Category: Fashion and beauty

Interview with artist Anna Volpi

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Italian-American artist Anna Volpi about her photographic series Skin… 

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When did the Skin project come about and what is the idea behind these shots? Skin was created for a competition that I didn’t win, but that doesn’t matter now. I met so many wonderful people through the project which is more important that any prize.  The title of the competition was simply ‘Skin’. I began to think of the various interpretations of skin, what you can do with it, the way we can see and feel it. The skin is the largest organ of our body and we can not live without it. One thing all human beings have in common is their skin and how it can cause a variety of relationships and reactions among people. Love, hate, contempt, worship and much more. ‘Skin’ is more than just aesthetics it explores how we live in it and how people really are inside their own body.

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How did you select the personal stories of each one of the subjects? To select the people I searched the internet and I spread the word among my acquaintances. I only chose people who had interesting experiences or felt connected to their skin in some way.  I listened to the story of each of them and the ones I chose were those that struck me the most. In each photo there is a summarising sentence, that encapsulates them as a person.

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What did you like the most about this experience, both personally and professionally? What I liked the most was meeting extraordinary people that I would like to keep in my life. From a more professional side, this is the most methodical project I’ve done so far. From the start I already had an idea of how the aesthetics would be. However when photographing people I didn’t ask for them to pose, I took every picture naturally during our long talks. But I knew that I wanted clean, balanced and strong images. I usually get dragged a little more by improvisation and variety, but here I had to work within certain limits, and it was a great experience.

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What are your thoughts about tattoo art?  I have two tattoos, but I’ve never studied the history of tattooing. I don’t like how stereotyped people with tattoo are, and I don’t like them as a fashion trend. Saying that, not every tattoo should have a deep moral significance. My tattoos act as reminders for me. The words ‘here now’ remind me not to be anxious about the future, or decay in the past. ‘Write’, instead, reminds me to finish my novel. I chose Evelyn Hays, the tattooed girl in the Skin project, because she totally believes in this form of artistic expression. And I would have chosen her even if she hadn’t had tattoos, because she believes deeply in this art form.

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Evelyn Hays

Can you see a relationship between tattoos and photography? In a photographic portrait a tattoo can be a point of interest or it can be seen as a disturbance. I really like to photograph the naked body, and for some shots I look for women without tattoos, because the tattoo is somehow distracting. Tattoos attract the eye, and can disturb the lines of the body that I want to create. Other times, they accentuate the body.

Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.

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Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”

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Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”

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Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”

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George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”

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Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”

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Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Loco Mosquito

Loco Mosquito is a Bangkok based unisex clothing label, mainly focusing on quality classic Americana staples infused with contemporary tattoo imagery. Their aim is to do collaborations every year with like-minded directional artists of different mediums.

They are currently in the process of doing collaborative projects with tattoo artists from all over the world, including Guy Le Tatooer,  Kristian Gonzalez, Luca Polini and Valentin Jorquera.  We spoke to Ricky from Loco Mosquito about the design inspiration behind the brand and what other collaborations they have lined up…

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How did you come up with the brand Loco Mosquito and how long has it been running? Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators is a creative collective based in Bangkok that was conceived in January 2016. It started off as a side project that I eventually became fully immersed in. The name of the brand itself is a direct ode to an Iggy Pop song of the same name that was released in 1980, a legendary musical personality that has always been a source of great inspiration for me and the brand. I am originally from Indonesia but spent a considerable amount of time studying and working within the clothing industry in Melbourne, Australia. At the same time, I was starting to travel a lot more within the Asia Pacific region and fell in love instantly when I first visited Bangkok, Thailand. I was completely blown away by the energy of the city, its underground edge and its powerful combination of tradition and modernity, which is a quality I try to reflect as well in the clothes I design. On top of that, the living costs in Bangkok are much more affordable than Australia, making it an easy decision to relocate here.

 

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What inspires you when designing? Being surrounded by Buddhist temples, traditional east Asian architecture and a medley of characters on the streets of Bangkok, the buzz and hustle of the city makes it a huge melting pot of inspiration. I am especially fascinated and influenced by Asian temple art (Thai, Chinese, Tibetan Buddhist) and traditional folk art of Southeast Asia and India. The whole vision behind the brand is to re-interpret and recreate classic unisex staples (biker jackets, Vietnam style military jackets etc.), influenced by traditional Asian and Himalayan art and symbolism.

 

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Tell us a bit about your collaborations with tattoo artists and what made you pick those artists? We are closely connected to well-known Bangkok based tattoo studio, Common Ground Tattoo, formerly known as Six Fathoms Deep. They regularly host renowned international guest artists on a monthly basis. This provides me with a great opportunity to meet a wide variety of talented artists from around the world and some of the collaborative projects that we have done started off in this manner. So far we have done collaborations with Italian tattooer Luca Polini and Colombian tattooer Kristian Gonzalez. Both of them are solid traditional tattooers in their own rights and I was really drawn to their bold and striking rendition of Asian subject matters, which I felt would translate really well into a line of clothing. Right now, we are working on a line of Jackets with Valentin Jorquera from New Caledonia. I am also in the process of completing my bodysuit project with Guy Le Tatooer from Toulouse, France, and we have been discussing the possibility of doing some crazy collaboration together with the brand in the near future, so watch this space!

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Where do you see the brand going in the next year or so and what things have you got planned? We are just about to release a short film showcasing our first collection of leather jackets and shirts. The super talented Melbourne based film production team Eye Sea Films and director Roxanne Halley are responsible for the realisation of this project. We wanted the film to be authentic with a distinct Bangkok flavour. That’s why we chose to film real people on the streets of Bangkok, instead of hiring models as the premise of the shoot was to showcase real people wearing real clothes in real situations. We also hope to expand our selection of products in the coming year, developing into a full line of clothing to include bottoms, accessories and a suiting line. And of course to do more collaborations with artists of different mediums in the future!

The short film can be viewed here:
Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

 

Loco Mosquito clothing can be purchased via their website: loco-mosquito.com and they’re Instagram page is: instagram.com/loco_mosquito_official

Boomtown 2016 Street Spotter

With mind-blowing production, hoards of interactive characters and immersive story lines happening throughout the weekend, Boomtown festival thrives off the imagination and creativity of its dwellers. It was no wonder that our blog contributor Becky Young had such an incredible time exploring the town, meeting its people and finding out more about their relationship with their ink and the festival itself. Boomtown is the only place so many different and unique people can all come together and feel like one big family!

Sophie from Vienna
Age: 26
Job: SFX artist
Favourite Boomtown area: Mayfair
Tattoo by Phillip Millic while guesting in London
“It’s all about the artist, they and I need to have a connection for me to wear their art on my skin for life”

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Nick from Peterborough
Job: Chef
Favourite Boomtown area: Sector 6
Tattoo by Ziggy Bates from Cloud Nine Ink
“My mum passed away and it represents the Greek mythology we both loved”

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Frankie from Berlin
Age: 26
Job: Stripper & performer
Favourite Boomtown area: Freak Boutique in China Town
Tattoo by Jay Moon at Pride Tattoo
“I met Jay at a squat party, he was doing banners for Skumtek and I loved his art – and so he offered to tattoo his art on to me!”

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Courtney from Bournemouth
Age: 26
Job: Forklifter
Favourite Boomtown area: Lion’s Den
Tattoo by Ana Tatu from Black Lodge
“Reggae on my left arm close to my heart, my right arm represents rock ‘n’ roll for my Uncle”

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Fay from Bridgewater
Age: 30
Job: Childcare
Favourite Boomtown area: Chinatown
Tattoo by Mike from Mike’s Tattoo Studio
“Just a sexy ass lady and she deserves to be seen”

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Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…

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When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.

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You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.

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You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.

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What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.

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All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

SILKE London and Not Another Salon

World-renowned hair salon on London’s Brick Lane, Not Another Salon have been making the headlines recently for their award-winning techniques and innovative creations when it comes to hair dyeing. And what better way to keep your locks in good nick than with one of the beautifully crafted silk hair wraps from SILKE London?

HyperFocal: 0 SILKE founder Maria says, “We believe that the beauty of hair depends on its health.  It doesn’t matter how much you steam, style spritz and spray, there is nothing that beats having naturally strong, shiny and voluminous hair.  That’s why the foundation of SILKE products is to improve the architecture of your hair so it looks amazing, regardless of how you choose to style it.”

SILKE London hair wraps are designed to slip on before you go to sleep so that it protects hair from the tossing and turning that occurs throughout the night.  They can stop frizz, breakages and split ends, increase thickness and length and maintain your hairstyle for longer.  The hair is cocooned in the wrap enabling the natural oils to moisturise and nourish the hair from root to tip, and oil no longer being concentrated at the root which means less greasy hair days!

 

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Combined with Sophia Hilton, founder of Not Another Salon’s next level colour skills and her focus on keeping hair healthy, these head wraps are a must for anyone wanting to take the plunge into fantasy follicles!

Silke hair wraps can be bought online at: http://www.silkelondon.com/

Lea Katz Illustration

19-year-old Lea Katz is a resident artist based in Melbourne, Australia, soon to be living in Bavaria, Germany. We chatted to Lea about the beautiful women she draws and how tattoos make her feel about her body…

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Inspired by Things&Ink Lea created this illustration just for us…

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What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I work digitally and traditionally. For my digital paintings, I use a graphic tablet and Photoshop. When I work traditionally, I usually rely on pencils, ink and sometimes watercolour. I also love mixing my drawings with other elements to create a collage-like look. I have some gold paper for example, that I combine with my drawings, sometimes I use photos from magazines for that and on other days, I just take whatever I can find and glue it to my sketches.
When I get to work, my usual process is to start out with a very messy sketch that I refine until I’m happy with it. Once that’s done, I begin to work on details to achieve a semi-realist look on certain parts of the artwork (like the face, when I draw a portrait), when I’m finished with that, I start bringing in flat shapes and lines and in the end, I combine it with different scans (in digital paintings), older drawings and photos.

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What kinds of things do you draw? I love drawing portraits, but I also enjoy drawing flowers, nature and birds. Every now and then I also do some typography, but I really need

What is it about women that makes you want to draw them? I guess it’s something that I do since I’m a kid, so it’s almost like a habit now. I love women, I love being a woman (most of the time, at least) and women get so much shit so often, that I just want to celebrate women and femininity in my paintings. I draw them as queens, strong, proud and independent, cover them in gold and all things fabulous.

What inspires you? Huge inspirations for me are art history and music. I’ve always been a little art nerd and a huge fan of art nouveau and surrealism, which are two big influences on my work. Music is a big part of my life, I always listen to music, I love singing (even if I’m a horrible singer. Doesn’t stop me though) and there are always songs that just make me want to catch the vibe of it and put it in a painting.

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How would you describe your style? I’d say my style is a mixture of semi-realism, art nouveau, graphic design and sometimes surrealism. It’s basically a huge collage of styles that I love and try to combine into one piece of work.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? Definitely! Frida Kahlo, Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Cindy Sherman, Man Ray and Hannah Höch are people that never stop inspiring me. I love Frida’s self-portraits, Mucha’s girls and Klimt’s golden paintings. Cindy Sherman’s photography is simply fascinating to see, as well as Man Ray’s and Hannah Höch’s dadaist collages.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I just got my first tattoo in March this year when I visited Amsterdam so I don’t have too many yet. My first tattoo was a beautiful little heart by Angelique Houtkamp, as a souvenir that reminds me of one of my favourite cities. Next, I got a flower on my wrist and after that Frida Kahlo from her “Wounded Deer” painting, which is a piece of art that has a lot of personal meaning to me. And since this Frida was tattooed in a more traditional style, I decided to get another one. This time, full on classic Frida as we know her. It was also my first tattoo in Australia, done by the amazing Marian Machismo.

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How do tattoos make you feel? Have they made you feel differently about your body? Tattoos make me feel great, they make me feel like a badass and I’m happy that they give me the ability to carry things that I love with me wherever I go. They definitely changed a lot about how I view myself and my body. I, like probably every person who had to go through puberty, have a lot of insecurities, I’m unhappy with that part of my body, this could be thinner, this patch of skin has too many freckles, blah blah blah. You probably know what I mean. Covering myself in art that I love changed the way I look at myself. I don’t look at my arm and worry about it being too fat or too whatever anymore, I look at it and see my beautiful tattoos and feel incredible. In fact, I’m happy for every inch of skin that I have because it’s potential tattoo-space.
Do you have any future tattoo plans? Definitely. My next appointment is in September, with Clare Hampshire from Hot Copper Studio here in Melbourne. And I have a lot of Australian artists on my list that I need to get a tattoo from before I move back to Germany in January.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? I do! I love doing commissions. I sell prints, shirts and a ton of products with my drawings on it via redbubble and I’m always open to sell my original, traditional drawings.

“My own mark” – mastectomy tattoos

Diane de Jesús, 35, London, is owner of Piece O Cake Nutrition, a nutrition communications consulting and advisor for Personal Ink (P.ink) – an organisation to connect breast cancer survivors with tattoos artists. In this interview, Diane shares her own experience of breast cancer and how getting a tattoo made her feel about her mastectomy. 

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Photo of Diane by Lydia Perez DeJesus @momdetresshoots

Can you tell us about your  cancer diagnosis and treatment. At 29 years old, I was diagnosed with DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ, which is the earliest stage of breast cancer. I was told that while my life was not in immediate danger, the cancerous cells would have to be removed. Thus far, the medical community is unable to determine which DCIS cells will become invasive cancer and when. This combined with my very young age meant that we couldn’t just take a “watch and wait” approach. Also, my disease was so extensive, filling nearly my entire left breast. This meant I would have to have a mastectomy to remove the entire breast.

How did you feel about your body after the mastectomyI was thrilled to have such a good prognosis and to have such great doctors who provided me with excellent mastectomy and (silicone implant) reconstruction results. After recovery, I was grateful to very quickly dive back into my normal life: working by day, going to school at night (working toward my registered dietitian certification) and exercising regularly. I thought I was adjusting just fine. It wasn’t actually until after I got my tattoo that I realised how much I had been through emotionally and how I had been avoiding looking at my chest in the mirror. I had always done everything in my power to care for my health and my body had always reflected that. Suddenly, my body had betrayed me.

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By Roxx, owner of 2 Spirit Tattoo, San Francisco, California

Did you consider other options before deciding to get tattooed? No. I knew that I wanted to get a tattoo very early on, possibly even before having my mastectomy. While I researched what to expect from my surgeries and recovery, I came across stories and photos of women who were post-mastectomy and had chosen to cover their scars with tattoos. I wasn’t so much drawn to the idea of covering my own scar but of finding some way to encapsulate and honour all that my husband and I had been through and also to put my own mark, of my own choosing, on my body.

What made you decide to get that tattoo design? In some mastectomy cases, the nipple can be preserved but in most, the nipple and areola are removed with the rest of the breast tissue. This was the case for me. While I was discussing reconstruction options with my plastic surgeon, I was offered the option of nipple reconstruction many times. The idea of having a fake nipple constructed from the skin on my chest—a nipple that would never feel anything, respond to touch or temperature, or release breastmilk—just never resonated with me. Neither did the idea of having the image of a nipple and areola (even a fancy 3D one) tattooed onto my chest. What did resonate with me was something that Geralyn Lucas did, and wrote about, in her memoir of her experience with breast cancer. Geralyn also had a mastectomy with implant reconstruction but no nipple reconstruction. Instead, Geralyn had a tattoo placed on her chest, near her scar. As soon as I read about this, I knew it was what I needed to do and as I came across images of other women who’d done the same, I was motivated to find a way to make it happen. Of course, since I’d never been tattooed before, I didn’t know the first thing about selecting an artist, studio or design. I also didn’t realise the cost of tattoos.

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Photo by Gigi Stoll, Gigi Stoll Photography, New York

Did it transform what you thought about your body? Getting my mastectomy tattoo helped me to close the door on that chapter and finally move on. I was tattooed in October of 2013, three years to the day since I was told that cancerous cells had been found in my breast. After getting the tattoo, I could look in the mirror without averting my eyes from the sight of my chest. I found myself feeling more confident. I was myself again.

How do you feel about it now? I continue to be so grateful for my tattoo and for the woman who tattooed me: Roxx, owner of 2Spirit Tattoo in San Francisco, California. I also love that this tattoo continues to provide me with the opportunity to discuss breast cancer and reconstruction options with other breast cancer survivors and their support networks.

What advice would you give to other women who have breast cancer? Every single breast cancer experience is unique. It is overwhelming to receive a cancer diagnosis of any kind but I think that every person diagnosed can benefit from finding a way to listen to her (or his) body and making the decisions that are best for her/him. Also, it is unfortunate, but at some point you may find you really must be your own advocate. You will work with so many different individuals and sectors of the healthcare community who may have the best intentions of providing you with the best advice but this advice may not always be the advice that is best for you. This is easier done with a good support system. Having a spouse, family member or friend to come along to appointments or help with research, paperwork, phone calls, etc. is invaluable.

Can you give us some background about P.ink day… what it is and how others can get involved. P.ink (Personal Ink) is an organisation dedicated to educating breast cancer survivors about mastectomy tattoos as an alternative healing option, and connecting survivors with experienced tattoo artists who can help. One way we do this is through P.ink Day, an annual all-volunteer effort to connect tattoo artists and survivors for a day of healing with tattoos. What started with just 10 artists and 10 survivors at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, for our first P.ink Day in 2013 has grown into a true grassroots movement, with 46 artists, 48 survivors and hundreds of volunteers across 13 locations in North America, as of October 2015. In total, we’ve facilitated nearly 100 incredible mastectomy tattoos via P.ink Day. P.ink Day occurs every 10 October and 2016 will be P.ink Day’s fourth year.

To learn more, visit the Personal Ink website at p-ink.org