Category: Fashion and beauty

Vintage Vista: Ruella-Maria

38-year-old Ruella-Maria is a part-time vintage slinger, mumma, wife and full time sick girl, who lives in The Woodlands Texas but originates from Aberdeen. We chat to her about her courage to keep going when faced with a myriad of health issues, how she started selling vintage and her stunning tattoo collection…

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 16.33.06

Tell us a little about your Etsy shop, and how you began selling vintage? I predominantly sell antique fashion on Etsy. I have a penchant for late 1800s to 1930s women’s clothing. I’m drawn to anything feminine, light and airy or a bit manky and masculine with possibilities for longevity. I like to combine sourcing vintage for myself and my shop with exploring Texas. Texas is an antique and vintage fashion treasure trove. My hunting grounds are flea markets, antique malls, fairs and estate sales.

I started selling vintage after my health deteriorated a few years ago. I only sell vintage on a very part time basis as my health permits. I was born three months premature in 1978, weighing 1lb and wasn’t expected to survive. I’ve been told that I’m a fighter my whole life,  I see it more as stubbornness, I don’t like being told what I can’t do. I am neuro diverse, I have a developmental disorder known as dyspraxic with overlapping disorders on the spectrum.

I’ve always known I was different. It isn’t always easy but it’s part of who I am.

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 18.52.09

I also have Ehlers danlos syndrome a collagen disorder that affects my skin, blood, muscles, ligaments and joints, which causes major pain for me. I also have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome which causes a myriad of problems but mainly has me feeling sick, tired and dizzy on a daily basis. I’ve gone through hell over the years with both these illnesses but luckily I have an amazing husband who has helped me figure out how to weather the bad times and a daughter who gives me a reason to be strong each day. There are no cures for what ails me but I think it’s good to be honest & talk about them as they obviously impact greatly on my everyday life.

So selling vintage gives me a purpose. I don’t make it out of bed every day. I might be the slowest seller in the world but I know that I carefully choose each piece on my adventures, I put love into reviving the lost and broken pieces and I enjoy sharing what I find with others. I also set up a vintage fashion community Instagram page two years ago so folk like me had a place to tag outfits. I spread the word to use the tag #truevintageootd when listing personal vintage fashion outfits. 18k people later and I now have a group of Instagram friends helping to run the page so we can feature new people are regular users daily. It’s been an adventure building our not so wee vintage fashion community!

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 18.40.14

Can you describe your personal style? I have been wearing vintage properly since I was 17. My own style is a mix of antique femininity almost fairytale pieces mixed with modern and masculine pieces. I love the 1920s but find the Edwardian, 1910s and 1930s styles suit my curves better. I’m a bit obsessed with Victorian prairie and whore house boudoir looks at the moment. I spend a lot of time at home which affords me the opportunity to wear impractical outfits such as underwear for outerwear and corsetry.

It’s only really been the past few years that I feel I’ve really explored all decades of fashion and found my own fashion groove. I don’t feel like I fit in a particular category anymore.

Now I’m happy to be a square peg in a world of round holes. Difference is good.

FullSizeRender-4

Does your home decor emulate your style? I guess my house reflects my style a little bit. I’ve lived in Texas for four years with my hubby and 17 year old daughter plus two dogs. If I lived alone my home would would be pink and floral with mad Victorian wallpaper and dolls everywhere. But as it is I’d call our home industrial luxe – a mix of rustic wood and metal furniture with pink velvet chaise, teal velvet sofas, a taxidermy buck wearing a tiara and knick knacks everywhere.  I have several cabinets filled with my older, rarer antiques, curiosities and pretty things.

Are there any values or traditions that you have that have been influenced by your love of the past? What pieces are you drawn to and which are your favourite? I am a HUGE period drama and old classic movies fan. I always have an old movie or something running in the background whilst I work. I have eclectic music tastes ranging from Victorian era music in swing, blues and jazz to more modern but probably 70s at the latest rock artists like The Doors.

FullSizeRender-5

Can you tell us about your tattoos? How do these fit into your look? Do they help you to feel comfortable in your body or help your confidence? My tattoos are also an expression of who I am. They are the pain I choose. But I live life in daily pain – at least tattoo pain is something I choose for myself and I get something beautiful at the end of it. I have a lot of scarring on my body – the collagen disorder EDS makes it all worse. I’ve been through the wars, had a bubba, been thin then fat then a bit less so and I’m almost 40, it all leaves its mark. I guess my tattoos cover up some of my tell tale signs in places and I prefer to look at tattoos than scars so that’s a bonus! My tattoos are for me. I’ll be getting more for sure and eventually there will be more visible but for now I like that they are mostly for my eyes only.

I see tattoos as personal art that I’ve collected. They are either tokens of fond memories or something that I admire. My recent, more complex pieces have all been done by the same amazing folks at Power House Ink. Jason and Amanda – both big antique & vintage fans. Both are very talented and I plan to have as many of my tattoos as I can done there and I’m far more likely to choose from their own flash as I admire their style and skill

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…

DM4C2364

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!

IMG_2264

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.

IMG_1376

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.

DM4C7840

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!?

R57A3288

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.

_MG_0749

In Colourful Company Street Spotter

If you haven’t heard of In Colourful Company yet you may have spotted their colourful community walking around a city near you. The group is ‘an all inclusive community of kindness, encouragement and adventure’ that started out in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Their goal is to bring people together in fun and creative ways, and to encourage each other to take chances and make changes, all whilst grabbing their cameras and searching the streets of their favourite cities in search of colour.

18670767_275953986148246_9041564372701458165_n

Our music writer Amber caught up with a few from this colourful lot during their Leeds walk to find out more about their creative careers, tattoos and their experience of In Colourful Company…

Name: Kayley Mills
Instagram: @Kayleymills
Job: Illustrator and etsy shop owner
Tattoos: Sleeve and forearm by Raychel Maughan at Northern Glory in Newcastle.

“In Colourful Company has brought me right out of my shell and has helped me meet so many awesome like-minded people.”

Name: Lisa Barlow
Instagram: @lisa__barlow @magicalthunderpress
Job: Illustrator and freelance designer
Tattoos: Sewing sleeve by Sway at Northside Tattoos now at Sacred Electric
Cactus, gypsy lady, castle and snow globe all by Bailey at Sacred Electric

“This is my first experience of In Colourful Company for the Leeds colour walk and it has been loads of fun meeting new people”

Name: Sarah Jane Smith
Instagram: @sj.sdsphotography
Job: Photographer
Tattoo: Rose by Polly at Cry Baby Tattoo

“It’s been a bunch of warm, welcoming, like-minded people who have been great fun to hang out with.”

Name: Alice Christina
Instagram: @awonderemporium
Job: Blogger & Photographer
Tattoo: Wildflower bouquet, by Lea Snoeflinga at Northside Tattoos

“This is my first walk and everyone is so friendly and colourful. It’s inspiring to see so many incredible women bossing it!”

Name: Katie Abey
Instagram: @katieabey
Job: Illustrator and company director
Tattoos: Hogwarts by Vicky Morgan, cat by Jody Dawber, WIP back piece by Ashley Luka, lemon grab by Paul Tipping.

“In Colourful Company has brought me so many new friends. It’s inspiring to go on adventures with amazing girl bosses!”

Name: Nicola Fernandes
Instagram: @fernandesmakes
Job: Illustrator
Tattoos: Lady by Adam Steel, Squirrel by Adam Cornish, Wasted Rita quote by Mike Boyd, Cat and Scribble by Rainey Harley.

“It’s like I’ve stepped inside of Instagram. It’s great to meet people in real life and make connections and hopefully BFF’s”


To find out more about In Colourful Company and how you can get involved head to their website.

Careers: Tattooed Make-Up Artist

We chat to 26-year-old Charlotte Amy Tompkins, Make-Up Artist at Urban Decay based in Chester, about her incredible tattoo collection and personal style…

char

I was 17 when I got my first tattoo, a small red bow on the bottom of my back in Blackpool. God knows how I even managed go get it! I look so young now, think what I looked like at 17? Thankfully it’s since been covered by my on-going back piece – which I need to get finished! At the minute I’m filling my gaps pretty slowly, but I want to get started on a stomach piece soon too.

I’ve always loved tattoos, I never used to like colour tattoos for some reason, but now look at me! Having my tattoos is such a boost, I love having them on me as they are a part of me and will be forever. My tattoos are mainly of animals and roses – you can’t beat a good rose! I absolutely love animals and roses are my favourite flower.

gibbo

Tattoo by @gibb0o

I get a lot of mixed reactions from people when they see my tattoos, they either go one or two ways. I get stared at rudely, some people shake their head in disgust too. I was once on the bus back from work and behind me were two elderly ladies talking about how have I even got a job and I should be ashamed being a lady covered in tack!

But when I’m at work I get amazing compliments and most are from women aged 50 or over, who are so interested and just wowed by my look, which is amazing. Kids love them too, they’re attracted to the colours, I had a little girl who was shopping with her mum recently, who got her mum to tell me that she thought I was beautiful with my tattoos and hair. It’s the little things that make me smile, but some people really hate tattoos for no reason really. But I love my skin thanks to all the amazing tattooists out there!

ashboss

Chest and neck tattoos by Paula Castle, Ash Boss and Jody Dawber.

I landed my current position at Urban Decay out of pure tenacity, I just kept going back after handing in my CV and eventually I got through three stages of interviews. I worked in a coffee shop before, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I wanted to do career wise.

I’m really lucky that as a make-up artist and working for Urban Decay my job let’s me be myself. I would have gotten my more visible tattoos done eventually regardless, as they are a part of me now, but my job does help. I love how they look and how pretty they are. For those wanting to get more visible tattoos I would think really hard about what you want in the long run and think about how it will effect work first. As I said I’m lucky!

char1

I’m vegan, and I love that I work for a brand that is cruelty free, I love what they stand for. My typical day depends on my customers, I always sit them down to get to know them and find out what it is they want. At Urban Decay we love showing the off products and having a play, we want everyone to feel good about themselves and raring to come back and try more!

Urban Decay love people being themselves so hell yeah I dress how I want. My style is definitely different, a little quirky maybe a bit weird. I love black but I also liked having coloured hair, big earrings and platform shoes. Of course my tattoos are usually on show as they’re hard to hide!

Grace Neutral chats Needles and Pins

From the illegal underground tattooists of South Korea to Brazilian women challenging social stereotypes, Grace Neutral’s productions with VICE offer an edifying shift away from the usual fetishizing of tattoos by using them as a conduit to highlight the often contentious social and political realms of each wearer.

Grace chats with writer Fareed about her experiences in front of the lens for VICELAND’s 2017 series, Needles and Pins, and what it’s like to be an ambassador for contemporary tattoo culture.

(This is an abridged version, the full piece will be published in INKED)

Grace+Neutral (1)

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Hi Grace. So, you were tattooing at Good Times and then suddenly you’re a media personality at VICE media. Can you tell me how that happened? Well, I was lucky enough to be approached by i-D a few years’ back to write an alternative Christmas speech about beauty, which received a great response.

i-D then made a film about me and my outlook on tattooing which also went down really well. It was after my i-D series ‘Beyond Beauty’ that VICE asked me to work with them.

And how has that journey been for you thus far? I started making films with VICE at the start of 2016 and we wrapped up the first series of Needles and Pins by the end of the year! It has been one amazing year, that’s for sure!

Grace+Neutral (2)

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Let’s talk about the shows. It’s so refreshing to have someone from the tattoo community represent contemporary tattoo culture in an intelligent and socially and politically charged manner, unlike other mainstream shows that often debase the art form. What are you hoping to achieve with these shows? Basically, what I wanted to achieve with these shows was super simple: I wanted to tell a true story about tattooing, and offer people a proper insight into how the art form came to be the big industry it is today.

I also wanted share some of the cultures and techniques that helped evolve the art. Just like you say, mainstream shows on tattoos seem to only fetishise and poke fun at tattooing. I got sick of this – and decided I’d have to do it myself 😉

What is the extent of your role in these stories, is it limited to presenter or are you actively searching out stories and utilising your knowledge and networks gained while tattooing? There must be so much involved! I am not a TV presenter, it has never been a goal of mine. I simply got offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn more about my craft.

Being in front of the camera and guiding the audience through my adventures was definitely something I had to learn, but because I am so passionate about tattooing it was natural for me to quickly form relationships with a lot of the people we filmed.

For me, it’s all about finding the stories. I was very involved in the development and making of the show. For example, I knew and suggested some of the contributors you see in Needles and Pins.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt, whether about yourself or anything else, over the course of the shows? I have learnt so much from every single place I have visited. But the one common theme that strikes me is that that tattooing is such an amazing way to build friendships and communities. I feel so lucky to be part of the global tattoo family.

Grace+Neutral

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Most memorable moment for you? The most memorable moment filming the series was riding around LA on quad bikes with Venice Bad Boys.

Most interesting thing you’ve discovered about tattoo culture? In one episode of Needles and Pins we go to New Zealand to learn about Maori tattooing and Maori culture – and this was the most interesting discovery for me. The Maori people are so beautiful – and its history is so intertwined with tattooing, nature and magic, it was hard not to fall in love there. It is definitely a place I will return to continue my tattoo journey and education.

Has the show received any criticisms? To be honest, I haven’t heard any bad comments about the show.

Obviously there has been the odd internet troll calling me a ‘freak’ because of the way I look, but I have heard it all before and I’m very good at shielding myself from any negativity comments.

All the feedback about the show has, so far, been really positive – and I’m over the moon about that!

Grace Viceland

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

If you could do a tattoo show about anything or anyone, what would it be? The one I just made for VICELAND!

Would you agree that the normalisation of tattoos – great for reducing stigma and allowing autonomy over one’s body – has also created a new ‘beauty’ industry / ideal? Tattoos becoming less about expressing spirit and individuality and more about acquisition: the purchase of social capital and of ‘beauty.’ Yes for sure, I think the majority of tattoo artists (well, at least the ones I know and work with) understand how sacred it is to tattoo, the energy you share with that person is so beautiful, and sometimes, even life changing.

It’s been something that I have been conscious of for a long time – and I love that more and more people (not just tattooers, but also the people who get tattooed) are realising this as well.

And lastly, what have you got planned for 2017? 2017 is all about tattooing, travel and having a fucking good time while I do it!

Grace Neutral

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Interview with Lusy Logan

Lifestyle Fashion Trade Show, London Edge is this weekend – 12/13 Febraury 2017. This is an interview with Lusy Logan, alternative model for many of the London Edge brands, first published in The Edge Magazine.

Lusy Logan is an alternative model with a style all of her own. Known for her extensive tattoos and killer looks, Lusy has modelled for many LondonEdge brands and continues to reinvent her look each season. Lusy joined the show for the Influencer’s event – a part of the show where models, bloggers, media, press and other influential and creative people are invited to the show to connect with the brands. Here, Lusy tells London Edge a bit about herself, her career and her thoughts on the show…

IMG_8842

London Edge: So tell us a bit about your personal style…
Lusy Logan: I would describe my style as dark elegance, scruffy goth with a feminine twist.

LE: Have you always been quite alternative in your dress sense?
LL: I have always been alternative in my dress sense, all through school and growing up I wanted to be different.

LE: How long have you been modelling for?
LL: I have been modelling professionally for seven years. I’ve had many looks, different hairstyles and colours over the years, but it’s really helped me grow as a person and given me confidence in myself.

IMG_0188

LE: We’re used to seeing your modelling work at the show – namely that Hyraw campaign starring you and model Dickie Smith. Who are some of your favourite brands to work with?
LL: My favourite brand to work with is Killstar, they are my absolute favourite, and some others include Church of Sanctus, Disturbia and Hyraw.

LE: So you’re now moving into the world of tattooing. What motivated you to make this change?
LL: I started to learn to tattoo back in 2012 and it was put to one side due to personal issues going on in my life. Since then I’ve been working as a receptionist at my brother’s tattoo studio, and this year I have decided to get back into tattooing and make a name for myself because I think I could be really good at it.

I’ve started training with the master of portraits David Corden in Edinburgh, which I plan to continue to perfect portraits and realism. I plan to find a studio to settle into and carry on with apprentice work, hopefully Tokyo Tattoo are considering taking me on as I have applied to work there.

IMG_9026

LE: Sound like an exciting change. It was great to have you join us at the show as a part of our Influencers Event last season, and I know you’ve been attending the show for years.
LL: I enjoyed London Edge last year, seeing all my favourite brands, as well as gaining interest from other new brands who liked my look.

LE: Did you see any new collections at Edge in September that you’re exciting about?
LL: I saw some items from Collectif clothing that I really liked, one of them being a leather wiggle pin-up dress that I thought looked amazing! And of course seeing Killstar’s new range was very exciting.

Thanks Lusy! You can see Lusy’s work over on her Instagram @lusylogan

IMG_9168

Photos by Kris Askey

GRLCLB: Roobs

We chat to 24-year-old Ruth Finn Leiser (aka Roobs), writer, feminist and founder of GRLCLB about starting her own business, creating a zine and her tattoo collection…

What inspired you to start GRLCLB? How did it come about? How did it start? GRLCLB is the product of frustration, neglected creativity, and a horrible job. I was working full time, often up to 60 hours a week, running a gift shop – for a boss who wanted me to give my all for just £7 an hour and to whom nothing was ever good enough.

I spent so long looking for that one thing that would save me, the outlet that I needed, and eventually I realised that the reason I couldn’t find it was because I needed to create it. I had stitched a couple of t-shirts – the reaction from my Instagram followers was really positive and I just sort of thought ‘well what have I got to lose?’ I bought the domain name for under a tenner and set up this rookie website with no clue what I was doing, and just took it from there.

What message are you hoping to spread or share? Really, I just want to be honest. It’s so easy to shy away from speaking your mind when the internet can be such a brutally unforgiving place. But when you realise that by simply speaking your mind, you can be providing comfort for other people who are thinking the same things as you or feeling the same way as you, it becomes a) less scary and b) more important. In a world where you can create an entire existence – persona, success, lifestyle – out of square pictures on a social media app, it is, I think, genuinely necessary that people are shown what’s real from time to time.

What can people expect to see and read on your blog? Well that’s where I start to feel like ‘blog’ doesn’t really apply. To me, blogs are like really well-oiled machines that rely on organisation and planning and structure and conforming to a particular kind of aesthetic/content for a specific intended audience. The writing side of GRLCLB is, honestly, completely shambolic. I’ve never really been able to write for purpose, I’ve always just gone with the flow and refused to ever force anything.  So the Girl Talk section of the website is littered with unscheduled outpourings talking about stuff ranging from body positivity to domestic abuse to the neurochemistry of introversion to what’s happening with the business side of GRLCLB to why I’ll never promote skinny tea.

Can you tell us about your new zine, what’s inside? The zine has been a highlight for me. Even though it was a little bit rushed to get it out in time for Christmas, it provided a really nice new level to the whole GRLCLB experience I think. I loved the thought of people settling down to read it on paper rather than a screen. The first issue had poetry, tips for challenging anxiety, a self-care guide, a recipe, doodles, a list of facts that make the world seem nicer etc.

How can people get involved? That’s something that I really want to focus on in 2017! From the outset, I wanted GRLCLB to be like a community, and I’m constantly trying to find ways for people to contribute. I’m excited for the next issue of the zine because the potential for exciting collaborations is endless. I just can’t think of anything nicer than a converging of girl power from the internet into real life.

Do you have a background in art? From a recreational point of view, I was such a manically creative child, but from an academic perspective, not at all. University also killed my creativity. I studied psychology. It was only when I graduated that I realised I’d forgotten how to be anything other than analytical. I spent a lot of time pointlessly wondering whether, if I’d pursued art way back when like I’d wanted to, I’d have ended up somewhere else. But, actually, part of me thinks that art school could’ve been even more damaging. The thought of creating something, only to have a quantifiable grade assigned to it is totally soul-destroying to me.

What inspires your creations? I truly believe that we’re a product of everything we experience. Everything we create is a product of all the people we’ve known and the music we’ve heard and the stories we’re told and the sights we’ve seen. My mum introduced me to a lot of great music – Bruce Springsteen and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Led Zeppelin etc – and my dad is just totally eccentric – anything weird or unusual or surprising that I like is definitely down to him. I think I draw equally from their generation and mine.

The more political side of GRLCLB is, I guess, just inspired by what’s going on in the world around me. The only difference between other people and me is that where someone else vents through Twitter or their friends, I’m like ‘this is going on a t-shirt’.

When did you get your first tattoo? What was it? Do you still love it? My first tattoo was a couple of years ago. I was late to the game because I’m so indecisive that I was convinced I’d get something on a whim and then end up hating it. So, obviously, I got an ode to Shakespeare. It’s based on a couple of lines from The Merry Wives of Windsor: ‘Why then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open’. The first bit has obviously filtered into general usage, but it’s the second bit that always appealed to me – the world might be mine for the taking but I actually have to do something about it. Darryl from Irezumi tattoo studio in Glasgow drew me up a hand with a dagger and an open oyster shell, and I’m as obsessed with it today as I was the day I got it.

Can you tell us about your other tattoos? Some have meaning, some don’t. I have a thistle and a cornflower (the flowers of Scotland and Germany respectively) and a banner saying ‘Give Em Hell’ in tribute to my ancestors and the struggles they faced – also by Darryl at Irezumi. Mel at Black Dot gave me some of my favourites: a badass woman’s torso, a pair of hands sewing out the words ‘Girl Boss’ to remind me to keep at it, and the simplest GRL PWR across my Achilles.

Do tattoos have to tell a story or have a meaning behind them? Not at all. I think that, for me anyway, it’s nice to be able to recount the stories behind them, but of course, sometimes the stories behind them are just the people you were with or the shop you were sat in or the laughs you had while getting it done. I don’t think that the art itself has to have a meaning – tattoos are a way to remember people and places and context, and I reckon that’s more important than trying to make them visually significant. 

What plans do you have for GRLCLB in the future? I’m trying to make it less labour intensive for me on my own. Whether that means getting other people involved – or not – I’m not sure yet. I just feel like so much of my time is taken up with sewing that I can’t let the brand grow into something that can reach more people. I want to start engaging more with ‘real life’ people – the goal of it was to create a safe place for people, so how wonderful would it be if that could be translated into a physical one? I want to concentrate less on the actual physical act of stitching, and more on the ways that GRLCLB can really make a difference. This year will see the introduction of more printed products, still with the signature GRLCLB style/sass, but that will hopefully just mean the start of bigger and better things to come!

The Tiger Style: Tiggen

We chat to Tiggen, 19-year-old retail assistant manager and blogger, from London about her blog, fashion style and collection of blackwork tattoos…

IMG_1061
When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I first started blogging last March, however I’d been building up the confidence to start for about a year by that point. After following and admiring many other bloggers online, I wanted to try it out for myself. It was something I’d always thought about pursuing but initially I had to push myself into writing my first post.

What kind of things do you blog about? Typically, I enjoy blogging about personal style, as it’s something that is unique to everyone and so closely linked to self image. I find issues around body image, and how we view ourselves and others, to be very interesting and I plan on writing more about that in the future. Other topics I blog about are lifestyle, beauty and London.

IMG_1065

How would you describe your style? My style is very minimalist. I only wear black and white, with one exception of a brown jacket. As my colour plate is so simplistic I tend to focus on the quality of the material over anything else. I would say I dress quite casually on a day to day basis, I’m nearly always wearing my leather jacket.

What inspires you? I take inspiration from people watching, seeing the variation of street style and how people present themselves. London is such a diverse city and full of so many interesting people that I can’t help but feel inspired.

Do you have a favourite, artist, designer or musician, or someone else that you admire? I wouldn’t say there was just one person in particular that I admire, there are so many people that I look up to. Social media plays a part as it allows you to glimpse into people’s lives, to respect what they’re feeling and going through. To name a couple that I follow on Instagram:  @jayrosetattoo @acornandauger

IMG_1063

When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo the day after I turned 18, it was only small but I was extremely happy to finally have one. Sometimes I forget it’s even there now that I have many more, but I still like it.

Tell us about your tattoos? Do they help you to see you body differently, do they inspire confidence? Each time I get a tattoo it instills more confidence in me and makes me feel at home in my own skin. They don’t feel like an addition, more as though they were there all along just under the surface and now they’re revealed. To me getting a new one is not only a physical change but a mental one, they help me to see my body differently and to boost my self image. I find them empowering. Much like my personal style I only have blackwork pieces, they range from illustrative style to more mehndi buddhist pieces.

IMG_1057

Do you have any future tattoo plans? I have a habit of planning very far ahead in regard to tattoos. I’ve carefully thought about what I’m going to get and where, most of my body is already planned out. Next on my list is to get my other hand done.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? Without a doubt. I enjoy collecting tattoos and meeting new tattoo artists. I’m hoping to travel to get a lot of them done, it’s all part of the experience. The beautiful thing about collecting tattoos is having artwork on your own skin that you can admire everyday and carry with you.

IMG_1059

What kinds of reactions do your tattoos get? Luckily most of the reactions I receive are positive, whether from friends and family or strangers. However, there are occasions when people  make derogatory remarks or invade my personal space to try and touch my tattoos. In the end though they’re on my body, so the only thing that truly matters is how they make me feel.

Interview with China’s “First Lady of Tattoo” Zhuo Dan Ting

We chat to 34-year-old Zhuo Dan Ting, China’s “First Lady of Tattoo” who owns Shanghai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, about what inspires her, how tattoos have changed how she sees her body and what her title means to her…

zhuo-dan-ting

How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing for 15 years now.

How long have you owned your shop? I have owned my shop for a total of 13 years, with nearly three of those years being in Harbin, China. The shop was originally called “Wenyifuxing” 纹艺复兴, but after moving to Shanghai, I remained the shop to Shanghai Tattoo 纹艺复兴.

How did you start? I have always have been doing art. It was when I got my first tattoo when I was 17 was that I fell in love with tattoos and I knew this was going to be my trade. It wasn’t easy though, back in those days in Harbin, China, you couldn’t  just go and be an apprentice under someone, there were’t many shops. So I took it upon myself to travel around to different cities in China where there were more opportunities for me to learn how to tattoo.

zhuo-dan-ting

How does it feel being called the “First Lady of Tattoo”? I feel old! It is a great honour to have set the bar for the female tattooists here in China as well as female business owners. It’s kinda crazy that only 15 years ago it was frowned upon for a woman to be independent in my country. I’m so glad that I was able to break out of that and do my own thing and be successful at it!

What obstacles have you faced and overcome on your journey to becoming a tattoo artist? In the old times, when I was getting started, tattoos were looked down on and people were not very supportive. People would always ask what about your future? What do your parents think about what you’re doing? Other obstacles were simply trying to get better, learning from somebody else and improving. I had to travel and do my own research to learn the art of tattooing. Putting beautiful quality tattoos on people for life, felt like my destiny – I had no choice.

zhuo-dan-ting-tattoo-work-snake-tattoo

Do you have a background in art? I’ve always been involved with art. My father was an artist too, and a art teacher. He started teaching me art when I was five years old, every night I would draw on the kitchen floor with him. This eventually evolved to paper and canvas, then art college and university.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I’ve always liked tattoos, and was drawn to them through a sort of obsession. It was when I got my first tattoo at age 17 that I knew this was it. I had to do it, and not only create tattoos but be the best tattooer What an amazing way to express your art, I absolutely love tattoos and couldn’t live without them.

zhuo-dan-ting-tattoo-work-guang-gong-backpiece-tattoo-a

Can you tell us about the tattoo scene and culture in China? The tattoo scene is improving, especially these past five  years, as tattoos are getting more popular. For example when I started tattooing here in Shanghai, there were a handful of shops now there are hundreds – I can’t even count them! The tattoo scene and culture is really taking off, I only wish more people would take the time to investigate what a good tattoo shop is and isn’t. People are always wanting to save money and go to a scratcher. Overall though tattoos are being more and more accepted in China, it’s pretty awesome.

How do people view women with tattoos? People’s attitudes are getting better, they’re seen as cool. Before this it was pretty brutal, people would always ask how are you ever going to get married? (This being top priority in Chinese culture) How are you ever going to find man to take care of you with those tattoos? Most of the time it’s still like this but I’m married to a wonderful man, so I don’t listen to that shit anymore and we take care of each other.

zhuo-dan-ting-tattoo-work-panda-tattoo

What kind of reactions do you receive? Reactions to my tattoos, green hair and clothes are pretty crazy! People stop dead in their tracks everyday and just stare! I’ve seen people almost get into serious accidents as they freak out when looking at me. I’m pretty much blowing their minds! Pretty funny, the closets people live in, and how they freak out when they see someone that doesn’t appear the same as everyone else here in China. The further you go out of the cities the more people freak out too – like they seen a ghost, alien or something. They just stare at you with no shame in total disbelief!

Have tattoos changed how you see your body, and how you feel about it? Yeah I feel good,  as there’s no blank skin. My tattoos are like armour for me, without them I would feel naked, bland and not like me.

zhuo-dan-ting

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I like to draw creepy different styles, snakes with legs and such. With my tattooing I like to focus on black and grey realism. I would love to do more large pieces including backs – the bigger the better! I love a good challenge.

What inspires you? Anything different or creative I suppose – movies, things on the internet and randomness. Walking down the crazy streets of Shanghai can be pretty inspiring!

zhuo-dan-ting-tattoo-work-sleeve

Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Yes actually I’m doing the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention this year in April, also I will be heading to Malmo, Sweden, guest spotting at my friend’s shop Malort. Hopefully Oslo in Norway too, but I’m still working out all the details. I’ll be heading to California as well to Sacramento, Bay Area possibly Portland, Oregon later in the year, around November, December. I will have more details later this year!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have a lot of tattoos, around eight that I have done myself. Most of them are now covered up but still there to remind me of my beginning days. I love all my tattoos they all tell my stories, and I’m continuing to build my own canvas.