are a London based company producing fully tattoo-able anatomically accurate human sized skulls in high quality silicone rubber.

The silicone skull takes and holds tattoo ink permanently, providing the next best alternative surface to real skin. They can be used to perfect tattooing methods or to create and display unique works of art.

Custom designed skulls have been worked on by Toni Moore, Electric Pick and Greg Kun.  There is also a collaboration in place with the Brighton Tattoo Convention early next year, to have approximately 10-15  skulls sent around the world to various top tattooists who are working at the show. These will then be displayed at the convention on the Numbskulls stand and auctioned off for the brain injury charity Headway.

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They can be contacted via their website at or find them on Facebook and Instagram

London Below

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Sunday 6th December
Doors open 12-5pm
£3 entry fee
Epic Dalston, 13-15 Newington Road, N16 8BH, London

Sunday 6th December marks the return of London’s most exciting and innovative alternative market, London Below is London’s other underground.

After the success of the show’s debut this summer, the alternative market returns just in time for Christmas with an array of items and stalls catering for all tastes and fetishes.

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Think weird and wonderful, dark and grungy and maybe even a bit of naughtiness thrown in for good measure. The market will play host to some unique workshops including; jewellery making with Black Heart Creatives and ‘Hurts so good- a beginners guide to flogging’, an workshop run by Kink Craft that’ll teach you all you need to know about flogging and more…

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Confirmed stall holders include:

Jenny Robin Illustration, Alice Brown’s CupboardLucy Luskini’s art jewellery memento moir, Elektra UK, Voodoo Betty’s Boutique and many many more…

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Look

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how others perceive her as a heavily tattooed woman… 


I’ve lived with tattoos longer than I have without, however I have only considered myself ‘tattooed’ more recently. There is a difference I think in having a tattoo and being tattooed. When you make the decision to become more heavily or more visibly tattooed, how people view you will change. You may or may not be aware of this at the time but it will happen. I first began to notice this after getting my knee tattooed, joining the other tattoos on my leg into a front-sleeve from ankle to thigh. Up until this point, though still fairly heavily tattooed the majority were in areas you wouldn’t see on a daily basis, back, thighs, feet. In passing you might only notice the large rooster on my shin. It seems there is a skin coverage ratio as to when you start to offend old ladies with your very presence.


I call it ‘the look’. There are three main stages to the look: shock, repulsion and judging. It’s not the sole prerogative of old ladies either, they are simply the most reliable audience. Being the kind of person to walk around with their head in the clouds it wasn’t me who noticed this first but my boyfriend who takes a lot of enjoyment in my new found super power. Since he pointed it out though I can’t stop noticing it, especially in the summer when I took to wearing very short shorts (from M&S just to add insult to grandma injury). Having a laugh about it when you are with your friends is one thing, having it happen when you are on your own can be quite another and I’m not afraid to admit it’s upset me at times. When you’ve had a bad day, got a plate full of worries the last thing you need is a group of strangers being rude to your face when your only crime was walking past them. More often than not I will stick my headphones in and sunglasses on, blocking out he world as I walk along. Other days I’ll ‘have it on me’ as my mother would say and crack out the biggest Cheshire Cat smile to the nay sayers, ten points if you can get a forced smile in return.

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With tabloids reporting on Sam-Cam’s tiny ankle dolphin like she’s the first middle class woman to ever get tattooed it only broadens the gap between those of us who are more heavily tattooed rather than help shrink it. Having a tattoo is trendy, so long as it’s small and preferably cute, whilst being tattooed is still very much taboo. I’m not sure why anyone would particularly feel the need to have such a strong opinion on how I or anyone else choose to look. Perhaps I look like a criminal, or fallen woman in their eyes? Perhaps I’m just something to talk about in an otherwise boring day? Whatever the case I’m glad I stand out in a crowd, I’m glad I challenge the photoshopped beauty ideals pushed by glossy magazines. As for the old ladies, we’ll just have to wait until our generation are collecting pensions. Perhaps we’ll have something the youth of the day are doing to be shocked at, perhaps our wrinkled tattoos will be uncool to future younger generations. But at least we will have some stories to tell.

Katarzyna Mirczak: Special Signs

Special Signs by photographer Katarzyna Mirczak documents a collection of tattoos housed by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Jagiellonian University since 1872. Katarzyna photographed the collection creating a harrowing series, that closely looks at the lives of prisoners and the ways they wished to mark their bodies. The photographs are accompanied by the first name, age and cause of death of the prisoner, but their surname is not mentioned. By keeping some parts of their lives private, Katarzyna hoped to not completely expose the subjects.

The sixty skin pieces were removed from deceased prisoners in Kraków and are preserved in formaldehyde. Many of the tattoos were done in prison by other prisoners and tattoo machines made from objects they came across, including clips and pins. The pigment was often made from charcoal, cork and mixed with water, urine or fat to create a crude ink. It was forbidden for the Polish prisoners to tattoo themselves and many of the tattoos are symbolic of the wearer’s opinion of prison or signify things to other prisoners.

For example; an image of a mouth, usually red and open signified that the wearer was a homosexual. A dagger with a snake twisted around it shows revengeful intentions.



Interview with Alexis Hepburn

Tattoo artist Alexis Hepburn, 22, works out of Gold Coast Tattoos in Queensland Australia, where she creates beautifully dark and traditional tattoos. We chatted to Alexis about her dark style, inspirations and tattoo collection… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I started tattooing a little over two years ago.

How did you get started? Listening to heavy music in my teens, I guess I always had the influence around me and from the people I looked up to. I begun to draw traditional tattoo flash when I was 16 and would ritually draw everyday. My best friend in those years was working as a shop hand for Jed Hill in Ballarat. A couple of years down the line I took a trip to Ballarat to catch up with Jed and get a tattoo.. However he put a turn on things and threw me straight in the deep end. “You’re not going to get a tattoo today, you’re going to do your first one” he said, and the crazy ride of learning to tattoo started from that moment.

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Do you have a background in art?  I never formally studied art in university or anything, however my family has always been very artistic and encouraging of my practice. I grew up watching both my mother and father paint leisurely, and both my grandparents on my mother’s side were artists also. I grew up going to their exhibitions to see their abstract oil paintings and textile hangings every few months or so. Norman, my grandfather, was also the Dean of Arts at the Victorian College of Arts.

How would you describe your style? It’s difficult to pin point it in a word, so to put it plainly I guess I utilise the structure of a traditional tattoo. The subject matter isn’t strictly traditional however, you could say it has a grim or folky spin to it.

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What inspires you? As much as I am constantly overwhelmed by work from other tattooers, I generally take more inspiration from outside the immediate tattoo world. I love looking at old illustrations in books or on post cards. I love old wood carvings, vintage erotic art, browsing antique and vintage stores, and all things strange. If I’m painting leisurely or at my own accord I often find myself taking inspiration from the music I’m listening to, translating the lyrics into a visual. That’s my favourite way to paint.

What do you like to draw and tattoo? More than often I’ll find myself drawing girls, and I love doing anything with flowers, moons, cats and skulls. Anything dark and kinda spooky is always enjoyable.

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Is there anything you wouldn’t tattoo? I’m sure there would be more if I thought about it deep enough, however I would never tattoo anything discriminatory. No tolerance for racism or sexism. That and I will probably never be willing to attempt a photorealistic portrait!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? All of the tattoos I have on my body are in black and grey, there isn’t a single drop of colour. Up until I started tattooing all of the tattoos I had were on my legs and torso, and although I have built up a collection on my arms now I’m hesitant to ever go past the wrist or collar line. Some of my favourite tattoos I have are by Luke Braniff, Octoriver Daniel, Heather Bailey, and Drake Sheehan. Although one of my favourite experiences getting a tattoo was getting tattooed by Bev Robinson (aka Cindy Ray)! I feel very fortunate to have met such an inspirational lady.

Film Review: Circle

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. On Harry will be writing a series of posts in which he will be sharing  his opinions on things he has watched. 

Circle, 2015, dir Aaron Hann and Mario Miscine, 3/5

The plot is simple. A staggering amount of fifty mixed American strangers wake up in a big dark room with an ominous red-lit floor. They are arranged facing each other in a circle. If they leave their spot, they are zapped dead by a mysterious dome in the middle. They then realise there are timed zaps every two minutes (heralded by a drumming sound) killing them off one at a time and that between zaps, they can mentally vote for who gets it next. They are faced with two options: work together to try and stop this fiendish game or decide who deserves to be last person standing.



The explanation offered for their hellish situation is aliens. They have all been abducted and subjected to this highly imaginative, psychologically-torturing experiment. Thankfully the film doesn’t delve too much into this idea. It’s simply used as a quick and swift excuse for the plot. Let’s imagine the screenwriters (who also directed the film) in action:

‘So we’ve got a random bunch of people trapped in this cool but scary game we’ve invented. How do we explain it?’
‘Done. Let’s get on with the plot.’

For as elaborate a set-up it is to have aliens putting humans through some mindless death game for science or kicks, it’s nowhere near as interesting as the characters and their dialogue.

Circle reminded me of two films combined: Saw and 12 Angry Men. I say Saw because this is another film where the script writers shove their characters into a horribly distressing scenario involving some murderous puzzling game, just to see what they’d do and to bounce them off each other to make a story.



As for 12 Angry Men, for those who don’t know it this 1957 movie is about a jury of men from different factions of American society quarrelling over the guilt of a boy accused of stabbing his father. It’s an intense, claustrophobic, emotionally charged drama much like Circle. The characters of Circle are also faced with a similar moral dilemma, except they are forced to weigh up the moral worth of themselves and each other before they get bumped off.

The characters also represent a spectrum of American society. We have students, the elderly, a child, a pregnant woman, a cop, a soldier, a minister, a cancer survivor, a banker: all manner of ethnicities, beliefs and careers. This variety adds chemistry to the plot, for various prejudices raise their heads, exposing the ugliness festering beneath the polite face of Western civilisation.

For example, when it turns out one member of the group can’t speak English, some people clamour for his death simply because he can’t contribute and the one student who can translate for him would merely be slowing them down. Even worse, one or two individuals accuse and victimise him for being an illegal alien. Race, sexuality, age and even jobs are used as excuses and arguments to slaughter people.

Ironically, those that expose their prejudices are swiftly targeted, which brings me onto the manipulative way the film handles its audience’s emotions. I felt a savage satisfaction whenever a dislikeable character got zapped, and then guilt. This is a film about the enormity of taking life, but do the characters and the audience become numbed to the sheer amount of death? Though the characters are stuck in an extreme situation, is it right for them to vengefully target bigots and stoop to their level?



Although there are a few cultural stereotypes (the rich businessmen tend to be the monsters) plenty of stereotypes are challenged and many characters who I thought I liked and understood could change their nature and intentions at the drop of a hat. There are a few noble characters who sacrifice themselves (much to the joy of the more selfish people) but this is certainly one of those films you shouldn’t watch if you want faith in humanity.

When attempts to work together and beat the game keep failing, the characters resort to the easier option of playing along and squabbling over who should be sacrificed in order to buy more time, thus starting a vicious circle. It becomes every person for themselves and there’s even a divide when people realise the child and the pregnant woman will likely be spared to the end. Some people strive to make this happen, while others try to persuade people to get them zapped in order to save their own skins.

So yes the film is bleak, but it’s undeniably thrilling and fascinating. The plot and dialogue is intense and charged, with lots of tension and twists to keep it unpredictable. None of the actors are big names but they make each one of their fifty characters stand out with incredible performances, which really make the film. Their characters’ behaviour feels realistic but they still take you on an emotional rollercoaster. I felt fear, anger and my eyes did get wet at some points, particularly when the terrified child and pregnant woman were on screen. The film works as an absorbing psychosocial exploration of what values different people hold onto when faced with life or death, as well as being a gripping thriller which is tricky to pull off. What the characters say and do still haunt me. I don’t think this got much of a cinematic release but it deserves to be more of a hit. It’s on Netflix so go watch it now. It’ll be interesting to see what the clearly talented writing/directing pair behind this will come up with next.

The Art of Ruth Knapp

Ruth Knapp, 38 is an artist, blogger and mother from Norwich, we chatted to her to find more about the kitschy colourful work she creates…


Do you have a background in art? I studied art at an adult education centre a few years ago, up to foundation level, I felt the need to do something artistic, and as my children were growing up I wanted to give them something to aspire to. I’m a single parent and I didn’t want to just be mum any more. They’re really proud of what I’ve achieved and love seeing my art about, that for me makes all the hard work worth it. deer What inspires you? I’m inspired by urban art, pop art, graffiti and anything kitsch. I have a collection of 60s animal ornaments and every bit of wall space in my kitchen is covered in kitsch pictures, mirrors and brass plates, some of them are tasteful but mostly they’re very tacky. I love it, I call it my Kitschen! kewpie Are there any artists you admire, do they influence your work? I love Andy Warhol, I know he’s an obvious one but I think he just got it so right, I recently saw his collection of cookie jars in the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition and it was clear we have the same taste in pottery! I also adore Pure Evil, his work is simple but powerful, you can tell his work instantly, his portraits are stunning. Most of my work is pretty happy, I like to make pictures that make people smile, but on the streets I’m going to start to be a bit darker. triple pineapple How do you create your pieces? I use stencils to create my work, I use spray paint on the streets and at home I use acrylic and stipple through the stencils to create smaller works which I can then scan and play about with on Photoshop. I love that they can look quite graphic but also still have a painterly style. I’ve recently worked on some large scale murals which were really fun and I enjoy painting live at events. halloweenkittyHow did you start making art? I started making art in 2013 I totally blagged my way onto a Btec I just turned up to an open day without being interviewed and they were like “see you Monday” I was pretty scared they’d see I had no idea what I was doing, but the first lesson happened to be pop art stencil cutting and I thought, hang on I can do this! I’m not sure if my skill comes from thinking that that day or if it’s just a coincidence, maybe if that first lesson had been oil painting it would all be very different. I passed the Btec with distinction and went on to do the Foundation. The pineapples were my final piece for my Foundation, people seemed to love them so I made more, they are where it all started so they’ll always be my signature. They have been nicknamed ‘Knapples’.


Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have loads of tattoos, I’ve pretty much run out of space now which is a shame as there’s so many great artists I’d love to have work by, I get envious of people who have loads of free skin! I do have some really nice work though, I’m really happy with my hands I left them until last and I’m glad I did, I’ve got two great pieces by Wink Evans and I can see them all the time so it’s good that I love them.
milkshakes Follow Ruth on Instagram for more art work and kitsch.

Skin Deep – an exhibition featuring photographic portraits of male models

Cheshire born and now London based, photographer Danny Baldwin explored a range of art forms, from drawing and drama to music and modelling, before finding his niche as a photographer. It was actually while modelling that Danny discovered a world where his creative vision could be channelled by flipping sides from in front to behind the lens. Influenced by fashion and counter-culture, Danny’s style mixes colours, tones and textures, and emphasises the power of beauty and shapes.
In his new exhibition, Skin Deep, Danny  documents a seismic mood change within the fashion industry that has seen agencies shift from representing only models with no tattoos, or those that are easily hidden, to building entire campaigns around elaborately inked individuals. Encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity, Skin Deep features 100 black and white nude images of professional tattooed male models shot against a stark black, signature background.
We found out more in this interview with Danny…


> What attracted you to photographing tattooed models? Why?

The underlying message is to encourage acceptance and freedom of expression, Skin Deep has been created over the course of a year to show the versatility of beauty and ink, and is something I could relate to myself. I needed it to be something that I understood, had knowledge about and was part of my life – and I wanted to represent and celebrate the rise of the tattooed model and its acceptance, slowly, into the fashion industry.



> What is your background? Have you always photographed people?

Yes I did a general photography course at college in Cheshire when I first started as a photographer and this covered all types of photography, when I was doing landscapes etc i used to have imagine people there to be able to create the image. I decided very quickly one of the main reasons I am a photographer is because of the people, so I continued my studies at London College of Fashion studying fashion photography

> Why only men in the project?

I decided when I started this as a personal project that It had to be relatable to myself, it had to say something from me and be pure to my vision and I felt – as a tattooed male myself – I would be able to better understand the body of the male and their process of thought. I want to represent the male models in a way I haven’t always been able to represent them due to client limitations.



> The portraits are in black and white… is there a particular reason for this?

Due to the scale of the project and the timeframe of over a year of shooting, I wanted to create something distinctive that showcased the models and their tattoos in a consistent way and I felt this was the best way to do it. I shoot a lot in black and white as I love shape, line, texture and movement and really feel this can be explored a lot deeper with a black and white image.



Are you tattooed yourself?

I do have a collection of tattoos and plan to have more done in the future months and years. I have my left top arm , finger, both feet, all my toes and most recently I have had the title of this project “skin deep” on my inner lip which was done at One By One tattoo studio in soho, London. All my tattoos have a deep rooted and significant meaning to me and are connected to parts of my job as a photographer, people who have impacted my life and the evolution of myself. They look quite macabre but they are more my own personal affirmations.

What are your hopes for this exhibition? How many portraits does it include?

The exhibition will feature over 100 portraits of the selected agency signed male models, which I hope will showcase their diversity. I want to show a wider audience something that is visually stimulating and celebrates how these people are breaking the mould. They are being true to themselves in an elite industry and expressing who they are through the medium of tattooing, which I think is an incredible art form and I don’t know why it has taken so long for the two worlds of tattooing and fashion to collide and be more accepted in the mainstream. I think the bigger picture is about encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity.

Danny has just reached his fundraising target on Kickstarter, so it looks like there will be a physical exhibition of Skin Deep in London next year. Look out for updates from @thingsandink and @skindeeplondon.

Interview with Miss Juliet

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Miss Juliet a tattoo artist working at South Ink Tattoo shop in Naples, about her easily recognisable and unique style as well as her new art project Overlap alongside Fabio Gargiulo… 


Tell us about your artistic career, from the beginning until now? Did you always know that you would be a tattoo artist? I have alway been passionate about tattoos, I started as a customer and, after finishing my studies at Academy of Brera, I began to work as shop manager at Don’t Tell Mama, my best friend’s tattoo shop.


How would you describe your passion for tattoos? To me it’s not just a job: it’s my life, my everything! Since I can remember, I’ve always been drawing a lot, everyday and all the time. It’s part of me. Tattooing gives me the opportunity to improve. I love every aspect of the process, from the first design to the execution of the tattoo.

Detailed lines are a regular feature of your tattoos, and with each design they are becoming more recognisable, how did you find your style?  I have always worked a lot with lines, even before tattoos. I think it was a mixture of natural evolution and constant research, then I slowly began to understand what worked and what did not.

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I noticed you tattoo a lot of animals. Do you have a particular preference for these subjects? I have always had a passion for taxidermy and entomology, I started drawing my collection of moths, investigating  illustrative works. From there on I’ve always wanted to do more. Mammals, insects and every other living creature!

I find that many artists focus on their most successful works and then they artistically get stuck. I have noticed your will to experiment with your style and technique, how do you keep up your momentum? I am a very curious and a hyperactive person, I research and I experience all the time, both with design and tattoo. I think it’s a side of my character that is unconditionally reflected in my art. I love to collaborate with artists that inspire me every day, I like to go to as many shows and events parallel to the tattoo world as possible. I believe has a huge affect on my path, because I like to look around, outside of a single creative sphere.


Tell me about the heart with crystals that you tend to tattoo, how was this idea born? This idea came up thanks to one of my clients, four years ago. I was requested to do an anatomical heart inside an ice cube, but it would have never worked as a tattoo. After having confronted him, I proposed an alternative, and from there it came the idea to crystallize and adorn with jewels both objects and body parts.

You are of both Chinese and Italian descent, in your work we can see both your western and oriental side. A dualism that, in my opinion, characterises the uniqueness of your style. Do you agree? Yeah, the dualism has accompanied me throughout life, both in lifestyle and in artistic aspects. I love to contaminate my work with oriental details,


Who have you been tattooed by and which are your favourite tattoos? I am particularly fond of my sleeves: the right one is by Lars Uwe, who taught me so much about neo traditional style. And the left is by Fabio Gargiulo, with whom I’m working at SouthInk in Naples. He is teaching me so much about tattoo technique and style!

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What are your future plans? Any guest spot and conventions? I always join a lot of tattoo conventions! I will continue to do guest spots at Family Business in London, but I will also be guesting in other Italian tattoo shops.
I’m also supporting Overlap project, with Fabio Gargiulo. We invite artists from all over the world. This project aims to bring together different tattoo artists and styles in a single artwork. They draw on a life size human body silhouette that is at first split in to arms, legs and torso, and then finally recomposed together, giving birth to a single masterpiece: it’s OVERLAP. The 7th session will be held on 27th, 28th and 29th November, during Naples Convention. Fifty international artists will be involved. So excited!

Tattoo Experience: You talkin’ to me?

In this post Anna Casey-Woodward a 24-year-old legal trainee from Oxford who spends the majority of her time knitting, baking and getting tattooed. She talks about her different experiences with getting getting tattooed by different artists… 

For me, a large part of getting a new tattoo is meeting the artist and watching the illustration turn into a piece of beautiful body art. And for the most part, this has been my experience. However, there has been one occasion when poor communication with my tattooist almost led me to the dreaded tattoo regret…


Good communication with your tattooist stretches from your first email right until you are talking about aftercare. When I commissioned my tattoo, it was by an artist who I had Instagram-stalked for a long time and was in love with their style. I emailed them with a clear idea of what I wanted, where I wanted it and what my budget was. I was very detailed in my proposal and I hope the tattooist appreciated having such clear instructions. There was artistic licence and of course I wanted it in their style, but we both knew what the finished product was.

The deposit was paid, the appointment booked and the day soon came around. On the morning of the tattoo, I saw the sketch and was in love. I got to the studio and we worked around positioning the tattoo where I wanted it. Because of my career, I have to be careful that my tattoos are easily hidden and my tattooist was more than understanding about this and we got the position absolutely perfect. Then it was time to get the ink flowing! This was not going be a short tattoo, and at the time I was reasonably new to it, so I was a little nervous about managing to sit for so long. I don’t sit like a rock, as much as I want to, but was reassured by my tattooist that when it got too much we could take a little break or have some of that hallowed bactine! As a result, several hours later I had a beautiful tattoo which I adore.


Now to my less positive experience. This was a more impulsive tattoo, I was away on my honeymoon, but I still told the studio what I wanted and the tattoo was some four days later. It was something I had been thinking about getting for quite a while and I had a Pinterest board full of ideas. I had been assigned an artist who was guesting from over 4500 miles away, and I was really keen on the idea of getting art done by someone who I would probably never get the chance to see again.

I got to the studio, and had to wait a good half and hour before the artist was ready for me. During that time, I did a brief sketch of  what I wanted (as I liked parts of several different illustrations I had found and wanted to put them all together) and collected my thoughts. When the tattooist was then free, I talked to them about that I had drawn and showed them my inspiration (I really am a terrible artist!). We had a quick discussion about bits of my idea that would not work as a tattoo and ways they could be substituted. The artist then disappeared for another forty five minutes and eventually reappeared with a sketch. They showed me the sketch and… well… I wasn’t sure.

It was obvious in that moment that the tattooist and I hadn’t been on the same page when we started. I went ahead despite my reservations, and the first part was soon done. We then started to talk about colours, and the situation didn’t really improve. I had ideas, they had ideas, and they didn’t match. I didn’t feel that comfortable talking to the tattooist as I felt they weren’t really listening. The tattoo went ahead as they had suggested and about half an hour later it was finished.  Throughout the tattoo, the studio was playing floor-thumpingly loud music. As a result, there was not much of a chance to talk to the artist and I didn’t have a chance to say when the pain was too much. It hurt, and my leg bled. None of my other tattoos had ever bled outside of the studio, and this one bled all night. Did I go back to talk about after care and what to do? No, because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to go back.


However, there is a happy ending. The tattoo healed well and the next tattoo I had framed it really well. I was saved from that gut-wrenching feeling that a tattoo wasn’t quite what I had wanted, and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it. My next tattoo is just under a month away, and I will be chatting my way to another wonderful piece of body art.

Have you had the same experiences as Anna? Has how an artist talks to you changed how you feel about a tattoo?