Category: Features

Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.

tj05hamburg-sonja-punktum-tattoo-artist

Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”

tj56arrienette-ashman

Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”

tj127ashley-green

Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”

tj98george-crew

George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”

tj140monami-frost

Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”

tj76ermine-hunte

Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Loco Mosquito

Loco Mosquito is a Bangkok based unisex clothing label, mainly focusing on quality classic Americana staples infused with contemporary tattoo imagery. Their aim is to do collaborations every year with like-minded directional artists of different mediums.

They are currently in the process of doing collaborative projects with tattoo artists from all over the world, including Guy Le Tatooer,  Kristian Gonzalez, Luca Polini and Valentin Jorquera.  We spoke to Ricky from Loco Mosquito about the design inspiration behind the brand and what other collaborations they have lined up…

 image3

How did you come up with the brand Loco Mosquito and how long has it been running? Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators is a creative collective based in Bangkok that was conceived in January 2016. It started off as a side project that I eventually became fully immersed in. The name of the brand itself is a direct ode to an Iggy Pop song of the same name that was released in 1980, a legendary musical personality that has always been a source of great inspiration for me and the brand. I am originally from Indonesia but spent a considerable amount of time studying and working within the clothing industry in Melbourne, Australia. At the same time, I was starting to travel a lot more within the Asia Pacific region and fell in love instantly when I first visited Bangkok, Thailand. I was completely blown away by the energy of the city, its underground edge and its powerful combination of tradition and modernity, which is a quality I try to reflect as well in the clothes I design. On top of that, the living costs in Bangkok are much more affordable than Australia, making it an easy decision to relocate here.

 

haath-front     215a9171

What inspires you when designing? Being surrounded by Buddhist temples, traditional east Asian architecture and a medley of characters on the streets of Bangkok, the buzz and hustle of the city makes it a huge melting pot of inspiration. I am especially fascinated and influenced by Asian temple art (Thai, Chinese, Tibetan Buddhist) and traditional folk art of Southeast Asia and India. The whole vision behind the brand is to re-interpret and recreate classic unisex staples (biker jackets, Vietnam style military jackets etc.), influenced by traditional Asian and Himalayan art and symbolism.

 

image5

 

215a9430

Tell us a bit about your collaborations with tattoo artists and what made you pick those artists? We are closely connected to well-known Bangkok based tattoo studio, Common Ground Tattoo, formerly known as Six Fathoms Deep. They regularly host renowned international guest artists on a monthly basis. This provides me with a great opportunity to meet a wide variety of talented artists from around the world and some of the collaborative projects that we have done started off in this manner. So far we have done collaborations with Italian tattooer Luca Polini and Colombian tattooer Kristian Gonzalez. Both of them are solid traditional tattooers in their own rights and I was really drawn to their bold and striking rendition of Asian subject matters, which I felt would translate really well into a line of clothing. Right now, we are working on a line of Jackets with Valentin Jorquera from New Caledonia. I am also in the process of completing my bodysuit project with Guy Le Tatooer from Toulouse, France, and we have been discussing the possibility of doing some crazy collaboration together with the brand in the near future, so watch this space!

215a9044_3
215a8987_2

Where do you see the brand going in the next year or so and what things have you got planned? We are just about to release a short film showcasing our first collection of leather jackets and shirts. The super talented Melbourne based film production team Eye Sea Films and director Roxanne Halley are responsible for the realisation of this project. We wanted the film to be authentic with a distinct Bangkok flavour. That’s why we chose to film real people on the streets of Bangkok, instead of hiring models as the premise of the shoot was to showcase real people wearing real clothes in real situations. We also hope to expand our selection of products in the coming year, developing into a full line of clothing to include bottoms, accessories and a suiting line. And of course to do more collaborations with artists of different mediums in the future!

The short film can be viewed here:
Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

Loco Mosquito Guerrilla Operators from EYE SEA FILMS on Vimeo.

 

Loco Mosquito clothing can be purchased via their website: loco-mosquito.com and they’re Instagram page is: instagram.com/loco_mosquito_official

Boomtown 2016 Street Spotter

With mind-blowing production, hoards of interactive characters and immersive story lines happening throughout the weekend, Boomtown festival thrives off the imagination and creativity of its dwellers. It was no wonder that our blog contributor Becky Young had such an incredible time exploring the town, meeting its people and finding out more about their relationship with their ink and the festival itself. Boomtown is the only place so many different and unique people can all come together and feel like one big family!

Sophie from Vienna
Age: 26
Job: SFX artist
Favourite Boomtown area: Mayfair
Tattoo by Phillip Millic while guesting in London
“It’s all about the artist, they and I need to have a connection for me to wear their art on my skin for life”

sophie_full1

sophie_close_up_21

sophie_close_up1

Nick from Peterborough
Job: Chef
Favourite Boomtown area: Sector 6
Tattoo by Ziggy Bates from Cloud Nine Ink
“My mum passed away and it represents the Greek mythology we both loved”

nick_full1

nick_close_up1

Frankie from Berlin
Age: 26
Job: Stripper & performer
Favourite Boomtown area: Freak Boutique in China Town
Tattoo by Jay Moon at Pride Tattoo
“I met Jay at a squat party, he was doing banners for Skumtek and I loved his art – and so he offered to tattoo his art on to me!”

frankie_full1

frankie_close_up1

Courtney from Bournemouth
Age: 26
Job: Forklifter
Favourite Boomtown area: Lion’s Den
Tattoo by Ana Tatu from Black Lodge
“Reggae on my left arm close to my heart, my right arm represents rock ‘n’ roll for my Uncle”

courtney_full1

courtney_close_up21

courtney_close_up11

 

Fay from Bridgewater
Age: 30
Job: Childcare
Favourite Boomtown area: Chinatown
Tattoo by Mike from Mike’s Tattoo Studio
“Just a sexy ass lady and she deserves to be seen”

fay_full1

fay_close_up1

Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…

galda4

When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.

galda

What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.

galda3

You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.

galda1

You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.

glada2

What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.

galdalou

All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

Shaded: Dean Robinson

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Dean Robinson is a 25 year-old Brighton-based musician and visual artist who creates violent and visceral sonic landscapes under the pseudonym Knifedoutofexistence, as well as contributing fuzzed clouds of texture and depth when it comes to his collective noise project Swallowing. In conversation with ‘Shaded’, the purveyor of seaside distortion demystifies the influences behind his work, the story behind his Bonnie Tyler tattoo and speaks about the relationship between the worlds of extreme music and body modification.

12901239_10156602907545251_891279103907288866_o-2

Can you talk about what it is you do as a musician? Firstly, I would say that calling myself a musician is a stretch, and probably does real musicians and myself a disservice. I currently work with two main projects: Knifedoutofexistence, which is a solo project in which I make noise and sounds with a range of objects, gear and vocals. I am also a member of the band Swallowing, where I add noise in the form of guitar feedback to the grinding dirge created by my band mates.

When did you start exploring musical performance? I have been playing in bands since I was roughly 16 years old, but I performed as Knifedoutofexistence for the first time in February 2013.

558769_607160129317552_1874546527_n

Skulls by Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull

What initially influenced you musically? Knifedoutofexistence was inspired by a range of conspiring factors. I wanted to take the challenging and questioning ideals of punk and apply that to the actual sound itself. Why should it be that the only structure that punk doesn’t challenge is musical rules themselves? The band Column Of Heaven were a massive influence on both the sonic element of the project and the gravity I gave to the subject matter I work with.

Knifedoutofexistence is actually a reference to a sample at the end of the first Column Of Heaven release, ‘Ecstatically Embracing All That We Habitually Suppress’. Swans also opened my mind to the power of loops and repetitiveness – to the ability to create the same kind of aggression that’s stereotypical of extreme genres of music as Hardcore Punk, but in this polar opposite way. Instead of a quick blast of emotion, Swans create something that slowly drags you into it. ‘Filth’ taught me how to be covert with aggression.

Can you speak to what is currently inspiring you as a musician? The desire to make something constructive and creative out of the negative aspects of my personality and life is a constant inspiration. My motive for making noise has always been catharsis.

10724841_807105599340249_1843187530_n

Boar by Scott Move

Can you tell me about your tattoos? I think, like most people who’ve been tattooed a decent amount, I’ve stopped counting them. Most of my tattoos are music related, as that’s always been the biggest part of my life. I have tattoos in tribute to a long list of bands and artists: Man Is The Bastard, The Doors, Iron Monkey, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Closure, Black Sabbath, Carrion Sunflower, Dystopia. I suppose Bonnie Tyler can be added to that list as well!

When I was out in Canada playing a few shows recently, I was in this bar that had a juke box. There was a group of us who thought we’d annoy everyone in the place by pouring all of our money into this machine and repeatedly requesting ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. It kind of backfired though, as the more we listened to it, the more we started to dig into the song and the lyrics and it ended up hitting us hard. We all got ‘love in the dark’ tattooed on us in honour of the experience. All of my tattoos have been done by a range of talented tattoo artists. My friends Sam Layzell and Rosie Evans who work out of their own private studio MVL in Leeds have done a decent amount of my work between them. Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull did my knees. Scott Move, who is one of my favourite artists, produced this rad boar on my arm.

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? They’re just something I’ve always been drawn to. I guess they go hand in hand with the subcultures and aesthetics I’ve always found appealing. The permanency of them is definitely a massive attraction for me. It’s something that, once finished, is forever a part of your person. My first tattoo was the logo of this band Reuben. I waited outside of the tattoo shop on my 18th birthday and got it done at 9 in the morning!

12912725_1113227838740848_2077958783_n

Do you have any plans for future work? There’s a lot of work I’ve got planned. I’d like to get “No Doves Fly Here” across my chest in reference to The Mob’s Post-Punk classic, as well as a portrait of the legendary futurist painter, composer and writer Lugi Russolo on my ribs. There’s a lot of incredible artists I’d like to get tattooed by.

Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world that you gravitate towards creatively? Absolutely! Both tattoo culture and the world of extreme music have an outsider mentality to them and are not often given credit as “valid” or “real” art forms, although an approval that many involved do not seek to gain or actively work against. Noise is for the punks. Tattoos are for the punks.

Apprentice Love: Rachel Welsby

We spotted the work of 29-year-old apprentice Rachel Welsby on Instagram and instantly loved her dark traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Rachel to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Golden Daggers in Los Angeles where she works… 

image4

 

How long have you been tattooing? Since January 2016

How did you start? I spent almost a year putting together a portfolio of my tattoo flash and when I felt I had enough work, I started researching shops in LA and began approaching the ones I liked the look of for an apprenticeship. I’d just moved to Los Angeles and knew hardly anything about the tattoo scene here – I’m glad I spent so much time researching shops because I was lucky enough to find Golden Daggers and my mentor Rocky. I’m currently 14 months into my apprenticeship.

image3

What did you do before? After I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail when I lived in Brighton and then buying when I lived in London. I had a lucky escape from all of that when I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in November 2013. I didn’t realise how soul destroying those environments were until I left. I’m glad I did do that kind of work though because it’s made my so grateful for the work I do now and the lifestyle I have here in California.

Do you have a background in art? Yes, drawing and making things was all I did when I was a kid. I took art, textile and graphic design classes in school. I went to art college, and then onto university in Bristol, England where I studied Fashion Illustration. Alongside working full time, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing editorial and commercial illustration work, as well as my own personal projects.

image5
What drew you to the world of tattooing? It was through music. I remember seeing bands like Rancid, AFI and The Distillers on MTV2 when I was a teenager and thinking how cool they were. I grew up in a small town in Wales and never ever saw people who looked like them. I fell in love with the music and the aesthetic and haven’t ever looked back.

It was on a long drive from San Francisco to Portland one day that the decision was made that I should pour all my energy into becoming a tattooer. By the time I’d come to this conclusion, I had already been getting tattooed for 10 years and was already quite heavily covered. I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and the hard work that I’d need to constantly put in to make it work. I’m very fortunate to have such incredible friends and family around me who encourage and support me through all of this.

image2
How would you describe your style, has it changed at all? I’d describe my work as black traditional with a dark feel. I’d say my subject matter and imagery has remained consistent, but the technicality of my designs has changed. Before I started tattooing, I was drawing flash that was WAY to complex for me to attempt to tattoo. As a result I have totally simplified my designs to match my ability as a tattooer. I’m only working in black too – I think that’s more to do with the aesthetic I like, but in time I would like to be able to tattoo confidently with colour too. It’s a progression that will continue to evolve as I grow and I improve technically.

image6
What inspires you? Becca was one of my very first inspirations. She’s an amazing tattooer and became a dear friend after the amount of hours we spent together whilst she tattooed me. She’s very humble, dedicated and a true artist. I think incredibly highly of all she’s achieved. Another one of my biggest early inspirations is Simon Erl. He used to work at Jayne Doe so I met him through getting tattooed with Becca. He was the first tattooer I was aware of who worked so heavily with black. I loved his really thick lines and whip-shading. His dark imagery was also something that captivated me. His work is so well designed and considered. He uses so much black, but it’s always balanced and works.

image8
What would you like to tattoo? I would love to do a back piece one day!

What is a typical day like for you? I get up kinda early and have a coffee, do yoga, walk my dog and work on my embroidery projects. Then I get to the shop at 1pm and take care of all of my apprentice duties before I do my own drawings or begin appointments. This involves things like cleaning the shop, scrubbing tubes, buying supplies, making sure bills get paid and handing the shop money. I then spend the rest of the day drawing or tattooing.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? The majority of my tattoos are from Becca and I also have a couple of pieces from Simon Erl, Bastien Jean and Ed Mosley.

Tattooed Silicone Art Gallery

Posthumously preserving tattooed skin is a great way to appreciate tattoos without the need for animated human flesh holding it all together. But if the thought of having dead human skin framed and on display in your living room is a little too macabre for your liking then Melbourne’s Thing Gallery has you covered.

Thing Gallery commission tattooists to work on hyper-real silicone hands that they then exhibit and sell online. Have you ever wanted a unique tropical piece by Sam Kane or some black work by Hannah Pixie but live on the other side of the world? Thing Gallery have been busy curating hands from artists living in all corners of the earth, like Or Kantor in Israel, Poland’s Edek, and Oozy in Korea.

It’s a unique opportunity to own real tattoos as pieces of art disconnected and distinct from the human body.

Below are some of the first hands uploaded to their gallery. Be sure to sign up to their mail-list to be among the first notified when new hands become available, or keep an eye on their Instagram page for updates and images of awesome works of art.

 

By Charley Gerardin (Melbourne) @charley_gerardin By Charley Gerardin (Melbourne)
@charley_gerardin

 

By Nina Waldron (Melbourne) @goatlumps By Nina Waldron (Melbourne)
@goatlumps

 

By Elizabeth Huxley May (Melbourne) @elizabethhuxleymay By Elizabeth Huxley May (Sydney)
@elizabethhuxleymay

 

By Sam Kane (Melbourne) @samkanetattoo By Sam Kane (Sydney)
@samkanetattoo

 

By Mark Jelliman (England) @marktattooist By Mark Jelliman (England)
@marktattooist

www.thinggallery.com

https://www.instagram.com/thinggallery/

Interview with Georgina Liliane

23-year-old Georgina Liliane is a tattoo artist based at Intense Colours in Southampton, who is now currently working and travelling across Canada. We chatted to Georgina about what inspires her and the guest spots she has planned while travelling… 

Profile picture (1)

How long have you been tattooing? Including my apprenticeship four years and still constantly learning.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I drew designs for friends and my close friends got tattooed by my mentor and he was about to open a studio and was looking for an apprentice. My friends recommended me to the studio and they had a look at my work and I was offered an apprenticeship. At the time I was just about to finish my foundation in illustration so it was perfect timing as I didn’t want to go to university at all!

Do you have a background in art? I have always been drawing since I can remember, I studied fine art at college and illustration at uni.

Lucky Cat - Georgina Liliane

What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember being at school and loved flicking through tattoo magazines and pictures online (instead of doing work I needed to do of course). I loved the bright colours and bold style of traditional tattoos.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? In my very early years of tattooing I drew in more of a traditional style, it wasn’t very distinct at first but through practise and patience I started to draw delicate, illustrative and more feminine designs, mostly animal and nature related.

Verity Peacock

What do you like to tattoo and draw? My favourite tattoos to do are cats, any animal, gothic/halloween related and pop culture related designs such as Studio Ghibli, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, all of which I’m a huge fan of!

What inspires you? Classical art and vintage postcards are something I frequently look at. I went to the Robert Bateman gallery on Vancouver Island and his paintings were beautiful. Although incredibly detailed he focuses mainly on creating a certain mood to be felt when viewing his paintings, and adding other details that wouldn’t necessarily be seen at first glance, which I found interesting and something I could take inspiration from.

Patronus (1)

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I would love to do larger scale pieces in the future, I wouldn’t want to do anything that could be offensive. I often turn away certain cover up tattoos if the old tattoo is difficult or too dark to cover, I always suggest to laser the tattoo to lighten it. This means less limitation on what could be tattooed over it.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? So far I’ve worked on Vancouver Island at Painted Lotus, Vancouver at Gastown Parlour, I’m about to start working at Scythe and Spade in Calgary, followed by the Montreal Convention in September. Then I’ll be working at Deathless tattoo in Montreal, and in Ottawa I’ll be at Ink Spot. That’s all I’ve planned so far! I’m nervous for the convention as it’ll be the first one I’ve done by myself and in another country can be quite daunting. But everyone in Canada has been so friendly and helpful and I’ve settled in quickly.

halloween bats

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Both of my sleeves have been done by the very talented Antony Flemming, I love them as everyday there’s a new detail I didn’t see before. I’ve done a couple of tattoo trades with my friends Ashley Luka and Charlotte Timmons both stupidly lovely and talented artists in Birmingham. I still have a lot of space and ideas for future tattoos for myself, I’d love it if I can get a tattoo from Sam Smith who I’ll be working with in Calgary, but if not I’ll be more than happy to sit and watch her work and hopefully learn a thing or two!

Apprentice Love: Jessica Ashby

Meet Jessica Ashby, she is a tattoo apprentice under Mike Stockings at Legacy Ink in Haverhill. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…

IMG_8691 

How long have you been tattooing? Looking back through my diary, I’ve been tattooing on a regular basis for about 7-8 weeks now. I started my apprenticeship in October of 2015 and my mentor let me tattoo myself after about four months so I could get a glimpse of the world I was stepping into. I tattooed myself again a couple of months later and then a handful of my wonderful friends volunteered to let me tattoo them, and then all of a sudden I’m tattooing every day alongside all the other artists at the shop. This is something I’ve wanted for so long and sometimes I still wake up and think ‘is this really my life now?!’

How did you start? What did you do before? I remember telling my tutor at college that I wanted to be a tattoo artist and she looked at me blankly with no advice to give. I then went to university for a year, worked in bars and restaurants, went travelling for a bit, all the while knowing I still just wanted to tattoo.

It got to the point where I couldn’t stand my job any longer and I plucked up the courage to email Mike Stockings (my mentor) and asked if he would be willing to see me to discuss the possibility of an apprenticeship at his studio. I had been avidly following his work for years and I had my heart set on learning from him. He agreed to see me, went through my work, picked it apart, gave me some advice and then told me to go away and draw some more. I don’t think he expected that I’d ever come back, but I continued to take more work to show him for about six months until he offered me the apprenticeship.

IMG_9162

Do you have a background in art? Drawing was always ‘my thing,’ when I was younger. I remember going round to other kids’ houses to play and being shocked that they didn’t put the lids back on their colouring pens, or that they only had scrap paper to draw on. Looking back, I’m so grateful to my mum for nurturing my interest in art. Even at a young age she would take me to exhibitions and buy me good quality drawing materials.

I studied art at college and even went on to university to start an illustration degree. I probably thought my art classes were boring at the time but I realise now that they really did teach me some valuable things about composition, light and shadow, complementary colours etc.

IMG_8687

What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember seeing some of Guy Aitchison’s luminous bi-mech work when I was about 16 and I was instantly blown away. It was like at that moment, my eyes were opened to a whole world of tattooing beyond the high street flash that I was familiar with. I then went on to discover Emily Rose Murray, Tiny Miss Becca, and (dare I say) Kat Von D who were all women starting to make waves in a male dominated industry at the time. I was so inspired and excited that you could make a living out of drawing wonderful pictures on people. I was desperate to get tattooed when I was a teenager and now I’m starting to build up a nice collection of my own I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever.

IMG_8952 (1)
Are there any artist that influence your work? I really like all the bold, bright work that is coming out of Germany at the moment. Lars Uwe Lus lips, is one of my absolute favourites. His use of colours, line weights and style in general is pretty mind-blowing. I love the illustrative quality of Kate Selkie’s work and I am always reminded that good drawing skills are the foundation of a good tattoo. And of course, watching Mike work is probably my biggest influence. His work has so much character and he’s always trying to push boundaries and put out fresh new ideas. It’s impossible not to be inspired.

IMG_9280

Describe your style, has it changed? I’d say my style changes a little bit with every tattoo I do. I think my work is leaning towards neo-traditional, working with bright colours and bold line. The guys where I work taught me early on to follow the fundamentals of traditional tattooing, emphasising the importance of clean lines and getting a good amount of black into any tattoo to create contrast and a tattoo that will age well.

What inspires you? Everything really. I guess that’s a pretty terrible answer but it’s true. I’ll often find myself sneaking into people’s front gardens to take photos of their flowers to use as reference, or stuffing a leaflet in my bag because I like the colour palette that’s been used. I feel like my eyes now scan everything to see if it’s a possible reference or inspiration in some way.

I love Japanese art and culture, art nouveau, pop art, film photography, and really enjoy going to museums and galleries. Even if the work doesn’t influence mine directly, I always feel so creatively energised after seeing another artist’s vision come to life.

IMG_8975

What would you love to tattoo? I consider myself incredibly lucky that Mike gives me the freedom to tattoo what I want already. He has always really emphasised that if you do work you enjoy then that will be evident, and people will come to you.

Eventually I’d like to be tattooing larger scale animal designs and faces (tattoos of faces, not tattooing on faces!) I love the idea of working on a project and can’t wait to be piecing together ideas for a sleeve or back piece. For now though, I am happy doing my little designs, trying to make each one cleaner and better than the last. I think there’s a fine line between continually pushing yourself to improve, and trying to run before you can walk. The guys at work will often tell me that I’m not ready to tattoo a certain part of the body yet, or that a design is too complex and then I just have to take a step back and remember that it’s still really early days for me.

IMG_9133 (1)

What is a typical day like for you? I usually get to the studio at around 9 am, mop the floor, clean the grips, set up Mike’s station and try to make sure everything stays tidy during the day. I’m trying to do one tattoo a day at the moment and truthfully I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in the shop during that time!

Megan Massacre Colouring Book

We chat to the infamous Megan Massacre, 30, tattoo artist and co-founder @GritNGlory, about her new colouring book, reality TV and her tattoo style

Megan, we love your work! How would you describe your style?
Thanks! My tattooing style is mostly known for my very bright, colourful palettes and I usually mix a few tattooing styles together such as realism, traditional, neo-traditional and new school.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 16.28.19

Tattoo by MeganWe loved you in America’s Worst Tattoos and NY Ink… Did you enjoy doing reality TV, what were the highlights?
Yes very much! The highlight for me was getting to share my work with such a large audience of people.

If you could tattoo anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Probably Gwen Stefani, I’ve loved her since I was a kid listening to No Doubt!

What made you decide to venture into colouring books?
I’ve always wanted to make a book of my tattoo drawings, tattoo flash is what we call it in the industry. When I realised it could double as a colouring book I thought it was such a cool, fun idea that even more people could enjoy.

Book Cover_Marked in Ink

What do you hope people will get from it?
I like to think of it as a book for both tattoo artists and fans, as well as colouring fanatics. I hope that tattoo artists and fans find the book useful for tattoo ideas and flash, as well as fun and therapeutic for colouring as well.

Cat portrait

It is aimed at adults and children?
Yes I think it’s great for both!

Do you think colouring books are important for wellbeing?
I think colouring is a great way to relieve stress and relax your mind while also working in a creative outlet and creating something awesome you can feel proud of.

Is it important for you to be involved in lots of different creative projects?
For me personally yes. I always have a few different projects going on, I like to stay overly busy. I also like to be involved in as many different creative industries as possible, it allows me to keep learning through art.

What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to make more colouring and art books for fans to enjoy, and to continually keep breaking into new, creative industries.

When will you next be in the UK?
I don’t have any plans at the moment but I try to go once a year, I’ll definitely be posting on my social media when I’ll be heading there next!

Flaming heart

You can order a copy of Marked in Ink, the colouring book by Megan Massacre from Book Depository