Ever wondered how one tattoo artist proposes to another? Read on to find out. Here is the love story of Alex and Zoe Binnie…
How did you meet?
Zoe: He was tattooing Mo Coppoletta and I came into the shop to bring something in for Mo on my way to work – I worked in a bar at the time. And we just sat down and had a little chat while he was working. Alex: And I really fancied her and this was, what, 12 years ago. I thought there was something about her I really like, a lot, so…a couple of years later, I found her number and called her – I didn’t ask her out on a date, I offered her a job. I thought that was the best way of getting her in my life. I said we needed someone to be our glamorous new receptionist and desk girl. Zoe: And he said under no circumstances is this an apprenticeship, so don’t even think about it. Alex: Is that what I said? Zoe: Yep, don’t even think about it. So I was like, fine OK and I accepted the offer and came to work for him. Alex: (looks at Zoe) And actually you learned to tattoo in the shop a few years later…you terrible girl! Both: And then… Zoe: I left the shop. Alex: with Miles – she ended up having a relationship with one of my guys, Miles. Which was fine, I was in a relationship myself and I had two young kids. It was cool, I always loved her, but I didn’t need it to be consummated in that way – I was happy just having her around. Zoe: Then I was away in Australia for about five or six years. Then I came back… Alex: And we’d always kept in touch – as friends, of course. Zoe: When I came back Miles and I had split up. And that was about a year and a half or two years ago now…and Alex and I went out for a few dinners, like we always used to, as friends… Alex: Well, we went out for one dinner as friends and then it got a bit “not friendly”… Zoe: it was weird… Alex: We think the scales were lifted from our eyes at exactly the same time… Zoe: He liked my new fringe… Alex: It was a different fringe from this one. Obviously I like this fringe, too… Then, we were together and here we are. We’ve been together as a couple for a little over a year.
So when did you propose?
Zoe: Valentine’s day. Alex: Yep I proposed on Valentine’s day. Zoe: It’s a very romantic story. Alex: Go on, you tell it then. Zoe: I was working and Alex was in Brighton – doing what I’m not sure… Alex: I was busy. Zoe: He told me he couldn’t come to see me and he was like “You don’t care about Valentine’s day anyway, do you?” and I was like “No, of course not…it’s fine, it doesn’t matter”. He got flowers sent to the shop during the day, saying really sorry he couldn’t be with me. I was like “awww that’s nice”. Then I went home and I was making dinner with my flat mate and I got a phone call from Into You London (Alex’s shop) and it was Alex. I said, “What are you doing in London?” and he said “Babes, you didn’t think I’d really miss Valentine’s day, did you?” He’d booked a table to ‘our’ restaurant – the one where the scales had been lifted from our eyes. He said he would be there at nine, so I only had half an hour to quickly get dressed and get there. I got there and went to sit down and his hat was on the chair. I lifted the hat up and there was a big, sort of diamond and Alex said it was a taste of things to come. I was just like fine, whatever, thanks and I sat down. Alex: And then I told her she had to come outside, as I had something to show her. Zoe: And he was checking his nails every five minutes and looking nervous…and as he lead me outside I saw he had a little box in his hand. I was like oh my god, oh my god – I think I know what’s going to happen. Then when we were outside he got down on two knees – he has a dodgy knee – and he lifted up his shirt and he had ‘marry me’ tattooed on his chest. He said “Darling, will you marry me?” And I said “of course, yes”. Then, he said he didn’t have a ring yet, but he had picked a diamond. Alex: I did have the diamond with me.
Zoe: And then we went back inside, so I could have a look at the diamond. And of course the next day, I went and got the ‘yes’ tattooed on me… then in two months’ time I will be (scary voice) Mrs Binnie. Alex: (in scary voice) Yes Mrs Biiiinnnie…
So do you two ever tattoo each other?
Alex: Yeah we have. Zoe: (Looks at Alex) I am supposed to be tattooing you at some point soon. Alex: I have to admit, I find it a bit difficult to tattoo her now, as I don’t want to hurt her. (Looks at Zoe) I don’t want to hurt you babe. Zoe: And then you’d have to stare at it every night. Alex: It’s tricky, there’s too much stuff going on, as the great Hanky Panky (Henk Shiffmacher) said you should probably never tattoo your other half. It can be weird, but who knows I might tattoo her again one day.
Sealed with a kiss - how romantic
So there it goes, the tale of two love-struck tattoo artists – how they found love and how he proposed to her.
I bought this lovely iPhone case from the Brighton Tattoo Convention last weekend. The lovely Rachel McCarthy, from Modern Body Art, makes them and she will make a unique one for you if you order one. She sells lots of other craft-type things and prints, too. Of course her tattoos are amazing and she is another person to add to my list of people I would like to get tattooed by.
I fell in the love with the work of Claudia De Sabe at my first tattoo convention in Brighton. I have wanted to get tattooed by her ever since. I managed to get on her waiting list at the Jolie Rouge, London, last year and I had a consultation with her at the end of last year. My one inspiration: a lamp.
This is all I told her at my consultation and, of course, where I would like it positioned –the inner top of my left arm.
After my consultation, an appointment was booked for 10 January 2012. And I didn’t see the beautiful drawing until then – the grand unveiling of my beautiful vintage-inspired lamp.
The amazing thing about this design is it captures both of Claudia’s styles in one tattoo. The beautifully intricate and vintage nature of the shade, then the Japanese-inspired base. It’s just perfect and I loved the stencil instantly.
Claudia was also so lovely when she was tattooing me, so friendly and concerned about how comfortable I was. It was actually a really lovely experience.
I decided to let Claudia pick the colours, too. I hadn’t quite decided. And I am so glad I left it to her because I couldn’t be happier with the finished tattoo…
“Tattooing has become a victim of its own popularity” Zele
Behind the Needle 3 features three more notable tattoo artists. Ninoslav Zelenovic aka Zele from Zagreb Tattoo, Jason Donahue from Idle Hand and Alex Binnie from IntoYou London/Brighton talk about the past, present and future of the tattoo world. Has it really become a victim of its own popularity in this Facebook-obsessed world?
Zele used to be a military man, and this is reflected in his love of historical, ethnic and traditional styles of tattooing. His tattoos reflect his value system and past. In this film he also talks about the negative impact of the growing popularity of tattoos and how this affects those who have been in the business for a long time.
Jason Donahue has always been into art, and as soon as he got his first tattoo he realised he’d found something he really wanted to do. His influences come from the past, his strongest being American traditional and Japanese. He also talks about the explosive nature of the tattoo industry now and the fact the he is his own biggest critic, constantly seeking tattoo perfection.
Tattooing was a very ‘closed’ world when Alex Binnie started out, and not at all fashionable. He tells us about his varied style and how the industry has changed since he has been a part of it. He talks about tattooing as a beautiful contract between the tattooer and the person being tattooed that avoids the constraints of the gallery system.
I saw this girl and her intricate and delicate tattoo a couple of times in the crowds at the convention. I finally tracked her down at the Tattoo Workshop stand and managed to get this gorgeous picture. The tattoo is by Saira Hunjan.
I attended the Brighton Tattoo Convention in 2010 and I absolutely loved it – I was supposed to attend last year too, but due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to (see the day of the phantom tweet).
The 2010 Brighton Convention was my first ever tattoo convention – I was a little younger and a little less tattooed, so I attended with apprehension. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re covered head to toe in ink or never intend to get tattooed, the Brighton Tattoo Convention welcomes all who are there to appreciate the art form. Although, this year I can’t wait to show off the ink I have collected throughout 2011…
Ryan tells me how he needed to find something to do with his life, that wasn’t a shitty job after dropping out of art school, and what’s it’s like tattooing in Portland.
Jo talks about punks, rockers and what it’s like being in the tattoo world as a woman. She was actually pregnant at the time of filming and has since given birth to a beautiful baby girl called Marley.
Since Steve has been able to hold a pencil all he has really done is draw, he sees tattooing as one of the strongest and most permanent ways to put your imagery into the world.
Brian tells me how he got lucky by being offered an apprenticeship and was ‘pretty bad’ for a long time. Now he loves the symbolism of fairy tales in his tattoos. (I think in this part of the film you may be able to hear my stupid laugh in the background!)
He works with Ryan at Scapegoat, and as you can see from the film, they really love each other, ahh. (I LOVE you guys)
Words by Alice Th’ink as seen on Zeitgeist.
Photos by Papercut Pictures