Careers: Tattooed Art Director & Blogger

We chat to 28-year-old Ayden Millar an art director and lifestyle blogger from Glasgow, about the projects she has worked on, running her blog and her tattoo collection…

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Can you tell us about your freelance work for film and TV? I’ve worked freelance in the film and television industry for around seven years now! I’m self employed, and literally every day is different. I could be on a job for six days or six months, and go from making props and designing fake graphics one day, to arranging special effects and dressing sets the next.

How did you get your current role or previous roles? Did you study or did you fall into it? What sorts of things have you been involved in? The past seven years have absolutely flown, and although I still feel quite new to the industry, when I look back on my CV I’ve definitely accumulated a whole load of different jobs over the years. From kids telly to sketch and comedy shows, feature films and adverts, music videos, and quite a lot of horror/murder dramas (I seem to end up working on a lot of them, worryingly). The designer who employs me on a regular basis was the production designer for some really great British films, including This Is England, Neds, and The Magdalene Sisters. So I do always get really excited when he calls me up with details of a job, because I know the script will always be something really good and gritty we can get our design teeth into!

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What do you enjoy the most about your job?I love the fact that every day is different. I love the buzz of working with and meeting loads of people from different walks of life. And I really love seeing all of our hard work up on the big screen. It’s scary at times being your own boss and not knowing where or when the next job will be, and I suffer from extremely bad anxiety which I’ve been on medication for for a numbers of year now. But despite the fear of the unknown, my work brings out the best in me and makes me thrive. I work with the most open minded and supportive people! And although it’s stressful at times, my confidence has gone from strength to strength over the years, and I hope that can continue.

How does this coincide with your blog, or the other way around? I can sometimes have days or weeks off between jobs, so during this time I’m really able to focus on my blog and get writing and planning lots of new content. Sometimes it does suffer when I’m on a long TV job, working 8am-7pm can often frazzle my brain by the weekend and I don’t have time to write as much as I’d like to. I rely on Instagram and Twitter lots to keep in touch with my readers, let them know what I’m up to, and also keep up to date with reading some of my favourite blogs too.

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What sorts of things do you blog about, what inspires you? What can people expect to see? My blog is essentially a grown up diary, a mish mash of thoughts and photos and general gal chat! Some weeks I’ll write about cruelty free beauty, and others I could be visiting a new food place in town or exploring the outdoors in Scotland. I tend to just write about whatever is going on in my life at that moment in time, and one time a reader said that my posts felt like sitting down with a girlfriend on the phone or over a cup of coffee and having a good old catch up and laugh about life. That meant so much to me, and I do hope it’s the way I come across. There are so many beautiful, polished blogs out there these days – all gorgeously curated and edited with flawless professional photography. Pretty much like magazines! I think they’re amazing, but I must admit my blog doesn’t really fall under that category. If you’re down for a giggle and some honest life musings (with the odd selfie and puppy/cat picture thrown in for good measure) then I’m your gal.

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How would you describe your style, how do your tattoos fit in with this? I have quite an eclectic sense of style, I like to be fun, colourful and comfortable! I pretty much dress the same was I did when I was a moody 16 year old emo kid, but with a bit of added sass. My tattoos are probably a fashionista’s nightmare, they clash with anything and everything that’s colourful and/or patterned. But I don’t care in the slightest, I’ve never been one for the minimalist look. Plus, glitter and a few sequins go with everything, right?

Do your tattoos make you feel more confident, or help you to see your body differently? I definitely feel more comfortable with my body now than what I did 10 years ago, pre tattoos. They feel like a part of me. To the point that I often forget I have any until somebody mentions them or asks me a tattoo related question! They make me feel empowered and illustrate the story of my life, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met along the way. Well, some of them do – a lot of my tattoos I got ‘just cause’. Just because I like biscuits is a good enough reason to get a Jammy Dodger tattooed… surely!?

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Any future plans either tattoos, work or blog posts? Tattoo wise, my arms are full now so I’d like to continue adding to my legs (especially my feet which I KEEP putting off). I’ve not had any new tattoo ideas in a while, so I won’t get something for the sake of it, I’ll wait until a little bit of unexpected inspiration hits me one day and then I’ll get booked in for something. I’m currently on the last week of filming a six part crime drama for the BBC called Shetland, so after this I’m gonna take a month or so off. I’m going on holiday to Ibiza, have some plans to redecorate my flat, and look forward to spending time catching up with friends and family. I’ve got a few blog post ideas up my sleeve too, so I’m excited to have some more free time over the next couple of weeks to get typing to my heart’s content.

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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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