Category: Features

Meet Lorena Morato

We chatted to the awesome tattoo artist Lorena Morato, 31, who is based in Cologne, Germany, about her “mystic neo-traditional” style, weirdest requests and UK guest spots…

Lorena Portrait

What first attracted you to the tattoo world?
The great and magical idea that you can record something on your skin that often symbolises something important, a certain kind of ritual using blood and ink… tattoos can be used as a magic tool too.

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How would you describe your style?
My style is neo-traditional, a mix of traditional with a touch of realistism. I use elements of spiritual and mysterious things, animals with a touch of dark magic, obscure figures who are at the same time full of grace, memories of childhood books and stories I used to read and create, and the magic crystals of which my mum once told me that fairies were living in and that they would protect me. I would say I do “mystic neo-traditional” tattoos.

How do you like to work with a customer to create a tattoo?
I ask them to send me pictures of what inspires them, and if they have a story to tell, I like to hear it to feel inspired. I like to meet them in person before the appointment, if it is possible. I like to know a bit about their personality to create the design, I think that is important.

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What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever had?
I had many weird requests when I worked in a street shop. There were so many funny moments back then. No part of the body is weird for me now, since I’m working on my own body suit… but what I don’t like to tattoo are armpits and palms. I have denied many requests for armpit and palm tattoos…

What’s your favourite tattoo you’ve ever created?
I have many, many favourites, but the herbal incense I did at Brighton Tattoo Convention this year is definitely one of my favourites [below]. The peony and incense burner symbolise my new path into a more peaceful inner self, a walk seeking inner peace and calmness.

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Is there anything you haven’t tattooed that would really love to?
I would love a request for a design picturing the goddess Kali, but I am still waiting, anybody out there?

Do you ever guest in the UK?
Yes, very often! I will guest at The Warren in Canterbury with the talented Amy Savage in October!

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What does the future hold?
More meditation, more time for investing in new watercolour paintings, more little projects and hopefully working not five days a week anymore.

Shaded: Neil Preston

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 21-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.

Neil Preston is a 30-year-old Liverpool based tattoo artist working out of Manchester’s One For All Collective. Once a student of illustration, Neil naturally gravitated towards the world of tattooing and has now been producing beautifully bold work that references the timeless nature of traditional tattoo art for the past four years. Here, as part of Things and Ink’s on-going interview series ‘Shaded’, he discusses his style, influences and where he sees his work going.

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How would you describe your style? I don’t like saying I have a style. I do all kinds of tattoos, I just have my preferences. I try to learn all the time and produce the best tattoos I can. I’m currently trying to make my work as simple as possible. I don’t use many colours. I don’t like blue. Lining a tattoo is my favourite part of the process, and I like thick lines.

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What is currently inspiring you as an artist? At the moment I’m into the art of David Hockney and Edward Hopper. I’m currently collecting old Black Flag flyers. Raymond Pettibon did a lot of them. They’re all weird. I like interior design blogs too! I’ve recently bought a flat, so me and the wife are getting the place the way we like it. I think the environment you choose to live in is incredibly important, and how you arrange and decorate a living space really interests me. I don’t believe in any kind of God, but religious art also interests me. Wherever I travel, I always make an effort to visit a church. I especially like the windows.

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Can you talk me through your journey to your current style? There was a lot of trial and error, but I just kept drawing and drawing. A lot of the journey involves not being happy with every tattoo you do. You have to constantly re-evaluate how you draw, and this naturally transfers to how you tattoo. It takes time. If I look back at what I was doing this time last year, I would change so many things, and I can only presume it will be the same next year. I’m definitely not re-inventing the wheel, I just try to produce tattoos that I would wear.

How do you see your work evolving? I don’t really know. It’s only something I can see when I look back. You can see the way you used to draw things, but I don’t really worry too much about that. I just try and do my best.

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What predominantly inspires you as an artist? Predominantly, traditional tattoos. There’s a lot of artists’ work that I like, but I mainly like collecting vintage photos of old tattoos. I’ve got a few old flash books that I always looks through. It interests me to see old designs and wonder who’s they were. Old design are like ancient pieces of furniture: each piece has its own story. I did a tattoo not so long ago that was a design that was brought in by this girl. It was pretty much an exact copy of one of her Grandad’s tattoos. There’s something nice about that.

Interview with Tatiana Sandberg

27-year old tattoo artist Tatiana Sandberg works out of her own little place in Montevideo, Uruguay. We chatted to Tatiana about how she started tattooing and her neotraditional style…

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How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been tattooing for something like three years now. It was a bit slow at the beginning, just doing one or two small tattoos a week, so I’ve just been tattooing seriously for a bit less than that.

How did you start? What did you do before? It all started quite randomly. I always drew and someone that saw potential in me offered to teach me how to put a tattoo machine together. I didn’t trust myself that much at the beginning, so I was just doing it for fun. At that moment I was studying architecture in college and that was taking most of my time. I slowly, and without noticing, became more and more interested in tattooing than my actual career, so I gradually started changing my priorities. Until one day I found myself tattooing every day! By that time I was getting tattooed a lot by a guy I admire a lot and took a great part in my growing enthusiasm for tattooing. So I can say I got all my basics from seeing him tattoo me.

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Do you have a background in art? Since I was a little girl my parents encouraged me to go to painting, drawing and ceramic classes, probably they needed a break from having two energetic kids, but it turned out pretty well for me in the end. I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember, and always brings me a lot of joy. Also, my father is a very artistic person, I used to see his drawings from when he was young and the first thing that came to mind was “Wow, I want to be able to do this”. That’s why in a way I took architecture as a career path, I wanted to do something related to designing and being creative, but in the end it didn’t turn out as I expected and ended dropping out after many years of studying. I also studied graphic design and did some digital drawing things some time ago, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I guess it was my taste for tattoos and how you can let out so many things by getting tattooed. I started to realise how happy I became every time I got tattooed and that probably helped me get more involved in the tattoo world. I really love the happy faces on people when they see their tattoos done, after all the pain. All the stories behind every design and even if it sounds dumb, how they are still there when people come back to you for a new piece. It still amazes me!

Describe your style, has it changed? I guess my style has changed a bit over time. It became more complex in lines and colours. I used to draw really basic figures when I started so I could do them properly, without taking much time because I used to be really slow at tattooing. Also, my drawing has evolved a lot but I try to keep it simple and clean, so it can be understood at a glance. I guess I would categorise my stuff as neotraditional, but with a quite caricaturist twist, a bit more playful, less serious. I get a lot of inspiration from anime and comics, like how I use colours and really thick lines.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? I like drawing and tattooing mostly everything I can find a way to fit into my drawing style, it is hard to explain, but I really try to make all my tattoos have something in common, so they can be easily recognisable. I do have a strong preference for drawing and tattooing girls, birds and cats, but I enjoy almost everything.

What inspires you? I would say mostly music and observing. I’ve done a bunch of drawings based on songs, taking the name, the lyrics, or just the music to create something out to if. Looking at other artists work is also very inspiring to me, I admire a lot of people and it’s incredible to be able to see their progress as artists and encourage myself to work harder. Also vintage magazines and drawings, where I take most of my ideas from when I’m drawing.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I’d love to tattoo more girls actually. I’ve been drawing a lot of that lately and I really enjoy it. And there’s never enough cats !
I would refuse to tattoo anything that defers from my style of drawing. But it’s not a definite no to those who ask, I like to offer an alternative to those things as long as the other person likes my stuff and is willing to take a suggestion.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? For now I only know that I’ll be tattooing in Buenos Aires, at the begging of August, Stockholm in September and October, and Panama city during January.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Well, my own tattoos are a mix of really different things, as I really like a lot of tattooers and styles. I have anime characters, really girly designs, blackwork, churches on fire and a lot of cats! I’m actually quite near to finishing my cat sleeve, that’s my right arm. I really want to have at least one piece of all my favourite tattooers, so, as long as I still have space left, I’m planning to get new things.

Women With Tattoos: Rosie

A few weeks ago our blog content manager Rosie was photographed and interviewed for the Women with Tattoos blog that explores the stories and art behind inked skin. In this post we share her photographs and interview where she talks about how tattoos have helped her to accept and celebrate her body…



What drew you into the world of tattoos? It all started when my boyfriend booked in to get his first tattoo. I was 18 at the time. If he was going to get one, so was I! I had always wanted one, but until then hadn’t really thought about it or had the guts to go through with it. My family have always been pretty against them. I remember one of my uncles getting a small football team badge when I was younger and everyone hating it.
I’ve always loved henna and mehndi-style patterns so I decided to start small with a floral design on my foot. I was totally unprepared for the pain that I never got it finished. I just couldn’t sit still so there are some wonky lines, but it is mine and reminds me of that time in my life.

It took me three years to pluck up the courage to get another tattoo. When I eventually did, I got a small fortune fish. I am obsessed with lucky symbols and talismans from different cultures and I’m secretly hoping these things will bestow on me some much needed luck! The lovely Sophie Adamson tattooed me and continued to tattoo me for most of my university years. She started my tattoo heyday; in the midst of it I was getting a new tattoo every week. I just loved spending time with Sophie and, of course, I adored everything she created for me.

Goddess sleeve by Lucy O’Connell

Lady Lamp by Sadee Glover

Left: moth by Sophie Adamson, Russian doll by Abbie Williams. Right: butterfly by Sonia Jade, hot air balloon by Sophie Adamson

What role do tattoos play in your life? Right now, they’re kind of a hobby and also a labour of love. Being involved in Things&Ink has opened a whole world of tattooing to me. I can interview, write about and research tattoos for hours! Without the magazine and blog I probably wouldn’t be as tattooed as I am and I wouldn’t have found so many awesome artists. Also my list of people I need work from wouldn’t be so long or frustrating. Tattoos have allowed me to meet some awesome people, make new friendships and travel the country. I’ll always be grateful to Alice (the editor) for the wonderful opportunity she has given me.

Why do you think that tattoos help people feel more confident? I’m not sure about everyone else, but with every new tattoo, I begin to love my body that little bit more. I see it as an empty canvas that I can fill. A tapestry that I alone can weave and create, a thing that I can change in a positive way rather than something that I feel negatively towards. I can make it my own and no one else can dictate what I decide to do with it. Now when I look at my body, I see the blank spaces that need filling, the possibilities and the gaps that have been mapped out for artists and ideas. Tattoos have become a way for me to celebrate myself and my body, a way for me to not only express and explore myself but find out what I find important in life.

Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.


Bird tattoo by Jessi James

If you had to explain what a tattoo is to a child, what would you say? Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.

How long does it usually take you to decide on a tattoo? Do you do lots of research beforehand? It depends whether an artist has drawn some flash that I love or whether I love their style and want them to create something. My left sleeve by Lucy O’Connell is two years in the making. I’ve always loved oriental styles, culture and objects. A trip to Vietnam last year to visit a friend really cemented my love for the Far East. I fell in love with the country that I saw from the back of my friend’s moped, from the beautiful pagodas to the street food. Being in a completely different country with some of my closest friends really helped me decide what direction I wanted my arm to go in. This sleeve is not just beautiful, it’s a tribute to the time we spent together and how important these people are to me.


Peacock quill by Sophie Adamson, bobby pin by Abbie Williams

Is a tattoo artist’s personality important to you? I know someone who makes sure she meets the artist before deciding to go ahead with them. I tend to get tattooed by mainly women, who I always feel more comfortable with anyway. I guess I just prefer the company of women. I also find that the styles of tattoo that I go for – bright, colourful and girly – tend to reflect those who create them. I have met a couple of tattooists at conventions that I didn’t click with or I got a bad vibe from and so I won’t be getting tattooed by them, no matter how much I like their work. If I get on with someone I definitely tend to get tattooed by them more, especially if they enjoy tattooing what I have commissioned. If I have fun – well, as much fun as you can have getting tattooed – I usually feel a lot better about the tattoo. I associate the person, jokes, music or the time in general with how I feel about the completed tattoo.


Tattoos by Lucy O’Connell

You work in digital media and I wondered how you feel Instagram has changed the tattoo scene? I’ve only known the tattoo scene since Instagram. Before then I didn’t know a lot about it, except just the local shop in our town. I think it’s amazing for the industry. There are so many amazing artists to discover and find all over the world. I spend way too much time on Instagram, finding new tattoo inspiration and generally wasting time! Everyone I have been tattooed by I found on Instagram and anyone I have chatted to for the magazine or blog I have found on the app. Instagram opens up tattoos to copycats and trends, but it also allows us to feel a wider sense of community and belonging.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about getting their first tattoo? Firstly, find a good artist whose style you love – there really is no excuse with social media now. Don’t just go to your local artist because they’re cheap or your friend went – tattoos are worth travelling for. They’re an investment, they’re worth waiting for. It’s great to draw inspiration from other people’s work, but get your artist to draw something custom for you – it’ll have more meaning and will age better with you in the long run. Saying that, not every tattoo has to have some grand meaning or story. With each new one I get I tend to notice them less. They just become a part of me that will always be there. Be true to yourself, don’t follow fashions, these are fleeting, it is your skin forever, adorn it with beautiful things and just do it!

Featured artists: Lucy O’Connell, Sadee Glover, Sophie Adamson, Jodie Dawber, Ashley Luka, Abbie Williams, Jessi James, Hanan Qattan, Sonia Jade.

Sarcoma and You photographic portrait series

A poll of the general public revealed that 53% of people have never heard of sarcoma and only 26% knew it was a cancer. Our editor Alice Snape has been working on a very special online photographic exhibition ‘Sarcoma and You’ to raise awareness about this rare cancer of the bone and soft tissue.

Each portrait in the Sarcoma and You series captures the effects of sarcoma cancer and body image, featuring some of the sarcoma community. #sarcomaandyou
Instagram : Sarcoma and you
Photos by Alison Romanczuk / Words by Alice Snape

Pippa pregnant

“Having cancer never made me hate my body, but having a baby has truly made me realise how amazing it is – it has fought my sarcoma and grown a mini human!”

Pippa Hatch, 21, Reading, Marketing Manager

 

Jordan scar

“People should be proud of the scars they wear – no one should ever feel ashamed”

Jordan Anderton, 22, fundraising manager, Plymouth

 

Alison photographer

“I think the project has been powerful in many ways, because I’m not just a photographer, I am a patient, there is total trust and understanding”

Alison Romanczuk, 53, photographer, London 

 

Alice Snape

“I would have loved to have met Katherine”

Alice Snape, 32, editor of Connect, London

 

View all the portraits in the series: sarcoma.org.uk/sarcoma-and-you

Want to know more about what sarcoma is? Watch this film, then share it…

 

Judi Dench gets inked, at 81

Once, as a joke, Judi Dench had a fake tattoo of Harvey Weinstein’s name applied to her bum. Dench unveiled the faux ink at the Four Seasons over lunch with Weinstein and Charlie Rose. But now, at the age of 81, Dench has gone ahead and got a tattoo for real.

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She got the words “carpe diem” inscribed on her wrist as a gift from her daughter, Finty Williams. In an interview with Surrey Life, Dench explained the ink: “That’s my motto: seize the day. Finty gave it to me for my 81st birthday — she’s wonderful with surprises.”

Dench had previously told Good Housekeeping that she was toying with the idea of getting an actual tattoo, but had one hesitation.

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“There’s an Indian symbol that I like which supposedly represents life and love and everything,” Dench said, explaining what she would have inked onto her arm. “One of the cameramen who worked on The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel told me what it meant, but I’m a bit nervous in case I’m being set up. It might be unbelievably rude.”

Dench has been working her way up to the tattoo, between the Weinstein prank and a bejewelled design that she wore to the 2012 premiere of Skyfall. Having played the beloved character “M” since 1995, Dench pledged her allegiance to James Bond by arriving on the red carpet with jewels spelling out “007” on her neck.

_90167894_judidench_pa The tattoo can be seen on Dame Judi’s wrist as she greeted the Earl of Wessex at the Prince’s Trust gala at Stoke House in Buckinghamshire

Interview with Lucrezia

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to tattooist Lucrezia about her beautiful tattoos and recognisable style… 

Lucrezia is a Sardinian girl with a colourful heart and sea waves in her hair. Her Sarditional style is getting more and more renowned and here she explains the perfect mix for a tattoo made with love. Among coricheddos (little heart shaped sweets), delicate feminine figures and amulets, she is bewitching the web! You can find her in Milan, at Toy Tattoo Parlour.

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You are a complete artist- a graphic designer, illustrator and tattoo artist! Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic career? It was a quite natural process, you know, I grew up with colors in my hands and I used to leave my marks on every surface. My path as an illustrator and tattoo artist were parallel to each other, they reflected a way more rebellious and emotional side of my studies in architecture and graphic design. My degree surely gave me the basics useful to search the composition and balance in each drawing I make.

What is your first memory connected to tattoos? My first memory is a feeling, I see the tattoo as a very important gesture that helps to fix an emotion and one that is on your skin for you to wear forever. As a tattoo artist,I find that the tattoo is a rite, that binds deeply the tattooer and tattooed during the creation of the piece.

The transformation of a story into a picture and the subsequent transposition of the skin, the pain, the amount of tension and excitement, and an indelible bond that is created with all my clients. These are the things I love the most about this work and I’d never imagined they could become so essential and vital for me.

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How would you define your Sardinian style? Is it a declaration of love for your homeland and the coricheddos (typical Sardinian sweets mostly made of almond and honey)? The sarditional was originally born as a hashtag game on Instagram. Initially, before I started tattooing, I filled my illustrations with little women tattooed with Sardinian buttons and motifs derived from the Sardinian tradition. Beginning my career as tattoo artist, they became my main subjects, executed using the technique of traditional style. The designs were simplified, with thick lines and black shadows, from there I put that Sar-ditional touch. Now it has become a real characteristic of my style, which is to bring to the world the Sardinian tradition, from ‘pavoncelle’, kokkoi, to buttons and coricheddos. And all those jewels that the Sardinian tradition considers to be protective amulets and charms. That’s how the design of a sarditional becomes a real ritual to put on the skin: for Sardinians and beyond!

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What are your daily inspirations, both personally and professionally speaking? Every day, the inspirations are the most varied, most of the time I get influenced by my moods, from the weather and especially by music. This last is crucial because it helps me to channel myself in mental states that may not belong to me and, for example, when I prepare a drawing for a client I can get closer and better identify himself using music.

From Alghero to Milan: how are you living this experience and what are your expectations? Milan is basically adopting and taking very good care of me, I am very good and I also managed to do a lot of experience, getting to know many people and growing especially from the professional point of view. Alghero will forever remain the seat of my roots and going home to do some guest spots is a must for my creativity. Sardinia is a land that offers so much inspiration, and especially its silence and its mystery stimulate creativity in me.

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Corals, beads, women faces filled with love. What are the subjects you prefer to tattoo? My favourite subjects are without doubt the little women, I find them super expressive and I am able to communicate anything through their eyes and hands.
I try to draw every little woman to resemble as closely as possible the client who will wear them forever.  In fact, I generally choose the colours together with the client, also to see what kind of colours and feelings that person sends me, and most of the time I guess right!

Who have you been tattooed by and who is on your wishlist? I have two beautiful surreal pieces made by the great Gabri Pais. Others by my boss Amanda Toy, who has spoiled my skin with bright colours. A piece signed with perfect lines by Paul Colli. A wonderful little woman by Viola Ceina. Another woman who remembers the old pieces of George Burchett, masterfully executed by Marco Sergiampietri. And a super old school tattoo by Alessio Errante.
In my wishlist you will find; Chiara Pina, Nicholas Rinaldi, Giampiero Cavaliere, Carlotta Cawa, Luca Font and internationally Bouits, Danielle Rose, Kirk Jones, Emily Rose and many others!

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Do you have any side projects you would like to tell us about?
I carry on various projects and collaborations, where I leave my mark with my illustrations. I have a newborn project this year, where my illustrations are combined with stories of “Appunti sparsi di una trentenne a Milano”; I often work approaching the magnificent letters of Gabriele Cecere. I always carry forward my graffiti under the name of La*tete, it was all born one evening, many moons ago, out of curiosity and in Milan, thanks to my good friend Nacho. When I have some time left, I also collaborate with the great artist and friend La fille Bertha.

Do you have any future guest spots and conventions planned?
My future guest spot will be in August for Cagliari Tattoo Convention. And then I will be in Rome and Florence within the year. The next dates and locations will be surely posted on my Instagram!

Izabella Dawid Wolf and her creepy etchings

Tattoo artist Izabella Dawid Wolf, who hails from Poland, was over in London recently guesting at the-soon-to-be-closed Into You.  We caught up with her to find out about where she draws inspiration for her creepy yet cute tattoos and her love for sludge metal and all things dark…

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How long have you been tattooing and what made you want to become a tattoo artist?
I’ve been tattooing for two years and beforehand I was apprenticing for two years. It’s a funny story that made me want to become an artist… about eight, years ago when I was living in London, a friend of mine, who actually doesn’t have any tattoos, wanted to get a tattoo. I had this design I used to carry round me and I really wanted to get it done by someone and she introduced me to this guy, Liam Sparkes at a party… he probably doesn’t even realise how important he is to me! So we went outside and I was asking stupid questions like, “what do you do?” then I showed him my tarot card etching and I told him I didn’t know who could do it, and he was like, “I will do it!” My mind was blown that this etching could be turned into a tattoo! So then I got my first machine… a shitty Chinese machine and I used to tattoo fruit in my bedroom. My flatmate thought I was constantly masturbating with a vibrator!

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Where do you draw your influences from?
Music! Lyrics and the atmosphere of the music. The only word that puts it together is dark. The music I like is anything from sludge metal to weird dark techno, so I think I have an eclectic taste. But sometimes I listen to the lyrics and hear a beautiful sentence which inspires me. I love everything though, especially photographer and film makers like Helmut Newton and Gregg Araki. I have so many mood boards in my house and someone once said to me: “you are the effort of everyone you know”.  I still have my portfolio from university and I was looking through it recently and I still have the same themes in my work that I am interpreting now in tattoos. But its always been the same freaks and some sexy ladies.

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If you could tattoo anyone dead or alive who it would be and why?
There would be so many people I would love to tattoo! I think it would have to be John Balance from Coil. I’d love to do something weird because I love the music so much.  It’s so important and inspiring for me. I actually don’t know what I’d like to do on him… maybe something simple and symbolic. I’d probably die from a heart attack from having this opportunity. Maybe something fetish-y… a mask or a gag or something creepy!

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If you had to have a different career, what would you do?
I would be a vet… I love animals, anything to do with animals.

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What would you love to tattoo that you haven’t done yet?
There are a few designs I would still like to tattoo that I haven’t yet… some more creepy girls and animals, which is something to do with wanting to be a vet maybe! More big pieces and I’m starting to learn more about composition on the body, so maybe a full leg or chest piece. I’m always open to ideas as long as someone gets my style.

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Is there anything that you would never tattoo?
More a certain style I wouldn’t tattoo and it’s not about being an arrogant dickhead, it’s just I would rather recommend someone to go to someone who specialises in a certain style. I would never do a realistic portrait of a baby, for example! It’s so scary, and then you grow and the skin changes!

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How do you see your style adapting in the future?
Its so hard to call what I draw a style, the only aim is to never stop. I’m still learning every day. Each day is a challenge with a person’s different skin or a different part of the body. I want to get better and more conscious about getting better. I still feel too immature to say what my style is! It’s so hard to say and define. I think the most important thing is to  never to sit down and feel satisfied. You can never say that one artwork is finished.

 

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More of Izabella’s work can be seen via her Instagram and blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatre Review: American Idiot

Check out what happened when we sent our guest music blogger Verity Vincent to watch American Idiot the musical at Northcott Theatre in Exeter…

I took a seat at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, and the set was truly intriguing consisting of a large fuzzy TV screen hung above the stage. When the lights dimmed, footage of George W Bush and the aftermath of 9-11 looped before launching into the title track American Idiot.

The musical, created by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Mayer and Racky Plews, follows the story of three dead beat friends. Doing nothing with their days but smoking weed, playing video games and cracking jokes about doing each other’s moms and wanking. Central character Johnny, played by Newton Faulkner, wants to embark on a new adventure, leaving the suburbs for a big city lifestyle. As one friend Will (played by Steve Rushton) has a knocked up girlfriend and the other; Tunny (played by Alexis Gerred) answers Uncle Sam’s call and joins the army, with disastrous consequences. Johnny departs alone and falls into a spiral of drink and drugs, creating some dark and convincing scenes.

Another familiar face in the cast is singer Amelia Lily who starred on The X Factor in 2011 and went on to release her debut album in 2013. Taking on the illusive role of Whastername, we see her emerge in the ‘city’ and after catching the eye of Johnny, they embark on a destructive and drug-induced relationship. It’s at this time we also meet St Jimmy, played by Lucas Rush. The Mohican-haired punk is a boulder of energy throughout the show, serving as a bad influence and heroin buddy to Johnny.

The musical talent displayed goes above and beyond your average twee musical. With two guitarists and a drummer positioned at the top of the set, the music you get is raw, real and emotional. Even if you’re not a die-hard Green Day fan, the music is undeniably epic. A real highlight from the first half was acoustic number ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Lead by Faulkner, you hear every word he sings in his most beautiful tone. The audience is completely drawn in and silent.

Moving into the second half, we get to experience Amelia Lily’s talents more and more. Her focus never falters and that huge voice is finally released when we hear her sing ’21 Guns’ and ‘Letterbomb’.

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The storyline you follow is simple enough, but powerful in its messages and as we see the gang of three friends come back together after experiencing lost love, fatherhood and military stints,
the uplifting closing track ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ sees the entire cast pick up their guitars for a company rendition. What you witness is a group of musicians, as well as talented actors and performers and it’s not something you often get from musicals.

You couldn’t praise Newton Faulkner enough for his portrayal. As a complex character it’s a tough role to get right and he totally nailed it. Throwing his voice out song after song, he is the perfect embodiment of what a Johnny should be.

The American Idiot tour concludes at Belfast’s Grand Opera House on July 2nd

Book a ticket. You’ll have the time of your life!

Images from: www.americanidiotthemusical.co.uk

7 reasons you should date someone with tattoos

Swiping through Tinder gives you a rough breakdown of some of the stereotypical suitors out there looking for love – you’ve got the urban fishing fans, the lads who think they’ll catch the girls of their dreams by having a car as a profile picture, the lover of pictures with sedated tigers in Thailand and then, just when you’re getting RSS from swiping left, you stumble across the lad who’s had quite the love affair with tattoo needles.

People with ink are hot. That’s not up for debate. Here are all the reasons why you should date boys and girls covered in tattoos.

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1. They look good naked
You may be able to see a glimpse of their tattoos peeking through their shirt but you’ve got to witness them fully naked to truly appreciate the art inked across their body. Most people will agree that tattooed bodies are far more interesting naked than blank canvases and, if you date someone with tatts, you might be lucky enough to see why this is true.

2. They have good stories
“Oh this silly one? My mate was a bit drunk and had his tattoo needles around so we played noughts and crosses on my leg with it!” Yes, not all tattoos are carefully planned and amongst all the artistic creations and colourful sleeves, you’ll stumble across and a comical one and your date will have a hilarious story attached to it for you to enjoy.

3. They’re artistic
Whether they’ve expressed themselves through images, song lyrics or their own designs, having tattoos indicates having a creative and artistic nature which bodes well for potential romantic gestures and birthday gifts. Win!

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4. They’re committed
If someone has signed up to having a vintage pin-up girl plastered across their arm for the rest of their life, they’re not exactly riddled with commitment issues and may not go running after one date through to fear of ‘things moving too fast’.

5. They can handle pain
So hopefully you won’t have to hear hours of whining if they ever accidentally stand on a plug.

6. They’re likely to have an interesting job
Even though it’s 2016, many companies have strict rules on tattoos for their employees, so if you’re dating someone who’s inked, it’s quite likely that they will work in a cool industry. Which means your ‘How was your day at work?’ won’t be answered with a painfully boring tale of how Jill in Accounts has ordered the wrong printer paper again or something equally tedious.

7. They’re less judgemental
Having probably spent years of people having preconceived ideas about them purely based on the fact they’re inked, most people with tattoos will be very wary to be judgemental of others based on their appearance.

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