Blind Tiger tattoo studio in Newcastle burst onto the scene in early July 2014 as a solo project by owner and artist, Gabriela Lastra. “Blind Tiger”, was a “speakeasy” during the 1920s prohibition, which promoted mystery and hedonism, inspiring the studio’s unique spirit. This hidden, intimate gem, which differs from its surroundings is a place where friends can come to feel comfortable and share their stories. Its private status gives it the feel of a personal art studio rather than a walk-in shop, placing the quality of work at its heart. Little Si joined Blind Tiger Tattoo in October 2014 as Gabriela’s co-pilot and the studio’s reputation and body of work has continued to evolve and adapt.
Gabriela Lastra’s niche style is influenced by Neo-Traditional veins of tattooing, favouring a dark colour palette and unusual subject matter, along with producing technically flawless black and grey work.
Little Si is fluid, dynamic and personal across the spectrum. He specialises in Neo-Japanese, his bright colours bursting through traditional Japanese mythology.
The studio’s strong resident duo, the industry greats that form its guest artist repertoire, and the homely and relaxed vibe at the studio, along with its support system of loyal clients and friends, mean Blind Tiger Tattoo is becoming an unstoppable force that shows no signs of slowing…
CHECK OUR INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELA AND LITTLE SI
How did you get into tattooing?
Gabriela Lastra (owner): Ever since I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be some kind of artist, not the generic astronaut or fairy fantasy job kids normally have! I was the weird foreign looking kid at school who spent all her time hidden away in the art class drawing at lunch.
I went to college and studied a B-Tech in Art and Design. This was when I started to notice tattoos a lot more and they started to influence my art, but with such little knowledge of the industry, I didn’t think it was something I could do. After college I ran as far away from Sheffield as I could do to Bournemouth, where I studied illustration at university. After three years I came back to Sheffield with a degree and still had the desire to tattoo.
I did my time in a couple of tattoo studios as “shop bitch”, which I think is really important, but torture! In the end, I was lucky to get an apprenticeship at Couley’s Tattoo Studio in Newcastle. I’ve also been lucky enough to have been helped by some good friends and fellow artists along the way, as well as masses and masses of help from my bearded beauty, Greg Scott!
Little Simon Gunn (resident artist): I was given an apprenticeship in South Shields, alongside one of my best friends, who is also still a tattooist! We learned the craft for around three years on handmade rotary machines and used a single needle for everything. It’s crazy to see how it has all changed!
How would you describe your style?
Gabriela: This is possibly the hardest question as I never know how to describe my work. I would probably lean more towards “Neo-Traditional” tattooing but I do my own thing with it! I love strange pieces of work, bold lines, the technical aspects of traditional tattooing and having studied illustration… I love incorporating that into my work. Doing my apprenticeship with a bunch of Realism and New-School artists has had a massive influence on me as I can use techniques related to those styles and it’s brilliant to have a completely different set of eyes analysing my work. There are so many styles out there that don’t fit in a category, but I think that’s cool because who wants to follow trends and fit in little labelled boxes? I think it’s important to be artists and not just tattooists trying to fit in a style.
Little Si: I think if I had to put myself into a category it would be Neo-Traditional Japanese. I love tattooing in every style. My roots are in New-School and Traditional veins of tattooing, so I constantly take influence from those in terms of my technique and colour palette.
How long have you been tattooing for?
Gabriela: I have been tattooing for three years, including my apprenticeship which really isn’t long. Everything is moving so fast for me with Simon and the studio and I didn’t expect it to at all. I’m very thankful to have Simon working alongside me.
Little Si: I was 17 when I started my apprenticeship and didn’t start tattooing until I was nearly 20, so I’ve been tattooing around 4 years now.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Gabriela: I’m in love with so many amazing artists! It’s so hard to specify where I get my inspiration from. I’ve recently been tattooed by an amazing artist in Berlin called Daniel Gensch, so he’s my current favourite. Apart from the many artists I admire, I also love going to see fine art in galleries and I absolutely adore statues!
Little Si: I’ve always been a huge fan of cartoon, which comes across in my work a lot and feeds into my Neo-Traditional Japanese style. I’m obsessed with Japanese art and folklore, where a lot of my inspiration comes from! I think I’m probably single-handedly funding Amazon with my book addiction. Everything inspires me really, my family is a huge inspiration and support system for me and seeing other artists killing it pushes me to work harder too.
If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be?
Gabriela: I would hope that I would be doing something related to art, probably an illustrator or maybe just a bum.
Little Si: Just happy in whatever I did, I hope. I have a long list of things I would do if I wasn’t a tattoo artist, but as long as I was happy, jobs a good’un!
All enquires can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org and any studio updates are available on their Instagram and Website