chance before this is the time to embrace it. And So I Watch You From Afar will not only blow your mind but their group vocals will have you singing your heart out at the pinnacle of their set.

To help you make it through the weekend check out our Festival Tips and download the Reading and Leeds Festival app for the best updates over the weekend.


Dina Litovsky: Under the Needle

Brooklyn based photographer Dina Litovsky has created a series called Under the Needle, in which she captures the serene and painful moments of people being tattooed. The photographs were taken earlier this year at both the Empire State Tattoo Expo and the New York City Tattoo Convention.


Long Term Illness and Tattoos

Our guest blogger is illustrator and crafter Rachel Rawlings, creator of Rachel Vs Body blog. On her blog Rachel writes  about her various chronic conditions and how they affect her life and have changed how she experiences the world. In this post she talks about her tattoos and how they help her to regain control of her body… 

The human body is an interesting thing. Take mine, for example. In 2012, I was in my final year of studying for my illustration degree, working as a healthcare assistant in my spare time, spending most evenings in the week cooking and hanging out with my friends and coursemates. I was 20 and everything was – for the most part – working fine. But then, I got sick.

It was just a virus to start off with, but over time, I didn’t get better. I was constantly in pain; I felt dizzy at the smallest motion; food became my greatest enemy, triggering nausea and cramps at the most pathetic nibble; my concentration was shot; walking became something akin to climbing mount Everest; and, above all, I was EXHAUSTED. Not tired; not fatigued; not sleepy or dozy; but that all consuming physical exhaustion that you get when you’ve had a particularly bad bout of flu. I was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and P.O.T.S (postural tachycardia syndrome) on top of my existing health conditions (chronic migraine, IBS, eczema, eczema herpeticum and asthma), and three and a half years on I’m still undergoing tests to see what’s making me so unwell.

Moth by Paul Davies at Loki Ink, Plymouth

Things got progressively worse, and these days I can’t work or study as I’m mainly confined to my bed (although on good days I make it to my living room); I use a powered wheelchair ( or crutches if I’m feeling particularly perky) to get around because walking is so difficult; I’ve lost a lot of friends who can’t figure out how to cope with me being poorly. Trying to be well is my full time occupation.

With my body failing me in such an extravagant fashion, there is one thing that makes me feel like I have some modicum of control over it; getting tattooed. I got my first one in early 2014 while I was doing my MA and had been sick for a couple of years. It’s a small deathshead moth on my wrist done by Paul at Loki Ink in Plymouth, a subject matter I chose because of its connotations of transformation and freedom.

Connor Tyler at Joker Tattoo, Portsmouth

Getting tattooed is a bit of an ordeal for me. The actual tattooing is fine – I’m very lucky to have a high pain threshold (pain holds very little fear for someone on painkillers as strong as the ones I’m on) so I can sit under the needle for hours without it bothering me. The issue is everything else.

First off, I have to get to the place – which is hard. I usually only leave the house once a week, twice if I’m lucky, and always with someone else (it’s not safe for me to go out alone), so the logistics of organising that can be tough.

Then, getting there, I have to deal with the sensory overload of a place full of people and buzzing machines and music; with M.E., your senses are often in an extremely heightened state and any noise, light, touch can be excruciating. The noise is a particularly tough one for me as I get migraines and tinnitus, so I have to really prepare myself for the aural onslaught of a tattoo shop.

Chrissy Hills at Kingston Ink

Having to sit or lie in one position really still is hard for anyone, but when you get muscle spasms and convulsions on top of chronic pain, it can be … interesting for all involved. P.O.T.S causes tachycardia, dizziness and blackouts if you’re upright for too long, so I have to be in a position which is safe for my particular conditions. I have to bring my medicines, lots of water, layers of clothes, my walking aids, ear plugs, sunglasses, a whole bunch of nonsense just to get through the session. After a tattoo, I’m always in agony – but the tattoo itself isn’t the problem, the joint and muscular pain incurred is.

It took me a while to draw up the courage to get tattooed – not because of the pain (note the aforementioned painkillers), but because I was scared of doing something so permanent to myself. But my body was already permanently altered from the way it should be, so that was no longer an excuse. I was scared that people would judge me on sight – but if you’re a twenty-something having to use a wheelchair or crutches, people give you some odd looks anyway. So, sod it, I thought – let’s give them something to stare at.

Marcelina Urbańska, Rock’n’Ink, Krakow

It seems like a lot to go through just to get an image on my skin, but for me it’s worth it. After feeling like my body had turned traitor, I have taken back the reins and forced it into a form which makes me happy. Sure, I may be covered in scars, a bit chubby from the medication, pale as death and with eyes like pissholes in the snow, but I’m still in control of how my body looks – on a superficial level, at least. Tattoos have helped me accept the changes that have been forced upon me by letting me shape the way I look, even if I’m powerless to control the way my body works. There’s a lot to be said for a needle and ink and the power of positive thought – it might not make the crippled walk, but it can damn well make us feel good sitting down.

Street Spotting: Blackpool Convention

On Sunday 16th August our editorial assistant Rosie was at the second Tatcon in Blackpool, while she was there she did some street spotting, these are the people she met and the tattoos she saw…

Name: Wendy Freestone Age: 48 Lives: Stoke-on-Trent Job: Business owner and Studio mum at The Painted Pin Up Tattoo Parlour 

Tattoos: Chest piece is a rework by Natalie McShee. Business logo on her foot, hands and legs are by both Josie Morris and Natalie McShee.



Name: Bex Harrison Age: 26 Lives: Manchester Job: Healthcare Assistant

Tattoos: Bows on her calves by Mike at Nostalgia Tattoo in Leeds. Monkey by Kirsty Sanderson


Name: Laura Rafferty Age: 22 Lives: Newcastle Job: Sales advisor

Tattoos: Butterfly lady by Danielle Rose. Shiny shin by Hayley Parkin at Inkslingers tattoo studio in Newcastle.



Name: Krystian Dranikowski Age: 20 Lives: Leeds Job: Tattoo artist at 1995 tattoo studio opening next month.

Tattoo: His good friend Juan Martinez