Ones to watch at ArcTanGent

Music writer Amber is getting ready to celebrate ArcTanGent’s 5th year at Fernhill Farm, the ultimate festival for music lovers. Guaranteed to bring you the best in math-rock, alt-rock, post-rock and basically any kind of hyphenated rock with everything in between. 

With such a diverse line-up Amber has created a list of bands you cannot afford to miss.

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Thursday

Nordic Giants

Possibly the most immersive live band I have ever seen, Nordic Giants submerge you in cinema as the duo drive you through a narrative with their mesmerising soundscapes.

Heck 

Last night it hit social media that ArcTanGent would be Heck’s final show. The most hopeful and hilarious comment on the thread said ‘This is where you announce your new album called ‘The Last Show’ at ArcTanGent’ but if it isn’t this then it’s everyone’s last chance to make it count.

Friday

H09909

I got my first taste of H09909 (Horror) when they supported on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final UK tour. I got a split lip and I was just a casual bystander. Finding itself somewhere between experimental hip hop and hardcore expect plenty of tentacle fingers and wedding dresses.

Listener 

It’s about Listener time made it to the ArcTanGent line-up, especially on the biggest stage, Arc. I have never seen Listener in such a large environment but I guarantee it will an experience to remember.

Saturday

Employed To Serve

Employed To Serve are taking over and it’s easy to hear why.  Their abrasive sound posseses each of their strengths in a way that forces crowds into each other. They are pushing the forefront of the British rock scene and are unmissable this weekend.

Tricot

The perfect mix of unpredictable patterns and intricate upbeat rhythms, Tricot are not to be missed. Live, their intensity is met seamlessly with their brand of frantic rock appearing effortless in their epic talent.

See you at the silent disco.

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Interview With Tattoo Artist Hannah Flowers

We chat to 27-year-old Tasmanian tattooist Hannah Flowers about her travel plans, the beautiful women she creates and what inspires her…

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Where are you based? I’ve been on the road for most of this year, which has been amazing and inspiring, but living out of a suitcase can become tiresome. So I’ve recently decided to settle in London, for a little while at least! I also have some upcoming trips to Scotland, Ireland and America planned too.

How long have you been tattooing? Around six years, hopefully there are many more to come.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I was a broke university student studying fine art and was intrigued by the idea of receiving actual money in return for my art.
Even though I didn’t actually make money the first couple of years, I fell in love with the medium and can’t imagine myself in any other job.

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Has your style of tattooing changed? What do you love to tattoo? My style of tattooing is ever changing and I imagine it will always be so. Mostly because there is always something to improve on, but also my taste has changed a little over the years. I think I try to emulate what impresses me the most. Before I really started tattooing I was mainly trying to draw realism because I thought it was impressive, but then when I started tattooing and realised how god damn hard it is to make clean lines and solid colour! I became really impressed with traditional work and started doing more things along those lines, at the moment I try to mix the two styles together a bit. My style has changed but my favourite subject matter seems to remain the same – ladies and animals all day everyday!

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We love the women you create, are these inspired by real life women? Or perhaps fictional characters? Thank you! Mostly they are not so much inspired by individual women or characters, (unless a client asks them to be) but more by femininity in general. I often start by choosing what feeling/meaning/theme I want them to portray. Some of my favourites themes are the femme fatale, the sad girl, and the girl with a secret. I tend to make up little stories for them as I draw them, and try to put a little heart and soul into each one.

What inspires you? Are there any artists that influence your work? I’m inspired by all kinds of things, quite often banal everyday things like a certain colour combination (lately peach and olive green does it for me) or the way the light is reflected off a friends face, then I may lose track of what they’re saying, because I’m an absent-minded weirdo!
But to list some more solid things that inspire my general aesthetic; Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Pre-Raphaelite art, pop surrealism, medical illustrations, film noir, gothic architecture, burlesque, the femme fatale, pulp art, natural history illustrations, cats and of course other tattooers (too many to name).

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Can you tell us a little about your own tattoos and your style? I sometimes wish I had the foresight to plan out a body suit, or at least a sleeve, but it’s too much fun to collect different styles and bits and pieces! So I’m very much an indecisive patchwork of styles. I’m lucky to have some amazing works of art, some funny jokes with friends, a couple of people’s very first tattoos and then some other unmentionable trash I might get around to lasering one day to make room for more bits and pieces!

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned? My next guest spot will be will the lovely people at Semper in Edinburgh, I’m also doing the Galway Tattoo Show, the London Tattoo Convention, a guest spot at Grit and Glory in New York and possibly the Calgary Tattoo Show.

Top 10 Bands to catch at Reading & Leeds Festival

It’s just under a month until Reading and Leeds Festival and just glancing at this year’s line-up has got our guest music blogger Verity Vincent joining in the debate as to whether male artists are dominating festival line-ups.

With some incredible bands spread across stages large and small, Verity also shares the top ten artists she cannot wait to see this year…

Should whether music is led by a male or female voice be theoretically irrelevant? The gender lines should be blurred enough for it to matter more about the diversity and quality of music on offer than whether it comes from a man or a woman. But does the “should” transcend?

Ellie Goulding has spoken out about a lack of female peers at many festivals. But my recent experiences at festivals like 2000 Trees has been different, there was a distinct mix of powerful, female fronted bands. If you take festivals such as V Festival, which are predominantly pop focused, you’ll pretty much find a 50/50 split of male and female acts, so is it purely down to a coincidence of the genre? What bands have released new music or who’s reformed?

Looking over the Reading and Leeds poster there are some seriously powerful females on the bill, from the ultimate trio that is Haim, to The Pretty Reckless, PVRIS, Charli XCX, Anne-Marie, and feminist trailblazer Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls. Yes, male-led acts may have dominance, but aren’t we just all happy to be in the same place celebrating rock music old and new?

Here’s my top ten artists that I cannot wait to witness…

Kasabian
Kasabian’s new album ‘For Crying Out Loud’ has some incredible tracks like Twentyfourseven, Comeback Kid and their lead single, ‘You’re in Love With a Psycho’.

The Magic Gang
Ep’s One, Two and Three have all been packed with feel-good, soul warming, foot tapping loveliness. They’re a band made for creating real festival vibes. But in a cool way, not a flower crown wearing kinda way.

Blossoms
Blossoms have had quite the ride in four short years, creating an album filled with catchy yet credible tunes that have earned them a main stage top 3 slot.

Muncie Girls
After a Kerrang! Award nom last year, an Australian tour and a string of festival bookings this year, the Exeter based band continue to be on the rise.

Idles 

Ballsy, brash and Bristolian band Idles have a wonderfully uncompromising attitude when it comes to presenting their music, and theirs is a set not to be missed.

Haim 

Is there anyone that doesn’t adore Haim? How can you not? Their personalities are just as infectious as their music.

Frank Carter
Frank’s sets are often as dramatic as they are energetic. The front man doesn’t shy away from getting involved with people’s lost phones, settling fights and generally acting as an extra form of security. What will happen at Reading and Leeds? We’re more than intrigued to find out.

While She Sleeps
I distinctly remember watching While She Sleeps play a morning slot at Bestival a few years back – what a way to shake off a hangover. Headlining The Pit stage on Saturday night, they’ll be an equally perfect way to finish the night as to start the day.

What about the last two?  Liam Gallagher and Eminem. Arguably both at iconic status and possessing a back catalogue big enough to please diehard fans. How would a conversation pan out between them I wonder? A question we may never know the answer to…

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Who made it onto your list?

There’s also a stellar offering on the comedy front including Simon Amstell, Tape Face, Katherine Ryan and Bill Bailey.
Check out the full line-up poster below and get your tickets here.

Interview with Tattooist Mike Love

26-year-old hand poke tattoo artist Mike Love works out of Black Market Tattoo Parlour in Leicester and Second City Tattoo Club in Birmingham, where he creates bold and solid blackwork tattoos. We chat to Mike about his process, how he started tattooing and his guest spot plans…

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How long have you been tattooing? I’m in my third year of tattooing. I am a self taught hand poke tattooer, before this I was body piecer for around four years, there I completed a more traditional style apprenticeship. I have pretty much spent my adult life being in a tattoo shop. 

What drew you to the tattoo world? The idea and practise of self expression. In my late teen years I became massively depressed, after seeking a lot of help I really started to find myself. The things that kept me going and made me happy were tattoos and piercing. I approached a local shop about a piercing apprenticeship and from then on my life was changed. From piercing my love eventually blossomed into tattooing. I discovered hand poke tattooing and was totally transfixed by it. The process mesmerised me. Creating a tattoo by hand from one dude to another was for me. 

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Has your style of tattooing changed? What do you love to tattoo? My style of tattooing has changed and still is changing. To be honest I think it changes slightly each day. I mean everyday I try to improve what I do and learn whatever I can. But that’s what I love about tattooing, it will never be perfect. It will always stay true to what it is, yet we evolve as tattooers everyday. 

When I started tattooing I did a lot more of the typical ‘hand poke’ and more ignorant styled work, but this wasn’t me. Traditional tattooing has always had my heart and that’s what I love to see and have tattooed.  I work real hard everyday to be inspired by what I love and create bold and solid pieces that will stand the test of time. For me I love to tattoo anything that’s bold and black. I am constantly creating a lot flash, which is typically inspired by classic traditional flash or pop culture. 

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Can you tell us about your set up and the process behind your tattoos? I tattoo by hand, my set up is very minimal. I like to keep it simple and disposable. No bullshit. I hand make each tool for every tattoo combining a chopstick and a tattoo needle. I only ever tattoo in black and I keep my process vegan. 

I am very much into the technical aspect of tattooing. I am all about learning and creating a solid well lined, bold, clean and nicely shaded tattoo. Tattooing by hand is typically a really calming and relaxing process, I gently push the ink into the skin by hand using the needle. There is a lot less trauma to the skin, which typically means the tattoo heals faster and for a lot of people this can be an easier process to sit for. It also doesn’t have to take a long time which some people think it can. Typically a palm size tattoo would roughly only take a couple of hours. 

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What inspires you? Are there any artists that influence your work? Man, I am inspired everyday. Whether it’s current events, or things happening in the city that I live in. But you know what, I have so many artists that inspire and influence me, and that I look up to, I wouldn’t be able to list them all. In both shops I work in, there are incredible people and talented artists, which inspire me daily. Tattooing is my life, so most of my close friends and my partner are tattooists, so we talk tattooing a lot and try to influence and  constructively help each other. 

Can you tell us a little about your own tattoos and your style? You know, I just love tattooing. So when I was young and dumb I would have pretty much had anything and everything. Which now has left me with limited space. I don’t regret what I got though, but when I do get tattooed now I really like to get tattooed by people I really look up to and really love what they are about. So normally I chose from their flash, or get a piece they really like, as that way I feel I get a tattoo that really represents that artist. 

Trading with another tattooer is probably my favourite way to get tattooed now. I find it a great way to learn and share a cool experience with another tattooist. 

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned? I normally guest in another shop every month, whether it be the UK or abroad, this is one of my absolute favourite things to do in tattooing. Traveling and meeting phenomenal artists drives me to be a technically better tattooer.  Currently for the rest of this year I do not have any conventions planned, but my next coming guest spots are at One For All Collective in Manchester late August and Seny Tatttoo in Barcelona late September. I am currently taking bookings for both of these via Instagram or email.

Collab: Convicts and Tati Compton

Tati Compton is an L.A based stick and poke tattoo artist with some serious adventure stories about her days travelling the world in a van and busking. New York based digital media brand Convicts collaborated with Tati to create a profile and original video exploring her art, outlook on life and love of cuddling…

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I really like tattooing naked ladies and kind of cultish things. But people know me for my delicate wrist work and stuff. Stick and poke is really organic feeling. You can tell that somebody has made it with their hand, it has a really personal feel to it. Once it’s on your skin it feels like it’s been there forever. So, my style is hand poked.

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Dude, I worked every job under the sun forever. I’ve painted houses. I’ve been a housekeeper. I’ve been a bartender. I’ve been like all that stuff. I was managing a vintage clothing store and I had a breakdown at lunch one day and was like ‘I can’t fucking do this anymore. I’m just going to go crazy. I have to do something else.’

When I quit, I saw that there was like a niche for tattooing small tattoos at a cheaper price. Mostly for girls who were too intimidated to go into a tattoo shop and ask for a tiny tattoo and pay a lot of money. I was like ‘I can do that.’

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Read Tati’s full interview here and watch the video below to find out more about her tattoos…

For more music, art, style and travel videos check out Convict’s Instagram and Facebook.

Careers: Tattooed Vegan Baker

We chat to 25-year-old Lizzie, a Vegan Baker from London, about running her own business Heart of Cake, her tattoos and style…

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo? I was 19. I’d always loved the idea of tattoos, but I had no idea what I wanted and ended up going for a walk-in somewhere in central London. I got half a tattoo because it was all I could afford at the time and shamefully it’s still half a tattoo to this day.

What is it about tattoos that you like so much, what influenced your decision to get tattooed? I’m a creative person and I appreciate creativity in others. Although I can draw, I don’t draw my own tattoos because I love that every artist has their own style. Just like when I work I need my creative freedom, when an artist is given a brief and they create something you couldn’t even imagine, that’s what makes tattoos and art special. Tattoos are a form of expression and I’ve always been the type to express myself physically.

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Can you tell us about your tattoo collection, is there a theme? My tattoos are all very girly and food related. There are lots of reds and pinks involved, I love anything that reminds me of chocolate boxes. There’s also a heart shaped theme running through my leg tattoos (I think there’s about 37 individual hearts on me) which I’m going to continue over my body eventually. I have a slight obsession with hearts! The majority of my tattoos are done by Julia Seizure and I luckily recently got a couple by Jody Dawber which I’m still in absolute awe of.

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Do tattoos make you see your body differently? Do they make you feel more confident? Tattoos have been a huge part of my self acceptance. Up until about 19 I was always covered up, I never got my legs or arms out even on the hottest days because I was so incredibly insecure. Getting tattooed gave me the confidence to show some skin because I wanted people to see my super cute tattoos. Being tattooed has definitely helped me become the more body confident person I am today.  If you don’t like a part of you, then why not get cute art on it to help you love and accept it?

How do people react to your tattoos? People usually get really excited when they see my tattoos because they’re pretty different to what they must usually see. I’ve had people literally squatting around me trying to get a closer look and telling their kids to come and look.

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How did you start your own business, how did this come about? I started my business a year or so after graduating university with a degree in Film and Television, which unfortunately turned out to not be my passion in life. I’ve always had an interest in baking and since going vegan I’d noticed there wasn’t really a great selection of vegan cakes out there. My business came about mid 2016 and I pretty much winged it from the start, learning to ice layer cakes from YouTube tutorials and supplying local cafes. Now I make tiered wedding cakes and crazy birthday cakes. I sort of fell into it but it’s honestly the most rewarding and best feeling doing something you love for work. Most of the time it doesn’t feel like work, unless I have a 15 hour day and sometimes there are tears, but you get used to it.

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What do you love about your job? I love that I have so much creative freedom. I get so excited about making cakes I can’t sleep sometimes and I love that people see my creativity and trust me to make them basically whatever I want. I also love that I can offer vegans or people with allergies great tasting cakes or things like macarons that they can’t usually have or find easily. Seeing customers reactions when they see my work is a very rewarding feeling and that’s what keeps me going.

What is a typical day like for you? A typical day for me is waking up early and writing out my daily schedule. I love writing a list! A cup of tea and I’m off, I’m always doing something baking related or replying to emails and admin. The joys of working for yourself! On my days off I usually go out to eat with my boyfriend, we go to the cinema a lot and sometimes binge watch TV series with our cat, Baby.

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Your job is pretty creative does this spill out into other areas of your life, like your fashion style? I’ve always been a very creative person, it runs strongly in my family. I love anything a bit different or that stands out from the norm and I guess I reflect that in the way I present myself. I’ve had pink hair for about eight years now and before then I’d always felt way too normal in my own body. I love wearing huge sparkly earrings or giant pom poms and anything that’s a bit odd, while also supporting these small creative like minded business who make them. I’m just attracted to exaggerated or over the top things and I like to show that in my work and through myself.

The Best Botanical Tattoos on Instagram

Our guest writer Katie Houghton shares her favourite botanical tattoos…

It’s been scientifically proven that being around plants improves happiness, lowers anxiety, enhances your perception of space and positively adapts the air around you, so getting tattoos of plants must make you almost goddamn invincible, right? Botanical tattoos are peaking in popularity right now, and I wanted to create a list of some of the best trailing their way across Instagram.

Joanna Świrska 

The work of Poland’s Joanna Swirska almost feels like the art of screen-printing meeting skin. Layered and beautifully toned, I love how she’s blended the shape of snaisl and snippets of foliage into something solid yet sweet.

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Kate Scully

The tone of her client’s hair in contrast to the blackwork. The perfect alignment of the tattoo. The soft botany alongside the dauntless lines and thick shading. The fern. The fern. The fern. Yes, this is a love letter to Kate Scully.

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Britt

If you’re tattooing monstera deliciosa you’re probably already catching my eye in some capacity, but it was the shell and the dotwork that meant Britt’s botanical work found its way onto this list. From the blanketing of leaves to the stippling of tone, this is an undeniably pretty piece.

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Nomi Chi

Resident at Gastown Tattoo Parlour in Canada, Nomi Chi makes no apologies for her work, going big and certainly not going home. Catching my eye for all the right reasons, this is a stunning example of torso tattooing, giving botany the domination it deserves.

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Alexis Hepburn

A Sydney kid, Alexis Hepburn does botanical tattoos in a distinct, bold and unafraid fashion. Clearly inspired by the lines of 50s sailor tattoos, Alexis has taken this classic style and switched it up, giving the flora an ornamental and pretty edge.

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Pastilliam

Sticking it out in Stockholm, this work by Instagram name Pastilliam is as distinct as they come. With those thick lines juxtaposing the lushness of leaf, I love how this artist has pieces that you’d be able to spot a mile off.

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Lilly Anchor

Fine, I’m biased. Having been tattooed by Lilly already, it’s pretty easy for me to champion her work, but you only have to catch her on Instagram to see that she’s the queen of clean botany, with some of the most polished lines in the business.

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Keely Rutherford on dealing with depression

Tattoo artist Keely Rutherford recently lost her mum to depression and pyschosis, in this honest interview she talks about what happened to her mum and why she is holding a charity flash day in her memory…

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Keely with her mum and dad

Have you always been aware of your mum’s struggle with depression and psychosis? To be honest no. She struggled and was sectioned for nine months about 13 years ago. Mum had never shown signs before, when she was home it was something we never really spoke about. I wish I’d taken the time to understand her and how she might have been feeling.

I don’t think we ever fully recover from mental health issues, but my mum just got on with things the best way she could. She was strong, courageous and had a very happy life with my dad. Looking back over the years, Dad and I have realised Mum had an addiction with shopping. When she was worried or anxious, she’d spend money to make herself feel better. Since she passed away, we’ve found thousands of pounds worth of clothes all with the labels still on. I think mental health covers such a wide spectrum of symptoms, that it must be so hard to realise when you are dealing with a mental illness.

Do you remember this while you were growing up? The first time I remember Mum getting poorly, I was 20. She’d just retired and was at home alone all day while dad and I went to work. When we came home, we slowly started to realise that mum hadn’t changed from her pyjamas all day. She was extremely anxious and panicky and we couldn’t work out why. This went on for longer than it should have, but Dad and I were totally unaware of mental health symptoms of this nature, so we didn’t know what to do.

We finally got Mum to a doctor who referred her to a psychiatrist who was very concerned for her. She got sectioned within the week as she was showing signs of psychosis and depression. She’d lost so much weight and was severely malnourished. It took her about nine months to get back to some kind of normality. If I’m honest, I don’t think Mum was ever herself after this. She was a big worrier, but she was still bloody wonderful, caring and funny! We had a great relationship. She confided in me back in November 2016, just before she was back in the psychiatric hospital. Her worry was totally fixable and I took control to help the situation. Sadly it didn’t change how Mum felt, the damage was already done.

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Keely being tattooed by her mum

Do you struggle with mental health yourself? Who doesn’t? I don’t think as humans we were designed to put ourselves under the amount of stress that we do, with work and our lifestyles. We push ourselves so much to be these amazing humans that we all are, but I do think that can affect us mentally.

I’ve never been diagnosed with any mental health issues, but then again I’ve never been to see any one. I know I get anxious but never enough for it to affect my life too much. Losing Mum made me have emotions I’d never faced before. It’s only been a few months since Mum died and I’ve had a couple of days I just didn’t want to get out of bed – which is very unlike me and made me understand depression. I’m so lucky to have my boyfriend Andrew, he has been a rock, not only to me but to my dad too. I know the days could have been a lot darker without his presence.

What advice would you give to others who are worried about relatives? It’s so hard as everyone has a different story. Definitely talk to them, try and help them open up. The second time around my mum’s GP wasn’t very helpful. He wouldn’t look at her history or refer her to a psychiatrist as we suggested. So I called Mind and they said go to A&E and ask to see the duty psychiatrist, so we did on December 2nd 2016. They took us to a private room, asked Mum lots of questions – and Dad and I. They assessed her situation. They organised a team from Crisis to visit mum at home twice a day. By the 5th of December, Mum was back on a psychiatric ward. I never knew about going to A&E for this kind of help, so it’s something I want to share.

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“My parents both tattooed me in August last year. Which I’m so grateful for.”

Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to let your mum go? Oh man this is a hard one. On February 17th I was working the London Tattoo Collective. At 10.30am, my phone rings and it’s Mum’s ward. She was on her way to hospital as they couldn’t wake her up, she was unconscious from going into a diabetic hypo. She stayed in hospital for two weeks where they got her eating, they then sent her back to the psychiatric ward where within days she was rushed back into hospital as she was unconscious again.

Since about January, Mum had stopped walking and being able to feed herself through the meds not working and lack of support in the ward. So by this time she had been bed bound for a month. The hospital where mum now was ran test after test and found nothing, she was a little more conscious but she wasn’t talking or opening her eyes. We celebrated her birthday on March 10th, she was 73. She was now being fed through a tube and had been on a drip for several weeks and still semi-conscious. All her tests came back clear, so over the next week Dad and I met with numerous specialists, who all said they couldn’t find anything wrong other than Mum’s brain didn’t want to fight any more, it was shutting down.

So on March the 17th we had our final meeting, and this was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. To let Mum go peacefully. The doctors had no other options and poor Mum couldn’t fight for herself and I know she would have hated us all seeing her lay there day in day out. They said the chances of Mum ever walking again was near on impossible as her tendons were so dehydrated. So for my darling Mum’s dignity, the specialist, Dad and I made the decision to stop all the meds and let her go. Mum started palliative care (end of life treatment) on the 18th of March. So we sat with her every day and night for two weeks until she passed away on April 1st, this was torture watching her slowly die, but it also seemed so unfair to prolong her suffering. I held her hand until the bitter end

We will never know if Mum knew what was happening the last few months of her life. All I know is that I hope she knew that Dad and I were with her when her heart stopped beating.

Why is it so important to open up a dialogue about mental health issues? It’s the unspoken illness, yet it affects so many people’s lives. When I told people my mum was seriously ill people assumed she had a physical illness. I’ve had such an amazingly overwhelming response already from sharing my story and making a charity day [details at the end of this interview] to raise money and awareness. As you can image it was a very hard decision to go public, but as soon as I did it was like a weight had lifted. I hope by sharing others will be encouraged to confide in the people around them.

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Some of Keely’s flash available at the charity day on August 12th

What do you hope to achieve from the flash day? Awareness for people like my mum who suffered and felt too scared to ask for help. 100% of what we make will be going to the mental health charity Mind – they helped us so much. We have already had so many donations, I’m so grateful.

You mention on your JustGiving page that your mum loved cats and passed this down to you (and that is why it is a cat flash day) did she pass anything else down to you? So much! I’m very like my mum, she also asked daft questions all the time! Which I’m very aware of doing! I’m amazing at shopping so I think that’s down to her! She was a great mum and devoted her life to me, she taught me so much. To be caring, kind and to love. I’ll always miss our chats about life and love.

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Cat & MIND Charity Day

10am, Saturday 12th August
Jolie Rouge
364 Caledonia Road

London, N1 1DU
Pre-drawn flash available on the day
First come first served basis

Tattooers taking part:
Keely Rutherford
Clara Sinclair
Manni K
Lord Montana Blue
Mark Ford
Antonio Gabriele
Matt Difa

Interview With Owen Paulls

28-year-old tattoo artist Owen Paulls is currently on the road, creating incredible black and grey realism. We chat to him about his love for Disney, the process behind his tattoos and his travel plans…

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How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing since around April 2014, so a little over three years now!

What drew you to the tattoo world? I was always into drawing and painting growing up. I was designing shirts and artwork for a band I was with before I got into tattooing. Coming from the music world, where everyone’s heavily tattooed, this probably sparked the idea of putting something permanently on the skin.

Has your style of tattooing changed? How has it developed? I think like most tattoo artists, I was drawn to classic designs and bold colours at first. I spent about a year putting together more traditional pieces, trying to make my work as clean as I could before really getting into realism at the end of that first year.

I did a few portraits on friends, to build my portfolio, and loved it! It felt a lot more natural to build pieces from the bottom up rather than lining everything first so I started switching my designs to have a realistic element. Recently I’ve developed more of a surrealism style I guess.

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What do you love to tattoo? You do a lot of Disney portraits, are you a Disney fan? Absolutely anything Disney or animated, I love tattooing it! I don’t know if that’s still the traditional artist in me trying make an appearance with a little throw to the old school – who knows! I’m a huge Disney fan, so getting to tattoo it all day is a lot of fun for me.

I love the whole process modern animation goes through while it’s being made, there’s so much behind the scenes that you don’t get to see when watching the movies. I’m just trying to pay homage to all the animation greats by replicating their creations on skin in my own way.

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You mainly work in black and grey, what do you love about this? How long does a  typical piece take, can you explain your process?  My art work outside of tattooing is mostly charcoal and pencil so I think that draws me to the black and grey side. Colour is a lot more challenging for me. I love getting to do it occasionally, as it keeps me on my toes, but black and grey is where I feel the most creative. Pieces usually take anywhere from eight to 10 hours.

I’m very meticulous with my work so I’ll spend at least a couple of hours adding details and highlights at the end with a small liner, apologising to my customers the whole time and periodically promising that we’re nearly done!

I usually start with an email or FaceTime consultation to get the over all idea of the tattoo before designing to save as much time as I can. I like to make my stencils on the day so I’m familiar with the shapes and concept before applying it to the skin. Due to the amount of time I spend in the skin, I always try to make sure I leave my stencil to dry for about 15-20 minutes before I start. I’m a detail lover, so having all my stencil hold for the whole day helps me to relax. I don’t line much so it’s nice to have that information there to use when I need it.

Would you like to do more colour pieces? Eventually, I’ll probably make the move to full colour work. I feel as an artist, I’m still growing and creating an identity within my tattoos. For the moment, black and grey is the perfect medium for me. People who can break stencil with their photo reference and use brave colour choices make a big impression on me, I’d like to have that affect on other artists.

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What inspires you? Are there any artists that influence your work? Animation plays a big part in how I design tattoos and my artwork. Also sculptures and modelers like Philippe Faraut or Lutsenko really push me to add more depth and dynamic. Tattoo wise there are too many to name. I’m a big fan of Ralf Nonnweiler and Megan Jean Morris for the way they put their own identity into their pieces. Any artist who is bringing something new and unique to the table is up there for me!

Can you tell us a little about your own tattoos, do they have to have a meaning?  I’d love to say I’m a collector, but it’s not strictly true! I have a collection, but it’s not the same! My tattoos have been mostly spur of the moment ideas when I’ve been working alongside someone that I admire or in a shop where a couple of us have a spare few hours to fill. I’ve got some crazy ones and some more meaningful ones from back in the music days. I have a Studio Ghibli half sleeve and I suppose that’s the most meaningful so far. Apart from one done by a friend when she was first starting out.

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned?  This year and the beginning of next has got a little crazy so far! Ive just done the Brighton and Manchester/Scarborough shows and have Bristol, York, Halloween Bash and Kustom Kulture coming up this year, alongside guest spots all over! It’ll be my first time in Switzerland in October and I’ll also be working with Sandry Riffard in December at his shop in France! I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has got or travelled to get a piece from me and to my little tattoo family including ‘Team Penny Black’ who have really looked out for me!