Category: Features

In Colourful Company Street Spotter

If you haven’t heard of In Colourful Company yet you may have spotted their colourful community walking around a city near you. The group is ‘an all inclusive community of kindness, encouragement and adventure’ that started out in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Their goal is to bring people together in fun and creative ways, and to encourage each other to take chances and make changes, all whilst grabbing their cameras and searching the streets of their favourite cities in search of colour.

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Our music writer Amber caught up with a few from this colourful lot during their Leeds walk to find out more about their creative careers, tattoos and their experience of In Colourful Company…

Name: Kayley Mills
Instagram: @Kayleymills
Job: Illustrator and etsy shop owner
Tattoos: Sleeve and forearm by Raychel Maughan at Northern Glory in Newcastle.

“In Colourful Company has brought me right out of my shell and has helped me meet so many awesome like-minded people.”

Name: Lisa Barlow
Instagram: @lisa__barlow @magicalthunderpress
Job: Illustrator and freelance designer
Tattoos: Sewing sleeve by Sway at Northside Tattoos now at Sacred Electric
Cactus, gypsy lady, castle and snow globe all by Bailey at Sacred Electric

“This is my first experience of In Colourful Company for the Leeds colour walk and it has been loads of fun meeting new people”

Name: Sarah Jane Smith
Instagram: @sj.sdsphotography
Job: Photographer
Tattoo: Rose by Polly at Cry Baby Tattoo

“It’s been a bunch of warm, welcoming, like-minded people who have been great fun to hang out with.”

Name: Alice Christina
Instagram: @awonderemporium
Job: Blogger & Photographer
Tattoo: Wildflower bouquet, by Lea Snoeflinga at Northside Tattoos

“This is my first walk and everyone is so friendly and colourful. It’s inspiring to see so many incredible women bossing it!”

Name: Katie Abey
Instagram: @katieabey
Job: Illustrator and company director
Tattoos: Hogwarts by Vicky Morgan, cat by Jody Dawber, WIP back piece by Ashley Luka, lemon grab by Paul Tipping.

“In Colourful Company has brought me so many new friends. It’s inspiring to go on adventures with amazing girl bosses!”

Name: Nicola Fernandes
Instagram: @fernandesmakes
Job: Illustrator
Tattoos: Lady by Adam Steel, Squirrel by Adam Cornish, Wasted Rita quote by Mike Boyd, Cat and Scribble by Rainey Harley.

“It’s like I’ve stepped inside of Instagram. It’s great to meet people in real life and make connections and hopefully BFF’s”


To find out more about In Colourful Company and how you can get involved head to their website.

You’re Not Ovaryacting…

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…That’s the message The Robin Cancer Trust is telling ladies in its latest campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Robin Cancer Trust was founded to increase awareness of germ cell cancers, including ovarian and testicular cancers, following the death of Robin Freeman, 24, of Wivenhoe, after his battle with germ cell cancer.

The charity teamed up with local companies including Flaming Gun Tattoo Studio, Racket Video and Joli Studies to create a social media campaign. Through the colourful use of tattoo-style imagery and video, they want to highlight the symptoms of ovarian cancer that should not be ignored.

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Claire Neal, Trustee of The Robin Cancer Trust, explained how she “wanted to do something different for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, in March this year and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get creative. We hope this fun and engaging campaign will raise awareness in young woman as ovarian cancer is not a silent killer if the symptoms can be recognised early.”

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We chatted to tattooist Julie Clarke who works at Flaming Gun Tattoo in Colchester to find out how she got involved with the project and what it meant to her…

When the opportunity came to get more involved with the ovarian cancer campaign myself and fellow tattooist Alex Bach jumped at the chance. I am now two years clear from my surgery, and I would not have been so lucky if I did not regularly go to my GP for smear tests or to question any abnormal symptoms, so I can not stress enough, if you’re concerned get it checked out!

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The “you’re not ovaryacting” campaign was such a wonderful way of promoting awareness of the possible symptoms.  In the studio, we tattoo some wonderful people who have survived cancer and their family members too. It is a real pleasure to be part of the recovery process, either through covering scars, nipple tattooing, or unfortunately creating memorial tattoos. Cancer affects so many people and every type is worth consideration.

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Specifically with this project, creating the artwork to coordinate with the symptoms was a challenge, but with my colleagues Alex Bach and Toby Freeman, we managed to create the images you now see on the models. The models Tiffany Leather, Natasha Connor, Danielle Robinson, Charlie Newell and Josie Rackley looked amazing, and Racket Video and Joli Studies did a wonderful job of super-imposing our artwork onto them. We can’t believe how realistic they look!

To find out more visit www.therobincancertrust.org.

Yoga with Nina

We chat to 26-year-old Nina Goks, a yoga teacher and naturopathic nutrition student from London, about her vegan journey, tattoo collection and living a yogi inspired life…

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When did your yoga and vegan journey begin? My yoga journey started before veganism! I began yoga over four years ago, I was trying to get healthier, eating a more conventionally healthy diet, running and doing HIIT training. I tried a yoga style workout and quickly began doing yoga more than any other exercise – I enjoyed the peace, strength, release and focus. Before yoga I was relatively mindless when I worked out, I’d just get through it to get it over with and yoga is precisely the opposite.

My awareness of healthier eating initiated thoughts about compassion. I cut out meat and was vegetarian for a few weeks, until I watched Earthlings – I haven’t looked at the world the same since. Compassion, non-harming, living a simple life and being conscious of your health, the wellbeing of the planet and all life are certainly aspects of both yoga and ethical veganism, so it was natural for them to come along hand in hand. Then they spilled out into every aspect of my life and I quit the career I’d been very unhappy in to indulge in yoga and nutrition!

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Sunmer rolls made by Nina

What drove you to make such a huge lifestyle change? I was inspired by several people on social media, I enjoyed following along with their journeys. I was really introduced to veganism on those platforms, it enticed me to do research for myself. I chose to actively pursue it because once you know better, you can do better! It was time to be proactive. I was also having a lot of health issues, some diagnosed, some unexplained and for the most part I’d just accepted them as part of my life. Now that seems wild to me, I didn’t ever associate eating so unhealthily with ill-health – bare in mind I was a total junk food addict prior to the few months before I went vegan.

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Smoothie bowl made by Nina

Has it made you think about your body and yourself differently? Of course! I began to view myself as someone worthy of mindful health, I saw my body as something capable rather than deteriorating. It’s not arrogant or selfish to acknowledge your worth, in fact it’s liberating.

What advice would you give to others wanting to make a change? Educate yourself, watch documentaries, reach out to the online community for support and inspiration. If it’s something you want, then be kind to yourself on the journey. It can have its trials and tribulations but nothing worth doing just falls into your lap, it’s OK to be fearful, to take criticism. If you give yourself the information you need then it’s a much more simple transition. Choosing a positive outlook on something really changes the outcome!

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Pina colada smoothie bowl made by Nina

What do you share in your YouTube videos, what can people expect to see? I didn’t have a specific intention in mind when I started my YouTube channel. I just wanted to document my travels and make videos around the relatively new and exciting lifestyle I am continuing to learn about. So you can expect veganism, yoga, travel, yogi/vegan lifestyle, natural health and minimalism and probably a lot of other totally random musings.

How has your style developed? You’ve started to take more of a minimalist direction, what inspired this? With tattoos, I used to be more into traditional, but I’ve definitely developed a love for neo-trad. Minimalism was sparked by aspects of a yogi life. Living simply and the understanding that you have enough and you are enough. My aim is to have what I need, buy from independent, conscious small businesses or second hand but still use what I have now until it needs to be replaced. We are such consumers, totally feeding into what’s sold to us, when you reign that in you start to appreciate what you do have and where it comes from. My style has definitely evolved to much more clean and simple, tropical and nature inspired, vegan and barefoot living!

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? My tattoos are largely collected from female artists, but not all, especially anything I got in the past two years. Something about the experience of getting tattooed can become ritualistic. My husband, Goks, is a tattoo artist and his passion for tattooing expanded my own ideas about tattoos, I’d always wanted them, even though for a short time I said I wouldn’t have any that were visible.

That changed quickly, especially once I saw all the unbelievable artists out there. If you feel a connection with an artist, their work and their vibe, it totally changes your appreciation for the tattoo. Mine are really just things I was/am into, I’m not anal about what I get tattooed and often have my own ideas of what I want. I think there is a happy medium as far as meaning goes. If every single tattoo has to be sacred and super personal it could be hard to actually have ideas or be open to artist interpretation.

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When did you start teaching classes? How can people get involved? I’ve been teaching privately for a few months now, since I completed the start of my training. I’m in the midst of organising classes but I am available for private classes in south east London or within local areas. Information about events and classes can be found on my website and Instagram – new classes coming soon!

Careers: Tattooed Make-Up Artist

We chat to 26-year-old Charlotte Amy Tompkins, Make-Up Artist at Urban Decay based in Chester, about her incredible tattoo collection and personal style…

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I was 17 when I got my first tattoo, a small red bow on the bottom of my back in Blackpool. God knows how I even managed go get it! I look so young now, think what I looked like at 17? Thankfully it’s since been covered by my on-going back piece – which I need to get finished! At the minute I’m filling my gaps pretty slowly, but I want to get started on a stomach piece soon too.

I’ve always loved tattoos, I never used to like colour tattoos for some reason, but now look at me! Having my tattoos is such a boost, I love having them on me as they are a part of me and will be forever. My tattoos are mainly of animals and roses – you can’t beat a good rose! I absolutely love animals and roses are my favourite flower.

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Tattoo by @gibb0o

I get a lot of mixed reactions from people when they see my tattoos, they either go one or two ways. I get stared at rudely, some people shake their head in disgust too. I was once on the bus back from work and behind me were two elderly ladies talking about how have I even got a job and I should be ashamed being a lady covered in tack!

But when I’m at work I get amazing compliments and most are from women aged 50 or over, who are so interested and just wowed by my look, which is amazing. Kids love them too, they’re attracted to the colours, I had a little girl who was shopping with her mum recently, who got her mum to tell me that she thought I was beautiful with my tattoos and hair. It’s the little things that make me smile, but some people really hate tattoos for no reason really. But I love my skin thanks to all the amazing tattooists out there!

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Chest and neck tattoos by Paula Castle, Ash Boss and Jody Dawber.

I landed my current position at Urban Decay out of pure tenacity, I just kept going back after handing in my CV and eventually I got through three stages of interviews. I worked in a coffee shop before, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I wanted to do career wise.

I’m really lucky that as a make-up artist and working for Urban Decay my job let’s me be myself. I would have gotten my more visible tattoos done eventually regardless, as they are a part of me now, but my job does help. I love how they look and how pretty they are. For those wanting to get more visible tattoos I would think really hard about what you want in the long run and think about how it will effect work first. As I said I’m lucky!

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I’m vegan, and I love that I work for a brand that is cruelty free, I love what they stand for. My typical day depends on my customers, I always sit them down to get to know them and find out what it is they want. At Urban Decay we love showing the off products and having a play, we want everyone to feel good about themselves and raring to come back and try more!

Urban Decay love people being themselves so hell yeah I dress how I want. My style is definitely different, a little quirky maybe a bit weird. I love black but I also liked having coloured hair, big earrings and platform shoes. Of course my tattoos are usually on show as they’re hard to hide!

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!

Grace Viceland

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… 

Barbie Black Lodge

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.