Emily Malice & PETA

Our babe tattoo artist Emily has collaborated with PETA to create a ‘No Fur’ enamel pin, and we love it! 

Mixing a fierce fox design and her signature barbed wire, Emily is spreading the ‘no fur’ message. If you’re a cruelty-free fashion love you can now wear your heart on your collar with the fox and wire pin, modelled by Anaïs Gallagher.

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photographer, Chloe Sheppard

“Fur belongs on the animals who are born with it, and I’m proud to rock my fur-free status with this pin,” says Gallagher. “Don’t ever be afraid to speak up for animals – they need us to be their champions.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear” – notes that animals on fur farms are confined to cramped, filthy cages before they’re drowned, beaten, strangled, electrocuted, or even skinned alive for fur coats, collars, and cuffs. Animals caught in the wild in steel-jaw traps can languish for days – facing blood loss, dehydration, and attacks by predators – before being suffocated or bludgeoned to death.

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The pin is available to buy here. For more information, visit PETA.org.uk.

Give Away & Interview: Stuart Gardiner Design

We chat to Stuart and Sam, a husband and wife duo producing design-led, British made home-wares and founders of Stuart Gardiner Design. Check out our Instagram for details of our giveaway (you could win the oven gloves in this photo!)

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When did you set up your business? What did you do before? I set up on my own in 2008 leaving behind a job in the music industry designing album covers etc, which after a few years seemed to be a dying business. Going alone seemed like the only option for me, and after that and I had lots of ideas. Sam is a textile designer by trade and she worked at Laura Ashley HQ for 14 years, designing fabrics and wallpapers, but has always had a hand in the business. I used her colour skills from the beginning.

What inspired you to do so? How did it all come about? My degree course was in Graphic Information Design, so this was the info graphic direction was the format my first designs took.

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How long have you and Sam been together? How did you meet? Why did you decide to work together? Who is more creative?! We met at school about 25 years ago! We went off to different colleges/universities (me to Falmouth, Sam to Huddersfield). I got my first job in Bristol and Sam in London, so it was a few years before we lived in the same city again. By 2011 the business was growing, we’d had our first child and so after maternity leave Sam joined me in our studio in East London. We made the move out of London two years ago and Sam now works with me three days a week researching and developing new ideas, doing our social media and sales. I wouldn’t dare say who is more creative but it would have been handy if one of us was more business minded – we just have to wing that side of things!

What influences your designs? I grew up heavily into music and skateboarding, and still am, so the rich visual culture of both have had a massive influence on my design work. I’m very drawn to typography and graphic images/illustration in general which I think comes across in my work.

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You create a host of tattoo inspired products, do you have tattoos? What draws you to tattoo artwork? We don’t have any ourselves – as a designer I could never commit to having a permanent image etched onto myself – I change my mind too much. I also remember desperately wanting a Celtic band tattooed on my bicep when I was about 18. If I’d had it done, I would never get my arm out now! Saying that, I am very drawn to the graphic styles of tattoos, and I really love the work of tattoo artists like Mike Giant. Someone has had one of our designs tattooed on their leg though (see below)!

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What types of things do you sell? Do you design the illustrations? How are pieces created, what is the process? I never intended the business to be so focused on tea towels and oven gloves, that’s just how it’s happened! My first design ‘A Seasonal Guide to British Fruit and Vegetables’ was originally going to be a print to frame and hang on the wall. But I then thought a tea towel would be handier and always in the kitchen.  The design side is just down to me at the moment. We generally pick a food or drink related subject, research the hell out of it, and then begin an appropriate design solution. It can often take a long time as we try to be as thorough as possible, and we often don’t know much about the subject matter.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your products? We do occasionally work on commission and have done projects for Liberty London, the V&A, Selfridges, Friends or the Earth and Lurpak. We have just finished a commission for a new shop called Naiise, a print all about gin. Our products are sold all over the country from gift shops to delis and vineyards, but you can buy the whole range from our website and we ship all over the world.

Head to our Instagram to find out how you can enter our give away to win a whole host of tattooed oven mitts and gloves!

Interview: Sublime with Rome


As part of their short UK run of shows and penultimate performance before Boomtown festival, Sublime With Rome landed at Bristol’s O2 Academy on 12th August to release their infectious mix of reggae, rock, hip hop and ska.

Before their set, music blogger Verity Vincent sat down with lead singer Rome Ramirez who has led the band’s line-up since 2009, alongside Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and new drummer Carlos Verdugo.swr2So how have the other UK shows been so far? The other shows have been awesome, just fucking packed, people have been screaming. The UK is always good and you’re so passionate about music so, it’s cool to come over from the US. In the US there’s a lot of bands that tour all the time and there’s a lot of competition so to be able to come over here and do that is awesome.

And you’re playing Boomtown tomorrow, have you done much of the festival circuit in the UK?  We’ve done like a dozen or so festivals over here before, but this will probably be the biggest one.

I’ve never done Boomtown but it’s supposed to be like a mini Glastonbury… It’s funny you should say that because that’s what we keep hearing so, I’m excited for that!

And then you’re back in the US to tour with Offspring? We start that in about three weeks. We played a show in southern California together, just us two bands and it was a massive success, bigger than what we would draw without them, and for them without us. With the bands being in the same area, and having a lot of mutual friends, it was just like, why don’t we go on the road?

We did a test run in Canada for a couple weeks and that was just awesome success.

So after the summer you’re back in the studio? October we’ll be back in the studio to release next summer.

At this point do you feel like you have a clear direction with which way your sound is going? Nah every time it’s kind of new. I know a lot of bands do that, they have their “thing” and that’s cool but, I think every album just has a different inspiration.

You always manage to have a good mix of sounds that are heavier and then more acoustic etc  Yeah totally. Sometimes you can put on a reggae or rock album and it’s just – the same – for a fucking, hour and a half y’know. My favourite part about Sublime is being able to mix all that up. I don’t know how we do it, I’m still figuring that part out!

Do you feel like there’s less pressure of what music people expect from you,  now that you’ve been established as Sublime With Rome for so long? Yeah, I think for me personally, I’m older now and been doing it for so long. People that come and listen to us and support us have already heard the news that we’ve been a band for almost eight years y’know. As far as that goes, and public perception goes, it’s been a lot more positive and they’ve had time to accept it.

That’s the cool thing about music though, it’s always expanding. And for me there’s so much involved in making a new album, that’s where the pressure is.

With the younger generation, do you think they’re an audience that will have heard your music before listening to Sublime? I think for the younger generation it’s still the other way around, with being introduced to Sublime and then they’re like… Oh what? That’s fucking crazy, let’s listen to what they’ve got! Just because, you know, Sublime was so massive. But, it’s awesome to be here and be able to do this and people that didn’t see Sublime, can come to our shows.

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Tattoo wise, do you have any favourite pieces of yours or particular artists you like to work with? Yeah! Nic Westfall, he has his own shop in Sacramento, California, he’s an insane artist. So fucking good. This is one of my favourite pieces (uncovers an incredible portrait situated on his forearm, just above an equally perfect Ren and Stimpy tattoo).

My buddy Nate Siggard he’s done most of my tattoos, and he’s tattoo’d pretty much all of us. And Jason Fritze from Florida, he’s done a million tattoos on Eric. He’s only done one on me but it wasn’t a good concept it was just a, fuckin’ cirlcle. I was like, “man I want you to give me one of those good tattoos!” but we were in the studio and didn’t have time. But we usually fly him out to our days off on the tour and he’ll come and chill for a day or two. Or if we’re at the studio, we’ll just invite him down and set up shop for a couple days and get some tattoos.

After speaking with Rome their set was insane launching with ‘Date Rape’ it perfectly set the tone for the rest of evening. Covering Toots & The Maytals ’54-46, That’s My Number’ among Sublime’s back catalogue and sprinkled with the bands’ own tracks including ‘Murdera’, ‘You Better Listen’ and ‘Panic’ from the 2011 album Yours Truly.

Rome, Eric and Carlos closed the night in timeless fashion with ‘What I Got’ and ’Santeria’, leaving the crowd in Bristol with an experience that had no doubt for most, been a long time coming.

Natural History Museu​m ​of Los Angeles: ​Tattoo An Exhibition

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This November, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles showcases an exhibition 5,000 years in the making. The art of marking skin with ink spans cultures, continents, and has evolved over time. We find ourselves with a mysterious fascination with both ancient and modern tattoo practices. Are they considered a part of sacred ritual or an act of rebellion? A sign of belonging or expression of individuality? In the special exhibit Tattoo, you’ll explore the history, technique, motivation, and sheer artistic genius that are connected to one another by ink.

19th November – 15th April 2018

The Natural History Museum, LA

Buy tickets here 

The exhibit will feature more than 125 images and objects, ranging from historical artefacts to intricate contemporary designs tattooed onto silicone models of the human body. Each tells the story of this unique and diverse art. The Museum will enhance the West Coast incarnation of Tattoo with objects from the Museum’s expansive collection, as well as features specific to the rich tattoo cultures of Southern California, from Ventura to Los Angeles to Long Beach and Orange County.

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Interview With Igor Puente

We chat to 25-year-old travelling tattoo artist Igor Puente, about his style, how he got started and his future guest spot plans…

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When did you start tattooing? How did you begin? I started tattooing  six years ago  in my home, as I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to have me as apprentice in Madrid. In the beginning it was quite difficult, but I worked hard and studied art the first three years, which turned out to be the perfect combination to become a professional tattooer.

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What inspired you to become a tattooist? I wanted to be creative in my work, and I thought that tattooing was the best way to do that. Sometimes my clients come to me for one piece of my art and they give me lots of creative freedom, to me this is like the paintings or sculptures in the Renaissance period. People back then had art on their walls and now people have it on their skin.

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How would you describe your style of work? Has it changed over time? Right now I’m into creating mutated animals with lot of eyes and heads, and if the customer lets me do it, then I like to use red .I really love animals, so for me it’s amazing that I get to create lots of animals. When I started out I loved horror stuff and black and grey, but this changed when I saw the work of tattooer Eckel. I couldn’t shake the beautiful drawings out of my mind and that was when I decided to work in a more neo-traditional style.

You tattoo a lot of animals, do you enjoy making these? What would you love to tattoo? I really love animals! My first career choice was to become a vet, but I decided to choose something much more creative. Animals are my favourite thing to tattoo. If the animal is also red and has lots of eyes than I am in heaven!

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What influences your art? Are there any artists you love? I am influenced by everything, from nature to films, TV series and books. I love a lot of other artists and they influence my everyday life. Eckel, of course is for me the master, but I also admire Alex Dörfler, Antony Flemming, Adrian Machete and many many more.

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Do you have any guestspots or conventions planned? Yes lots of them and I am every excited!
23 November – 22 December  10 Thousand Foxes Tattoo, New York
5-9 December Mystic Owl in Marietta, Georgia
16-20 January Tattoo Addicts, Bilbao Spain
24-25 February Brighton Tattoo Convention

Apprentice Love: Tammy Bestwick

We spotted the work of 22-year-old tattoo apprentice Tammy Bestwick on Instagram and instantly loved her traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Tammy to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Rose Tattoo, Barnstaple, Devon where she works…

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How long have you been tattooing? I worked at a tattoo shop in Exeter doing my apprenticeship for two years. I got to do a few small tattoos here and there but it’s only really since working at Black Rose that I’ve been able to tattoo regularly. I started working at Black Rose back in June so it’s just going into six months of tattooing now!

What did you do before? Do you have a background in art? My first job was selling tickets at a zoo. Straight after that I started my tattoo apprenticeship for two years, I did a couple temp jobs where I made some of the most wonderful friends who still come and get tattooed by me now! I studied art at GCSE and A-level but I didn’t find it overly enjoyable, it was more about looking deep into the meaning behind why a square could’ve possibly been painted green and writing essays than actually being artistically creative. It was only since leaving college that I started to draw what I enjoyed.

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How did you get your apprenticeship? As soon as I finished college, I took some of my drawings into a tattoo shop that was just over an hour away from where I lived. I didn’t really know anything about tattooing at this point but I’d been interested since I was 13. This shop was just opening and my mind was blown by the work of the tattooists there, I’d never seen anything like it before and so I just knew I had to try my luck. I wasn’t expecting much to come of it as it was the first shop I’d attempted to try work at and I was fully aware I had a lot to still educate myself on and so much more I could try do with my portfolio. A week later and they got back to me and they were willing to give me a trial run! Nothing could compare to that feeling when I found out I was being given a chance at something I’d wished to do for so long.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I started off being fascinated by all kinds of body modifications which then developed into tattoos. Anything a little different or controversial always drew me in. Being creative was the only thing that ever kept me interested so I knew I had to do something with it. I’m quite a quiet person and I love to have my own head space and be free with what’s on my mind, no rules or anyone to answer to. That’s what drawing was for me.

I used to draw a lot with my gramps. He painted beautiful acrylic landscapes and was a signwriter, so that’s definitely where I get my artistic flare from! The tattooists that inspired me to begin with are very different to the tattooists that inspire me now. My tastes and opinion of tattooing has developed a lot.

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How would you describe your style, what do you like to tattoo? I’m never really sure how to answer this. Before I tattooed I only ever attempted realism. Currently I do different styles according to the customer’s needs and I’d love to get to the stage where I could do anything anyone asked of me and really challenge myself. Having said that, I’d be perfectly happy if I could only ever tattoo traditional again. That’s what I enjoy tattooing the most, super bold and colourful or just a lot of black! I’d love to get to do more movie related tattoos too.

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What or who inspires you? Nature and books but Instagram is a god send for being able to closely follow my favourite tattooists and their daily work. Gem Carter (this is insanely cheesy because I now work with her) has inspired me from day one, before she was even tattooing herself I followed the work she was doing. Currently, I obsess over the work of Sammy Harding, Jack Peppiette and Bradley Tompkins to name a few. But I am completely fascinated about where traditional tattooing began – Ben Corday, Percy Waters, Amund Dietzel. There is just so much inspiration and so much more to be found that it’s overwhelming.

What is a typical day like for you? I very rarely will be tattooing 11-6 at this stage so I take my time with the customers I do have in and the rest is spent providing ultimate banter, replying to emails and drawing!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? None of my tattoos have any meaning. I get something from a tattooist because I love their style of work, so I’m happy for them to do whatever they’d like to do or choose something they already have drawn! If I get tattooed by someone I want it to be a piece that is distintive to their style. I currently have work done by Danielle Rose, Sammy Harding, a re-work by James Pool (I’m dying to get something of his own too), Sento and mega babe Gem Carter.

Exhibition: Their Heart on Their Sleeve

Celebrated Australian visual artist Stormie Mills has teamed up with award winning photographer Frances Andrijich to present an exhibition that celebrates tattoos and the reason why people choose to get inked.

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A collaborative exhibition by Frances Andrijich and Stormie Mills

Opens 2 – 17 November

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49 Stuart Street Northbridge WA 6003 (08) 9228 4111

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While people have been opting to get ‘inked’ since prehistoric times, this number is rapidly increasing in Australia, yet reasons remain the same. It is the need to feel unique, fit in or stand out, a silent expression of a moment in time. 1 in 5 Australians has one or more tattoos with a further 1 in 5 of those getting their first tattoo aged mid 30s or older.

The idea of creating portraits of these individuals has inspired a very special collaboration between internationally renowned visual artist Stormie Mills and award-winning photographer Frances Andrijich. Now for the first time they bring their crafts together in a series of unguarded moments.

Frances has captured the essence of each subject through her lens. Stormie has then taken these images and painted a representation of the subjects’ internal portrait to create a striking work that connects the outside with the beauty within.

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“Their Heart on Their Sleeve” is an intimate insight into humanity from the perspective of ten people who until now were nothing more than strangers to one another before a love of art and a photoshoot brought them together.

From a University Lecturer to an award-winning Mixologist, an Architect, FIFO worker and Furniture Maker, the one common thread these people share is the fact they have become a human canvas, choosing to carry a piece of Stormie’s artwork with them wherever they go.

Shaded: Stephen William

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 23-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.

Stephen William is an artist from the Clwydian Range in North Wales who’s currently living between London and Berlin – creating emotive, primal immediacy that speaks directly from the unconscious and transfers beautifully to skin. Here, Stephen speaks about his wide-view experience of the art world, the near-collapsing nature of his work and how a life-destroying flood pushed him to indulge the temporal medium of tattooing…

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Can you speak to your relationship with art and creativity? I’ve been making zines and running small press for nearly 15 years. Mainly North Wales punk zines that no one read or reads, because there was and is no punk scene, but it’s where I began playing around creatively. Later, I was a printmaker for about five years – specifically etching and a little bit of lithography. At the time, I was completely dedicated and driven by the desire to be the best printmaker I could be, and along with that came a lot of patient, precision and figurative drawing. I started getting tattooed in shops around this time, before then I just had things done by hand or using homemade machines attached to car batteries behind garages – the sort of stuff you’d do as a young kid who grew up in the valleys. Both methods had their own merits. I could afford to get maybe one tattoo a year from an actual shop, and would spend most of that year deciding what I wanted to get.

I moved to London to do print at the RCA, but abandoned that after a few weeks. I don’t know why, but the idea of doing things in this technical and proper way completely left me all at once – as well as my patience. I think by trying to be as technical and “good” as possible, I would dismiss 90% of my output by focusing on the end – treating everything as a precious, archived product rather than focusing on the process.

A close friend of mine bought me a cheap machine around eight years ago. I experimented with it, and blunted a lot of needles trying to make marks and textures with wood-block prints. I didn’t want to tattoo anyone with it initially, I just wanted to see what it would do on wood and zinc plates. I was making my living as an artist for about eight years before I started my apprenticeship. I did this at the same time as I did my masters in painting and video; two years of making paintings, and videos about making paintings – scrubbing grips, cleaning, drawing. The same as everyone else. I would buy cheap machines from eBay and take them apart and put them back together again. I’d take apart my power supply and build weird frames and stick motors in them, but I left my apprenticeship and set up a private quiet studio. This felt closer to what I was trying to do.

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Your tattoos are incredibly free and adventurous. Were you always able to work in such a hyper-personal way, or did you first need to cut your teeth with traditional study? I apprenticed for nearly two years, but didn’t learn very much in-terms of actually making tattoos. I left before I really started. I always felt comfortable being very loose. I’m lucky I had a lot of time to develop that without tattooing in mind, so much. It lead me to this real loose place where I felt mostly comfortable. That’s what I like, and I figured if I liked it a few other people somewhere were bound to at some point.

I love tattooing, and I believe in it unwaveringly, but I don’t feel restricted or like I have to do anything a certain way. There’s a difference between respecting a tradition, and submitting to it. If people want to build high walls, I don’t care. I’m happy sniffing around at the bottom, and I’m comfortable with my height as it is. The people who claim to be saving the industry and keeping it true are the biggest threat to tattooing’s potency. No one owns tattooing. It’s a beautiful visual culture, there’s not much left that’s genuinely doing this or bringing together fringe scenes and building culture, and this is where the power lies and always has. As soon as you call something like tattooing an industry, you take all the power out of what you’re doing and cheapen it – removing any affect that it can have. It existed largely outside of art criticism, which is a blessing and a curse, but it’s allowed itself as a medium to stay very real when it’s done right. I’m very, very lucky that people are into what I do enough to want to get tattooed by me.

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I have seen nothing quite like your backpieces, or the more ambitious work you produce. What are you trying to achieve when trusted with large-scale real estate? I’m just trying to make good compositions that get me and my customers excited. I like bare skin as much as tattooed skin. Mostly with the larger work, I’m looking for the tattoo to sit at a point where it’s just about holding itself together, but close to falling apart. I’m not sure if I’d call that a balanced point or not, but when it settles into its stillness, I still want a fight there. The main thing I want is some sort of fight or energy in the piece after it settles. I run my machines fast and like to play catch-up. I love texture and mark making, and how it makes the healed piece a lot more dynamic and longer lasting, as it moves and changes with the body over time.

I believe 100% in the power and potency of tattooing. Inherently, it’s an underground and subversive structure. Tattoos aren’t meant to be liked or appreciated by 100,000 people, and especially not jumped on by any majority. They are a subversive ritual. For me, tattoos are supposed to exist in a state of polarization. The scales are constantly changing, and this is where the energy and the magic lies, so I like the bigger work to be quite jarring visually. Of course, someone has to want to get it on their body. I can paint anything, but tattooing is an exchange, and I’m very lucky that I have people that understand what I’m trying to do and mostly give me free-reign. It’s always a concession between a client and myself, and what the skin wants and machine wants and what I want. Also, it should work next to other tattoos, so I need to take a lot of things into account.

I mostly draw right onto the skin these days. The currency of tattooing is time, so you should think like that in terms of placement. It’s a collaboration with decisions that were made 10 years ago and will be made in 10 years time, but the time thing is great – to sit and experience the exact sensation as those before you, and to be able to look someone in the eye with the same understanding that has permeated history for centuries, is mad. I play with traditional reference a lot. It’s all mostly from religious paintings, porno mags and advertisements. I like to play with combinations of traditional reference and my own drawings. I like to nod towards traditional, but mess around with it. I’m talking like I’m at a point where I’m in some sort of “creative bliss”, but it’s not like that at all; I kind of agonize over a lot of what I do, and stress out a lot. I draw designs over and over and over again to get the right level of rough, but held together, and on the skin it changes again! It’s important for us not to look backwards but forwards. A lot of the classics looked great on sailors because it was of its time, but seeing people trying to look like sailors and criminals now is just sort of a shitty and kitsch dress-up, and a quietening echo of something that was powerful in the past.

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Where did you draw inspiration from when starting out in tattooing, and where are you currently sourcing influence? My first experiences with machines were to see what they could add to what I was already doing, like I mentioned before. What I was doing wasn’t on the skin at all! Right now, I guess I’m mostly excited by the same things as everyone else: painting, videos, art-theory, browsing eBay for all kinds of things, and a lot of outsider art as well as traditional reference. I love Welsh history, and draw from this a lot, but mostly I just like to draw and see what happens. I feel like every day someone is coming up in the world and doing exciting new work, and I love that! I don’t know what to say about tattooing in terms of whether or not I think it’s art – I’m not sure if it really even needs to enter that dialogue. It’s too available and too cheap, comparatively speaking, to ever be considered or work as a high-art commodity, which is why it’s great! Tattooing has permeated culture completely, and it’s not like a painting or a sculpture where you need to carry it into a gallery. With tattoos, you can enter any establishment and move and exist freely within it – you can infiltrate any demographic or space. I like that people don’t have so much choice over how they interact with tattooed skin, and I draw a lot of inspiration from that. Tattoos are much harder to avoid than art.

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Prior to tattooing, you spent eight years as a student of fine art. What is it you felt you could achieve with tattoos that you couldn’t with any other medium? 
Everything changed for me over the course of a few days. I had both a group and solo show happening at the same time and I was right in the middle of moving apartments. Over one weekend, I had almost all my output and everything I owned stored at my parent’s place before moving it on. The river burst its banks by nearly nine feet that evening and destroyed everything I ever made – as well as everything I owned. At the same time, I was reading a book that was pushing the argument forward that there’s no way anyone could judge the merit of art in their own lifetime. Museums are almost always great because they have filtered down the best of the best over years and years and years, and exhibitions are often bad because there’s no filter. Tattoos don’t care or need any of it. I took some wry comfort in the idea that there was too much art now. Humanity has made enough. I had been thinking about tattooing, and getting tattooed, for a long time. It fell in place when I got into the temporality of it all. Give it 30 years, and no tattoos I make will be around anymore. That put this fire in me to commit to a new medium. Basically, I wanted to make temporary art that didn’t need a podium.

What’s your relationship to free-hand and free-machine tattooing, and how do these ways of working inform what you do? I guess I see mechanically copying a stencil and trying to reproduce something like a painting onto skin as ignoring the potential of the medium. I still sometimes use stencils because they’re incredibly useful, and I like to use everything I can to get the best results, but more and more often I’m moving away from them. Things change, though. Sometimes I like to get super loose, and other times tighten up. I’m not overly keen on trying to pin anything down and figure anything out 100%. I like to exploit the accidents and the unexpected things that can happen. I really like to see the marks of the needle and the hand of the person that’s done it. Also, it’s early days for me. I’ve not been tattooing for a huge amount of time – it’s been three years, and things change all the time. Since you live with a tattoo, and they exist in time, I think they should represent that. I really want the medium to be the message in a way, I guess. By drawing everything on, it works really well with the body every time – it makes it more of a process for me, and almost always unpredictable things happen that you need to respond to. I’m always wanting to feel excited by what I’m doing, so drawing tattoos straight on always keeps me at a point of being very fresh. It’s not a design I drew a few weeks ago or months with someone else in mind that I’m trying to make work elsewhere. It’s exactly where I’m at.

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What’s next? Working on larger projects and travelling, always. I’m midway through a couple of backs and bodysuits, and I’m always on the look out to start large scale projects. I have a small journal centred around contemporary tattooing and visual cultures that I’m very excited about. Another issue is ready for release! I’m also working to develop some physical spaces where artists can stay and work during residencies; assisting with publishing projects and travel to help and hopefully widen the landscape a bit – involving communities and exchanges with fringe individuals and groups from other parts of the world.

I mean, a lot of the time I feel pretty confused from overthinking, or having a lot of projects mixing together at once, so my future plans are about finding a way to still be very productive when I’m still in the process of working things out. For the future, in terms of tattooing, of course I want big changes; I’d like to see tattooing move into a more positive and open realm, and the end of bullying and empire building – neo-liberal tattooers appropriating and diluting culture on the internet and TV, macho bullshit, lifestyle becoming consumption. Instead, seeing a rise in pure, potent, visually exciting and heartfelt work. Things are happening that I feel need to be talked about in a productive and positive way. It’s easy to be negative about the state of tattooing, but everyone choses where they want to be within it.

Interview With Lauren, The Ghost With The Most

We chatted to Lauren about her love of all things Hallows Eve, her tattoo collection and her home which we are desperate to visit…

Firstly, a little bit about yourself, where are you based? I’m based in Liverpool. Born and raised here!

What do you do for a living? I have a very mundane job working in a bank, but it funds a lovely social life and many a (regular) tattoo trip!

[Luke Jinks]

Where did your love of Halloween come from? I think I’ve always had an obsession with quite morbid and macabre things. One of my earliest memories is of playing different characters with friends, and I’d always want to play a girl who died, very tragically, and returned as a ghost to haunt them.

Do you have favourite Halloween horror films or book? Some of my favourite films now are ones I obsessed over as a kid. I loved Hocus Pocus and Return to Oz. I would read Goosebumps and Point Horror books at every available opportunity, and my favourite TV show was Are You Afraid of the Dark? I read Roald Dahl’s The Witches religiously (at least seven times!) as I loved his twisted humour and obsession with creepy individuals.

[Mark Cross]

Halloween seems to reflect in every part of you, tell us more about your personal style and accessories, how do your tattoos fit in with this? I don’t think I have a set style any more as I’ve never wanted to be pigeon-holed as looking a certain way, or fitting into a specific trend. I guess my tattoos are a permanent reflection of my likes, or things that I’ve always/will always love, whilst the way I look and dress changes.

I’m quite open to experimenting when it comes to clothing, but there’s usually a little nod to my love of all things spooky. I have found though, that the more tattoos I acquire, and the more patterned my skin becomes, the less patterned clothing I wear!

Does this creativity spill into your home? Your IG is full of fantastic treasures you’ve collected – do these influence you at all? It doesn’t so much these days. I studied Fine Art at uni and my final project was based on hoarding, collecting and taxidermy in art, but I rarely make anything these days. My boyfriend is an artist, though! He goes by the alias Daggers For Teeth and a lot of what he creates stems from his love of horror-punk and retro Halloween ephemera, so I feel like I live vicariously through his work!

How do people react to your tattoos Very positively, which is often a surprise! I tend to expect comments along the lines of, ‘but what will you do when you’re older?’ or ‘what about when you get married?’ – they’re things people have said to my tattooed, female friends! I’m lucky that I’ve not had anything negative said about mine, the majority of people tend to ask if they’re real, or if I’m wearing patterned tights. The nicest comments I tend to get are from tattoo artists who are happy to add to my ‘collection’, or people asking for recommendations.

Do your tattoos help you feel more confident, or help you to see your body differently? I’m not too sure. I’m quite shy, which people tend to be surprised by as they think that if you look ever so slightly outlandish, it’s for attention or that you’re an extrovert. I definitely love the idea that I’m decorating my body in pieces by artists who’s work I adore, and I’m honoured and so lucky that they agree to do it! So I’m happy with how I look with tattoos as opposed to not! But sometimes it does warrant unwanted attention which makes me feel a tad uncomfortable!

[Jemma Jones]

Do you have a favourite tattoo artist That’s a tough question! I have so many favourites! I’d love to get tattooed by Toothtaker, Daniel Octoriver, Diana Leets and Jon Larson! Also, all of the guys at Smith Street!

I consider myself so lucky to have been tattooed by a lot of my favourite artists within the UK already.

[Jemma Jones]

Do you have any favourite halloween tattoos / or can you take us through some of them? Yeah! I have a pumpkin lady by Harriet Heath where her boobs are where the ‘eye-holes’ should be! I also have an old witch and moon in some crazy-bright colours, that I got from Mark Cross whilst on holiday in New York last year. I love to find out what tattooers are working in cities I’m planning to visit.

I have a ghost with the word ‘spooky’ across it, so that the OOs make up the eyes, by Louie Rivers. Also, a little devil baby in pram with ‘Rosemary’s’ across it, by Jemma Jones, my mum’s name is Rosemary!

[Harriet Heath]

Have you got a favourite costume you’ve dressed up as for Halloweeen? I do! I dressed up as Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, in full wedding garb, the year before last. I’d planned it for a good while and made parts of the outfit. She’s one of my movie heroines! My boyfriend, Craig, and I also dressed up as the Grady twins from The Shining this year. He looked pretty hysterical with a wig, moustache and dress!

Any future tattoo plans? Always! Craig and I are off to Barcelona next week so we’re going to try and book something whilst we’re there. There are some incredible artists there! We love all of the artists at LTW and have been tattooed there twice before.

Other than that, I tend to book tattoos on a whim.

Halloween Tattoos

Boo! We love this time of year what with pumpkin carving, lighting candles and filling our home with even more skulls! It appears we’re not the only ones who can’t wait for October 31st to come around, as we share a coven of Halloween inspired tattoos…

@hlctattoo

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@audeladureeltattoobysandry

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@debrartist

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@shannan_meow

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@markfordtattoos

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@kellymcgrathart

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@maidstonejohn

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@isaverri

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@kerste_tattoos

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@honeybasiltattoos

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@goldlagrimas

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@ryanmrray

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