Category: Conventions

Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Conventions

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about getting tattooed at tattoo conventions… 

I went to my first tattoo conventions this summer, the first Liverpool Tattoo Convention, the second Leeds International Tattoo Expo. They were two fairly different experiences, Liverpool being a huge gathering spread out over a warren of rooms filled with artists and merchandise stalls whilst Leeds was a smaller, more intimate affair. I enjoyed both equally.


Before my first convention I wasn’t sure what to expect, admittedly getting tattooed with an audience wasn’t on my list of fun activities but it was an occasion to get tattooed by my artist without having to travel as far. So I booked in to have my knee cap tattooed by Max Rathbone who had tattooed the rooster on my shin the year before. Yep my knee cap, in public – one of the most painful places or so I’d been told. I wasn’t getting tattooed until later in the afternoon so I had chance to say hello to friends and watch my boyfriend James get tattooed by Andy Walker. This is where we differ as a couple, I like to book my tattoos in advance whereas he prefers to be spontaneous on the day and go for walk-ups (choosing from the artists flash or pre-dawn designs on the day). He also got a little filler from Ad of Folklore Tattoo– a super fun bunch. My turn came and Max scribbled on my knee with coloured pens, he assured me these freehand scribbles would be a peony so I trusted his word and let him crack on. Max had tattooed me before and I was familiar with his style so I could sit back and relax knowing I would end up with an amazing tattoo. To my surprise getting your knee tattooed wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected, phew! Although the swelling after scuppered any plans for a night out, it was back to the digs with a pizza and a bag of frozen peas, our arms laden with prints and other trinkets.

FullSizeRender (7)

My second convention experience was just as good, after the vastness of Liverpool the intimate nature of Leeds Expo was a real contrast. Whilst there was less to do there was more time to chat. I had booked in with Holly Ashby whose work if been a fan of for a while, having bought some of her stunning prints for our home and as gifts so I was excited to meet her. Even though I’d not met Holly we had chatted before hand and decided on a design, having already been tattooed at a convention I wasn’t freaked out like I had been for the first convention. That said at Leeds there was a lot more people walking past and taking photos, at first I found this a bit weird but Holly was absolutely lovely and it ended up being really fun talking to other people approaching her booth. We got to chat to people from all over the globe including other people there to get tattooed by Holly – it was like joining a special club. Inner thigh was a bit of an awkward spot as I ended up sat on a bench with paper towels tucked in my knickers, but it was worth the slight embarrassment as I adore the placement of my gorgeous pooch tattoo. In one hilarious moment a couple came running up to us brandishing a napkin, after some confusion it turned out they wanted a lipstick kiss print too use as a tattoo template. I am still left to this day wondering if some has my kiss tattooed!


Natalie getting tattooed by Holly Ashby taken by Graham Pile

Come and take a seat…

Come and take a seat… in the Things&Ink pop-up photo studio, exclusively at London Tattoo Convention 2015.


Become part of London Tattoo Convention history in a very special portrait project by Things&Ink magazine. The pop-up photo studio will be located on the upper floor in Tobacco Dock and will be set up for the duration of the convention from Friday 25 September – Sunday 27 September.

Floor plan convention

London Tattoo Convention Floor Plan

Come and see us at the Things&Ink stand to grab a copy of The Horror Issue, as well as back issues of the magazine.

A selection of kewpies from Miniature Ink II, a collaborative exhibition with Atomica Gallery, will available to buy at the convention in the Sailor Jerry room down in the basement, with proceeds going to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

The convention address is Tobacco Docks, 50 Porters Walk, London, E1W 2SF and the closet tube station is Shadwell.  This year the convention are providing free travel on classic London Routemaster buses, taking you from Tower Hill to Porters Walk everyday of the show from 10am- 2.30pm.

Advance tickets are available online until 12pm tonight, get yours here. You can also buy tickets on the door.

Adopted doggies from Battersea

Our Miniature Ink II exhibition (which opens today, Wednesday 23 September) is being held in collaboration with Atomica Gallery to raise funds for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. So we thought we’d chat to Sailor Jerry Ambassador UK, EmmaLi Stenhouse about her adopted pooch…

Can you tell us a bit about what  you do for Sailor Jerry?
I am the UK ambassador for Sailor Jerry, which basically means I get to do all the good stuff like sorting all their events and sponsorships, educating bartenders and customers all around the country, and getting people to hear about us by trying our rum. I get to travel a lot and meet good people! I’ve been doing this for six years now and I’ve made a lot of great friends. Because Sailor Jerry (Normal Collins) was a tattoo artist, we have a lot of history within that culture, so I’m lucky enough to be involved in things like the London Tattoo Convention, and we do a lot of in-store tattoo shop events and sponsorships. I guess I consider my role to be about telling Norman Collins’ story, doing my best to support the industry that he loved and inspired, celebrating great art, artists and tattoos, and bringing in all the rum!

Did you enjoy last year’s Miniature Ink?
Last year’s Miniature Ink was great! I worked on the bar all night and don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard! It was great that it was so busy! The best part about getting there early to set up was having the opportunity to go round and see all the artwork whilte it was still quiet! I fell in love with about 10 different pieces, although stupidly didn’t act quick enough to buy any! I loved the fact that everyone had the same size canvas, and the same brief set out, and yet they were all so unique and interesting. I knew a few of the artists featured, and it was nice seeing their style and personalities condensed onto a postcard, and I also discovered new artists and went home with a list of names I wanted to look up!


EmmaLi with Lola

What is your connection to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home?
My sister has worked at Battersea Dogs & Cats home for the past eight years.  She’s fostered a few dogs over the years, the ones who are a little too sensitive or unwell for the kennels.  After meeting some of the dogs and hearing a few of their stories – both the horror stories and happy endings – it has made me a huge advocate for rescuing dogs and can’t imagine going anywhere else now.

Are you pleased we’re fundraising for them for Miniature Ink II?
I was so happy when I found out your chosen charity this year was Battersea Dogs & Cats Home! There are so many charities to choose from, it’s always such a tough call, but after seeing first hand all the great work they do and the many happy endings and wagging tails there, it’s totally worth it!

Can you tell us a little bit about your own adopted dog?
My boyfriend and I bought a house last year, and we always said as soon as we were settled in, we’d get a second dog. We are both massive dog lovers, and he already had a male rottweiler called Syrus when we got together seven years ago, which I was more than happy to adopt and I consider him my own! He’s nearly 10 years old, and although seems happy and healthy still, we always knew we wanted to get another before the time came that it would feel like a replacement! It was still a tough decision as he is absolutely perfect and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog – we didn’t want to disrupt him or make him feel left out so our priority was finding him a mate that he was happy with.


EmmaLi with Lola

I stumbled upon this picture of the sweetest looking rottie Misty (who we have since renamed Lola) , and I sent the link to my boyfriend, saying “can we?”, only half joking… he called me back a few minutes later.  It was more about finding the right dog, not necessarily a specific breed, but as soon as we both saw her picture we kinda knew she was special. I called my sister and we arranged an appointment to go visit the next day. We arrived and went straight into the interview process. They ask you about your home, your experience with dogs and what kind of breeds you’re considering, and then tell you if they have anything they think might be suitable. It’s important to remember that most of the dogs they see in rescue centres have already had a bit of a past, and maybe a bit of emotional baggage, so it’s extra important to make sure they match the right dogs to the right people who can give them the care and love they need! We told them we’d spotted a lovely rottweiler, and they said she could be a good match for us, but she currently had kennel cough, which is like flu to dogs. She was on treatment and would be fine soon, but it meant she might be contagious still and meeting her could put our boy Syrus at risk of catching it from our clothes.


Syrus and Lola bonding

She arrived and was pretty timid, but excited to meet people and be out of her kennel. We stayed seated and gave her a chance to pluck up the courage to come over to say hi to us first. She was just lovely! They explained that she was a nervous dog, and probably always would be, but she had a heart of gold and with the right family who could give her the attention and love she needed she would be a lovely pet.

We went back up to Battersea the following day, but we still hadn’t introduced her to Syrus yet, which was going to be a deal breaker. It was a risk exposing him to the kennel cough but we knew what signs to look out for and to take him straight to the vets if he showed any symptoms, so we had to bite the bullet and let them meet. We went to a big room and Misty (now Lola) was brought in, she ran over excitedly and gave him a good sniff. The rest was history! We did all the paperwork, bought her a new bed, and she came home with us that night!


Lola on her first day at her new home

Why is it important to take in dogs from homes? 
There are so many dogs that, for various reasons, don’t get the lives they deserve. All dogs have the potential to be loveable family pets, but sadly some idiots don’t treat them right, raise them to be aggressive, neglect them and sometimes worse. Dogs are loyal and love even the worst owners, and they live to please you. If you treat them right they will be the best asset to your family you can imagine. Just walking around the kennels or cattery is enough to make you see the difference you can make to one of these animals lives, and how rewarding it can be. Without people re-homing them they have no future – and it’s heartbreaking. The amount of joy I get from knowing we gave Lola a chance she wouldn’t have had otherwise, makes it all worth while and I wouldn’t change her for the world.


Lola hiding in the bushes during her first week in her new home

How long have you had her and how you getting on with her?
We changed her name to Lola when we first got her, Misty didn’t suit her and we wanted to give her the fresh start she deserved. She settled in pretty quick, but I’d be lying if i said there weren’t teething problems! Firstly she acquired a taste for shoes… no shoe was safe. She also had no bladder control and completely ruined the wooden floor in our hallway. Most mornings I’d come down to a few surprises! We persevered though and with lots of positive reinforcement, consistent training and rules, and just accepting that she was still coming to terms with life indoors we eventually saw improvements! Lots of long walks and play time kept her worn out and she stopped the chewing when she finally settled in, lost some of that anxiety and realised she was home now. She has been with us a year now and is just the sweetest, kindest most loving dog you’ve ever met. She is so much more than we ever dreamed of, and a million miles away from that nervous skittish little thing we first met. She’s blossomed with our help and I’m so proud of her and of us to have made such a positive change in her life. I’d recommend it to anyone!


Head over to Atomica Gallery tonight from 6pm to see Miniature Ink II, all profits from sales will be donated to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Join the Facebook event.

The Female Tattoo Show: Street Spotting

Last Sunday, team Things&Ink headed to the 5th annual Female Tattoo Show in Leamington Spa. We love a good convention and can never resist doing some tattoo and style spotting while we are there…

Name: Ellis Arch
Age: 24
Lives: Tamworth
Job: Tattooist


Girl by Jemma Jones


Indian head by Bailey


Fruity head by Kim-Anh Nguyen and shell by Cassandra Frances


Japanese head by Nick Baldwin


Sleeve by John Anderton


Foot by Ethan Jones

Name: Sally Hume
Age: 22
Lives: Rugby
Job: Administrator


All of her tattoos are done by her good friend Han Maude, who was tattooing at the convention.





Name: Josie Davis
Age: 20
Lives: North Devon
Job: Body piercer


Chest by Lucy Roadhouse

Arm by Lucy Roadhouse and Hannah Williamson


Heart by Lucy Roadhouse


The Art of Chris Guest

Chris Guest is 36-year-old painter living in London, he creates large-scale oil paintings featuring tattooed people. We chatted to Chris to find out more about his style of work, the people he has painted and the workshops he runs… 

DSC_1860 copy

Do you have a background in art? I studied illustration at Bournemouth University, and at Brunel College in Bristol.

How did you learn to paint? Other than studying illustration at uni, I’m an avid reader of art technique books, plus I do a lot of life drawing (although this isn’t painting, it does help you see things properly). With painting, you just have to practice like mad, that’s the only way to get any good – nobody picks up a paint brush for the first time and paints the Mona Lisa – you have to put the time in to develop your skills. When I first picked up oils, my paintings were awful! I also think it’s very important to constantly learn from your mistakes, I always try to think of ways that I could’ve made my work better.

Ricki Hall Ricki Hall


What medium do you use? Mostly oil, although I do draw with pencil and charcoal a lot as well. Oil feels so nice to work with and is so forgiving, once you know how to use it properly. I love the history of oil, and the fact that it hasn’t really changed much in hundreds of years (pigment mixed with safflower oil). Despite all these acrylic paints you can buy, they still can’t make anything better and they’re nowhere near as nice to use. I like the idea of producing some watercolours in the not so distant future too.

Can you tell us about the exhibitions you are involved in? I will be exhibiting some pieces at this year’s London Tattoo Convention, so please check it out if you’re coming! Seeing art framed and well lit in real life is so much better than on a computer screen, as you really get to see all the brush strokes, and the scale of the work, and get an idea of what the artist was trying to convey. As well as originals, I shall also have prints available.

DSC_2018 copy Cervena Fox


How would you describe your style? The way I paint is quite classic in style and technique, similar to 18th century painting, but a modern subject matter, painting tattooed people. Obviously my work is quite realist, but you only need to get within a metre of it to see its quite brushy up close!

Who have you painted? Several tattooed models, probably the most well known being Cervena Fox. I’ve worked with Cervena on numerous occasions now, and feel we’ve built up a good working relationship. When we talk about what I’m looking to achieve for my next body of work, I always find Cervena gets my ideas, and really helps them come to life. When you’ve built a good working relationship and your models know you, you’re both a lot more relaxed, and it feels more like friends hanging out, rather than a work thing.

DSC_2022 copy

Do you paint from photographs or real life? Both actually – there’s nothing better than painting from life, and I always find the results are more pleasing, plus its more fun. Although sometimes you don’t have the luxury of having someone sit for a four hour session, or if you’re looking to paint someone outside in a street, for example, you have to work from photos.

How long do the paintings take? Sometimes paintings just seem to work, and they feel finished and complete after a few hours. Other pieces sit in my studio for months and then get revisited, so it’s really hard to put a time scale on it. Also, due to the nature of oil paint, you have to leave a layer to dry for a few weeks before you can paint over it, so if you’re impatient, its probably better to try something else!

Do you do commissions? Of course – best thing to do is drop me an email at to discuss your ideas!

DSC_7087 copy

Where can people buy your art? I have prints and art cards available on my website store. If it’s originals you’re after, best thing is to email me for availability, prices etc. I’ll have originals for sale at the London Tattoo Convention. I also put my work in several group shows in galleries every year, a lot of them happen to be in the US though!

Can you tell us about the workshops you do?  I currently teach a ‘painting a head from reference’ workshop, in several tattoo studios, mainly in London, and a few around the UK. It’s a great way to learn some basic techniques, as I go through colour, materials, values, stuff like that, to help you achieve good results with your painting. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a paint brush in your life, or you’re the next Rembrandt, it’s more about taking part, having fun and producing your own painting. If you’d like to attend or perhaps host your own workshop, best thing to do is drop me an email at for more information.

Dina Litovsky: Under the Needle

Brooklyn based photographer Dina Litovsky has created a series called Under the Needle, in which she captures the serene and painful moments of people being tattooed. The photographs were taken earlier this year at both the Empire State Tattoo Expo and the New York City Tattoo Convention.


Street Spotting: Blackpool Convention

On Sunday 16th August our editorial assistant Rosie was at the second Tatcon in Blackpool, while she was there she did some street spotting, these are the people she met and the tattoos she saw…

Name: Wendy Freestone Age: 48 Lives: Stoke-on-Trent Job: Business owner and Studio mum at The Painted Pin Up Tattoo Parlour 

Tattoos: Chest piece is a rework by Natalie McShee. Business logo on her foot, hands and legs are by both Josie Morris and Natalie McShee.



Name: Bex Harrison Age: 26 Lives: Manchester Job: Healthcare Assistant

Tattoos: Bows on her calves by Mike at Nostalgia Tattoo in Leeds. Monkey by Kirsty Sanderson


Name: Laura Rafferty Age: 22 Lives: Newcastle Job: Sales advisor

Tattoos: Butterfly lady by Danielle Rose. Shiny shin by Hayley Parkin at Inkslingers tattoo studio in Newcastle.



Name: Krystian Dranikowski Age: 20 Lives: Leeds Job: Tattoo artist at 1995 tattoo studio opening next month.

Tattoo: His good friend Juan Martinez


Blackpool Tattoo Convention

Our editorial assistant Rosie attended the second ever Blackpool Tatcon  held at Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool last weekend. After entering a competition on tattoo blog Inkluded’s Facebook page, Rosie won free Sunday passes. Here’s what she got up to on the day…

The convention ran for three days beginning on Friday 14th- Sunday 16th August. I travelled to Blackpool, somewhere I have never been before, on Sunday the last day of the convention. The venue was a castle shaped hotel right on the sea front and was home, for the weekend to over 100 tattooists and traders. The convention hall was made into corridors from the tattoo booths and there was a stage at the front to showcase the entertainment.

Rosie getting tattooed by Emily Dawson

I didn’t plan to get tattooed at Blackpool as I was there to blog Things&Ink and see the sea. But at conventions it is so hard to resist with everyone around you getting tattooed! The lovely Emily Dawson, owner of Holy Ghost Tattoo in Rotherham, created a cute cactus for me inspired by the art of Anne Knispel.


The convention was packed full of tattoo artists demonstrating a wide variety of styles from traditional hand poked to realism, to watercolour and neo-traditional. There were artists from all over the country and many that I had not seen before. I love going to conventions and discovering new artists, styles and ways of doing things. As I am from the Midlands it was great to see so many artists from the North of England that I admire and follow on Instagram.



Similar to many conventions the entertainment focused on burlesque performances, live bands and acts such as sword swallowing. Many tattooists commented that the music was far too loud, I had to agree as I was shouting when introducing myself to artists.

There were also awards at the end of each day for categories such as best apprentice, best small colour and best of day. These are a great way for artists to showcase their creations and be praised for their work.


Jakub Hendrix won Best Large Piece on Sunday


Ashley Luka won second place for Best of Sunday

There was also the Banana Ink stand, who were also at Liverpool convention, where convention goers could have a go at banana skins. The aim being that people will see how hard tattooing really is and the skill needed to do it, but I wonder if it will encourage people to buy a machine and have a go at creating tattoos at home?





The organisers held a charity auction which not only had items gifted from the traders, including a taxidermy chick on a skateboard but also one of a kind art pieces. The conventions organisers prior to the event had sent artists skulls in the hope that they would decorate them in their own style. The most popular being an bio mechanical skull with a working camera in one of its eyes. All the proceeds went to haematology and Leukaemia charities.

chaThis is only the second year of Blackpool Tatcon, it is a really young and new convention, so I’m really excited to see what the convention has in store for next year… 

Interview with tattoo artist: Hollie West

28-year-old Hollie West, who tattoos at Indigo Tattoo Studio in Norwich, is known for her brightly coloured chubby babe tattoos.We chatted to her about her collaboration with illustrator Gemma Correll and what inspires her work… 


How long have you been tattooing? Two and a half years since ending my apprenticeship, which I started at Indigo, after finishing my degree in illustration at the art school in Norwich.

How did you become a tattooist? I was managing a pub after finishing uni, it was a very creative pub where we put on lots of exhibitions and live music so it was fun creatively but I missed drawing and designing. I became friends with the Indigo lot as they were always propping my bar up, the owner (Gema Gold) came across a website I’d set up to get some illustration work and asked me (after a few glasses of wine) if I’d be interested in trying to convert my illustrations into tattoos.

I, of course, jumped at the chance. The next morning I visited Indigo with my portfolio and fortunately Gema was already waiting for me, after looking through my work and discussing the reality of an apprenticeship she took me on. I was over the moon!


If you weren’t a tattooist what would you be? A children’s book illustrator, I love character design and bright colours and unusual images. I think a lot of the designs I tattoo wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of a kid’s book.

How would you describe your style? Illustrative, bold, colourful, bright and fun (hopefully). It’s difficult fitting my work into a tattoo category, it’s not really traditional although I definitely draw a lot of inspiration from that style, it’s not really new school either.I think there are a lot of girls doing similar work to me at the moment and I guess we all fit into a category together, I just don’t know what you’d call it!


You are known for your chubby women tattoos. How did your chubbas come about? I find curvy women so much more fun to draw, they have such a great flow which lends itself to tattoos so well. Big bums and boobies always come across so cheeky and fun, rather than seedy and overly sexual. They can be super sexy but in an old school pin up way that would make you have a giggle rather than rubbing your thighs and grunting.

I only did one or two as a little fun project but thanks to Instagram they kind of took off and I was getting emails all the time with amazing ideas from people about what these curvy ladies could be doing. It’s so great when people give you a basis for an idea but let you run with it and do your own thing, when I have the freedom with a design they often end up the best ones because I get to play and have fun with them.


What inspires you? Kids books, I have a huge collection, I get them bought for me at Christmas and birthdays. Colour, my particular corner of the studio is like a busy rainbow mess, so is my bedroom. I think collectable clutter around me definitely inspires me. I get all sorts of strange little creatures from charity shops, customers are amazing and bring me more to add to my shelves too.

I like fairy tales and stories, fantasy, nothing too real life and serious.

Is there anything you’d love to tattoo. I recently drew a castle, I’m going to have a go at a couple more and see how they might look as tattoos. I love how buildings look in tattoos, there are some really skilled tattooers doing landscapes and buildings and I think they’re such an odd, un-organic thing to sit on a body but they (for that reason I think) just work, I’d like to challenge myself to do something like that. It’ll end up looking like a princess castle even if I’m attempting a burning church though, I can’t escape girly and cute.


Can you tell us about your Gemma Correll collaboration? I have been lucky enough to be tattooing Gemma and her husband over the last year or so, they’re such amazing and creative people, it’s great spending time talking with them. I’ve always loved Gemma’s work (like the rest of the world!) and after tattooing her one day a few weeks ago I came up with an idea that we might be able to do to raise a bit of money for local animal charities. Her illustrations lend themselves so well to tattoos, I’d done a few previously and Gemma had said how much she likes to see her designs as tattoos.

So Gemma has designed a flash sheet which we will be taking to the Norwich Body Art Festival in August, we’re keeping it secret for now so that people who arrive will get first pick of the designs, as we will only be doing each design once. All money raised will be going to charity so it’s great that Gemma was willing to give up her own free time to design these, we’re both really excited about it, it’s getting a lot of attention on Instagram.

Do you have any guest spots and conventions lined up? Just Norwich convention and hopefully in Bristol in September, I’ve done a few guest spots this year at amazing studios such as Cock A Snook, Painted Lady and Never More. I’ve made such amazing friends doing these, I would love to be invited to do more. It’s so great to have a job where you can travel and socialise as part of it.


Tattoos from the first ever Southampton Tattoo Festival

The first ever Southampton Tattoo Festival was held over the weekend 4th-5th July at Ageas Bowl, Hedge End Southampton. Yellow Vintage Fair have teamed up with Ian Ink Tattoo shop to bring a family-friendly tattoo convention like no other.

Here are a few of the tattoos created at this year’s convention: