Quick-fire questions with tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani

Our resident make-up artist and managing editor, Keely, recently got tattooed by tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani and asked her some quick-fire questions that she doesn’t normally get asked!

 

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 Keely and Claudia

If you could tattoo anyone dead or alive who would it be and why? I’ve never really thought about it, but it’s always an honour when another tattooer asks you to get a tattoo. I’ve never met him in person, but I’ve been in his shop and I think it is one of the most powerful places… So I’d have to pick Freddy Corbin at Tattoo Temple – and I hope he will never read this ha ha!

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If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be? Some other creative job for sure: singer, guitarist, wood artisan, writer… I just need to use my hands when I work.

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What’s the strangest body part you’ve either tattooed or have been asked to tattoo? I tattooed a girl’s pubis, that was pretty strange, but not so difficult.

 

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Who is your favourite artist of the moment? I follow so many artists who don’t come from the tattoo world, so I can’t choose just one… Here are a few: Robert Ryan, Adde, Jess Swaffer, Matt Chahal, Bailey, Cheyenne Sawyer, Tony Nilsson, Becca Gennè-Bacon, Lina Stigsson and I have no idea how many more…

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What is your response to someone saying to you “what will you think of your tattooed body when you are old?” First I laugh… I think I get tattoos to make the body more beautiful. I love to see the story on the skin! The body and the skin will grow old in any case, with or without tattoos, so why wouldn’t I get something that I think makes my body more beautiful now? It will be even more beautiful in 40 years.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Viewing Pleasure

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how she feels she is always fully dressed because of her tattoos… 

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I’ve been continuing to think about viewing and how we control others seeing our tattoos. When I think about my tattoos I see them on my body as whole. When I’m thinking about new tattoos it’s how they will look and fit onto my body in its entirety, not what will look good peeping out from my clothes. Thinking more about this I realised that even though I share a lot of photos of my tattoos the only people who have actually seen them all in their entirety are my partner and my artist. What anyone else sees is fragmentary, tiny snippets of a fuller story. Bodysuits and large area tattoos are designed to work in harmony with the body and to be viewed as a whole akin to the naked body. In this sense, tattoos whilst a visible medium can remain highly private. As a lecturer and researcher in fashion and identity this is something I have become fascinated by, how we dress and how having tattoos may affect this.

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Before I had tattoos I would never have worn short dresses, I now crop off the bottom of my jeans so that my ankle tattoos can be seen and I am always on the hunt for yet another backless dress. I used to dress quite outlandishly, obsessed with Vivienne Westwood my clothes were always a talking point and I certainly stood out in a crowd. I’d walk for miles in skyscraper heels and think nothing of it. These days I’m more often found in ripped jeans and dirty old Converse. I wear more of my boyfriend’s clothes than my own, over size t-shirts and plaid shirts. Perhaps getting older has had some impact on this; I will always opt for comfort over fashion now. I save my money for tattoos rather than designer shoes.

How would I dress now though if I woke up tomorrow without any tattoos? I look at photos of myself without the tattoos and I feel like I look naked. I feel like a part of me is missing. Now my skin is dressed I don’t have the need for fancy trappings. I feel I can dress simply- because I am always dressed by my ink.

Interview with Rachie Rhatklor

27-year-old tattooist Rachie Rhatklor works out of Blue Lady Tattoo in Melbourne Australia and creates beautifully fierce tattoos. We chatted to Rachie about the strong women who inspire her and her own sassy women tattoos… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been tattooing for eight years now.

How did you start? What did you do before? I was living in Auckland, New Zealand at the time. I took a gap year after high school working at a cafe. I really wanted to start tattooing, so I quit and focused on drawing and painting flash for months and months. When I felt like I had some what of a portfolio to show (looking back now it was so bad), I approached as many tattoo shops as I could find. I was shit scared and the tattooists I spoke to were definitely intimidating.

Eventually one guy, Clint Jones at Blue Lotus Tattoo, told me that he couldn’t pay me and he already had an apprentice, but that I could hang out a couple of days a week. I showed up everyday and worked my ass off and eventually the other apprentice was let go. It was a fairly old school apprenticeship. We didn’t use pre-made needles, Clint made them every morning and taught me how to. I would do all the cleaning, emails, scrubbing tubes, setting up and breaking down, draw all his tattoos and stencil them by hand and more, plus trying to squeeze in learning what I could. That apprenticeship was tough as hell but I really appreciate it all now. That’s how it should be.

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Do you have a background in art? Art was my strongest subject in school for sure. I didn’t really care about anything else at the time.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Drawing came naturally to me and I had some outside influences like some family members and friends who were getting tattooed. It always fascinated me, it’s one of the oldest cultural traditions around. I also wanted to be able to make a living off of what I loved to do, and I was really drawn to tattooing because of every other challenge it involves. There’s a lot to learn, it never stops either.

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Describe your style, how has it changed? I would say it borders on traditional because of the way it’s put down – bold lines and simple shading and colour. But I’m trying to push different images, using references from sources other than traditional flash and where I can, from my own head.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I think my absolute favourite subject to draw is women. Every aspect is always different, the hair, the face, I never get bored with them, they’re always fun to tattoo. I like to draw tough, sassy ladies and anything that ties into that theme.

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What inspires you? Strong women, I am lucky to know so many of them! Especially my mum who had the hardest childhood and still managed to raise three kids, work full time and now rides a Harley! She’s a big inspiration, which is why I think I like to portray strong women in my artwork. Also, vintage playboy, cars, movies and beauty advertisements, old tattoos, nature, classic hip hop & soul, 90’s girl grunge bands and my boy Jordi who is the hardest working person I know and influences me everyday.

What would you love to tattoo? I love tattooing from my flash of course, ladies, man’s ruin themes etc. I still enjoy traditional flash too. I think as long as there’s people wanting to get tattooed I’m happy to do anything.

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Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned?  I’ve just come back from a guest spot in New Zealand at Two Hands Tattoo. No other plans set at this stage, but I would love to get over to the States, Asia and back to Europe in the next couple of years!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Most of them are from trades with good friends I’ve been lucky to have worked with over the years. You guys rule!

Exhibition: Nero – the flexibility of black

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to tattooist Viola Von Hell about her collective exhibition Nero – the flexibility of black…

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Viola Von Hell, also known as Violeta Pilar Bea, is a tattoo artist based at The Ten Bells Tattoo, in Rome. She has travelled around the world and, through her art, has met many other talented artists. Her collective exhibition, which opened at Parione9 in Rome at the beginning of May 2016, is the result of her ideas connected to other minds.

Nero is the Italian word for black, and it’s the main protagonist of this art show (on until the 29th May). Black tattoos, black skin, black thoughts… Black is more and more present in modern tattooing, and that’s why I chatted with her about this project.

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By Brian Thomas Wilson

How and when was the idea of ​​this exhibition: ‘Nero – the flexibility of black’ born? I thought about the idea almost one year ago, while I was thinking about the tattoo world changes in a stylistic context. I realised the use of heavy black was starting to become more of a thing, and I saw artists with different skills experimenting more and more. And then I said to myself, why not document this new moment of the tattoo world? Besides the fact that I love to organise exhibitions.

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What is the subjective intention at the centre of this collection of artworks? The intent is to let different ideas circulate and give people the chance to gather information about them. And also to build cohesion among the artists of the collective, to create creative groups in our world, a place that is already too full of ego and individualism.

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Did you know the artists personally, or you were guided by your own instinct? They are all friends of mine, people I’ve known personally for years and I respect a lot. With Stefy, besides being great friends, we had already collaborated on another exhibition called ‘Sante Peccatrici’ (Holy Sinners).

Do you think it’s right to set limits on art (perhaps to guide the observer) or is it better to give free interpretation? I think the limits always need to be crossed. I usually like to leave complete freedom to the artists so that I an be surprised by their skills.

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By Pietro Sedda

What are your thoughts about modern-day tattoo art? My thought on this issue is actually very sad, I was very disappointed by the attitude of some colleagues over the years… Fortunately there are also many very valid people, and I am also referring to the younger generations. I hope that the ego can be swept away, and that human relations that govern this world can win, and create better things.

Artists involved in Nero – the flexibility of black:
Kike Bugni, Cionka, Crez, Dane, Rafel Delalande, Aron Dubois, Alessandro Florio, Manee Friday, Massimo Gurnari, Horiyen, Kelu, Diego Knore, Michele L’Abbate, Manekistefy, Rio, Pietro Sedda, Viola Von Hell, Brian Thomas Wilson, John Wilson.

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Photos by Diana Bandini

Interview with Tan Van Den Broek

27-year-old tattoo artist Tan Van Den Broek works out of Dark Cloud Electric, a private studio in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and creates beautifully colourful neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Tan about her love for hard working bees and a dirty olive colour pallet… 

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How long have you been tattooing? It’ll be my sixth year of tattooing this August, I completed an apprenticeship over three years in two separate studios. I’m currently working in a private studio in Fitzroy, Dark Cloud Electric, with Dean Kalcoff.

What did you do before? Before tattooing I was at university completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Drama. Performance and art have always been an important part of my life, so it seemed fitting to do a degree in it. While studying I was waitressing (classic part-time actor job) and continued to waitress over the weekends while apprenticing. I would work five days a week at the studio, weekends waiting tables, drawing every other moment.

How did you start? Straight after I graduated uni, I applied for an apprenticeship in a local tattoo studio that was just opening up. He already had an apprentice, who had a fancy tattoo nick-name and lots of Kohl eyeliner, but I dropped by the studio with my folio of work anyway. He set a two year apprenticeship for me, I spent the first six months just observing and cleaning before I was allowed to tattoo.

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Do you have a background in art? Yes, I was a really quiet child and so I escaped into drawing imaginary worlds and what was around me; lots of flowers, animals and vegetables! I grew up on a organic vegetable farm, and both my parents are avid gardeners. I took on life drawing classes and later completed my drama degree doing as many visual art subjects as they would allow me to do. I stayed in most nights during my adolescence drawing, I guess nothing much has changed.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Music and my sister. Most of the bands I was listening to when I was younger had tattoos and their cover artwork always made me start brainstorming my first tattoo ideas.

My sister got her first tattoo under age over new years eve. She lied to our parents saying it was semi-permanent and that the pigment would fade away after a year. After a year rolled by and more tattoos were added, my parents clued on. Every tattoo she got, I just kept thinking that I could’ve drawn that better for her and made her happier.

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Describe your style, how has it changed? My style is neo-traditional but more on the bold, colourful traditional side. I like bold lines balanced with finer details.

Initially I wanted to be strictly a traditional tattooist, I loved the work produced by Andrew Mcleod and Jaclyn Rehe (still do) and loved the aesthetic. Tattoos that look like tattoos. Bold and badass. Vintage photographs of men and women adorned with ropes, ships, butterflies, women got me going! I quickly discovered I would over complicate my traditional drawings and I could not restrict my colour palette. I liked soft pastels and dirty olives. Neo-traditional was a better fit.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? Easy! Animals, flowers and Birds! Lately I’ve been tattooing lots of Native Australian flora, which can be a challenge but I LOVE the challenge and the colours of our flowers.

What inspires you? Beautiful gardens, climbing roses, old buildings, lakes, lead-light windows, crystals, Scandinavian towns, autumn leaves, caves and good coffee.

What would you love to tattoo? Monkeys, I love their expressions. Big cats, toucans/horn-bills, fishing birds, flowering fruits and more native flowers.

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Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? I’m heading back to Hobart for a week in June, then my next convention will be New Plymouth NZ Tattoo & Art Expo in November. Then Three Eyes Convention in Adelaide in February 2017. I’m currently planning a trip for Aug/Sept, fingers crossed I’ll be heading to United States or back to Europe. I miss Vienna and Göteburg.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Sure, my left thigh, left sleeve/hand and left side of my neck was tattooed by my amazing co-worker Dean Kalcoff. My sleeve is inspired by my love of Art Nouveau and 1920s fashion. I’ve got a big orange rose on my neck, my hand has another rose and a Mike Pike Teacup machine. My left thigh has a rabbit being constricted by a snake.

My chest was tattooed by Emily Rose Murray, fuck I was lucky to jump in on a last minute availability! That piece makes me feel really beautiful, big soft peony roses and a little bee. I have three bees tattooed on me (so far), I love their meaning of female strength, hard work, self sacrifice and the importance of teamwork for a greater good.

I have four tattoos from my dear friend Clare (Clarity) Hampshire, one is a vintage nurse with red poppies for my G’ma who served as a head nurse here in Melbourne during the second World War treating the returned soldiers and my G’pa who passed due to WWII PSTD. I have only one matching tattoo with my best friend Jen, it’s a little teapot with the words “Tea For Two” We always catch up over a cuppa, and it’s helped us get through the more difficult times in our lives. Tea just seems to help, you know?

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Surface pattern designer, Matt Manson

 

Matt Manson is a Bristol-based artist and surface pattern designer who draws influence from the world of decorative art. His work integrates techniques and inspiration from his passion for geometric patterns and classic Mughal architecture. 

Moving to New York in the summer of 2010, Matt spent time working for Brooklyn’s Flavor Paper before moving to Amsterdam in 2013 to work as an in-house surface pattern designer at Marcel Wanders and Moooi. 

At the start of 2014 Matt returned to England to set up a studio in his hometown of Bristol. Having spent the last few years obsessively creating geometric patterns he decided to channel these designs into a collection of bespoke products.   12724627_1717183108553070_470920349_nHis work has  been featured in publications such as Vogue Living and have has been given glowing reviews in blogs such as People of Print and Kim Gray. So we thought we should get the lowdown on where Matt draws his inspiration from and what his plans are for the future…

If you could tell us a little bit about what you do and how you began working as an artist?
I work as a surface pattern designer; I make patterns and graphic illustrations to be used across a whole range of objects such as ceramics, textiles and everything in-between. It’s a constantly evolving journey that manifests itself in many ways. Recently my main focus has been developing a collection of polar graph and isometric sketchbooks allowing the user to easily create mandalas and other geometric patterns.

 

12935098_871246769650942_1164224591_nPolar-graph and isometric sketchbooks created by Matt

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My career really started at 21 when I moved to Brooklyn NY… I was obsessed with patterns for as long as I can remember and the artwork of Dan Funderburgh had really made a big impression on me. As a result, I contacted Flavor Paper who produce his wallpapers and was lucky enough to be able to move over and get schooled in the craft of hand printing wallpapers. It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in with such a high-end company and has really made a lasting impression on what is possible. After New York I lived and worked around South London for a while and I then went to Amsterdam where I worked in interior design before moving back to my hometown of Bristol.

How did the idea of geometric sketchbooks come about?
Over the last few years more and more people have been asking how I have been creating my patterns.  As a result I wanted to create a collection of sketchbooks using the grid systems I use on a daily basis. These grid systems allow the artist to easily create symmetrical imagery such as mandalas.

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I have tried to create a product which could be used by everyone from beginners to experts,  allowing the illustrator the freedom to develop their work.

Where do you draw influence from for your artwork?
Its a real mix of personal experiences… It’s odd but I feel the free party techno scene has had some part to play in influencing my artwork. I’m from Bristol in England, it’s a city with a very active underground party scene.  I used to go to free parties in old warehouses and was always inspired by the harsh black and white op art banners that are normally on display. Artists such as The Porg and also the Spiral Tribe and new age travellers scene was a big draw for me in my early days.

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In my late teens I went over to India on my own and spent time travelling around and visiting sights such as the steps at Chand Baori and Meenakshi Amman temple. Visiting these locations really gave me a lasting impression on just how beautiful and powerful pattern and geometry can be.

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Does tattoo related art play an important role in your own artwork?
I guess my influences are coming from the same place as many tattoo artists. Mughal architectural, sacred geometry, chemical visions and forgotten angles.

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Do you yourself have any tattoos?  If so whose work do you have? And any future plans for more tattoos?
Yes I have some bits… when living in Amsterdam I made friends with Martin Robinson (RIP) who introduced me to Fabio Maravalhas who has done most of my work. Since returning to the UK I have been getting tattooed by Fil at Broad Street Studios in Bath.

You can purchase Matt’s work and a variety of homeware products online and he can be contacted via his website, Facebook and Instagram.

Countdown to Slam Dunk Festival

It’s less than a week to Slam Dunk Festival and our music writer Amber and team will be heading to the sold out Northern date in Leeds to celebrate the bank holiday with some amazing bands. Amber picks some of the tracks she would love to hear at the weekend…

This year’s line up reminds me of so many great previous line ups that I feel like it’s going to be a weekend of reminiscing alongside so many thriving bands.  To help us countdown to Slam Dunk I’ve picked out a few tracks I’d love to hear this weekend.

Moose Blood

With their second album ‘Blush’ due for release this August via Hopeless Records I cannot wait to hear Moose Blood performing this new track ‘Honey’ live.

Four Year Strong

Is it a pop punk party without Four Year Strong? The answer is no. Slam Dunk have pulled off an amazing line up and I’m going to have very sore feet by the end of the night…

Norma Jean

I may be a little over excited for Norma Jean’s upcoming UK tour but the Impericon stage has such an incredible line up this year I might not venture too far. Let’s just hope no one is chugging milk at Slam Dunk during their set.

Creeper

If you’re yet to catch Creeper on one of their countless tours as they smash the UK then Slam Dunk is your chance. ‘Black Mass’ comes from their E.P ‘The Stranger’ who happens to be that creepy wee figure you can see in the background.

Every Time I Die

Once you hear that cowbell you know that something is going down. Which headliner are you going to watch this weekend?

Real Friends

In the spirit of Slam Dunk pop punk, Real Friends latest video ‘Mess’ comes from the forthcoming album ‘The Home Inside My Head’ due for release May 27th via Fearless Records. They’re playing the O2 Academy indoor stage, North at 5pm, Forum Live, Midlands at 5:15pm and Forum, South at 5pm so don’t miss out!

New Found Glory

It never feels quite like Slam Dunk without some New Found Glory!

Cancer Bats

I missed out on Cancer Bats last UK tour so I cannot wait for their set this Saturday.  With bands like these tearing up the place, it’s a good idea that they’re closing the streets of Leeds for Slam Dunk.

Which Slam Dunk are you attending and who are you going to see?

Art Love: Douglas Hale

We’re obsessed with artist Douglas Hale after discovering him on Instagram. He creates clever collages that play with imagery he has found, colour and symbolism. Hale uses contemporary graphic styles to produce fantasy landscapes and unusual profiles. His artwork creates beautifully strange scenarios and often features well-known faces…

FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs

Harem Aria

Harem Aria

Secrets

Secrets

Diana Ross

Diana Ross

Dawn Richard Album Art

Dawn Richard album art

Head to douglashale.net to view more

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Public Property

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about the stir visible tattoos can cause…

Us Brits are a predictable bunch, first sign of a little sun and we are stripped down to our shorts and vests before you can say ‘ice cream van’. Every year the warmer weather seems to jump on us out of nowhere- no warning until one day you are walking home from work in your faux fur coat as everyone else passes you in flip-flops. Lament as I did in my last column about winter clothes hiding our tattoos; I had forgotten what a stir tattoos can cause. In true Brit fashion I jumped at the chance to go to work today without my woolly tights on, legs bare and if I’ll admit a bit cold! I was walking around enjoying the vitamin D when I heard it ‘look at those tattoos’! The girl actually gave me a sheepish smile as she realised she hadn’t been as discreet as she might have though and I couldn’t help but laugh. But it did bring back to me the reminders of how other people find our tattoos to be something of their business. Suddenly my skin that had been protected by jeans and thick jumpers was exposed and public property.

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This got me thinking about who we get tattoos for and how we control who sees them. Back, torso, bum these are all quite private areas which we generally conceal on a daily basis. For me anything above the knee is generally hidden away from sight unless I consciously choose to wear something like shorts or a backless dress. I am fully aware that if I chose not to cover my tattoos I will draw attention, wanted or not. As I’m sat writing this in the park a guy comes over and asks if he can look closer at my arm/ back tattoos – I’m wearing a vest top. I say sure and we have a quick chat about whether they hurt and where I got them done. He says I’m a ‘tattooed wonder woman’ and bids me farewell. The more visible tattoos I get the more I have to consider how I control my body. I’m not sure I’m ready to be in position where I can’t choose to hide my tattoos, not yet anyway. I salute those who do.

Rock n Roll Soul: Emma Inks

Emma Copland is a 28-year-old Scottish charity support manager and blogger living in London. We chatted to Emma about how she started her blog emmainks.com and her tattoo collection… 

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I had a secret blog that was a scrapbook of my life but it was October 2014 when I officially started Emma Inks. The combination of living in London and my passion for travel meant friends were always asking for recommendations so I started promoting my posts, hoping that other people might find my ramblings useful too.

What kinds of things do you blog about? My blog is a reflection of me so it is a bit all over the place with posts on: London life, travel, vegetarian food, style, beauty and any other random thoughts I have.

How would you describe your style? I am not one to follow trends; I just wear what makes me feel comfortable, which often includes lots of leather, ripped denim, vintage rock t-shirts, black, and leopard print. I often end up looking like I have just been thrown out of an American dive bar. My style is mainly influenced by rock music, movies, Cher and people I see on the street.

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What inspires you? I am inspired by many things, but mainly travel and people who are not afraid to be themselves. I love people who make their own path instead of following the crowd or doing what is expected of them.

Do you have a favourite designer or artist? There are so many talented artists; a few of my current favourite tattoo artists include Kirk Jones, Kelly Violence, Dani Queipo, Henbo, Rebecca Vincent, Cally-Jo, Hannah Pixie Sykes, and my gorgeous friend Nikki Nairns. They are all high on my list of people I would love to be tattooed by.

When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo just after turning 18. It was bought by my two best friends before I went on my first solo backpacking trip and was a meant to be a heart/thistle representing our friendship and my Scottish roots.

These days it looks more like a club stamp I have not washed off and has a scar right through the middle of it after I broke my wrist snowboarding. It is definitely not a piece of art, but it reminds me of an amazing time in my life, being young and reckless so I don’t think I will ever get it covered.

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Tell us about your tattoos? I started getting tattoos at 18 and went with the tribal style which was common at the time. I had my aforementioned club stamp on my wrist and a hand drawn sun on my back within the same year. The back tattoo was meant to represent my backpacking trip around South-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, though I still like it I am thinking about getting the Buddha in the centre covered up as I don’t want any religious symbolism in my tattoos.

When I was a poor student I couldn’t afford new tattoos but I did plenty of research and started to get into more traditional, colourful pieces. I got my anchor by Frank Paradiso in Tattoo Peter, Amsterdam’s oldest tattoo shop. I loved the style and vibrancy so much I got my second traditional tattoo by his colleague, Bill Loika, at Brighton Tattoo Convention. You could tell Bill has been a tattoo artist for years as my swallow inking was super speedy, yet beautifully executed.

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A year later I promised myself that I was just going to look at the artwork at the same convention but after seeing Adam Cornish’s flash I couldn’t resist and got the rose on my shoulder.

The most recent piece was done by Harry Harvey at Vagabond in East London, the arrow was my idea but Harry took it to the next level and I was so pleased with the final design.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I definitely want many more tattoos, I know that I want to continue with a few more traditional pieces on my right arm but I also want to start on some more detailed blackwork on my left leg. I would have more right now but unfortunately money is in the way of my grand plans.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? Yes, I would say so. I love having a range of art by different people on my body.

What reactions do your tattoos get?  I have had a mixture of positive and negative reactions to my tattoos. I think mainly people are just inquisitive so I really don’t mind answering their questions, even though they often get repetitive. The one which I get asked all the time that does get on my nerves is “What does your boyfriend  [who has no tattoos] think?”. It kind of implies that my body is not mine to do what I want with and also that tattoos make me unattractive. It is never meant with malice but usually has an undertone of disapproval. People’s reactions don’t really bother me as I love my tattoos, and that’s all that really matters.