Interview with a tattoo artist

Interview with tattooist Marie Cox, age 32, Folklore Tattoo Studio, Tamworth

What first attracted you to the tattoo world? I can’t really remember a specific event, I’ve always been surrounded by tattoos and loved various forms of art, so I guess it was a natural transition, or fate I suppose.

When did you decide you wanted to become a tattoo artist? and how? I’d never really thought about it as a conscious decision, I worked as a workshop tech at a college. I decided to get a machine to tattoo leather as I was formerly a sustainable design graduate, so I loved recycling things and making jewellery and trinkets. I’d been drawing designs and watching tutorials so I could apply the techniques to tattooing leather. It was my partner and dad who encouraged me to pursue tattooing people. Someone I knew mentioned there was a guy opening a studio and I should go meet him with a portfolio. He offered me an apprenticeship on the spot and here I am six years on doing what I love.

 

How would you describe your style as an artist? I’d say my style is neo-traditional mainly, with some realism elements. I’m not sure really I just try to stay true to nature in my work.

 

Tell us a little bit more about your studio… My studio, Folklore, is based just outside the Tamworth town centre, and everything we do here is custom. There’s my illustrative style artist Adam who keeps me sane and my apprentice Tom, they’re awesome and very supportive, I feel blessed to have them. My clients say my studio is kind of nautical and homely, so I’ll go with that.

 

What’s next? For the studio I’d like to take on more artists and expand. We’ve discussed and all agreed that we’d like to hit more conventions, do some guest spots and try working abroad too. I’m excited to see how things unfold. It makes me happy and proud to watch our little tattoo family grow, can’t wait to see what the future holds!

 

Follow Folklore on Instagram @FTS_TATTOO

Miniature Ink Sneak Peek

To celebrate our two year anniversary we are teaming up with Atomica Gallery to bring you Miniature Ink. An exhibition featuring miniature original artwork from over 100 tattoo artists across the globe. All of the pieces will be on sale for £60, with profits being donated to cancer charity Sarcoma UK.

The exhibition opens on Wednesday 24th September and the party starts at 6pm, all artwork will be sold on a first come, first served basis! So make sure you’re there on time to grab an original from your favourite artist…

Here’s a sneak peek from a few tattoo artists who have created art for ‘Miniature Ink’.

Hannah Willison

Alexandra Wilkey 

Ael Lim

Drew Linden

Tracy D

Kelly McGrath

Juliet 

Abbie Williams

Eddy-Lou

 

A Beautiful Body Project

Photographer Jade Beall created A Beautiful Body Project after the birth of her son as a way to appreciate her changing body and to discover what the word beautiful meant to her.

Her work counteracts the airbrushed images of women portrayed in the media instead she wishes to show women in all their natural and often naked beauty. The photographs appear alongside stories of growing self-esteem as the women begin to embrace their beauty and themselves just as they are.

The collection of photographs have now been turned into a book titled The Bodies of MothersWatch the video below to hear Jade describe her book.

 

 

Tattoo Twists

Tattoo Twists is a series of short films produced for Channel 4. The films follow a collection of people and tattoo artists on their tattoo cover-up journeys, discussing the reasons behind why they want to change their existing tattoos.

This series is a refreshing and positive take on tattoos by Channel 4, gone are the judgemental narratives and in their place are real tattoo enthusiasts.

The human stories behind tattoos that get covered up or changed, for all kinds of reasons, from wiping memories of an ex to creating a ‘new you’

Cover-up by Lal Hardy 

Images and quote from Channel 4

Meet Jay Freestyle

Jay Freestyle is a 29-year-old tattoo artist and painter working at Dermadonna Custom Tattoos in Amsterdam. Originally born in South Africa and raised in a conservative Chinese family, Jay Freestyle was forced to immigrate to Europe, over ten years ago, due to the lack of any real creative scene in Johannesburg. His style is one-of-a-kind, incredibly unique and mind-blowing…

We caught up with Jay to find out more.

How did you get into tattooing? I started off as a piercer and my mentor was the one to actually push me to learn tattooing. I started practising on artificial skin for a couple of months and once I felt confident I moved onto friends and co-workers. I had a lot of work done on myself by professionals and that was one of the main ways I learnt and got into the trade.

How would you describe your style? Sometimes when people try to explain or describe my style they, for a lack of better words call it “Jay Style”, which I kind of like. It’s Jaystyle, it’s whatever I want it to be.

How do you like to work with your clients? I like it when they have a basic idea of what they want in terms of subject matter and they just let me run with it. It is a fine line between giving enough input to get a feel of their personality and what they want and not so much as to ruin the creative process.

What kind of ideas do they come to you with? It varies, the most common requests I get are for flowers and animals/birds. A lot of ideas that people come up with are mostly to do with some sort of “happy” feeling. I rarely get to do morbid stuff unfortunately.

Jay Freestyle is your name, does that sum up your style of tattooing? Yes it does.

Are your customers often surprised by what you come up with for them? Yes and no. Those that are fans of my work and understand what I do aren’t that surprised because they know what they’re getting into and already have a certain expectation. Collectors that I have to convince into sharing my vision are the ones that come out surprised.

Do you just tattoo straight onto the body? No stencils or anything pre-drawn? I draw directly onto the body, the basic composition and whatever I feel I need to have as reference. I, of course, also use stencils, not everything can be hand drawn. I don’t however have anything pre-drawn, so the entire design process is done spontaneously (free-styled).

 

What do you enjoy most about tattooing? Everything. The art of it, travelling, the lifestyle. One of the most valued things I’ve gained from tattooing are the friends I’ve made over the years. I would have never met these people that changed my life if I wasn’t a tattoo artist.

New Strapline – Independent | Tattoo | Lifestyle

If you haven’t already spotted it on the cover of Issue 8 – The Illustration Issue – we have changed our strapline. Independent, Tattoo, Lifestyle is our new ethos. And we hope it is a more inclusive one…

We didn’t set up the magazine to exclude men, and male tattoo artists, we want to remain all-compassing and reflect this in our marketing. The tagline ‘Embracing Female Tattoo Culture’ was set up to say: “we’re here to appreciate the art, not objectify the person wearing it.” It wasn’t ever really intended to say: “female only!”

We feature both men and women, and strive to produce content that can be enjoyed by all – gender is irrelevant. So the old strapline has served its purpose and it’s time to move on and continue to open our pages to men and women all over the world. We also wanted people to know that we are an independent magazine, unruled by the restraints of a publisher. The magazine is also much more than just a print magazine, it’s a lifestyle and a community.

What do you think? What do the new and old straplines say to you?

Check out our website at www.thingsandink.com.

Things&Ink covers

 

Interview with tattoo artist Gia Rose

Sofia from Geeked Magazine talked to tattoo artist Gia Rose for us about tattoos, being a female artist and her battle with cancer. Read her interview below and don’t forget to check out more of Gia Rose’s work on her Instagram 

 

Sofia: “Having been diagnosed with a chronic illness – even though not dangerous/deadly – it affects my everyday life, I draw a lot of strength from the artist Frida Kahlo who suffered for more than 30 years, but has never let her health deter her from doing her art. When I decided on getting Frida tattooed on me I knew I wanted a woman to do it. I remembered seeing the awesome portfolio of tattoo artist Gia Rose from Art Machine Productions in Philadelphia, so I decided to look her up. Sadly she was off work on medical leave due to cervical cancer, but hopefully she would survive it, get better and come back to work as soon as she had recovered. Thankfully that happened and today I have the most wonderful tattoo I could have ever asked for, full of meaning, passion and female strength. Here are some questions I asked Gia about her amazing turbulent and brave journey.” 

Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you come to be a tattoo artist? I consider myself an accidental tattooist. I pretty much stumbled into my apprenticeship with all the excitability and ignorance that youth offers!  After a few years of being a general misfit and vagabond I landed myself in Asheville North Carolina. I always drew and never fancied myself an artist but liked the idea of learning a trade, so I hastily put together a portfolio of sketches and drawings and threw myself at Miss Kitty, who owned Sky People Tattoo (a private tattoo studio that no longer exists), but she still tattoos in Asheville! I know now that getting an apprenticeship like that is not the norm and pretty difficult these days! I did my apprenticeship for a year, then left to work in a street shop in New Orleans. After that I pursued a degree in Illustration in Portland, Oregon. That’s the short of the long. It’s been a long journey!

What’s it like being a female artist in the tattoo industry? To be frank, it’s awesome. In the beginning, I definitely felt the differences in what being a woman meant. It meant I had to work harder, push harder, strive for more and be very careful about who I dated. We live in a patriarchal world that still subjugates women and uses them as a commodity. So we face these challenges in our daily lives in all fields. So in all actuality, I would argue that the tattoo industry may offer more benefits to women, mainly the fact that I make the same amount of money as my male co-workers. Getting into tattooing is hard for anyone at first. But once past those gates and once you establish your skills and place in the industry, there’s a whole world there to support you.

I did my apprenticeship in 2003 and I’ve seen girls explode into the tattoo industry with such awesome creativity and skills, it’s been so cool. I’m very proud to be a female artist and I feel very supported by the guys. Yes, there is the “sex sells” aspect to this industry, but that’s in ANY industry, tattooing just has no shame in it. So it’s hard at times, we do indeed have to work harder, but I think it’s just hard being a girl in this world sometimes.
Which is why I love Things&Ink magazine, us ladies gotta stick together and celebrate what we bring to the table.

 

Where do you get your inspiration? Other female artists, and a lot from fashion  collections and jewellery artists, as well as artisans and crafts people. I find so much inspiration from Instagram! I like pulling things from life and peeking into people’s personal curating of the world around them. Sometimes I’ll design a tattoo completely around a piece of jewellery I saw.

Your life has been brutally interrupted and affected recently by cancer, how did this affect your work, your life as an artist and as a woman?

Holy hell. Cancer blows. But it’s also a really great gift once you find your centre. You don’t just learn about yourself, you learn what you’re fucking made of!

I was diagnosed in January 2014 with an aggressive cervical cancer. Uninsured like most American artists, I found myself very alone and very afraid. I refused to wait to even see someone, so I did something I will never ever regret doing. Via social media I went public and reached out to my tattoo community for help. We also had a fundraiser that raised over 30K to help me in my fight.  Through Tattoos Cure Cancer and tattoo artists all over the country I was able to get the best care possible. I had a radical hysterectomy in February 2014 and found out in May that at this time, due to fast acting and early detection, no further treatment is necessary. I’m 100% convinced my industry saved my life.  I will never have children but in a way, I feel like this gives me more drive to push myself as an artist and reach out to other women survivors and continue to add my efforts to making people feel beautiful and strong.

Every January (cervical cancer awareness month) starting this year, I will be donating proceeds from my tattoos to someone battling cervical cancer like I was. This has been the most humbling experience in my life. The tattoo industry has made me so proud.  Tattoo artists are some of the most generous people on the planet.

It’s definitely made me a stronger artist and person. Life’s too short to fuck around.

 

 

How did you feel about tattooing Frida Kahlo on me? I LOVED it. This was seriously a bucket list tattoo for me. Frida Kahlo is one of my personal artist heroes and I find her radiating such beauty and strength!  I hope I captured it well. It was also very empowering to get the opportunity! This is my second colour portrait so it was challenging, which I like and I’m very happy with it.  My stuff is usually very illustrative, which I think this tattoo is, but it works.

I love it. Hands down one of my favourites.

ArtBeat – Atomica Gallery on Soho Radio with Things&Ink editor Alice Snape

Alice snape soho radio

If you missed me on ArtBeat on Soho Radio with Holly and Orla from Atomica Gallery, have a listen on MixCloud. We chat about ‘Miniature Ink’ (our upcoming exhibition to celebrate Things&Ink‘s two year birthday), tattoos and art, the beautiful magazines covers and tattoo artists I recommend. Plus there is a competition at the end so listen out to win an Angelique Houtkamp print and a copy of Things&Ink.

Let me know what you think. Listen here.

LondonEdge

LondonEdge: A commercial trade show, forging youth-market trends while pushing the boundaries for established sub-culture fashion.

7th-9th September

Business Design Centre, Islington, London. N1 0QH

LondonEdge launched in 2000 is one of the longest serving fashion trade shows around. They showcase the crème de le crème of creative and lifestyle orientated fashion collections, the most exciting ready-to-wear street fashion there is! Representing everyone from fresh young designers to established global brands. The trade show hosts over 250 lifestyle labels including Iron Fist, Alice Takes A Trip, Sourpuss Clothing, Hell Bunny and many more!

Lifestyle-driven and culture-led: they are The New Alternative

Renowned for bucking the trends, LondonEdge is a show that gives brands and designers a platform to showcase their collections to the people that matter.

At this September’s landmark 30th show LondonEdge are holding their first ever “Bloggers meet-up” where guests will be personally introduced to their favourite brands and receive an amazing goody bag from an array of exhibitors!

Don’t forget to register if you want to go to this year’s most exciting trade show!

Things&Ink will also be there on the Sunday, come and say hi to some of our team!