Category: Features

Shaded: Megan Climaldi

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Megan Climaldi is a 19-year-old illustrator and tattoo artist who is currently working and living in Portland, Oregon. Born in Las Vegas and raised in Hawaii, Megan describes herself as an openly-gay half-Korean who is trying her best to be happy and kind. As part of Things&Ink’s on-going feature ‘Shaded’, Megan opens up about her personal relationship with art, Portland’s tattoo community and her attraction to the darker side of things.

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Can you tell me about your relationship to tattoos? My relationship to tattooing is deeply personal and mostly centred around the healing aspect of it. I got my first tattoo as a 15 -year-old. My mom signed off on it, but would only allow it if the tattoo related to her in some way. She eventually became a negative part of my life, and we haven’t spoken for years. I think that was a bit of a sad beginning to my relationship with tattoos, but every tattoo I’ve gotten after, in comparison, completely relates to things that I want myself. It’s more about the feeling I associate with the imagery than anything else. It’s healing for me, and has an ultimate sense of self care to it. It’s almost ritualistic.

Who’s currently inspiring you as an artist? I look up to a lot of people, as I’m still very new to the industry. I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I have very high hopes and dreams for myself. Some artists I really look up to are Nomi Chi, as someone who is also mixed race and queer. Other artists who I have immense respect for include Cal Jenx and Alice Carrier. I have always been hesitant about tattooing because I feel that a majority of the industry in the US is geared to a certain demographic, and that anyone outside of that is an outlier. It’s great to see artists that are happy and proud of their identity outside of that.

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What’s tattoo culture like in Portland, Oregon? Tattoo culture in Portland is very, very interesting! People here are so open and supportive of art in all of its forms, and I feel like the people I’ve met through tattooing have mostly been very welcoming and genuinely good folks! It’s a small community, even though it feels large. The art scene here is very community centred. Everyone knows each other and will show up to each others shows. The line from tattooing to art, I feel, is starting to blur. I only hope that the worlds continue to collide! I went to a gallery show for the first time here and was in awe of how supportive and relaxed people were. I could only hope to bring that sort of feeling, that inclusivity, to tattooing. Art should be for everyone, and I feel that it has such deep benefit for so many people that it should be accessible, comfortable, and most of all, inclusive! My friends influence me greatly and their continued support and understanding has inspired me to always be kind, and to grow on a daily basis.

What attracts you to blackwork? I love contrast. I love a strong silhouette; I draw much of my artistic inspiration from the art world, and have always been interested in black and white as its own genre. I feel that being able to express with a balance of minimalism and detail is something that is very beautiful. I aspire to create things that are simple, but still complex. Black and white is a fantastic platform for this, and also happens to look great on any skin tone.
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What predominantly inspires your work? My art is predominately inspired by emotion and things that I find beautiful, whether that be a feeling or an image. All of my drawings I could look at and describe exactly how I felt when I created them. I draw so much out of my own personal emotion – my own suffering, that when someone I don’t know sees something I’ve drawn and wants it tattooed, I always am astonished that the imagery resonates with them as well. The fact that a complete stranger could see something I’ve made and feel deeply enough to want it tattooed, I feel like it’s sharing in a subconscious feeling, an unspoken “me, too”. Outside of this, I draw much artistic inspiration from art with strong silhouettes and imagery, traditional Japanese and even American traditional have influenced the way I draw and create my artwork.

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The imagery of your work naturally gravitates towards the dark and morbid. Can you tell me about your relationship to these things? The things I draw tend to gravitate towards themes of death, pain and even self induced suffering; I attribute most of this as a reflection of my own psyche. Art is for me very personal, and always something I have done to heal, express and recover. I have suffered for years with depression and have recovered well and am happy, so perhaps my gravitation towards images of sadness is a way of remembering. I feel like being able to take these feelings, these sad images, and make them beautiful and make them something people enjoy looking at and having on their bodies is truly where I want to triumph. I am growing as a person every day. I am still sad sometimes, but I want to spend my life making beautiful things out of the darker, more tragic parts of life. It is how we heal, and how we all exist as a microcosm of living and dying, forgiving and forgetting.

How do you see your work evolving? I see my work moving in a direction where I use more traditional influences. I would also like to work in larger spaces, but that’ll come with time. I want to involve myself more with programs that cater to marginalised groups, LGBT youth and folks with mental illness outside of my tattooing endeavours. I am so new to this – still developing and still growing that what my future holds is still so open. The possibilities are endless, I believe.

Careers: Tattooed Licensing and Marketing Director

We chat to 33-year-old Grace Pantony, Licensing and Marketing Director for Marshall Amplification, based in Milton Keynes, about developing Marshall as a lifestyle brand, her tattoos and of course love for music…

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo? I got my first tattoo, when I was 18. I had a big tribal piece on my back. I am now in the process of having this covered up.

What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you? At the age of 14 I really got into heavy music, and tattoos came along with this culture. I listened to a lot of metal music and was adamant as soon as I was old enough I was going to get some tribal like my idol Kerry King of Slayer! Also, my dad had always been into tattoos and was covered himself, so it was something I grew up with and never thought anything of, other than I wanted one as soon as I could.

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Back (cover up by Ade at Axios)

Can you tell us about some your tattoos? I got my first tattoo when I was 18, this is now in the progress of being covered up by Ade at Axios Tattoo in Hove. Ade’s specialism is Japanese tattooing, and I first came across his work about 15 years ago when he was working in Guildford. I love his style, and have also had a full sleeve and Japanese mask done on my leg done by Ade. I always said I would never get a band tattoo, but have now got four band related tattoos. I don’t regret them at all though and already have another band filler that I want doing at some point.

My current favourite tattoos of mine are my knees done by Elliott Wells at Triple Six Tattoo in Sunderland. I am so in love with the placement, the colour, the design – everything! I never get bored of looking at them. Elliott really has mastered peonies, and I would love to have more work done by him in the future.

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How did you get into your current role? I started at Marshall as a temp after returning from a work placement in Los Angeles with a previous employer. Being really into music it was such a perfect company to work for and I was really happy to get the chance to even temp at the company. Once my temp position ended I was thankfully offered a job within another department, and it has been happily ever after!

Did you have to study or get any qualifications or have you worked your way up? I have worked my way up within Marshall as well as doing study in my spare time. I have studied skills that were identified as specific to the career direction I was looking for but that also benefited Marshall and the position I was in with them.

I have worked really closely with the managing director of the company to develop the Marshall brand within the lifestyle category which is outside our core product. This was a new segment for Marshall, therefore a new department was created. I saw this as a great opportunity so seized this chance and put myself forward to take the bull by the horns and run with the development of this department, it was something I had a huge interest in and also Marshall is a brand I love, so it was a perfect fit.

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What is a typical day like? No day is the same. My job is really varied. Which is what I love the most. I have always been someone that needs a challenge and variety in my work. And this job certainly does that. I am the director for licensed products as well as marketing for the core brand. The role means I am immersed in Marshall in all ways, I live and breathe the brand.

An average day can involve approving a new product off the factory line through to event planning and coordinating. Reviewing counterfeit goods and trademark registrations with IP attorneys to setting up a record label – it’s my dream job! The role has developed so much, and I work with such a great team. We all love the brand and have a huge amount of fun, sometimes it makes you question that what you do is your job! But saying that it is hard work, we all work really, really hard but having a great team makes this a whole lot easier.

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Music Week announcing Marshall launching a record label, of which I sit on the board of directors.

What do you love about your job? I love the variety that no day is the same. That I am challenged every day to push myself and learn more about the industry and products we work with. I am forever learning a new skill, and I love that. And I would be lying if working within music wasn’t a huge part of the love for the job. I get to be around music all day. Listen to it, work with it, and getting to go to gigs for your job – life doesn’t get much better than that! It’s a dream.

How do you dress for work? Do you show off your tattoos? How would you describe your style? I am by far the scruffiest and most casual director at Marshall. My go-to is high waisted jeans, vans and a band or Marshall baseball tee. I am a comfy dresser at work and also you never know when you will be lifting amps, so a skirt and heels really isn’t practical, especially as I can’t walk in them at the best of times. I don’t make a conscience effort to show my tattoos at work, but I certainly don’t hide them, and thankfully have never been expected to.

Before Marshall I worked for the government and hid my tattoos through the interview stage and also until I passed my six month probation, so to say they were shocked when they saw them was an understatement. But I always believe that you should be judged on the standard of your work, not on if you have tattoos. Sadly, I don’t think the government is quite ready for that way of thinking yet. But thankfully Marshall are more than happy with it.

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Marshall always sponsor Movember, and I got a Mo tattooed to be an official Mo’sista

How do people react to your tattoos? I normally get “you didn’t look like the sort of girl to have tattoos” and I am not sure if that is a compliment or an insult so I just ignore it. I live in Milton Keynes, where it is becoming more common to see people with a lot of tattoos but I still think there aren’t that many females who are fairly covered, so whenever I go out I get people asking about them. But it’s always in a positive way. You always get people that only want to know how much you have spent, it still seems to be the most common question. I always find that bizarre, and again ignore it.

In a work capacity, no one has reacted negatively, if anything it is a positive as my arms have been used for marketing campaigns for the brand, so that I do take as a compliment!

Do you have any advice to other people considering their careers when getting tattooed? Regardless of career choice, you should always research what you want and who is the best person to do that. I learnt the hard way and lived with a bad tattoo for far too long.

When it comes to work and tattoos I think honesty is the best policy and also knowing what you want to work in and if tattoos are still a bit of a taboo in that career. I am lucky that I work in music and that tattoos are common place. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it when getting another one. When I got my fingers done, the first person I asked if they had any problems with it before I got it done was my boss. I wouldn’t want to do anything that could jeopardise my job regardless of how tolerant they are of tattooing – so yeah, be honest and run it past them before walking in with your hands done, it softens the blow that way!

Black Inc Tattoo, Frome

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Jo Black tattoos out of Black Inc Tattoo in Frome, Somerset and specialises in neo-traditional tattoos with a dark and gothic twist. We chat to Jo to find out more about the fun and vibrant studio, the artists that work there and the tattoos she creates…

blackink Merry Morgan specialises in blackwork and apprenticed under Jo. He became a full time artist about a year and a half ago. He recently won his first award at the Northern Ireland show for his blackwork tattoos.

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Verity Ann Fox specialises in neo-traditional in black and grey.  Verity moved to black Inc this year from a shop in a neighbouring town. She has brought a fresh and exciting attitude into the shop. She currently works part time so she can spend as much time with her little girl as possible

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Yoji Canniffe works in blackwork and tribal and joined the studio this year. He does most of the shops walk-in customers and loves anything tribal or blackwork.

 

INTERVIEW WITH JO BLACK

How long have you been tattooing? I have had my own shop for six years now, although I tattooed for a couple of years before that. We have expanded once already into a bigger shop and a second expansion is on the cards for the near future!

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Tattoo by Jo Black

How did you start? What did you do before? I did it the wrong way and learned on my own legs and a friend took me under her wing at her studio to show me the right way to do it. Before tattooing I was at uni completing my graphic design degree in Cardiff. I was also a chef, this supported me through university. I actually decided to open my own shop in my third year and spent my final year commuting between Cardiff and Somerset to run the shop and complete my degree. It was hard work but it was so worth the effort!

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Foot tattoo by Merry Morgan 

Do you have a background in art? I have always been encouraged by my family to be creative and artistic, in primary school they noticed early on I had a passion for art and teachers throughout my education continued to nourish this. After GCSEs I went on to do a foundation degree in art and design and then a BA Hons in graphic communication.

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Hamsa by Yoji Canniffe

What drew you to the tattoo world? Firstly it was the creativity and excitement of such an unusual art form, and one which so many people look down upon. When I realised that making a regular income from my canvas art was practically impossible, I started thinking about other options. As someone who already had tattooed it seemed to fit. Then as I got further and further into the industry I realised what an incredible community of just about every kind of person from every walk of life it is. I was totally hooked on just how many talented, beautiful and inspiring people I began to meet. Not just other tattoo artists but my clients as well!

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Verity Ann Fox

Describe your style, has it changed? My style has always been neo-traditional, I suppose this is how I have always drawn anyway but I never had a label for it until I began to tattoo. But in my early days I was certainly more drawn towards a cartoon like style which I have outgrown and I now try to balance on the line between cartoon and reality. It’s what I enjoy most and even if it goes out of fashion I will plug at it until it comes back again.

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Skull by Merry Morgan

What inspires you? My mum and dad, every day! They are so strong and patient and kind and generous and they have always supported me in every aspect of my career and personal life. Without them I would not be doing this now.Also, every artist I admire and look up to, not just tattooers but all kinds of artists, inspire me to do better and push myself all the time. I love flicking through books, fashion magazines and tattoo mags and just soaking up a bit of everything!

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Lantern by Jo Black 

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I always adore tattooing animals, the more natural the better for me, I don’t understand symmetry, my brain does not seem to work that way. I adore it visually and appreciate how incredible it is, but I find it hard to do things in a symmetrical way. Perhaps because nature isn’t symmetrical and I prefer to do nature based art.

I don’t often do tattoos that ‘celebrities’ have – the moment someone comes in and says ‘you know that one Cheryl Cole has’ my ears just tune out. I can’t think of anything less original than copying a tattoo someone already has.

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Tattoo by Verity Ann Fox

Do you have any guest spots, guest artists or conventions planned? Next two tattoo conventions are the one in our home town Frome Tattoo Convention on Feb 18th and 19th. Then right after that I am at the Manchester Tattoo Tea Party which is one of my all time favourite shows to work. We have a constant flow of guest artists in the shop, next up is Beci Murphy and then Emily Dawson and then pretty much someone every other weekend thereafter. It’s great, keeps the studio fresh and exciting. I haven’t any guest spots planned at the moment because we might be moving shops again soon and I want to focus on that before I take any time off to travel.

Interview with Anka Lavriv

30-year-old Anka Lavriv owns and works out of Black Iris Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, where she creates beautifully delicate illustrative style tattoos. We chatted to Anka about her style, inspirations and her distorted female figures… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been at it on and off since I was 15, but I have been tattooing full time for about three years. Opening our studio Black Iris Tattoo last December was so life changing and taught me so much, it still feels pretty unreal.

How did you start? What did you do before? I didn’t have a traditional apprenticeship, so it took me a while to get to the point where I was able to build a personally acceptable portfolio and feel confident enough to get into a shop. A friend of mine got a tattoo from John O’Hara (who is now my business partner at Black Iris) and that friend put us in touch. I interviewed at the shop he worked at and basically begged the owner to give me a chance! Before that interview I bartended in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I also did illustration work on the side. I still worked at the bar part time through my first year of tattooing as I was building a clientele but it took me a little while before I felt comfortable enough to go into tattooing full time.

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Do you have a background in art? I am originally from Ukraine and my mom was an artist and font developer in The Soviet Union, so we had a bunch of art supplies and books when I was growing up. I was always interested in drawing and drew obsessively at times, but I never imagined I’d be able to make a living out of it. I am self-taught and don’t have any formal art education.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I’ve always been drawn to mediums that are lasting and non-erasable – ink, ballpoint pen. Tattooing is the ultimate form of this idea of permanence for me. When I know I don’t get a chance to make a mistake and start over, I get into a hyper focused state – I love the feeling of it. Tattooing is a craft that needs constant practice. I’m really grateful for coming up through the industry in such an interesting time when tattooing is a lot more accessible and socially acceptable.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed? When I was starting out, I didn’t have the execution skills, but I did have great imaginative concepts that came to me very freely. As I got to practice more and more, I started catering to my clients and now I’m trying to find the balance between producing work that is relevant while staying true to my aesthetic.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I mostly draw distorted female figures adorned with symbolic and natural elements. I use female characters to tell a particular story or to just to give the image a certain feel. I love to tattoo animals ( cats cats cats!), botanicals, anything organic. I’m always down for a good old 17th century type of etching design too.

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What inspires you? My emotional state plays a huge role in the creative process. I like to think of inspiration as a reaction to the outside world and my inner experiences, sort of a filtration system. It can be anything really, for the most part other people’s work in any medium that emotionally affects me. The sensation I get from a particularly effecting piece of art becomes a part of me. I think about how it makes me feel and then draw based on that feeling. It’s pretty different with tattooing cause I mostly do custom design work and it’s more of collaboration process. I take my clients’s idea and illustrate it in my style.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love tattooing animals, anything that involves mashing concepts together and my own drawings. I usually refuse to do small symbols, lettering is definitely not my thing. I wouldn’t tattoo anything offensive.

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Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I am guesting in Denver CO October 4-6 at All Sacred Tattoo and Portland OR at Scapegoat Tattoo (November 4-6). Hoping to get to Europe soon. I will be posting my travelling plans for 2017 on my Instagram pretty soon.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Most of my tattoos are done by my friends and I pretty much always get their flash/available designs. I’m happy that I was a wuss in my early 20s and didn’t get a bunch of bad tattoos so now I still have some good space available to get work done from the artists I admire.

All for Love

Our guest blogger Dr Natalie McCreesh a fashion lecturer and freelance writer needs your stories for a academic research project discussing the relationship we have with fashion and the body, find out more below…

Do you have a tattoo that you have gotten for the sake of love? A partner’s name, a heart shape tattoo, matching tattoos with your sibling, a tattoo in honour of a lost relative, something silly with your best friend, perhaps something more abstract representing your emotions? We are collecting stories and photos of tattoos for love and we want to hear your stories. What is the story behind your tattoo? Why was this memory so important to have permanently inked on your skin? Did you get the tattoo for yourself or to represent something to others? How did you choose the design? Was the process of having the tattoo important or just the outcome? You can tell us as much or as little as you like.

Intrigued? Ok I’ll go first, fair is fair…

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This my heart and dog tattoo – the design is a play on a nick name I have for my partner. I got the tattoo not because I felt I needed to have a declaration of love for him emblazoned on my skin. But to remind myself of how precious love is. It serves as a daily reminder and for that reason (as well as its gorgeous design) it is my favourite tattoo.

To get involved you can email Natalie at fashionpearlsofwisdom@googlemail.com subject line ‘tattoo story’ or DM or tag us on Instagram @shoes_and_tattoos – all stories will remain anonymous unless permission given otherwise. Your stories and photos will contribute to a collaborative research project at the University of Huddersfield accumulating in a public exhibition and zine journal. For more information feel free to drop us a line using the contact details above.

43T Clothing

The love child of a culture crazed couple, London based fashion brand 43T Clothing was created by Oli and Steph who pride themselves on their quirky and unconventional hand-printed apparel. We chatted to the pair to find out more about their eco-friendly fashion line, cool product illustrations and what inspired their collections

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What inspired you to set up the brand? The main reason we wanted to start our brand is because we both love fashion and always have growing up! We also like to think of ourselves as green people so we thought why not try and combine two of our passions?
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What inspires your designs? They tend to come from things that we love or just ideas that sprout out of our head. The characters are all based on friends of ours and now they feel immortalised by the sketches.

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We love your interesting sketch style product shots, what motivated you to create these? Right at the start we decided to combine our love of tattoos and art, that’s what inspired us to draw the doodles of our ’43T Characters’. We’ve chosen to use them instead of conventional models, as we both feel this aesthetically looks great and stands us out fro  the crowd! We will eventually plan to use real human models but for the moment we like what the ’43T Characters’ give us and how we can keep adding more to the site.

What are your plans for the future, any new products in the pipeline? We have lots of new products coming out over the next three months and we have already started our new range. We feel it’s important to give people more variety so every Friday we release a new item onto the website and have done this for the past four weeks. This is going to be continued right up until Christmas so there is plenty to get excited about if you’re a 43T Customer! Finally our aim moving forward is to grow and grow, but not in terms of owning a million shops but grow our idea that eco and fashion can mix! Also that we should all support small businesses, creativity, individuality, music and the arts.

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Why is being eco-friendly so important to you? Well being eco-friendly is important to us for a few reasons, the obvious being is we kinda frickin love this planet! Also we don’t see that many ecological brands out there so we wanted to show that it can still be fashionable to wear eco-friendly garments. Another big  reason we wanted to go eco was because we feel there is no reason, in this day and age, that everyone shouldn’t produce eco or fair-trade clothing. Everyone that has tried on one of our famous Bamboo T-shirts can’t believe how super soft they are and what amazing quality they are!

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Check out the website at 43tclothing.com

Interview with Nicole Draeger

30-year-old Nicole Draeger tattoos at Lygon St Tattoo Co in Melbourne Australia, and creates wonderfully bright neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Nicole about her style and what inspires her work…

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How did you start tattooing and what did you do before? I’ve been tattooing for eight years now. I was studying graphic design and working part time as a receptionist. I had been designing tattoos for my friends and they were all going to the same shop to get them tattooed. Then one day I went with my friend to watch her get tattooed and they offered me an apprenticeship because they had seen so much of artwork already.

Do you have a background in art? I have always been into art and drawing, all I wanted to do when I was a kid was to become a cartoonist so I could draw my favourite cartoon characters all day. But as I got older I got more into graphic design and illustration and then eventually tattooing.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I always liked tattoos but I was put off getting one for a long time because of my parents. I had never really thought of becoming a tattooist until I was offered an apprenticeship and then I just dived right in and never looked back.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? It’s always hard to describe your style but, the best way to describe it would be neo-traditional. My style is always changing, I don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing all the time. Some days I enjoy doing simpler cute designs and other days I love doing more detailed pieces.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw?  Mostly animals and flowers. I draw a lot of cats, insects and mammals.

What inspires you? I love watching David Attenborough documentaries, I also watch a lot of anime and cartoons. I also find a lot of inspiration from some of my favourite tattoo artists.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love tattooing animals and stylised pet portraits but I also really enjoy the occasional pop culture related tattoo so movies, cartoons and anime.  I refuse to tattoo anything racist or ignorant.

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Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned?  This year I have been pretty quiet with the guest spots, but I’m looking forward to the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival in November this year.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos?  Most of the tattoos I have are from my friends or artists I look up to. They are all colour and pretty much all of them are some kind of animal or flower. Some of my favourite pieces include a winged rabbit on my forearm from Rachi Brains, a big blue peony on my shoulder from Jamie August and a portrait on my dog from Clare Clarity on my leg.

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The I’m Tired Project

We chatted to 22-year-old Paula Akpan co-founder of The I’m Tired Project, about how she and Harriet Evans started the project, how they hope to make a difference and how you can get involved… 

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“I’m tired of people saying I inherited my queerness…
Photo credit: Harriet Evans and Paula Akpan
Photo editing: Harriet Evans

The initial inspiration for the campaign was the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement, however, after asking around some groups within our university, for example our feminist society, there was not much interest in a project like this. We assumed this was because students our age are about to start their job hunt and didn’t want to have their naked breasts plastered over the internet. Yet, we both wanted to do something which ‘makes a difference’ because there are so many groups which have a large following, (not to name any names) but that do not use their following for any sort of ‘good’. For example, they don’t share petitions, protests, or take on any project, which could make a change or even simply highlight social problems currently being faced in society.

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“I’m tired of working two jobs to make the salary of one man…
Photo credit:
Robert Olsson and Hudson Valley Centre for Contemporary Art
Editing credit: Robert Olsson

Harriet and I were bouncing ideas off of each other and thought that instead we could have quotations of some sort written on people’s backs. This way its anonymous if the person chooses, as you never see anyone’s face, but also synonymous with the idea that someone has been labelled by society. We kept discussing what sort of quotes we could have written on the backs, and eventually it came to things that we are tired of: tired of being ‘the angry black woman,’ tired of being told ‘I’ve never slept with a black girl’, tired of being called ‘bossy’ etc. and thus ‘I’m Tired’ was born! Finally, we got the idea for the ‘blurb’ that accompanies each picture from Humans of New York, we thought it was great to have a picture that told a story on its own, but also important for the person who’s sharing their story to be able to explain their lived experiences and why it is important to them.

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“I’m tired of being represented by loud close-minded fools…
Photo credit: Robert Olsson and Hudson Valley Centre for Contemporary Art
Photo editing: Robert Olsson

Making a difference for us, in the short term, is really about highlighting the stereotypes and micro-aggressions that are still faced by society. We’re so often told that many social problems are disappearing: homophobia, racism, sexism, victim blaming, but our subjects and both myself and Harriet are still facing problems like these on a daily basis. For us, if this project changes even one person’s mind about the preconceived notions they might be holding, or inspires someone to ask more questions, or even for someone to feel more confident in themselves and think ‘hey, there’s someone else who goes through this too, I’m not alone’, then we would be extremely happy.

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“I’m tired of being told to ‘let go’ of not knowing my birth parents…
Photo credit: Robert Olsson and Hudson Valley Centre for Contemporary Art
Editing credit: Robert Olsson

If you’re interested in getting involved in The I’m Tired Project, then contact Paula or Harriet through Facebook, Twitter or email theimtiredproject@gmail.com. The project is ongoing and there are a series of projects coming up as well as photos relating social groups that have not yet been covered by the pictures up so far.

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