Category: Features

Interview with Tan Van Den Broek

27-year-old tattoo artist Tan Van Den Broek works out of Dark Cloud Electric, a private studio in Fitzroy, Melbourne, and creates beautifully colourful neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Tan about her love for hard working bees and a dirty olive colour pallet… 

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How long have you been tattooing? It’ll be my sixth year of tattooing this August, I completed an apprenticeship over three years in two separate studios. I’m currently working in a private studio in Fitzroy, Dark Cloud Electric, with Dean Kalcoff.

What did you do before? Before tattooing I was at university completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Drama. Performance and art have always been an important part of my life, so it seemed fitting to do a degree in it. While studying I was waitressing (classic part-time actor job) and continued to waitress over the weekends while apprenticing. I would work five days a week at the studio, weekends waiting tables, drawing every other moment.

How did you start? Straight after I graduated uni, I applied for an apprenticeship in a local tattoo studio that was just opening up. He already had an apprentice, who had a fancy tattoo nick-name and lots of Kohl eyeliner, but I dropped by the studio with my folio of work anyway. He set a two year apprenticeship for me, I spent the first six months just observing and cleaning before I was allowed to tattoo.

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Do you have a background in art? Yes, I was a really quiet child and so I escaped into drawing imaginary worlds and what was around me; lots of flowers, animals and vegetables! I grew up on a organic vegetable farm, and both my parents are avid gardeners. I took on life drawing classes and later completed my drama degree doing as many visual art subjects as they would allow me to do. I stayed in most nights during my adolescence drawing, I guess nothing much has changed.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Music and my sister. Most of the bands I was listening to when I was younger had tattoos and their cover artwork always made me start brainstorming my first tattoo ideas.

My sister got her first tattoo under age over new years eve. She lied to our parents saying it was semi-permanent and that the pigment would fade away after a year. After a year rolled by and more tattoos were added, my parents clued on. Every tattoo she got, I just kept thinking that I could’ve drawn that better for her and made her happier.

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Describe your style, how has it changed? My style is neo-traditional but more on the bold, colourful traditional side. I like bold lines balanced with finer details.

Initially I wanted to be strictly a traditional tattooist, I loved the work produced by Andrew Mcleod and Jaclyn Rehe (still do) and loved the aesthetic. Tattoos that look like tattoos. Bold and badass. Vintage photographs of men and women adorned with ropes, ships, butterflies, women got me going! I quickly discovered I would over complicate my traditional drawings and I could not restrict my colour palette. I liked soft pastels and dirty olives. Neo-traditional was a better fit.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? Easy! Animals, flowers and Birds! Lately I’ve been tattooing lots of Native Australian flora, which can be a challenge but I LOVE the challenge and the colours of our flowers.

What inspires you? Beautiful gardens, climbing roses, old buildings, lakes, lead-light windows, crystals, Scandinavian towns, autumn leaves, caves and good coffee.

What would you love to tattoo? Monkeys, I love their expressions. Big cats, toucans/horn-bills, fishing birds, flowering fruits and more native flowers.

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Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? I’m heading back to Hobart for a week in June, then my next convention will be New Plymouth NZ Tattoo & Art Expo in November. Then Three Eyes Convention in Adelaide in February 2017. I’m currently planning a trip for Aug/Sept, fingers crossed I’ll be heading to United States or back to Europe. I miss Vienna and Göteburg.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Sure, my left thigh, left sleeve/hand and left side of my neck was tattooed by my amazing co-worker Dean Kalcoff. My sleeve is inspired by my love of Art Nouveau and 1920s fashion. I’ve got a big orange rose on my neck, my hand has another rose and a Mike Pike Teacup machine. My left thigh has a rabbit being constricted by a snake.

My chest was tattooed by Emily Rose Murray, fuck I was lucky to jump in on a last minute availability! That piece makes me feel really beautiful, big soft peony roses and a little bee. I have three bees tattooed on me (so far), I love their meaning of female strength, hard work, self sacrifice and the importance of teamwork for a greater good.

I have four tattoos from my dear friend Clare (Clarity) Hampshire, one is a vintage nurse with red poppies for my G’ma who served as a head nurse here in Melbourne during the second World War treating the returned soldiers and my G’pa who passed due to WWII PSTD. I have only one matching tattoo with my best friend Jen, it’s a little teapot with the words “Tea For Two” We always catch up over a cuppa, and it’s helped us get through the more difficult times in our lives. Tea just seems to help, you know?

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Surface pattern designer, Matt Manson

Matt Manson is a Bristol based artist and surface pattern designer who draws influence from the world of decorative art. His work integrates techniques and inspiration from his passion for geometric patterns and classic Mughal architecture.
 
Moving to New York in the summer of 2010 Matt spent time working for Brooklyn’s Flavor Paper before moving to Amsterdam in 2013 to work as an in-house surface pattern designer at Marcel Wanders and Moooi. 
 
At the start of 2014 Matt returned to England to set up a studio in his hometown of Bristol. Having spent the last few years obsessively creating geometric patterns he decided to channel these designs into a collection of bespoke products.  
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His work has  been featured in publications such as Vogue Living and have has been given glowing reviews in blogs such as People of Print and Kim Gray. So we thought we should get the lowdown on where Matt draws his inspiration from and what his plans are for the future…

 

If you could tell us a little bit about what you do and how you began working as an artist?
I work as a surface pattern designer; I make patterns and graphic illustrations to be used across a whole range of objects such as ceramics, textiles and everything in-between. It’s a constantly evolving journey that manifests itself in many ways. Recently my main focus has been developing a collection of polar graph and isometric sketchbooks allowing the user to easily create mandalas and other geometric patterns.

12935098_871246769650942_1164224591_nPolar graph and isometric sketchbooks created by Matt

11939333_1665647437025387_40594863_nShiva moon bed throw and assorted pillows

 

My career really started at 21 when I moved to Brooklyn NY…I was obsessed with patterns for as long as I can remember and the artwork of Dan Funderburgh had really made a big impression on me. As a result, I contacted Flavor Paper who produce his wallpapers and was lucky enough to be able to move over and get schooled in the craft of hand printing wallpapers. It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in with such a high end company and has really made a lasting impression on what is possible. After New York I lived and worked around South London for a while and I then went to Amsterdam where I worked in interior design before moving back to my hometown of Bristol.

How did the idea of geometric sketchbooks come about?
Over the last few years more and more people have been asking how I have been creating my patterns.  As a result I wanted to create a collection of sketchbooks using the grid systems I use on a daily basis. These grid systems allow the artist to easily create symmetrical imagery such as mandalas.

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I have tried to create a product which could be used by everyone from beginners to experts,  allowing the illustrator the freedom to develop their work.

Where do you draw influence from for your artwork?
Its a real mix of personal experiences…Its odd but I feel the free party Tekno scene has had some part to play in influencing my artwork. I’m from Bristol in England; it’s a city with a very active underground party scene.  I used to go to free parties in old warehouses and was always inspired by the harsh black and white op art banners that are normally on display. Artists such as The Porg and also the Spiral Tribe and new age travellers scene was a big draw for me in my early days.

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In my late teens I went over to India on my own and spent time travelling around and visiting sights such as the steps at Chand Baori and Meenakshi Amman temple. Visiting these locations really gave me a lasting impression on just how beautiful and powerful pattern and geometry can be.

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Does tattoo related art play an important role in your own artwork?
I guess my influences are coming from the same place as many tattoo artists. Mughal architectural, sacred geometry, chemical visions and forgotten angles.

12063087_902788176469750_7275731_nBuddha Anatomy plates designed by Matt

Do you yourself have any tattoos?  If so who’s work do you have? And any future plans for more tattoos?
Yes I have some bits…when living in Amsterdam I made friends with Martin Robinson (RIP) who introduced me to Fabio Maravalhas who has done most of my work. Since returning to the UK I have been getting tattooed by Fil at Broad Street Studios in Bath.

You can purchase Matt’s work and a variety of homeware products online and he can be contacted via his website, Facebook and Instagram.

5 must-see minimal artists

Five must-see minimal tattoo artists to keep an eye on compiled by our guest writer, Katie Houghton

 

  1. Tati Compton

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Interviewed by Vice, showered with likes on Instagram and even acknowledged by the dastardly Daily Mail, Tati Compton is a notable name on the London stick-n-poke scene. Hailing from San Francisco and renowned for her delicate, yet symbolically free-hand work, Tati (Tatiana Kartomten) has more than impressed the capital with her blend of ethereal, dotted and intricate designs. The waiting list for her work is all sorts of long, but owing to a friend that has been lucky enough to snag a Compton piece, it’s worth the wait.

 

  1. Tealeigh

tealigh(Photo Credit:www.instagram.com/tealeigh)

Another must-try minimal name, if you’re hopping a flight to Brooklyn any time soon, is Texas born Tealeigh. Offering up designs that flirt with sass and foliage combined, Tealeigh’s artistic structure is both petite and empowering, you need only look at her Instagram of bottomless quotes and floral notes to prove it. From fine greenery and tidy bugs to humble skulls, her lines are neat and her message like a shot of whisky with a tequila chaser and then a beer, to the heart. With a tote that raves of ‘cash poor, pussy rich’… I’m buyin’.

 

  1. Maddy Young

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Melbourne is the next stop for minimal. While Maddy Young herself is not actually a fully fledged tattoo artist, so much of her art has been featured on willing flesh that it would be a shame not to mention her on this list. With a dark stance, somewhat devilish echo and floral edge, Maddy Young fills the gap for those that want to keep their tattoos neat and petite, but don’t want to compromise on added sting. From cobwebs and moths to bold monochrome lines and dotted edges, Young’s work is inky and enticing.

 

  1. Daisy Does Tattoos

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From botany and chickens, to John Waters and bottles of beer, it doesn’t seem like Berlin based Daisy Does Tattoos has much of a necessitated ‘theme’ to her minimal artistry, other than gnarly and much-wanted doses of black and white for Germany of course. Cartoon-esque, slightly rough around the edges but still able to knock out precise-to-nature greenery should the occasion so rise, Daisy promises throaty and cult-culture tattoos with a tidy, soft and gossamer edge.

 

  1. Kaiyu Huang

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Born of Shanghai but now making his name more prominent that ever in urban New York, Kaiyu Huang is a tattoo artist that makes easy work of passionate details and simple yet pow-packing colours. Teasing symbolic black and white pieces with bi-colours and regular doses of red, Huang’s work is pretty damn noticeable where you to see it. While a lot of his main tattoo work consists of bulkier pieces, it’s his minimal work that’s making him stick out like a loveable thumb.

 

You, Me & Bones

27-year-old Waan Pivasiri is a candle maker and creator of You, Me & Bones in Melbourne, Australia. We chatted to Waan about what inspires her creepy and cute candles… 

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How long have you been making candles? You, Me & Bones’ third birthday will be at the end of April!

How did you start? What did you do before? It started as a hobby; I wanted to gift my friends one off hand-made products rather than things that are mass produced in a factory. I was a front end web developer at the time and after a year or so, I went part time so I can focus more on candle making. Then a year after that I went full time on You, Me & Bones!

Do you have a background in art? Not really, however, I’d like to think I’m pretty creative. I used to draw, paint, sketch and all that but I don’t think I was ever really good at it. I like all things crafty and I like making’things, I’ve been dabbling a little in cross stitching and well as pottery and I’m loving it!

What is the process behind each one? How do you make them? I brainstorm ideas of what I’d like to make then my sculptor Dan create a master for me and we go ahead and create molds off the cast. Sometimes we have to remake the cast if, say the candle won’t burn down nicely, etc, but most of the time it’s perfect. I then make candles out of the mold! The best bit is the first time you unmold your new design. I get super excited!

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What inspires you? Everything I create or want to create are the things and people I am fascinated with and would like to have in my own home. I find dolls so creepy but I just can’t pull away from them. I have a small collection of random doll parts but I have them tucked away so I don’t see them because sometimes they just weird me out so much. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but things that don’t make sense inspires me.

 Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Apart from my shoulder tattoo (which is also my favourite – done by Lee Stain from Inktricate), all my other tattoos are kind of hidden. They are mostly on my the front and sides of my thighs – I feel like they would hurt the least so I get tattooed there. My sculptor Dan Danckert is also a tattoo artist at Killer Bees Tattoos and he did a beautiful Victorian doll head candle on my thigh. I also have a lot of candle and cat tattoos on me!

Where can people buy them and do you do commissions? You can find my products on my webshop. You can also check out my Instagram for updates and the like. Unfortunately I normally don’t have time for commissions but it never hurt to send me a nice email to ask about it!

Art Macabre: Becoming Art for a Night

Our editor Alice Snape was asked to pose for an Art Macabre lifedrawing session at Museum of London, which was part of the Tattoo London exhibition. As a first-time naked model, here’s how she felt about the experience and seeing her body as art…


img_5701.jpg“Me? A model? That I am definitely not. I hate having my photo taken, and I am very critical of my appearance, which probably comes from years of self-conscious anxiety and a childhood spent in a chubby awkward body that I was never quite comfortable in – I think I am yet to grown into my nose! But when I was asked by Nikki, who runs Art Macabre, to be a lifedrawing model for the evening, I had to say yes. It felt like one of those experiences that should be on your bucket list, and as a 32-year-old woman who has worked really hard on overcoming that teenage insecurity and becoming comfortable in her own skin, there didn’t seem like a better time to do it.

“Before the evening, I asked Nikki to give me some advice, as a first-timer. She told me to: Breathe and relax into poses and, on a practical note, bring a dressing gown to wear in-between poses and during the break. All day before the event, I was a bag of nerves, running different scenarios though my mind – a constant reel of what ifs! But, the moment I took step onto that platform and got into the first pose (five minutes to warm up), I felt incredible, empowered, strong and beautiful.

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“I fixed my eyes on the twinkling lights that surrounded the space and they lulled me into a mediative state. I listened to the sound of pencils and quiet concentration, eyes looking up at me and back down to the blank canvas, pictures of my body and tattoos slowly forming on the pages. I thought about how my body might look through the eyes of everyone in front of me, during one pose I focused on a determined looking woman who seemed lost in the movements of her pencil. A few brief moments of self-doubt flitted through my mind – what if I am not interesting enough to draw? – but they soon dissipated when I realised everyone surrounding me was creating their own interpretation of me.


“The evening consisted of a few short standing postures and some longer (25 minutes) seated poses. As the night drew to a close, each of the artists lay their work onto the floor to share it with each other and the models… Looking at each work of art, I realised I have grown very fond of my body as it has become more covered with tattoos. I have taken ownership of my body by choosing where each tattoo goes, and I love my colourful skin. Over the past couple of years, I have also started exercising regularly and even ran a marathon! I love the fact that my body is fit and healthy, and that has boosted my confidence hugely. My thighs, for example, have always been a part of my body I have hated. I always think they are chunky, they have bumps and cellulite that no matter how much I exercise will not disappear. But they are mine, they are strong and that means they are beautiful.

“I saw that each person had drawn my body slightly differently, my curves slightly more or less rounded, in some I looked bigger and in some small. Everyone sees an object through their own eyes, putting on that object their own preferences. It was enlightening and uplifting to see that subjectivity about the form of my own body – no one is ever going to be as critical of it as myself.

“I walked away from the evening with renewed self confidence and a want to relive the experience. It felt like a true celebration of my naked self and at last a goodbye to any anxiety I had!”

Here’s some works of art created on the night:

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A chat with David Corden at the 2016 Venice Tattoo Gathering

Guest writer Sarah Armstrong takes us through an inspiring weekend at the Venetian Tattoo Gathering that took place on Friday 29th April – Sunday 1st May 2016.

The Venetian Tattoo Gathering saw a private gathering of artists meet under the frescoed ceilings of the Palazzo Ca’Zenobio – a gilded 1690s Venetian Palace hidden away in the labyrinth of Venice’s canals. The Venetian Tattoo Gathering focused on learning, drawing, painting and tattooing, emphasising education for all artists within the tattoo industry and, unlike usual conventions, was not open to the general public.

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Paul Booth, Jeff Gogue, Nick Baxter and Steve Butcher were among many of the artists present, and I spoke to realism artist and owner of Edinburgh’s Semper studio, David Corden, on why the educational structure of this gathering was so important to him and other artists.

jeff gogueJeff Gogue working on Juliet Preston’s sleeve

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 David Corden stood with Sam Ford and the back piece she worked on this weekend.

David believed that the gathering was able to work like this because everyone involved was taking part because it’s their passion. Unlike a ‘normal’ job, it’s not like a business sending its employees to learn the latest things and sit through seminars they don’t want to be in. David and the other artists put themselves here deliberately because they want to learn more about their craft.

painting hallThe painting hall was filled with fine artists

colin DaleJPG  Hand poke artist Colin Dale embraced by client

Sam FordRealism artist Sam Ford tattoos a neck

David, along with many other artists, gave seminars as well tattooing over the weekend.  BJ Betts held lettering workshops and there were live collaborations from the likes of Fantasy Artists Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Paul Booth and Stefano Alcantara.  Panelled critiques of submitted work were also held in front of an audience.

colaborationLive collaboration from Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Paul Booth and Stefano Alcantara

critiqueDavid Corden panels with other artists on the submitted critique

“We pay our own money to sit through a seminar from people we admire,” David told me, “and sometimes it’s just for a bit of affirmation that we are on the right track or that we are using products that are correct or techniques we have got – it may simply be that we need more experience or practice doing things.”

panelOne of the many panelled discussions tackling the biggest questions in tattooing today

David explained that an artist’s ego can be an incredibly fragile thing… so if they are good on paper it frustrates them that they are not as good on skin or as quick as they would like to be. To hear from someone else that it does take a while and they are on the right track can be very valuable.

madonna like a virgin“Posing in the same place Madonna filmed Like a Virgin, because… I’m Madonna”

The Venetian Tattoo Gathering was the perfect location for this kind of inspirational event, (if it was good enough for Madonna’s Like a Virgin video) and as David mentioned, the outcome of this kind of event was supposed to help you do better work as an artist and return back in to the studio revitalised and refreshed.

The humble nature of all the artists present and willingness to learn from each other this weekend was overwhelming. David noted that by the end of the weekend “if you are lucky, you have managed to talk to some of your heroes – and thats the thing, everyone who comes here is star struck over somebody, even the most famous people have heroes here – it was just absolutely incredible and that’s the pull of things like this, they got involved because of the way it is run and the reason it takes place. ”

Writer Sarah can be contacted via her email at: sarah.gillian.armstrong@gmail.com

An interview with PMU technician, Rachel Pitman

Here is the second part of T&I resident make-up artist Keely’s write-up on permanent make-up technician Rachel Pitman. Rachel answers some of the most common questions associated with PMU. (read part one here)

What is permanent makeup?
It derives from tattooing, but the rotary machine I use is extremely lightweight and the application is quite different…it works very slowly and very gently, and I apply a topical anesthetic to alleviate any pain.

What’s the difference between PMU and traditional tattooing?
The pigments I use are produced specifically to mimic make-up and I don’t deposit the ink quite as deep into the dermis, which helps it to gradually fade over time. I’m doing a tattoo apprenticeship and I’m discovering that so many of the techniques and processes are completely different! The face is much more delicate and this really dictates the process. You have a lot more leeway with tattoos to get creative.

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How long have you been working with PMU?
I  trained with Nouveau Contour almost eight years ago and before that I studied Fine Art for five years, so it was a very different direction for me. But I really wanted to do something that utilised my creativity and my perfectionist tendencies!

What made you want to get into the industry?
I’ve always been obsessed with eyebrows – I had mine tattooed with permanent make-up back when I was at uni. But the technician made a real mess of it, I figured I could do a much better job myself.

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What is the thing that people request most regarding permanent make-up?
Eyebrows! I remedy over plucked, lost, or weak brows on men and women. I often treat people with decent hair growth who want to perfect what they’ve got. But emulating hair strokes on clients who’ve lost their brows from chemotherapy or alopecia is really rewarding. It makes such a difference to their confidence to regain something they’ve lost like that.

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What have you had done yourself?
Apart from my brows, I’ve got a beauty spot and I’ve tattooed the contour of my upper lip line – just along the cupid’s bow. It gives my lips extra volume and definition. Discreet and well planned permanent make-up is extremely effective!

How do you see the industry evolving?
I think it will evolve as the demand does. Brows are at the forefront right now, so a lot of focus has shifted to creating authentic hair-strokes. Maybe in a few years eyeliner will take precedence and everyone will be obsessed with creating super elegant, feline eyes.

Is there trends with permanent make-up like there are with the make-up industry?
I’m mindful not to overstep the boundaries… for example I’ll create a really thick brow if 1. It genuinely suits my customer and 2. They have a lot of existing hair to ensure it looks natural. But generally, discretion is the aim, and most beauty trends aren’t in keeping with that… so it’s not too much of an issue.

Do you find that you are fixing a lot of botched jobs?
Yes! I correct a lot of work from “cowboy” technicians. These techs are charging low prices cbeause they’re poorly trained, using cheap equipment, and quite possibly unlicensed. Like tattooing, the industry is unregulated, and people need to thoroughly research their practitioner.

Rachel can be contacted via her website: rachel-pitman.com or via Facebook and her Instagram @permanent_makeup_london.  Her tattoo apprentice page is @p_i_t_m_a_n

Nicole Leth: Sex and Ice Cream

23-year-old Nicole Leth is an artist and designer based in Kansas City, Missouri. We chatted to Nicole about her self love journey and her new store which will celebrate the work of hard-working female creatives… 

How would you describe your style? My style is Katy Perry meets Marilyn Monroe meets Jeremy Scott meets Yayoi Kusama meets tween girl in America all wrapped up in a Miami in the 1970’s colour palate.

What inspires you? I am inspired by day to day life and everything that goes along with it. When I first started designing I pulled a lot of inspiration from past relationships and break ups and now I like to view my work as an autobiography or visual diary where I can talk about things I’m experiencing and going through as a 23 year old woman in the world today. I like to translate these ideas and emotions through traditional textile processes, imagery from my diaries, and colour play. I guess to sum it all up: I’m inspired by the notion that everyone has a valid and important story to tell regardless of their age or gender.

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When will your new shop open? How have you made this happen? Do you have a background in retail?  Ah! My shop is opening on May 6th! ( Eeeee! I’M SO EXCITED!) I’ve been working my way up in retail jobs for the past four years and just recently quit all my other jobs to do Sex + Ice Cream full time. How did I make this happen? Hard work. No bull shitting. I don’t take days off — when I was working my other jobs I would work there for eight hours and then come home at night and work on my own stuff for eight more hours, fall sleep on a pile of sewing supplies, wake up and do it all over again.  I think that sometimes people underestimate what it means to be an artist, let alone have your own business, and make it work. I think its super important to set goals for yourself and be your own support system.

What can people expect to see in it? I’ll be selling my pieces that I’ve designed over the years. Everything that is for sale on my online store you’ll also be able to buy in my shop! I’ll also be selling one of a kind items that I’ve hand sewn and hand painted the fabric of. Also, I’ve brought in a lot of work from some of my favourite brands and artists from around the world! Lots of ceramic pieces, zines, handmade panties, patches, pins, and all that jazz. I like to think of it as a badass collective of work made and designed by extremely talented female makers.

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Are there any artists that you’ll be collaborating with? I think collaborating is one of the most important and stimulating parts about being a practising artist. I’m working on a million different projects: doing surface design on clay pieces from ceramic artists, creating handmade candles in candle holders with a candle girl, working with photographers and video graphers to produce digital work, and with writers on zines!

On your website you say that your garments are your personal diary, what do you mean by this? I mean it in both a very literal and theoretical way. A lot of my pieces have imagery or doodles that have been scanned directly from my diary pages and printed on the fabric. Other pieces I literally treat as my diary and hand draw, write, or paint on the fabric to record what’s going on in my life, what is exciting me or making me sad. Designing garments is a way for me to express my words in a visual way.

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Do you see yourself as a feminist? Yes.

How do you hope to empower and inspire other women? I chose to start designing and creating clothing because I had gone through a bad break up and wanted to do something to empower myself and reclaim the person I knew I was. That was a pivotal, breakthrough moment for me and led me to discover something I was truly passionate about and a future that I wanted for myself. Most importantly, it made me realise how I strong I could be on my own, for myself. I think every women should feel that way — like they are capable of attaining anything in the whole goddamn world. I think the thing that a lot of women connect to in my work is the way I tell stories openly, without shame.
Recently, I’ve also been doing a lot of community work with young women’s organisations. I’ve done a few empowerment workshops where I tell my story, talk about relationships and ambitions, and create shirts with the girls.

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Is self love and body positivity important to you? Is it something you want to share? Yes. Its one of the driving forces behind my work and the stories I tell.

Can you tell us about your own self love journey? My self love journey has been a long one with lots of ups and downs. My childhood was filled with endless crash diets and gym memberships. At my thinnest I’ve weighed 120 pounds and at my heaviest I was over 200. I’ve been in relationships that were so tormenting I lost 50 pounds and I’ve been put on medicines that made me gain it all back. It was hard to have a healthy and accurate relationship with my body because it felt like something that was always changing and that I had no control over.

It took years and years and years but over the past two years especially I have developed an intense love and acceptance for my body. It feels really good to finally be content. I think its important to realize and understand that your body is something that cannot be labelled. That your health and self love is not something that can be determined by someone else. That your body is the one thing that has been with you since the beginning and helped you get through every hardship you’ve endured. That your body is beautiful and perfect as it is at this very moment in time.

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? Which was your first, do you still love it? My first tattoo is a big feather that turns into birds on my lower back. My father passed away when I was 17 so it was something I got for him. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of tattoos — all of which have personal meaning to me. My tattoos act a lot like a diary as well — I get them to record exact moments in time, experiences, feelings that I never want to forget. I have a portrait of my cat Sprinkle on my forearm (she was the first pet I ever adopted on my own, she’s handicapped and the most loving cat I’ve ever had). I have a few matching tattoos with people who I love. I have a diamond tattooed on my ring finger (my love for myself will always be the most important, I will always belong to myself). I have tally marks on my hand counting how many people I’ve truly been in love with in my life (right now there are two, I hope to add more to it someday).

Tattooed Mama: Hannah Daisy

We chatted to full time mama 22-year-old Hannah Daisy from London about becoming a mum, how she sees her body differently now and her tattoos…

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Pregnancy is such an enlightening journey, there’s no way you can come out the other side and look at yourself in the same way. It was so uplifting for me, my body worked HARD, and I’ve come to respect it so much more. I’ve struggled with self esteem, I still do from time to time, but I try not to worry about the small things any more and just appreciate it as a whole. If I wanted to look like I hadn’t had a baby then I wouldn’t have had had one.

Honestly, my tattoos haven’t changed much at all since I was pregnant. I have got a stretch mark that’s gone straight through the bottom of the dagger, but it’s not noticeable, it all comes with the territory and I had anticipated some change, so no biggy!

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Every aspect of life has changed. I’m still trying to find that balance between being a mum and being my own person. Having a career and keeping up with hobbies have both been on hold since being pregnant and having Reuben, which has been the most frustrating thing, but I’m finally starting to weave them back into the mum schedule, we’ll get there eventually. The kid makes the rules right now!

Instagram was never meant to be more than a place to share photos for family and friends. My pregnancy started off a bit rocky and I wasn’t really sure how to cope. I’m normally one of those people who bottles everything up, but I started to talk about my experiences and converse with other women and it really helped, it became more of an outlet and played a huge part in me healing.

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I started @two.plus.roo so I didn’t end up bombarding everyone on my main account (@hannah.daisy) with endless bump updates intended for family and friends. I felt this huge urge to capture everything, I’m glad I did because it’s been such a magical journey so far. Finding this little corner of the internet where women really pull together as a community was a huge eye opener and I can only try to add to that.

I don’t think anyone is really qualified to give advise on pregnancy/motherhood, everyone has their own ways and it can get quite patronising, so I’d say have faith in your own instincts and don’t feel bad if you need to politely ask someone to back off. Keep a positive head on your shoulders, make some mama friends and enjoy every second!

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I miss being pregnant so much, I loved being pregnant. It’s a such a surreal feeling to be carrying a little human, when you think about it it’s almost alien isn’t it?! I’m really selfish and enjoyed being the closest one to him! I certainly don’t miss waking up every 20 minutes through the night though, that I could have done without.

Tattooing was something I took interest in quite early on in life, a lot of my other interests at that time were easily interwoven with tattooing so it was something I was bound to bump into at some point. My partner George tattoos, we both paint together and get tattooed, so it’s something that would be hard for me to avoid. My tattoos don’t have any great personal meanings or anything fancy like that, they’re just a collection of designs I like by people I’ve wanted to get tattooed by. George and I tend to spend the year saving and then travel to different parts of the world to get tattooed by some awesome artists. It’s allowed me to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t of crossed paths with, and it’s a great reason to travel. We have plans to travel and get tattooed a lot more this year, this time with Reuben in tow, I’m excited to show him the world this time round!

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Rachel Pitman permanent make-up

Our Managing Editor and resident make-up artist, Keely, recently got her eyebrows tattooed by the superbly talented Rachel Pitman. She kept a diary of the overall experience of having what technically is a face tattoo and how they healed over a few weeks.

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As a make-up artist I have always been interested in permanent make-up and the attraction it has for many people. My mother got her eyebrows tattooed over 12 years ago when it first gained attention in the UK – I always used to think it was quite badass that my mum had got her face tattooed. But as I got older I became wary about tattooing your face with what will be a permanent feature.  What if one day you didn’t want to have black eyeliner or drawn-on brows? But all of this changed once I saw the subtle and beautiful technique used by Rachel…

Luckily enough I have been gifted quite full brows, but I was always dyeing them and drawing them in when applying my own make-up, so I thought, why not take away all of that hassle and have permanent brows ‘on fleek?’ (God I hate that term…!)  So off I went to meet with Rachel who is based in Soho, London, with slight trepidation and excitement. I had dragged Alice, our Editor, along to kindly take photos and possibly hold my hand… I had also been trying to convince Alice to do it with me but her fear of face tats got the better of her.

Rachel began by drawing on my desired shape and spent a long time perfecting this until I was 100% happy with the shape and thickness. We then discussed how dark I wanted them to be and agreed on a dark brown with a hint of a lighter brown to take away the edge. I was then treated to a nice surprise of an anaesthetic cream which takes approximately 30 minutes to come into effect. I was not expecting this so definitely helped to calm my nerves!  The tattooing then began and I was told by Rachel not to talk due to movements in my face and that the whole procedure would be finished within an hour.

The most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure was the ticklish sensation that Rachel’s gloves made while resting on my nose… the rest was a-ok! There were parts where I could feel the needle so Rachel just added a bit more of the anaesthetic cream and moved onto the other brow but all in all, it was pain-free.  She uses the tiniest of hair strokes so that the overall result is very natural and looks like actual hair, rather than a block of colour.

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After Rachel finished tattooing, she then paints the ink over the brows so that some of the ink can sink into the open wounds for about 10 minutes.

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Rachel then gives me the lowdown on the healing process and is very strict on what I can and can’t do. She recommends keeping my face as dry as possible for the next 5-7 days, which means not wearing make-up over the brows or soaking them in water.  She also recommends staying away from any exercise for the next 5-7 days as she believes that when you exercise our skin heats up and this could possibly push some of the ink out. The ink can also be pushed out more easily on people with oily skin, which is my skin type sadly, so I agree to do everything in my power to keep my brows dry, sweat and oil free!   Rachel also gives me a balm to apply once a day sparingly with a cotton bud to help with any dryness and flakiness during the healing process.

Unlike traditional tattooing, I booked in to come back in 6 weeks time to have them tattooed again to make sure that the ink holds.  This is complimentary with the overall treatment as the technique used for PMU is slightly different to that of traditional tattooing… you can read more about the difference in techniques in an interview with Rachel that we will be sharing in the next week or so. Watch this space!

IMG_3627Before and after the tattooing

I was worried about leaving the clinic with a very red, swollen looking face and having to wear my largest sunglasses for the next few days but surprisingly there was no redness whatsoever and you would never have known I’d just been under the needle on my face for one hour!  The next few days of healing were stress free and I stayed away from exercise as promised and only cleansed my face with Bioderma micellar water (which is my absolute beauty must-have, btw) and avoided putting any make-up directly on my brows.

 

IMG_3689Day two after having my brows tattooed

Day 4 and 5 saw a bit of flakiness but nothing in comparison to the healing of a traditional tattoo and after using the balm this quickly got rid of any dryness. My brows were completely healed after about 10 days and this is when I felt that I could put makeup directly over them… which wasn’t at all necessary as they looked totally made up without having to draw them in… I’m just an obsessive when it comes to a strong brow! Even though I work as a make-up artist, I do spend a great amount of time without any makeup on my face so having my brows look perfectly symmetrical and defined is my dream come true.

Six weeks later and I am back in the clinic with Rachel ready to go under the needle again. Rachel is very pleased with how they have healed and how disciplined I had been with not exercising and looking after them properly (I’m not always the most obedient when it comes to being told what to do.)  We discuss whether I want to change anything about them and I decide to go a bit thicker, darker and extend them slightly at the ends.  Rachel says this is quite common when people come back for their second round of tattooing, as the first time most people are a bit nervous and don’t want to go too heavy in case of not liking it.

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So after having my brows drawn in and the anaesthetic cream applied we begin.  The second time around hurt sightly more than the first and Rachel said this may be due to the fact that my skin was still healing hence feeling a bit tender, but the pain was nothing in comparison to a traditional tattoo.  After about 40 minutes of tattooing we are finished and I am again over the moon with the result!  I am really happy I decided to go a bit thicker and darker as I felt like I was ready for my brows to be a bolder.

The healing process was very much the same as the first time around and I avoided exercise and washing my face with water for the next 7 days which I do think is a must for successful healing.

 

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 My healed brows after two rounds of tattooing and 10 days of healing

Overall I could not be happier with the results and I love looking as if my face is ‘done’ without having to wear a speck of makeup.  I had a recent spell in hospital which is never an enjoyable experience and I swear my saving grace for not looking like a zombie was the fact that my brows always looked amazing and framed my face.  Rachel does say that I will probably want a top up after about five years due to the fact that the technique is different to traditional tattooing and can fade slightly. But without a shadow of a doubt I will be having them topped up if needs be because I could not imagine my face without my spectacular tattooed brows.

Keep your eyes peeled in the next week or so for an interview we conducted with Rachel who explains a bit more about what permanent make-up actually is and the difference in traditional tattooing compared to PMU.

Rachel can be contacted via her website: rachel-pitman.com or via Facebook and her Instagram @permanent_makeup_london and her tattoo apprentice page is also @p_i_t_m_a_n