Category: Features

Short documentary, Johny Midnight

Beautiful short documentary following Johny Midnight, a south London based artist, as he completes a painting, from start to finish, of Battersea Power Station.

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Johny’s gallery/studio is in Balham, south west London, gallerymidnight.com

Midnight from James Stittle on Vimeo.

Director: Andrew Grayshon
Cinematography: James Stittle, shot on Sony FS7 using Canon Lenses
Editor: Olli Abbott

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#100hands NMMC

The 100 Hands Project, curated by our editor Alice Snape, forms the centrepiece of the exhibition Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, which runs until January 2018. Here Alice talks about the innovative installation and what it means for contemporary tattoo culture. 

It was the stunning work of tattoo artist Claudia de Sabe that made me fall in love with tattoos. From the moment, I discovered her work, I knew I wanted to be heavily tattooed. I wanted to turn my own body into a work of art, become a collector of delicate, beautiful work by an array of different artists. So, of course, Claudia was the first tattoo artist I put on my list when I was approached by National Maritime Museum Cornwall to curate the 100 Hands Projects.

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Curator Alice Snape standing in front of the 100 Hands at NMMC

For me, there is absolutely no denying that tattoos are art, that’s not a question up for debate. Of course, all tattoos are not created equal, some are “good” and some “bad”. Tattooing is another medium and tattoos can be analysed in a way that any other works of art can – watercolours, sculptures, sketches, oil paintings. This means that some are worthy of being housed in a museum. The problem is, of course, tattoos simply aren’t objects that can be put in a frame or housed in a cabinet. They are on the skin of living, breathing people, which means ordinarily they disappear from existence once the wearer’s life is over.

The 100 Hands Project is a way of representing the three-dimensional, living nature of the tattoo. I have handpicked 100 of the best tattooists all working in the UK right now providing a snapshot of the work tattoo collectors are currently getting inked onto their skin, from black and grey and geometric to neo-traditional and colour realism. My selection includes the most respected, talented and popular artists. And they have each created an original design on a silicone arm.

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“For my submission I simply tattooed something that I would love to tattoo in real life, for a customer,” said Claudia de Sabe, when I asked for her inspiration behind the piece she created – a stunning Japanese peony in purple and red. And the reason she wanted to be part of it? “There’s still a lot of misconceptions on tattooing and every exhibition can perhaps be of help in establishing a secure space for this art/craft within the artistic community. Ten years ago, an exhibition like this would have taken place maybe at a tattoo convention for three days, but not at a museum for this same length of time, which is incredible.”

Tattoos are so much more than just beautiful designs, they’re reminders of the unique stories that can be told on human skin. So, bringing an intimate and personal art form into a museum space gives the practice a new, institutional legitimacy and a special kind of accessibility, dispelling outdated misconceptions and showing just what is possible when artists put ink into skin.

And now the exhibition has finally launched, seeing the arms come back together inside the museum is a spectacle to behold. After hundreds of painstaking hours, 100 blank arms are now works of art that have become part of tattoo history. No matter what the inspiration or motivation behind each piece, each work of art has become one to make an installation that  will have an impact on the future of this thriving, creative and magical industry.

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List of 100 contributing artists:

Louie Rivers, Travelling tattooist,  Exeter

Joe Carpenter, Five Keys Tattoo Studio, Norwich

Ricky Williams / The Family Business / London

Jo Harrison UN1TY / Modern Body Art, Shrewsbury / Birmingham

Caleb Kilby, Old Habits / Two Snakes, London / Hastings

Kate Mackay Gill, Private Studio, West Sussex

Jake Galleon, Studio XIII, Edinburgh

Paula Castle, Broadside, Swansea

Meg Langdale, The Burton Tattoo Collective, Leicester

Joanne Baker, Grizzly Art Collective, Coventry

Han Maude, Infinite Ink, Coventry

Antony Flemming, World of Tattoos, Ruislip Manor

Sophie Gibbons, Tommygun Tattoo, Plymouth

James “Woody” Woodford, 1770, Brighton

Pauly, Second City Tattoo, Birmingham

Dexter Kay, King of Hearts, London

Mike Stockings, Legacy Tattoo, Haverhill

Jondix, Seven Doors, London

Olivia Dawn, The Tattoo Company, Wilmslow

Matt Difa, Jolie Rouge, London

Kathryn Kirk, Addiction Tattoo & Piercing, Bangor, Northern Ireland

Tamara Lee, The Circle / Two Snakes, London / Hastings

Aaron Hewitt, Cult Classic Tattoo, Romford

Louis Molloy, Middleton Tattoo Studio, Manchester

Abbie Williams, Lost Time, Peterborough

Amy Savage, The Warren, Canterbury

Araceli Forever, Death’s Door, Brighton

Anrijs Straume, Bold as Brass Tattoo Company, Liverpool

Allan Graves, Haunted Tattoos, London

Neil Dransfield, Oddfellows Tattoo Collective, Leeds

Dominique Holmes, Black Lotus Studio, London

Chrissy Lee, Colchester Body Arts, Essex

Lucy O’Connell, Red Tattoo and Piercing, Leeds

Delphine Noiztoy, The Lacemakers Sweatshop, London

Gibbo, Oddfellows Tattoo Collective, Leeds

Sway, Sacred Electric Tattoo, Leeds

Harriet Rose Heath, Crooked Claw Tattoo, Sheffield

Little Andy, The Church Tattoo Studio, Birmingham

Lal Hardy, New Wave Tattoo, London

Dane Grannon, Creative Vandals, Hull

Hannah Keuls, Good Times, London

Akuma Shugi, Wolf & Dagger, Hove

Ché Crook, Level Crooks, Bristol

Miss Jo Black, Black Inc, Frome

Philip Yarnell, Skynyard Tattoos, Westcliff-on-Sea

Lucy Blue, Cobra Club, Leeds

Clare “Goldilox” Deen, Incandescence, Birmingham

Alex Candela, Black Market, Leicester

Matthew “Henbo” Henning, Redwood, Manchester

Jack Goks, Cloak and Dagger, London

Jelle Soos, Swansea Tattoo Company, Swansea

Matt Finch, Atelier Four Tattoo Studio, Truro

Dan Hague, La Familia, Newquay

Paul Hill, Vagabond, London

Dawnii Fantana, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

Kerry-Anne Richardson, Cock A Snook, Newcastle

Chris Jones, Physical Graffiti, Cardiff

Kat Abdy, Cloak and Dagger, London

Touka Voodoo, Divine Canvas, London

Rosie Evans, MVL Tattoo, Leeds

Joao Bosco, Parliament, London

Claudia de Sabe, Seven Doors, London

Emma Kierzek, Aurora Tattoo, Lancaster

Tacho Franch, Follow Your Dreams, Sheffield

Justin Burnout, Ghost House Collective, Derby

Mitchell Allenden, Dock Street Tattoos, Leeds

Lewis Parkin, Northside Tattooz, Newcastle

Mister Paterson, The Fifth Chamber, London

Charissa Gregson, Bath Street Tattoo Collective, Glasgow

Otto D’ambra, The White Elephant, London

Holly Ashby, House of Thieves Tattoo, Birmingham

Fidjit, Dharma Tattoo, London

Deryn Stephenson, Tenacious Tattoo, Sheffield

David Corden, Semper, Edinburgh

Sarah Whitehouse, Redwood Tattoo, Manchester

Fil, Broad Street Tattoo, Bath

Radu Rusu, Atelier Four Tattoo Studio, Truro

Ella Bell, Dust’n’Bones Tattoo, Plymouth

Ashley Luka, The Square Tattoo Studio, Solihull

Danielle Rose, Sanctuary Tattoo, Dundee

Matt Youl, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

Liam Sparkes, Old Habits Tattoo, London

Sadee Glover, Black Chalice Tattoo, Swindon

Jemma Jones, Sacred Electric Tattoo, Leeds

Gemma B, Black Ink Rebellion, Newquay

Kodie Smith, Edshead Tattoo Studio, Chelmsford

Billy Hay, Bath Street Tattoo Collective, Glasgow

Henry Big, Rain City Tattoo Collective, Manchester

Freddie Albrighton, Immortal ink, Chelmsford

Daryl Watson, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham

John Anderton, Nemesis tattoo, Seaham

Hanumantra, UN1TY, Shrewsbury

Just Jen, Den of Iniquity, Edinburgh

Iain Sellar, The Black Lodge, Bristol

Olly Streeter, La Familia, Newquay

Cally-Jo, New Wave, London

Sophie Adamson, The Projects Tattoo, Plymouth

Loz Thomas, One By One, London

Kayley Henderson, Northside Tattooz, Newcastle

Tasha Pollendine, Physical GraffitiCardiff

 

 

 

Briar Rose Tattoo, south London

We couldn’t resist a trip to south London’s Hither Green, when tattoo artist Tiggy Tuppence invited us down to her brand new (and Disney inspired) tattoo studio Briar Rose. It’s the most perfect place to get tattooed and she’s thought of every last detail, including an antler chandelier that reminded of her Beauty and the Beast‘s Gaston… 

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What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? I worked in the games industry, but I hated being in an office environment, it felt static and uncreative. I’d been thinking about tattooing as a career as I felt that it would give me the creative freedom I needed, and the opportunity to be around people I might fit in with more. I had a tattoo artist friend, who told me that it would be too hard, that I’d have to quit my job and work for nothing for years, which was a bit disheartening, so I never felt like I would be good enough  to become a tattoo artist. However, I was offered an apprenticeship by Kamil in north London because he had seen my work and  liked it! That was a huge confidence boost! I quit my main job to pursue tattooing, and  took on a part-time job in GAME to support me. It was the best thing I ever did, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. 


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Where does your inspiration come from? I’ve had many different creative backgrounds, I grew up sewing with my mother, watching Disney as well as every other cartoon going, and drawing every day for fun. I left school at 16 to do a National Diploma in Fashion Design,  then I went to university to do a degree in computer games design. I’d always wanted to go into concept art for films and games, as this was the sort of art I loved. My drawing style reflects that, my work isn’t typically ‘tattoo-ish’. I’ve always worked digitally, working with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop for the last 14 years, and I love to incorporate all different colours into my work – I love colour! My inspiration comes from this rich background, and my love of cartoons, games, films, digital artists, and traditional artists. 

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What are your favourite subjects to tattoo? I love tattooing cats, animals, nature, flowers, birds, wildlife. Yeah, I really love tattooing cute animals. I grew up in rural west-country so I’ve always been into nature and local wildlife, living in London I miss this aspect of my home so tattooing animals is my happy place. I also love tattooing any sort of pop-culture stuff – Pokemon, Disney, Studio Ghibli, stuff from games like Okami, Portal, and Final Fantasy, and many others too.

Your new studio is “unapologetically Disney inspired”, why did you decide to do this?  I didn’t decide to make my studio Disney inspired, it just happened.  After I came up with the name Briar Rose it just all fell into place. I loved that I was able to come up with an original shop name, and I figured there probably aren’t too many tattoo shops like this. I just buy things as and when I see them, and before you know it I have an entire shop (and home) full of Disney!

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Even down to the antler chandelier, that reminded me of Gaston, the rug in the hallway was inspired by the magic carpet from Aladdin, and the wallpaper in the main studio area made me think of The Jungle Book. It’s not officially Disney but each little element has been inspired by it as that’s just how I am! I really did put my heart and soul into making this place. I’ve got a lot of compliments on it, many of my customers have said they’ve never been in a tattoo shop like it before. I like to think I have something magical here.

Favourite Disney film? Man that is the hardest question and it comes up all the time. I ask most people what theirs is (apparently I attract other Disnerds here too) and then of course I am always asked this question back. Can I give a top 5 in no particular order? Aristocats, Robin Hood, Moana, Sleeping Beauty, and Tarzan! It feels horrible having to choose. I love them all.

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Describe your studio in just three words… Whimsical, Warm, Welcoming

How did you pick the location? What kind of clients do you hope to attract? And what can they expect from their experience? I wanted a shop that was in a safe, friendly area, as I know that many of my customers who are female would have to carry cash with them. I don’t want people to feel like they have to look over their shoulder when finding my shop. I’m in the process of getting a card machine as well, which I hope will help that. Also for first-time customers, who are already feeling nervous, I think it’s just nicer to show up to a place that’s easy to find, and where you feel comfortable. This was really important to me, I want people to have a lovely experience, and then go home and feel like they’re always welcome back, even if it’s just for a chat or a coffee.

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In the studio, I’ve tried to provide all sorts of things to help people feel welcome and looked after, I like to take care of people. I’ve bought all different coffees and teas for my fancy coffee machine, I’ve got phone charging ports in the waiting area, complete with Android/iPhone and USBC cables, there is wifi, customers can choose their own music if they like by playing it through our fancy Sonos speaker. Whatever makes their experience comfortable, as they’re often sitting with me for many hours at a time.

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What has been your most favourite tattoo you have ever created, why? I think the one that takes the top spot will have to be a cat portrait I did. Her cat was called Diamond who had the most impressive resting bitch face, which we managed to capture in the tattoo. As an extra bonus, this girl emailed me after her appointment asking if I’d like to meet up some time, it was the most awesome thing ever and she is now one of my best friends, we talk literally every day. Love you Kerri! 

Tiggy11How do you like to work with your clients? The shop is by appointment only so clients will email me with their ideas and organise a consultation, I think it’s important to get to know your client before drawing something for them, to get those extra personal touches into the design, but I know this isn’t always possible. 

I’ll always draw up my client’s designs before they come in so they can see and make changes, I feel like the work is a collaboration where I’m the art director! But it’s important for people to be able to have some amount of say on what lives on them permanently. I’ve also become friends with quite a large handful of my past clients as well, which is wonderful. This is the best job!

Visit www.briarrosetattoo.com, or follow Tiggy’s studio on Instagram @briarrosetattoo

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Guerrilla stick and poke tattooing: Prison Style Tattoos

In this post our guest blogger Amber Bryce talks about getting her first stick and poke tattoo from Prison Style Tattoos

I’ve always told myself that getting tattoos impulsively is a bad idea. It’s the kind of decision that leaves you with a boy’s name on your wrist, or a dog anus for a belly button, right? But in late November, I changed my mind.

I saw that Hannah Hill (AKA Hanecdote) had gotten a small stick ‘n’ poke gravestone reading “RIP ART SKL” on her bum cheek. I’ve always loved black and grey tattoos that have a simplistic, sketchy style to them – as though they’ve been doodled on a notepad during a boring geography lesson. Hannah’s tattoo (pictured below) had that appeal.

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I clicked through on Instagram to see @prisonstyletattoos’s ink-filled page, each tattoo framed by a peace sign. I Dm’d him and we arranged an appointment for the following week.

Secret Studio is where Prison Style Tattoos (AKA 34-year-old Timothy V) operates from, a gated complex in East London. I knew instantly I’d like PST when he messaged asking if I wanted a glass of wine. He also had blue hair, wore cool trainers and loved Fleetwood Mac.

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He got into tattooing after being turned down for a pair on his hands at 18/19. “I decided to take matters into my own hands (again, literally) and buy loads of dodgy tattoo gear online and do them myself. I’m happy to say it was a good lesson. It helped me to develop and let me do my own thing.”

I was getting a small UFO tattooed on my arm (pictured below). After checking placement we sat for a bit and chatted. I asked him what it was about hand-poked tattoos he preferred.

“I love the way by hand you can slowly build up a line and watch each poke change the identity of that line. Sounds farty but it’s such a unique experience for me each time. I love it.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 15.40.25I’d always imagined that hand poking would hurt more than a regular machine tattoo, perhaps because it seems more of a medieval approach. As he dipped the single needle into ink, I laid back and so began the tattoo. Or so I was told, because I could barely feel a thing. The whole experience was ridiculously relaxed, to the point where I felt like a fraud. I’d told friends I was going to get a stick ‘n’ poke and they’d thought it sounded really bad-ass, yet in reality here I was, chilling out with a glass of wine.

“What’s the strangest experience you’ve had while tattooing?” I asked. “During a tattoo I did on my genitals, the skin around my penis tripled in size and filled with water. I actually had a bloated sea cucumber for a chap! It wasn’t until I received a response to my panicked text from the Brighton tattoo artist Adam Sage that I felt relieved enough not to go to A&E. Taxi to hospital cancelled and all returned to its sore normal the next day.” At this point I couldn’t shake the image of a sea cucumber.

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After the first round of the design was done I went to take a look in the mirror. It looked faint, like half-erased pencil. Apparently some people quite like that look, but I sat back down for another layer of ink.  There was a large graffiti beetle on the wall, which PST told me was done by his friend and co-creative @veratattoos. This is whom he started his pop-up parlour with. “It’s purely us doing what we love, low key, unique and on a need to know basis. It’s, I hope, a unique, personal and endearing experience for the client.”

After another few rounds of hand poking, my tattoo was finished. A UFO had landed on my upper arm, leaving the skin beneath it only a little red and raised. After a quick Instagram picture, PST wrapped it up and I took one last swig of wine. Getting a tattoo is always exciting, but this felt especially exhilarating.

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As an anxious person, venturing to an unknown location in London to get a tattoo by someone I’d never heard of before at less than a week’s notice was a serious step outside of my comfort zone, but it’s this kind of rebellious impulsivity of tattoo culture that PST is hoping to recapture.

“I’m a firm believer tattoos should be spontaneous but at the same time sum up something that’s fearless and ‘non-standard’.” Before heading off into the cold, I asked him what’s in store for the future. “The plan is to be a successful, fun, busy, happy, exciting, passionate maker of hand poke tattoos and give each person who is willing a lovely, personal experience. I want to play this gig full time, baby!”

I’m already planning going back for a vegan-inspired ‘RIP cheese’ tattoo.

Grace Neutral chats Needles and Pins

From the illegal underground tattooists of South Korea to Brazilian women challenging social stereotypes, Grace Neutral’s productions with VICE offer an edifying shift away from the usual fetishizing of tattoos by using them as a conduit to highlight the often contentious social and political realms of each wearer.

Grace chats with writer Fareed about her experiences in front of the lens for VICELAND’s 2017 series, Needles and Pins, and what it’s like to be an ambassador for contemporary tattoo culture.

(This is an abridged version, the full piece will be published in INKED)

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Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Hi Grace. So, you were tattooing at Good Times and then suddenly you’re a media personality at VICE media. Can you tell me how that happened? Well, I was lucky enough to be approached by i-D a few years’ back to write an alternative Christmas speech about beauty, which received a great response.

i-D then made a film about me and my outlook on tattooing which also went down really well. It was after my i-D series ‘Beyond Beauty’ that VICE asked me to work with them.

And how has that journey been for you thus far? I started making films with VICE at the start of 2016 and we wrapped up the first series of Needles and Pins by the end of the year! It has been one amazing year, that’s for sure!

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Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Let’s talk about the shows. It’s so refreshing to have someone from the tattoo community represent contemporary tattoo culture in an intelligent and socially and politically charged manner, unlike other mainstream shows that often debase the art form. What are you hoping to achieve with these shows? Basically, what I wanted to achieve with these shows was super simple: I wanted to tell a true story about tattooing, and offer people a proper insight into how the art form came to be the big industry it is today.

I also wanted share some of the cultures and techniques that helped evolve the art. Just like you say, mainstream shows on tattoos seem to only fetishise and poke fun at tattooing. I got sick of this – and decided I’d have to do it myself 😉

What is the extent of your role in these stories, is it limited to presenter or are you actively searching out stories and utilising your knowledge and networks gained while tattooing? There must be so much involved! I am not a TV presenter, it has never been a goal of mine. I simply got offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn more about my craft.

Being in front of the camera and guiding the audience through my adventures was definitely something I had to learn, but because I am so passionate about tattooing it was natural for me to quickly form relationships with a lot of the people we filmed.

For me, it’s all about finding the stories. I was very involved in the development and making of the show. For example, I knew and suggested some of the contributors you see in Needles and Pins.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt, whether about yourself or anything else, over the course of the shows? I have learnt so much from every single place I have visited. But the one common theme that strikes me is that that tattooing is such an amazing way to build friendships and communities. I feel so lucky to be part of the global tattoo family.

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Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Most memorable moment for you? The most memorable moment filming the series was riding around LA on quad bikes with Venice Bad Boys.

Most interesting thing you’ve discovered about tattoo culture? In one episode of Needles and Pins we go to New Zealand to learn about Maori tattooing and Maori culture – and this was the most interesting discovery for me. The Maori people are so beautiful – and its history is so intertwined with tattooing, nature and magic, it was hard not to fall in love there. It is definitely a place I will return to continue my tattoo journey and education.

Has the show received any criticisms? To be honest, I haven’t heard any bad comments about the show.

Obviously there has been the odd internet troll calling me a ‘freak’ because of the way I look, but I have heard it all before and I’m very good at shielding myself from any negativity comments.

All the feedback about the show has, so far, been really positive – and I’m over the moon about that!

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Photo courtesy of VICELAND

If you could do a tattoo show about anything or anyone, what would it be? The one I just made for VICELAND!

Would you agree that the normalisation of tattoos – great for reducing stigma and allowing autonomy over one’s body – has also created a new ‘beauty’ industry / ideal? Tattoos becoming less about expressing spirit and individuality and more about acquisition: the purchase of social capital and of ‘beauty.’ Yes for sure, I think the majority of tattoo artists (well, at least the ones I know and work with) understand how sacred it is to tattoo, the energy you share with that person is so beautiful, and sometimes, even life changing.

It’s been something that I have been conscious of for a long time – and I love that more and more people (not just tattooers, but also the people who get tattooed) are realising this as well.

And lastly, what have you got planned for 2017? 2017 is all about tattooing, travel and having a fucking good time while I do it!

Grace Neutral

Photo courtesy of VICELAND

Interview with Barbie Lowenberg

27-year-old tattoo artist Barbie Lowenberg works out of The Black Lodge in Portishead, Bristol, and creates beautifully bold tattoos. We chat to Barbie about what inspires her and how she started in the industry… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been hand poking for about four years and started machine tattooing towards the end of 2016.

How did you start? What did you do before? Having been a freelance illustrator for the last five years, I have always drawn inspiration from tattoos – particularly traditional and blackwork tattooing. My partner, Iain Sellar and I started our little brand Long Fox five and a half years ago, where we made prints, t-shirts and murals for shops/bars/cafes etc. Not long after we started Long Fox, Iain started tattooing at The Black Lodge and I decided to give hand poking a go – slightly intimidated by the thought of a machine. I immediately fell in love with it, it was the perfect starting point for me and such a calm and intimate way of creating art on someone’s body. It gave me the opportunity to really think about each line/element of a tattoo as it takes time and careful precision. It wasn’t until last year that I took the opportunity to learn with a machine and it’s been great.

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Do you have a background in art? Growing up, I was very musical. The focus was all on that and art was more of a side thing/personal hobby. I learnt loads of instruments in school and composed music, then went on to study music at university and become a violin teacher. I liked it, but the entire time I was drawing in the evenings, and the tattoo influence was evident even then. I never really showed anyone my drawings but Iain found my stash and that’s how Long Fox started.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I had always liked the idea, even as a small kid, of having something meaningful preserved on your skin. In the margins of my school books I would draw tattoo ideas based on my cat and my love for music. I have been presented with a lot of resistance and anti-tattoo opinions within my family which has been hard to deal with. I just love that there’s the opportunity to adorn your body with unique art directly from the artists, and it’s there to treasure for the rest of your life! I’m so glad it’s becoming more acceptable and more appreciated as an art form.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I’ve always drawn just black on white bold images. I’m not sure why, just the simplicity of black ink on white paper appeals to me. I think over the years, you can see a change in my drawings – I’ve played around with line weights, methods of shading, bolder blockier images and developing my own individual style and subject matter. I feel like it’s something that will continue to change and develop over the years, and that’s part of it for me!

What do you like to tattoo and draw? So many different things! Sometimes it’s mood dependent, sometimes it’s a spontaneous idea, or maybe an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while – those ones never turn out how I imagine though. Tattooing means I have the opportunity to draw up other people’s ideas and put my own twist on them as well as offering my own flash to choose from. I will sometimes obsess about a certain idea and it’ll appear in several of my drawings. I’m struggling to think of specific things I like to draw – other than cat eared babies and windy sky scenes! I guess I like to draw most things!

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What inspires you? From a young age, I’ve enjoyed surrealism, medieval etchings, scientific, dark ideas and botanical illustrations, amongst lots more. I take inspiration from all sorts of things like photography, editorial fashion, furniture, jewellery, book covers – so many things! And of course, tattoos themselves.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love to tattoo anything bold, cute and a little bit weird. I also love to tattoo new and challenging ideas! I think I’d have to refuse to tattoo someone if I thought someone was getting it for the wrong reasons and that they might regret it. If someone wanted something which I thought would be offensive to someone else, I would definitely refuse. I wouldn’t want to be associated with anything that would cause offence or hate. So far, I’ve not had to refuse anything!

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Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I have my first ever guest spot coming up this April at Insider Tattoo (Edinburgh) which I’m really looking forward to! I hope to be doing more guest spots this year so keep a look out for more!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I got my first tattoo when I was 21 from Marcus at Broad Street Tattoo in Bath. It was an idea I’d had for a while to honour my Hungarian heritage and it was a great experience. Since then Iain and I have travelled to see some of our favourite artists to get either flash or their take on our ideas. I still have plenty of space left and so many ideas I’m saving for artists I love.

Getting tattooed is such an exciting journey. I treasure all of mine as they either represent something important to me or hold a memory of a certain time in my life. My tattoos are always positive ideas that lift me up when I need them to and to me, they add beauty to my body. Not all my tattoos hold a specific meaning behind them, sometimes its nice to get a tattoo that simply looks nice and I can appreciate it for just being the awesome piece it is. Some of my favourites are the ones that turned out nothing like I had expected them to, which made me realise that it’s the idea behind it that holds importance for me and an honour to have an artist’s personal interpretation of it.

Five Favourite Stick and Poke Artists

Our guest blogger Katie Houghton  shares her five favourite stick and poke artists of the moment…

While once considered unregulated, raw and reserved, ‘stick and poke’ is still here, and it’s bigger than ever. Most of the people I know that have tattoos, now have a stick and poke piece to go along with them, and more artists than ever are replacing motor-led machines with the simple needle and ink combo instead. Having recently acquired a couple of my own after lashings of Mexican food and a harrowing hour in front of American Pie, I wanted to see what artists were bringing this out the bedroom and into the mainstream.

Grace Neutral

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Whether you’ve gone gooey eyed over her latest tattoo series on VICELAND or not, Grace Neutral is undoubtedly one of London’s biggest hand-poked names. Don’t let her slight of voice fool you, there’s a brassy, boldness to her lines that are unmissable. While stick and poke is an artwork often reserved for petite and simple pieces, Grace is dominating sleeves and covering skin with some of the most intricate and hardy work in the business.

Lotte Vanns

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Lotte, a plant enthusiast and illustration student, calls herself a ‘confused human bean’ on her Instagram account, but nothing about her work confuses me. A perfect example of the divine line work coming out of hand-poked tattoos, Lotte Vanns not only showcases the female form in all its honest, and often delicate glory, her range of flora, nods to fauna and wispy lines summarise everything I like about the art of stick and poke.

Zzizzi

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From Taiwan to Sydney, this is a stick and poke artist that likes to get around, but that’s not just what I like about him. I’ve always been the person that thought hand poked tattoos were reserved to one colour palette and one colour palette only, and that’s black. Not only proving that I am very often wrong, Zzizzi rejects modest and cutesy lines for thick, chunky ‘ignorant’ themed line work that screams of the fun of the 80s with a little rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure.

Kelli Kikcio

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Born in Canada but currently staking her tattoo claim at a studio in Brooklyn, New York, Kelli is something of a creative butterfly, dipping her toes in production, art and design combined. Yet another example of the simple satisfaction that comes from stick and poke, Kelli defines the art with direct and natural lines that play with female figures, flowers and crisp imagery to generate a flash collection that keeps me coming back for more.

Ngh Mgco

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If I had my way, this entire piece would be dedicated to hand poked botany, but it’s the likes of Ngh Mgco from Russia that add a firm edge to femme-esque pieces. More old school than most that stay devoid of a machine, the bold pieces, dark colours and noir feel to Ngh makes his work enticing and rich in a scene of simple, light stick and poke. I like his edge and the bravery of anyone sticking it out under those thick lines.

Interview with Tattoo Artist Paul Colli

Clean lines, not too many details. Paul Colli, resident at Satatttvision in Milan, likes to call his tattoos “ugly and ignorant”. In this interview, our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti explains why and discusses his humble view on current tattoo society, more about Horitomo references and his Monmon cats…

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What brought you into tattoo culture? How did you start tattooing? I walked into the tattoo world when I was 16, with total ignorance. I got the initials of my mum and my sister tattooed, I thought it was cool as I was the only guy to have one in my class. A few months later, I went for the second and then goodbye, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and I started getting tattooed all the time!

At 18, I bought my first “machine” and the first power supply at the Milan Tattoo Convention and I began to work on pork rind. Unfortunately some friends came in to get scribbled, but after a few months I stopped. I didn’t get tattooed for a couple of years until I met Max and Marta the owners of studio Vigevano. I spent everyday there, I had become a cumbersome presence and when I was asked if I was interested in learning how to clean, sterilise and live the apprentice life, I accepted. I began to draw more frequently, tracing Hoffmann, Sailor Jerry, Dietzel, tons of flash badly implemented on paper.

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You often say your tattoos are “ugly and ignorant” tattoos, how would you define this style? I’ve always loved simple tattoo designs. The less details there are the better.  “Ugly and Ignorant” is a deliberately extreme definition of  my work, linked to the clarity of a subject realised in an elementary way – a few lines that are immediately readable. Lately I’ve been putting a little more detail in my tattoos, but I prefer to use thicker lines that keep the process of simplifying the original flash, leaving many empty spaces where I can “scratch”.

Your cats are a traditional version of those recreated by Horitomo? Who/what inspires you? Yes, without a doubt! The first cat I made was at “Sailor Whisper” in Ravenna, the girl wanted the classic curled Monmon Cat. I remember having developed it until it became a skull! Since then I have studied and played with the cats of Horitomo, but also with various photographic references, changing the thickness of the lines and inserting traditional subjects pattern.

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What subjects do you prefer? Are there any projects you would like to start? In the past year I have concentrated on Eastern tattoo art, with the use of geishas, samurai and masks. I like to keep the classic traits of Japanese art but simplify it. The results look good, but I think I still have a lot to study and improve.

What are your points of reference in the world of tattooing? I have always studied traditional tattoos, and been inspired by the flash of tattoo artists who have shaped the history of this craft. Every artist I know is helping me to grow and to understand something different. Everything can be considered a good reference point when the exchange takes place in a constructive way.

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How do you think the future of this art will develop? On one side there are castes in the Italian tattoo scene that in my opinion should have never been created, and these contributed to make it definitely a worse world – success is not necessarily synonymous with talent. On the opposite side, however, exist and continue to come to light great artists who contribute every day to make the tattoo world a crazy and magnetic place. So really, I have not the faintest idea what will happen in the future!

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Some say that the tattoos are ‘not for everyone’, what do you think? Tattoos are for everyone. Now the market supply has exploded and this allows everyone to have the means to start tattooing, not necessarily having the qualities suited to undertake this type of work. Who now begins considering himself as an artist, often ignores history and is not interested in traditional iconography and has a very low personal culture. I think it’s fair to adapt to developments in a constructive way, to experiment, evolve, but always maintaining respect for the tradition. And above all, stay humble. If you think you made it, you will not be able to go on. There is always more to achieve.

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The role of the tattooist in current society, is it artist or craftsman? The question is all the rage in recent years! As I mentioned before, I think it’s a balance between craft and art. As I do not believe that a tattoo artist sees the tattoo only as an art work. Basically I think that technological developments have influenced the way tattoo artists act, work and so they’re a mix between a craftsman and an artist. Certainly it is always satisfying when a customer chooses you among a thousand others because of your personal style.

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Do you have any upcoming guest spots and projects in the works? I am now a resident artist at Satatttvision Collective in Milan. I will be working at Sang Bleu in Zurich at the end of February, April I’ll be at Area Industriale in Rome, Sailor Whisper in Ravenna and Maux Les Bleus in Paris. June I’ll be working at Modificazioni Corporee in Chiavari, and finally in November I will be at the Brussels Tattoo Convention.