Category: Features

Rachel Pitman permanent make-up

Our Managing Editor and resident make-up artist, Keely, recently got her eyebrows tattooed by the superbly talented Rachel Pitman. She kept a diary of the overall experience of having what technically is a face tattoo and how they healed over a few weeks.


As a make-up artist I have always been interested in permanent make-up and the attraction it has for many people. My mother got her eyebrows tattooed over 12 years ago when it first gained attention in the UK – I always used to think it was quite badass that my mum had got her face tattooed. But as I got older I became wary about tattooing your face with what will be a permanent feature.  What if one day you didn’t want to have black eyeliner or drawn-on brows? But all of this changed once I saw the subtle and beautiful technique used by Rachel…

Luckily enough I have been gifted quite full brows, but I was always dyeing them and drawing them in when applying my own make-up, so I thought, why not take away all of that hassle and have permanent brows ‘on fleek?’ (God I hate that term…!)  So off I went to meet with Rachel who is based in Soho, London, with slight trepidation and excitement. I had dragged Alice, our Editor, along to kindly take photos and possibly hold my hand… I had also been trying to convince Alice to do it with me but her fear of face tats got the better of her.

Rachel began by drawing on my desired shape and spent a long time perfecting this until I was 100% happy with the shape and thickness. We then discussed how dark I wanted them to be and agreed on a dark brown with a hint of a lighter brown to take away the edge. I was then treated to a nice surprise of an anaesthetic cream which takes approximately 30 minutes to come into effect. I was not expecting this so definitely helped to calm my nerves!  The tattooing then began and I was told by Rachel not to talk due to movements in my face and that the whole procedure would be finished within an hour.

The most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure was the ticklish sensation that Rachel’s gloves made while resting on my nose… the rest was a-ok! There were parts where I could feel the needle so Rachel just added a bit more of the anaesthetic cream and moved onto the other brow but all in all, it was pain-free.  She uses the tiniest of hair strokes so that the overall result is very natural and looks like actual hair, rather than a block of colour.


After Rachel finished tattooing, she then paints the ink over the brows so that some of the ink can sink into the open wounds for about 10 minutes.


Rachel then gives me the lowdown on the healing process and is very strict on what I can and can’t do. She recommends keeping my face as dry as possible for the next 5-7 days, which means not wearing make-up over the brows or soaking them in water.  She also recommends staying away from any exercise for the next 5-7 days as she believes that when you exercise our skin heats up and this could possibly push some of the ink out. The ink can also be pushed out more easily on people with oily skin, which is my skin type sadly, so I agree to do everything in my power to keep my brows dry, sweat and oil free!   Rachel also gives me a balm to apply once a day sparingly with a cotton bud to help with any dryness and flakiness during the healing process.

Unlike traditional tattooing, I booked in to come back in 6 weeks time to have them tattooed again to make sure that the ink holds.  This is complimentary with the overall treatment as the technique used for PMU is slightly different to that of traditional tattooing… you can read more about the difference in techniques in an interview with Rachel that we will be sharing in the next week or so. Watch this space!

IMG_3627Before and after the tattooing

I was worried about leaving the clinic with a very red, swollen looking face and having to wear my largest sunglasses for the next few days but surprisingly there was no redness whatsoever and you would never have known I’d just been under the needle on my face for one hour!  The next few days of healing were stress free and I stayed away from exercise as promised and only cleansed my face with Bioderma micellar water (which is my absolute beauty must-have, btw) and avoided putting any make-up directly on my brows.


IMG_3689Day two after having my brows tattooed

Day 4 and 5 saw a bit of flakiness but nothing in comparison to the healing of a traditional tattoo and after using the balm this quickly got rid of any dryness. My brows were completely healed after about 10 days and this is when I felt that I could put makeup directly over them… which wasn’t at all necessary as they looked totally made up without having to draw them in… I’m just an obsessive when it comes to a strong brow! Even though I work as a make-up artist, I do spend a great amount of time without any makeup on my face so having my brows look perfectly symmetrical and defined is my dream come true.

Six weeks later and I am back in the clinic with Rachel ready to go under the needle again. Rachel is very pleased with how they have healed and how disciplined I had been with not exercising and looking after them properly (I’m not always the most obedient when it comes to being told what to do.)  We discuss whether I want to change anything about them and I decide to go a bit thicker, darker and extend them slightly at the ends.  Rachel says this is quite common when people come back for their second round of tattooing, as the first time most people are a bit nervous and don’t want to go too heavy in case of not liking it.


So after having my brows drawn in and the anaesthetic cream applied we begin.  The second time around hurt sightly more than the first and Rachel said this may be due to the fact that my skin was still healing hence feeling a bit tender, but the pain was nothing in comparison to a traditional tattoo.  After about 40 minutes of tattooing we are finished and I am again over the moon with the result!  I am really happy I decided to go a bit thicker and darker as I felt like I was ready for my brows to be a bolder.

The healing process was very much the same as the first time around and I avoided exercise and washing my face with water for the next 7 days which I do think is a must for successful healing.


 My healed brows after two rounds of tattooing and 10 days of healing

Overall I could not be happier with the results and I love looking as if my face is ‘done’ without having to wear a speck of makeup.  I had a recent spell in hospital which is never an enjoyable experience and I swear my saving grace for not looking like a zombie was the fact that my brows always looked amazing and framed my face.  Rachel does say that I will probably want a top up after about five years due to the fact that the technique is different to traditional tattooing and can fade slightly. But without a shadow of a doubt I will be having them topped up if needs be because I could not imagine my face without my spectacular tattooed brows.

Keep your eyes peeled in the next week or so for an interview we conducted with Rachel who explains a bit more about what permanent make-up actually is and the difference in traditional tattooing compared to PMU.

Rachel can be contacted via her website: or via Facebook and her Instagram @permanent_makeup_london and her tattoo apprentice page is also @p_i_t_m_a_n


Monster Steel – #tiarchive sponsors

For our recent exhibition, #tiarchive, we were kindly sponsored by the tattoo supplies and wholesale company, Monster Steel.  We caught up with company owner Gustavo Mitchell to discuss what it is like to own a tattoo supply company and how he ended up getting in the business when he is yet to go under the needle!

How did you get into the tattoo supply industry?

As much as I would like to sit here and type up an exciting story of how I rose to prominence in the tattoo industry as a supplier, the truth is that I fell into this industry by chance. I’ve always admired tattoos and their symbolic nature but I never imagined myself involved in any facet of the industry. My initial introduction into the business was in 2001 when I started as an e-retailer for body piercing jewellery. Over time, as business grew, I became a wholesaler and started to form business relationships with several tattoo / piercing shops.  It was a conversation with one of these shop owners that led me to the concept that is now Monster Steel.

What I found out was that as a shop owner it was an annoyance to have to purchase from two different sources when purchasing tattoo and piercing supplies.  At the time companies like Monster Steel did not exist and sellers would specialise in either market but never both. Another key element to the company’s growth was the fact that we were an online company. Nervousness and doubt are common when taking any risk but thanks to the support of family, friends and customers I was able to take the leap and form what is now Monster Steel.  I am involved in one of the most exciting industries I could think of and working alongside some of the most creative, dedicated and inspiring people I have ever met.


Do you have any tattoos?

I get this question all the time and people are always surprised when they meet me because I don’t have a single one. As I’ve continued to grow in this industry I have met some incredibly talented and passionate artists. I’ve become so enamoured with tattoo designs and the artistry that social media has allowed me to admire the work of several artists around the world. I enjoy their art so much that I’ve always said that I would get one if I ever found a design that truly inspired me or embodied an important experience in my life. I simply never found that inspiration and envy all of the individuals that have and were able to take that next step.


How do you see the future of the tattoo industry evolving?

We all know that the tattoo industry constantly changes and evolves. The cultural significance and meanings of tattoos have also changed over time.  I remember during my youth that tattoos were taboo but fast forward to today and they have become mainstream. From stay-at-home mums to business professionals, tattoos have become a norm and an experience shared by everyone. In that transition from sub culture to mainstream I have also witnessed changes in designs and techniques, but because this is an art form I know that the tattoo industry will never stop evolving. As a supplier I am happy to see that the industry is being pushed towards stricter health requirements. As a major supplier I am disheartened when I see that over 50% of needles on the market are marketed as sterile but in fact are not sterilised.  These types of poor business practices endanger customers as well as the industry’s reputation.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to launch their own career in the tattoo supply business?

Go for it and don’t hesitate. This is an enormous market and an industry that is not going anywhere. It’s also an exciting market where you’ll have the chance to work alongside creative minds as well as meet with some amazing people. I will add this. You have to be ready to work as hard as possible.  It’s a large market but also a competitive one, so my biggest piece of business advice is to listen to the customer. If you’re loyal to them then they will be loyal to you.  Don’t ever ignore that aspect of the process regardless of how much the business grows.

organicsOrganic wood body jewellery available from Monster Steel.

What future plans do you have for Monster Steel?

Our number one objective as a business is to stay relevant to our customers by rolling out innovative products and ensuring that our supplies are always the safest and most reliable. I am excited about many of the upcoming projects we have planned as well as several new products that we have live on the site. We want to make sure that our customers trust us to provide not only the best supplies, but also the newest technology that allows them to grow as an artist.

Ruthless Insta-2
Do you own any other brands?

I own several other brands that I take a lot of pride in, such as our line of Ruthless needles and grips, our Mag Lock cartridge needles, Ringmaster Irons machines and other brands that our customers enjoy like Gorilla Grips, Black Buddha Ink, Monster Point and our newest creation – Strype Power.  As I mentioned before, customers are always looking for quality products and that their source keep up with trends, so that is what we’re here to do and will continue to do thanks to all of our loyal and supportive customers.

Monster Steel can be found at or their Facebook page: and Instagram:

Toy Tattoo Machines

Emily Rose is a 31-year-old stay at home mom who was a tattooer in Lewisville, North Carolina in the United States who runs an Etsy business from home selling toy tattoo machines that she makes. We chatted to Emily about how she makes the toys and what inspired her to do so… 

il_570xN.808635497_4h7wMy health and lack of child care after having our daughter meant that I was forced to stop tattooing for the time being but I found a way to still contribute to my family and stay somewhat relevant in the tattoo industry when I started my Etsy adventure so I just found another way to work.

I have a solid background in art, I’ve been in art classes my whole life and have my bachelor’s degree in fine arts from a university here in North Carolina. I started my apprenticeship straight out of college and never looked back; I was 21 and now my husband and I run our own shop in our little rural town. He now tattoos there by himself while I’m home with our daughter making toys. It’s tough but I like to think we’re making the best of some difficult situations we’ve been handed.


I created my toy tattoo machines out of necessity really, our daughter just needed one, and there wasn’t one out there for her, so I made one. She stayed at the shop with us for the first year of her life, we opened the shop when she was a month old. I had to take her with me to breastfeed and tattoo, it was a mess really, but the one thing that made it all worth it was seeing how much she really loved to be at the shop as she grew. The bigger she got the easier it was to have her there with us, so she’s just been a little shop girl from day one.

It was too hard for me to say “no you can’t handle that machine, or that ink” because she couldn’t understand why, so I tried to find ways to make her feel like a part of what we were doing at the shop. But it really inspired me to start making her things that she could use to mimic what she saw us doing at work. I thought they make those little doctor kits why not a tattoo kit? And it worked!


She had her own little machine and didn’t need to mess with mine, she had something that made her feel like a part of the work day and I decided to start selling them locally before I eventually opened up an Etsy shop. The first ones I made were just scraps of wood and bits of stuff I had laying around, I was able to make them better! I save enough here and there for a new tool or some fancy new paints and I get the most rewarding feedback from moms out there! I could tell my own little one was dying for a way to connect with us over work, she sees us so dedicated and in love with our work I think it’s only natural for her to want to be a part of that too.
I’m beyond excited to see how many people are ordering for little girls, the toys avaliable for girls are still geared towards shopping and domestic duties so I’m happy to see how often the pinks sell out! People are excited to give their kids something other than what they see at the store, and they’re excited to be getting it from me! It’s amazing!


IMG_5454Emily’s art work 

I grew up around the art world but it wasn’t until I started getting tattooed that I really felt like I’d found where I was meant to be. I just felt an instant sense of belonging in the tattoo industry as soon as I was old enough to start collecting my own. I was drawn to tattooing because for me I can make such an impact on someone’s life just by giving them the fruits of my labor. I can tattoo anyone, normal people, cancer patients or victims with scars and they always feel so much better afterwards. I liked the idea of sitting with someone and helping them make a monument on their bodies to some internal struggle or painful event, I loved the idea of helping people feel more beautiful.
When I get tattooed it’s almost like I’m becoming more of who I was meant to be, like this colored and decorated version is the real me and I’m just revealing it as I get tattooed, I wanted to help people feel that way too. I also really enjoyed being friends with artists, feeling really connected to them as the people I’d chosen to tattoo me. It’s a special bond, I miss it terribly!


My own tattoos are mostly pieces I’ve collected from friends at conventions and shops in my years. I have a full sleeve from an amazing friend in Texas named Mark Vanness and it’s a whole arm of birds, it’s probably my favorite! I have a birds nest on my hand there and even a secret ostrich on my bicep, my other arm is generally American traditional and I have black and gray movie portraits on one leg, and some weird ocean creatures on my other leg. I’ve been saving my back for a really epic pelican I’ve been thinking about for years while waiting for the right artist to cross my path. I have saved all the worst spots for last.

Check out Emily’s Etsy store for tattoo toy machines… 

Happy 90th Birthday Ma’am

The Queen celebrates yet another landmark as she reaches her 90th birthday today, Thursday 21 April 2016. We’ve decided to celebrate by sharing our favourite magazine covers starring the Queen… shame she never made it onto a Things&Ink cover, well, it’s never too late to get a tattoo, right?

Tatler magazine, May 2016

Tatler magazine May 2016 The Queen

Tatler magazine, October 1961


Stylist magazine, September 2015

Stylist september 2015

Schon magazine, March 2011

schon magazine

And, of course, there’s those who have imitated the Queen, including Agyness Deyn on the inaugural cover of Love magazine.

Agyness Deyn as queen on love magazine

Wishing you a very happy birthday Queeny, from everyone at Things&Ink

Interview with Katie McGowan

29-year-old Katie McGowan, works at Black Cobra Tattoos in Little Rock, Arkansas and creates insanely bright neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Katie about how she got started in the industry and how she loves those who express themselves through tattoos… 


How long have you been tattooing? It’ll be six years this month!

How did you start in the industry? What did you do before?  I grew up drawing and having in interest in art. When I was little, I used to draw cartoons that I watched on TV. Mostly characters from Rugrats and the Simpsons. I would try to make the characters look exactly like how I saw them on TV. Then once I was in high school and college, I would draw portraits of my friends and try to study the details of their faces and bodies. Art had always been my hobby in a way. I drew a lot outside of school, but hadn’t taken any art classes until college. My freshman year of college was when I started hanging out at my local tattoo shop. I loved studying foreign languages as much as I loved art, so my major at the time was Spanish. After begging for a job at the tattoo shop, I started working there as an apprentice hopeful at the age of 19. I stayed in college for three years, but eventually dropped out to pursue a tattoo apprenticeship. My first year of tattooing was in 2010.


What drew you to the tattoo world? The energy that you find in a tattoo shop and at a tattoo convention can be quite magical. It’s this unapologetic environment where people can embrace their bodies, express themselves through art, and say “fuck you” to society’s expectations. I love this. I love the concept of a person having control of their body and life in such a way that if they want to pay to have it altered permanently, they can. To me, that’s empowering. Also, I love having a job where I can cuss. A lot!

Describe your style, how has it changed? What do you like to tattoo and draw?
I have respect for all genres of tattooing, but I’ve always had a particular fascination with traditional and neo-tradtional tattoos. I love tattoos that look like tattoos. I find them to be charming and eye-catching. I also love a tattoo that will age nicely and look rad from now until you’re playing bingo in the retirement home. Traditional style tattoos stand the test of time. I would describe my style as traditional-ish, somewhere between traditional and neo-traditional. I try to use interesting colour palettes, and I feel like my colour choices often times make my tattoos identifiable as being done by me. I tattoo lots of mandalas, lady faces, and other imagery with bold line work and fun colours. I’ve also been tattooing lots of geo-animals which is really fun!


What inspires you? I’m inspired by confident people. People that come in and get large, visible tattoos and don’t care how they’re perceived by others, that’s impressive to me. I’m also inspired by hard working tattooers that crank out killer work on the daily. Matt O’Baugh, who owns the shop that I work at (and was my partner on season six of Ink Master), is a good example of a hard working tattooer that inspires me. I’m also inspired by the young tattooers that are coming into the industry hungry to prove themselves. Females tattooers are a huge inspiration to me too. I love all of the female tattooers that are doing lots of feminine, coloruful, traditional-ish tattoos and making that style of tattooing more relevant and accessible. That is incredibly inspiring to me. I was so honoured to get to meet and hang out with Shanghai Kate at her shop in Austin, Texas. Talk about an inspiring female tattooer! She’s a trailblazer and a bad ass for sure.

What would you love to tattoo? I would love to tattoo anything that represents my style. Mandalas, roses, lady faces, any sort of traditional inspired imagery. Anything I can incorporate bold lines and fun colour palettes into, I’m down!

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I’m working the Evian convention in France in October this year (I’m so excited!), and I’m working on locking down dates for guest spots and other conventions before then. I always post on my Instagram when I travel, so if you follow me on there, you’ll definitely know where I’ll be at!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have a mixture of meaningful tattoos, silly tattoos, and stuff I wanted just because I thought it was cool at the time. I got my first tattoo ten years ago, which is crazy to think about because it doesn’t seem like it could have been so long ago! I don’t have a favourite tattoo on me, but I especially like my traditional rose with “don’t call me Shirley” in a banner on my forearm.

#tiarchive bidding extended 

Our exhibition The Archive #tiarchive has been a wonderful celebration of the end of the printed magazine and new beginnings (you can read more in editor Alice Snape‘s final letter)… And it has been incredible to see our back catalogue of Things&Ink magazines turned into stunning works of art, to raise money for The One Love Project.

Thank you everyone who has been bidding for the #tiarchive over at galabid… We would like to announce that we have extended the auction to end TOMORROW Sunday 17th April at 7pm! So don’t miss out on your favourite items and get bidding!

By Dexter Kay

By Julia Seizure

By Lain Freefall

 By Drew Linden

Place your bid over at HAPPY BIDDING

The Archive Bidding extended

Inkluded Launch New Online Store

Here at Things&Ink we are big fans of the Inkluded blog founded by freelance journalist Beccy Rimmer. So when we heard Inkluded launched a brand-new online store, we had to share it!

We’ve teamed up with Inkluded to give you the chance to win a T-shirt! Check out our Instagram for more details.


Inkluded have created a clothing range in which every design has been drawn by tattoo artists. Inkluded has worked with five UK tattoo artists, Hannya Jayne, Dan Metcalfe, Mike Love, Clare Lambert and Kat Winifred, who have all designed something from scratch for the launch range.

Founder of Inkluded, Beccy Rimmer, said: “At Inkluded, we’re passionate about showcasing and sharing amazing tattoo art. This country’s creative tattoo scene is fast-growing and flourishing with talented artists, remarkable artwork and innovative styles – we thought it was time tattoo enthusiasts had one online place from which they could buy tattoo products and fashion.”


Inkluded was set up with a strong mission, to raise awareness of exceptional tattoo art through blog posts, art exhibitions and by creating an artistic community that people can feel included in. As well as browsing the new products, readers can meet the artists through a series of interviews published on the blog.


A selection of limited edition T-shirts and vests (prices from £15) are available from

Photographs by JustJodie Photography

Jessica Gutteridge Illustration

 22-year-old Jessica Gutteridge is a student and illustrator from York, UK. We chatted to Jessica about her dark gothic film inspired drawings and her tattoos…


Inspired by Things&Ink Jessica created a tattooed Tiger Lily just for us… 

things and ink tiger

Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I’ve been drawing all of my life, but up until I was seventeen I wasn’t very good at it. I took graphic design, illustration, fine art and photography at college, where I was able to develop my drawings to a stage where I could draw a realistic figure. I applied for a fine art course at university because I knew there would be no boundaries to artwork I made. I’ve found with fine art they really push you to not do illustration, so I keep my university work very separate to the illustrated prints I put out into the world. Weirdly I never though I wanted to be a full time artist even with taking all those creative subjects, only until I created my online store Jgdrawings in 2014.

What inspires you? I absolutely love everything gothic, mythical and mystical, especially in films! I’d say film culture is my biggest inspiration, along with the tattoo world. I’ve always loved films and especially the old ones like Beetle Juice, Lost Boys, monster squad…anything before 1999. When I started illustrating my family and friends always said my designs would make great tattoos, I guess that was what made me realise my style of drawing and where I find inspiration from. I tend to always be attracted to colourful pieces of art and tattoos but always draw black and white pieces and get black and white tattoos!.

beetlejuice smaller uality

What medium do you use? How do you create each piece?  I always use pen or black ink to draw my illustrations, but as of this year I’ve started to branch out and create art using other mediums I love, such as acrylic paint, watercolour and embroidery. When creating a piece I start making shapes using pencil to get a composition/scale going, then I use pen for all the finer details. A fine marker for lines and then usually a 0.2-0.5 ink pen tip for the detail and dots. I love crossing dotwork with watercolour, you get the fine cluster of detail from the dots with the wash of colour poking out! Everything I do is hand drawn and then I edit it on photoshop. I’ve started also doing needlepoint and sewing little characters, it’s a medium I touched on at university and really enjoyed.

What kinds of things do you draw? I draw whatever I’m inspired by, whether that be a character from a film, to flowers, animals, mandalas, palmistry bits. I follow popular culture and if anything pops up that speaks to me, I go with it. Yesterday I sat on a plane watching Peter Pan and needed to draw a Tiger Lily character, that same day I read through the Love copy of Things & Ink and needled to draw myself some lovey dovey bits! I am always open to anything so custom projects are perfect, I’ve drawn logos, website bits, present prints, cards and family portraits for customers and its great!


Describe your style, has it changed? In drawing I’ve always used pen. My style is still quite gothic with the characters I draw, the black and white print but just of late I’ve wanted to branch out with new content that I’m getting into. I want to make more pieces with colour, I love the shades of acrylic paint I have so really positive, bright illustrations would definitely be a huge change.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work?  The artists I get inspiration from are feminists such as Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Lucas, but when it comes to me physically drawing I get my inspiration from tattooists. Instagram is a great platform to view art constantly, keep up to date with my biggest inspirations in the tattoo world such as Alex Bage, Cassandra Frances Arianna Fusini, James Armstrong, Thomas Bates, Mister Paterson. Obviously there are so many more, but every time I see a new upload I just want to grab my pens and doodle all day. Definitely yes, I’d say they influence my work in the sense I want to also get to their level of mastering a craft, or more so style.

tiger print

Can you tell us about your tattoos? What was your first, do you still love it? How do they make you feel?  I have three in total, a big leg piece right on the shin, a cobweb on my shoulder and a pair of plastic Halloween fangs on my arm! The fangs were my first tattoo and I absolutely love it, it reminds me constantly of my favourite time of the year. I got it when I was 19 and it’s still in great condition, it was the perfect time for me to get a tattoo and I love to show it off. My tattoos make me feel great, like I have a style of art which I am passionate about forever on my skin.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? I certainly do! My art is all available on my big cartel Jgdrawings, where I sell pre-made art prints, custom one off prints, t-shirts, tote bags, embroidery pieces and stitched dolls. For commissions and any other enquiries I am always reachable at jessicalgutteridge@gmail.

The backpiece Conundrum

Our blog content manager Rosie shares her thoughts on tattoo placement and explores the niggling voice in the back of her head, asking the question- why didn’t I put that tattoo somewhere else?


When I first started getting tattooed I never thought I would ever be covered in tattoos, or have as many as I do now (still not enough!). At the time I had only really seen people with a few pieces dotted around their bodies, my auntie had a Winnie the Pooh tattoo, and I hadn’t met anyone who collected different work from numerous artists.

This post isn’t about tattoo regret or any kind of unhappiness  connected to a tattoo. It is just a post to share a thought that I’m sure many readers have- why didn’t I get that design tattooed on another part of my body?!

While I was a uni I started to get tattooed, I had always liked them and with my new found freedom I began to decorate my body. Like many tattoo virgins, I never thought they would suit me – how wrong I was!

I absolutely love the watercolour style magpies, that I have on my left shoulder, done by the lovely Jessi James, while she worked in Plymouth. I love the colours, the fact that there are two for joy and the delicate blossoms. I also love them because now that she has specialised in dot work/ black work, and rarely does colour tattoos, they are almost like a limited edition piece of art. Even more beautiful and special to me.


I wouldn’t change them in any way, but I would change where they are. They take up a good part of my back, stretching towards my spine. I only wish that I had chosen to put them somewhere else. That I had left my back empty. I have a niggling feeling that Jessi may have talked to me about the placement and even said all that I am saying now! The back is such a prime piece of tattoo real estate, a huge expanse of skin open to an all encompassing design.

I think they were my third or fourth tattoo. At that time I had no plans for my body and no ideas for future tattoos. I didn’t have Instagram so didn’t follow the some 600 tattooists that I do now from all over the world. I didn’t have a tattoo artist wish list and I didn’t spend all my time thinking of subjects and things that I want to get tattooed.


However I have seen lots of people with many smaller pieces on their backs and an artists even created a version of the design I am thinking about around an existing tattoo. I don’t want to cover up my birds, I just wish there was a way of moving them to free up my back for a bigger design.

Have you had the same placement doubts as Rosie? Do you wish you could move your tattoos around? 

Apprentice Love: Kathryn Kirk

We spotted the work of apprentice Kathryn Kirk, 27 on Instagram and instantly loved her dark art and black tattoos. We chatted to Kathryn to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Addiction Tattoo & Piercing Bangor, Northern Ireland where she works… 


Inspired by Things&Ink Kathryn created this feathery babe just for us… 


How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing just under a year now.

How did you start? What did you do before? Before tattooing I had just graduated from Queens university Belfast, working for a music venue and in retail part time. I was drawing and painting but it took until I was 25 to work up the courage to put together a portfolio and publicly seek an apprenticeship. I was very lucky to have spent time working reception and apprentice duties in one of Belfast’s most reputable studios. Since then I have been keeping my head down, learning my craft and working very hard.

Do you have a background in art? From a very young age I was always making or painting something. After leaving school I studied performing arts and drama for six years with a focus on design work – costume, sets, installation pieces, film, etc. I enjoy the process of planning, making and completing something with a hands-on approach.


What drew you to the tattoo world? I grew up listening to punk and metal music with a lot of tattooed musicians so it always felt hand in hand to me. As far as I can remember, Uncle Allan was the first tattooist I paid attention to because he was mentioned in a band interview I read in a magazine. I was such a big Brody Dalle fan so seeing a woman in a punk band being a badass with tattoos was just everything to a 14 year old me! I had older friends that had tattoos and that along with reading music and tattoo magazines and seeing the array of artists and styles made me want to get into the industry. The more I saw and learned about the tattoo world the more I wanted to be a part of it.

Describe your style, how has it changed? I wouldn’t say I have a style, being so early in my career I’m trying my hand at everything. At present I’m flirting with traditional and geometric tattooing, but ask me in a few years!

12953261_10154077887522812_1994881707_o (1)

What medium do you use for your illustrations? I use fine liner pens and technical pencils for drawing and tattoo ink to shade- mostly black. I like to use my illustrations to create hand printed candles and various homewares, which I think are a nice change to flat tattoo prints.

What inspires you? Inspiration comes from anything, I to follow so many amazing artists through social media and I’m exposed to so many different styles of work, textiles, old photographs, movies and music, books, the list goes on! My family and my boyfriend are a massive inspiration to me. They give me the motivation, inspiration and confidence to tackle every challenge. My father has owned his business for 26 years and to this day still works on developing his skills and progressing with fresh ideas. He works incredibly hard with little recognition but he always makes sure the standard and quality of his work speaks for itself. That’s something I aspire to and his work ethic inspires me to keep going. Hopefully I haven’t embarrassed him – sorry dad!

What would you love to tattoo? There’s so much I would love to tattoo, and that’s what I work towards everyday. I can’t wait to be creating pieces that make people go ‘wow, how did you do that?’

What is a typical day like for you? Because I tattoo part time and have a job on the side, every day is different but I guess a typical tattoo day for me is up early, in for cleaning, any drawing and prep for the tattoo, station set up and making sure I have snacks and a good playlist. I spend a lot of time drawing and researching, my main objective at this early stage is putting the best work out there that I can and constantly improving. I have a high expectation of myself and what I want to achieve so that’s what I work towards.

Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Not at this point but I definitely want to meet more artists and studios so would love any opportunities as soon as I’d feel confident enough. Through selling my work online I have been very lucky in being able to send my art all over the world, and I hope someday I’ll be in the position to tattoo in these places too, but all in good time.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I like collecting pieces from different artists so I’ve picked up some lovely work from both local and travelling artists, or when I have been away somewhere. My right arm is all traditional but my favourite pieces are a reaper from Joseph Deegan (Shamrock Classic Ink Dublin) and a switch blade my boyfriend and I both got by Tanya De Souza-Meally in AKA Berlin. I have a Tibetan half sleeve on my left leg by Chris Crooks (White Dragon Tattoo) which was done about seven years ago. My most recent is a rose on my right hand by Danielle Rose.
I’ve been mindful of the scale of work I want to get over the next few years so I have left a lot of big areas blank. I’d love work from Laura Yahna, Guy Le Tattooer, Scott Move, Gakkin, Jondix and Rafel Delalande… so lots and lots of black work!