Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.

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Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”

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Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”

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Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”

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George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”

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Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”

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Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Loco Mosquito

Loco Mosquito is a Bangkok based unisex clothing label, mainly focusing on quality classic Americana staples infused with contemporary tattoo imagery. Their aim is to do collaborations every year with like-minded directional artists of different mediums.

They are currently in the process of doing collaborative projects with tattoo artists from all over the world, including Guy Le Tatooer,  Kristian Gonzalez, Luca Polini and Valentin Jorquera.  We spoke to Ricky from Loco Mosquito about the design inspiration behind the brand and what other collaborations they have lined up…

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How did you come up with the brand Loco Mosquito and how long has it been running? Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators is a creative collective based in Bangkok that was conceived in January 2016. It started off as a side project that I eventually became fully immersed in. The name of the brand itself is a direct ode to an Iggy Pop song of the same name that was released in 1980, a legendary musical personality that has always been a source of great inspiration for me and the brand. I am originally from Indonesia but spent a considerable amount of time studying and working within the clothing industry in Melbourne, Australia. At the same time, I was starting to travel a lot more within the Asia Pacific region and fell in love instantly when I first visited Bangkok, Thailand. I was completely blown away by the energy of the city, its underground edge and its powerful combination of tradition and modernity, which is a quality I try to reflect as well in the clothes I design. On top of that, the living costs in Bangkok are much more affordable than Australia, making it an easy decision to relocate here.

 

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What inspires you when designing? Being surrounded by Buddhist temples, traditional east Asian architecture and a medley of characters on the streets of Bangkok, the buzz and hustle of the city makes it a huge melting pot of inspiration. I am especially fascinated and influenced by Asian temple art (Thai, Chinese, Tibetan Buddhist) and traditional folk art of Southeast Asia and India. The whole vision behind the brand is to re-interpret and recreate classic unisex staples (biker jackets, Vietnam style military jackets etc.), influenced by traditional Asian and Himalayan art and symbolism.

 

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Tell us a bit about your collaborations with tattoo artists and what made you pick those artists? We are closely connected to well-known Bangkok based tattoo studio, Common Ground Tattoo, formerly known as Six Fathoms Deep. They regularly host renowned international guest artists on a monthly basis. This provides me with a great opportunity to meet a wide variety of talented artists from around the world and some of the collaborative projects that we have done started off in this manner. So far we have done collaborations with Italian tattooer Luca Polini and Colombian tattooer Kristian Gonzalez. Both of them are solid traditional tattooers in their own rights and I was really drawn to their bold and striking rendition of Asian subject matters, which I felt would translate really well into a line of clothing. Right now, we are working on a line of Jackets with Valentin Jorquera from New Caledonia. I am also in the process of completing my bodysuit project with Guy Le Tatooer from Toulouse, France, and we have been discussing the possibility of doing some crazy collaboration together with the brand in the near future, so watch this space!

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Where do you see the brand going in the next year or so and what things have you got planned? We are just about to release a short film showcasing our first collection of leather jackets and shirts. The super talented Melbourne based film production team Eye Sea Films and director Roxanne Halley are responsible for the realisation of this project. We wanted the film to be authentic with a distinct Bangkok flavour. That’s why we chose to film real people on the streets of Bangkok, instead of hiring models as the premise of the shoot was to showcase real people wearing real clothes in real situations. We also hope to expand our selection of products in the coming year, developing into a full line of clothing to include bottoms, accessories and a suiting line. And of course to do more collaborations with artists of different mediums in the future!

The short film can be viewed here:
Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

 

Loco Mosquito clothing can be purchased via their website: loco-mosquito.com and they’re Instagram page is: instagram.com/loco_mosquito_official

Five Inspiring Film Characters with Disabilities

Inspired by this year’s Paralympics, hobbyist reviewer Harry Casey-Woodward lists a few of his favourite film characters with disabilities.

Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 

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Charlize Theron certainly surprised me with her portrayal of a tough-as-nails war commander in this post-apocalyptic road rage. The fact that she’s missing an arm doesn’t stop her fighting tooth and claw to save some slave girls from the clutches of a vile warlord.

Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) 

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In every spy movie the villain needs a badass henchman and none come more badass than hench-woman Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella. Having replaced her missing legs with spikes, she slices up foes with a deadly combo of speed and acrobatics.

Stephanie in Rust and Bone (2012) 

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On a more serious note, Marion Cotillard gave a powerful performance as a killer whale trainer who loses both legs in a horrific accident. In this moving French drama, Stephanie strives for dignity with the help of her friend and lover Alain.

Phillippe in Untouchable (2011) 

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Another French drama for you now, in which an aristocrat becomes a quadriplegic and hires a reluctant young man from the projects to be his carer. His unprofessional but fun-loving new carer is a breath of fresh air in Philippe’s life.

Cherry Darling in Planet Terror (2007) 

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I felt I had to mention this character, since she’s the most iconic element of director Robert Rodriguez‘s zombie splatter-fest. Rose McGowan plays a stripper who loses a leg during a zombie attack and sticks a machine gun in its place to get her own back on those infected nasties. An aspiring attitude for a zombie epidemic at least.

Images from nerdist.com, comicvine.gamespot.com, cinematiccorner.blogspot.co.uk, Odysseypictures.co.uk and fanpop.com.

Boomtown 2016 Street Spotter

With mind-blowing production, hoards of interactive characters and immersive story lines happening throughout the weekend, Boomtown festival thrives off the imagination and creativity of its dwellers. It was no wonder that our blog contributor Becky Young had such an incredible time exploring the town, meeting its people and finding out more about their relationship with their ink and the festival itself. Boomtown is the only place so many different and unique people can all come together and feel like one big family!

Sophie from Vienna
Age: 26
Job: SFX artist
Favourite Boomtown area: Mayfair
Tattoo by Phillip Millic while guesting in London
“It’s all about the artist, they and I need to have a connection for me to wear their art on my skin for life”

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Nick from Peterborough
Job: Chef
Favourite Boomtown area: Sector 6
Tattoo by Ziggy Bates from Cloud Nine Ink
“My mum passed away and it represents the Greek mythology we both loved”

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Frankie from Berlin
Age: 26
Job: Stripper & performer
Favourite Boomtown area: Freak Boutique in China Town
Tattoo by Jay Moon at Pride Tattoo
“I met Jay at a squat party, he was doing banners for Skumtek and I loved his art – and so he offered to tattoo his art on to me!”

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Courtney from Bournemouth
Age: 26
Job: Forklifter
Favourite Boomtown area: Lion’s Den
Tattoo by Ana Tatu from Black Lodge
“Reggae on my left arm close to my heart, my right arm represents rock ‘n’ roll for my Uncle”

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Fay from Bridgewater
Age: 30
Job: Childcare
Favourite Boomtown area: Chinatown
Tattoo by Mike from Mike’s Tattoo Studio
“Just a sexy ass lady and she deserves to be seen”

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Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…

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When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.

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You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.

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You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.

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What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.

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All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

SILKE London and Not Another Salon

World-renowned hair salon on London’s Brick Lane, Not Another Salon have been making the headlines recently for their award-winning techniques and innovative creations when it comes to hair dyeing. And what better way to keep your locks in good nick than with one of the beautifully crafted silk hair wraps from SILKE London?

HyperFocal: 0 SILKE founder Maria says, “We believe that the beauty of hair depends on its health.  It doesn’t matter how much you steam, style spritz and spray, there is nothing that beats having naturally strong, shiny and voluminous hair.  That’s why the foundation of SILKE products is to improve the architecture of your hair so it looks amazing, regardless of how you choose to style it.”

SILKE London hair wraps are designed to slip on before you go to sleep so that it protects hair from the tossing and turning that occurs throughout the night.  They can stop frizz, breakages and split ends, increase thickness and length and maintain your hairstyle for longer.  The hair is cocooned in the wrap enabling the natural oils to moisturise and nourish the hair from root to tip, and oil no longer being concentrated at the root which means less greasy hair days!

 

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Combined with Sophia Hilton, founder of Not Another Salon’s next level colour skills and her focus on keeping hair healthy, these head wraps are a must for anyone wanting to take the plunge into fantasy follicles!

Silke hair wraps can be bought online at: http://www.silkelondon.com/

Shaded: Dean Robinson

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Dean Robinson is a 25 year-old Brighton-based musician and visual artist who creates violent and visceral sonic landscapes under the pseudonym Knifedoutofexistence, as well as contributing fuzzed clouds of texture and depth when it comes to his collective noise project Swallowing. In conversation with ‘Shaded’, the purveyor of seaside distortion demystifies the influences behind his work, the story behind his Bonnie Tyler tattoo and speaks about the relationship between the worlds of extreme music and body modification.

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Can you talk about what it is you do as a musician? Firstly, I would say that calling myself a musician is a stretch, and probably does real musicians and myself a disservice. I currently work with two main projects: Knifedoutofexistence, which is a solo project in which I make noise and sounds with a range of objects, gear and vocals. I am also a member of the band Swallowing, where I add noise in the form of guitar feedback to the grinding dirge created by my band mates.

When did you start exploring musical performance? I have been playing in bands since I was roughly 16 years old, but I performed as Knifedoutofexistence for the first time in February 2013.

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Skulls by Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull

What initially influenced you musically? Knifedoutofexistence was inspired by a range of conspiring factors. I wanted to take the challenging and questioning ideals of punk and apply that to the actual sound itself. Why should it be that the only structure that punk doesn’t challenge is musical rules themselves? The band Column Of Heaven were a massive influence on both the sonic element of the project and the gravity I gave to the subject matter I work with.

Knifedoutofexistence is actually a reference to a sample at the end of the first Column Of Heaven release, ‘Ecstatically Embracing All That We Habitually Suppress’. Swans also opened my mind to the power of loops and repetitiveness – to the ability to create the same kind of aggression that’s stereotypical of extreme genres of music as Hardcore Punk, but in this polar opposite way. Instead of a quick blast of emotion, Swans create something that slowly drags you into it. ‘Filth’ taught me how to be covert with aggression.

Can you speak to what is currently inspiring you as a musician? The desire to make something constructive and creative out of the negative aspects of my personality and life is a constant inspiration. My motive for making noise has always been catharsis.

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Boar by Scott Move

Can you tell me about your tattoos? I think, like most people who’ve been tattooed a decent amount, I’ve stopped counting them. Most of my tattoos are music related, as that’s always been the biggest part of my life. I have tattoos in tribute to a long list of bands and artists: Man Is The Bastard, The Doors, Iron Monkey, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Closure, Black Sabbath, Carrion Sunflower, Dystopia. I suppose Bonnie Tyler can be added to that list as well!

When I was out in Canada playing a few shows recently, I was in this bar that had a juke box. There was a group of us who thought we’d annoy everyone in the place by pouring all of our money into this machine and repeatedly requesting ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. It kind of backfired though, as the more we listened to it, the more we started to dig into the song and the lyrics and it ended up hitting us hard. We all got ‘love in the dark’ tattooed on us in honour of the experience. All of my tattoos have been done by a range of talented tattoo artists. My friends Sam Layzell and Rosie Evans who work out of their own private studio MVL in Leeds have done a decent amount of my work between them. Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull did my knees. Scott Move, who is one of my favourite artists, produced this rad boar on my arm.

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? They’re just something I’ve always been drawn to. I guess they go hand in hand with the subcultures and aesthetics I’ve always found appealing. The permanency of them is definitely a massive attraction for me. It’s something that, once finished, is forever a part of your person. My first tattoo was the logo of this band Reuben. I waited outside of the tattoo shop on my 18th birthday and got it done at 9 in the morning!

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Do you have any plans for future work? There’s a lot of work I’ve got planned. I’d like to get “No Doves Fly Here” across my chest in reference to The Mob’s Post-Punk classic, as well as a portrait of the legendary futurist painter, composer and writer Lugi Russolo on my ribs. There’s a lot of incredible artists I’d like to get tattooed by.

Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world that you gravitate towards creatively? Absolutely! Both tattoo culture and the world of extreme music have an outsider mentality to them and are not often given credit as “valid” or “real” art forms, although an approval that many involved do not seek to gain or actively work against. Noise is for the punks. Tattoos are for the punks.

Apprentice Love: Rachel Welsby

We spotted the work of 29-year-old apprentice Rachel Welsby on Instagram and instantly loved her dark traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Rachel to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Golden Daggers in Los Angeles where she works… 

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How long have you been tattooing? Since January 2016

How did you start? I spent almost a year putting together a portfolio of my tattoo flash and when I felt I had enough work, I started researching shops in LA and began approaching the ones I liked the look of for an apprenticeship. I’d just moved to Los Angeles and knew hardly anything about the tattoo scene here – I’m glad I spent so much time researching shops because I was lucky enough to find Golden Daggers and my mentor Rocky. I’m currently 14 months into my apprenticeship.

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What did you do before? After I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail when I lived in Brighton and then buying when I lived in London. I had a lucky escape from all of that when I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in November 2013. I didn’t realise how soul destroying those environments were until I left. I’m glad I did do that kind of work though because it’s made my so grateful for the work I do now and the lifestyle I have here in California.

Do you have a background in art? Yes, drawing and making things was all I did when I was a kid. I took art, textile and graphic design classes in school. I went to art college, and then onto university in Bristol, England where I studied Fashion Illustration. Alongside working full time, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing editorial and commercial illustration work, as well as my own personal projects.

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What drew you to the world of tattooing? It was through music. I remember seeing bands like Rancid, AFI and The Distillers on MTV2 when I was a teenager and thinking how cool they were. I grew up in a small town in Wales and never ever saw people who looked like them. I fell in love with the music and the aesthetic and haven’t ever looked back.

It was on a long drive from San Francisco to Portland one day that the decision was made that I should pour all my energy into becoming a tattooer. By the time I’d come to this conclusion, I had already been getting tattooed for 10 years and was already quite heavily covered. I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and the hard work that I’d need to constantly put in to make it work. I’m very fortunate to have such incredible friends and family around me who encourage and support me through all of this.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed at all? I’d describe my work as black traditional with a dark feel. I’d say my subject matter and imagery has remained consistent, but the technicality of my designs has changed. Before I started tattooing, I was drawing flash that was WAY to complex for me to attempt to tattoo. As a result I have totally simplified my designs to match my ability as a tattooer. I’m only working in black too – I think that’s more to do with the aesthetic I like, but in time I would like to be able to tattoo confidently with colour too. It’s a progression that will continue to evolve as I grow and I improve technically.

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What inspires you? Becca was one of my very first inspirations. She’s an amazing tattooer and became a dear friend after the amount of hours we spent together whilst she tattooed me. She’s very humble, dedicated and a true artist. I think incredibly highly of all she’s achieved. Another one of my biggest early inspirations is Simon Erl. He used to work at Jayne Doe so I met him through getting tattooed with Becca. He was the first tattooer I was aware of who worked so heavily with black. I loved his really thick lines and whip-shading. His dark imagery was also something that captivated me. His work is so well designed and considered. He uses so much black, but it’s always balanced and works.

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What would you like to tattoo? I would love to do a back piece one day!

What is a typical day like for you? I get up kinda early and have a coffee, do yoga, walk my dog and work on my embroidery projects. Then I get to the shop at 1pm and take care of all of my apprentice duties before I do my own drawings or begin appointments. This involves things like cleaning the shop, scrubbing tubes, buying supplies, making sure bills get paid and handing the shop money. I then spend the rest of the day drawing or tattooing.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? The majority of my tattoos are from Becca and I also have a couple of pieces from Simon Erl, Bastien Jean and Ed Mosley.

5 Great Food-Based Films

With the release of the animated comedy Sausage Party (definitely not for kids), film and food lover Harry Casey-Woodward discusses five movies based on things we love to eat.

Ratatouille (2007) 

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When I first saw this in the cinema, I thought this was one of Pixar’s best. The story is charming enough, with a rat fulfilling his dream to be a chef in one of the most esteemed restaurants in Paris. However, the film also invited us to share in his passion for food and cooking, even the simple dish of the title. Let’s just forget the fact that everyone in Paris has American accents.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) 

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I’m not a huge fan of this movie, but it’s such a celebration of our food lust I couldn’t afford to miss it off the list. An ambitious young scientist, trapped in a small town where all there is to eat is sardines, achieves surely everybody’s greatest wish and invents a machine that makes food rain from the sky. The film goes one step further, showing yet again how such a fantastic scientific achievement can get dangerous very quickly.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) 

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In honour of the late, great Gene Wilder this musical chocolate banquet surely earns a place here. Based on one of Roald Dahl‘s most imaginative and celebrated children’s books, the film follows a little blond angel named Charlie who wins one of the fabled golden tickets to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Although I’m sickened slightly by the Americanised sappiness thrust into the story, the filmmakers did a great job of recreating Wonka’s factory with the finest of 70s effects, as well as keeping Dahl’s dark streak of humour intact.

Chocolat (2000) 

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Let’s keep up the literary-inspired choc fests shall we? Based on the novel by Joanne Harris, a mysterious woman arrives in a small French town during Lent and promptly sets up a chocolate shop. When she starts awakening the townspeoples’ repressed desires, this does not sit well with the local priest and he and the woman begin a battle of ideologies. This is an exploration of the emotional power of food and Johnny Depp is dishy as a guitar-playing gypsy pirate.

Delicatessen (1991)  

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Let’s stay in France, except we’ll travel into the future a bit. From visionary director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Alien: Resurrection) came this dystopian romantic comedy about an ex-circus performer moving into a flat. Unfortunately, in post-apocalyptic France food is scarce and the landlord, who happens to be a butcher, is eyeing up his tenant. But his daughter is nice. Cue a lot of comic action about human desperation for food, including some vegetarian revolutionaries.

Images from themovieman, amazon, space538.org, snoskred.org and fact.co.uk.