Category: Feature tattoos

Tattoo inspired art: Alisha Murray

Alisha Murray is a 28-year-old freelance artist from Metro Detroit, Michigan. We chatted to Alisha to find out more about her tattoo inspired illustrations, her own tattoos and she has also created an original piece inspired by Things&Ink magazine.  

Do you have a background in art? Yes, I have been doing art since a very young age. It evolved as I got older and better, and even branched into crochet and the culinary arts. Ultimately, traditional artwork is the most rewarding to me. Most of the techniques I’ve learned over the years are from trial and error, but I also learned some of the fundamentals through elementary to high school, but I never went to college for it.

Where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration comes from all places. Lately tattoos both modern and traditional have been a great source of inspiration. I  get a lot of inspiration from the walls of tattoo shops. I have always been drawn to flash art since I was a kid. My grandfather had some ink from the Navy and it always fascinated me and made me want to create similar pieces. As I got old enough to get tattooed, I really paid attention to details of pieces whether American Traditional or Traditional Japanese pieces. They are both styles I admire very much.

How would you describe your style? Most of my newer pieces are a fusion of tattoo flash and hand gestures. I really enjoy making hand gestures that aren’t very politically correct, but still have beautiful tattoos. It’s amazing how much people accept and appreciate some of my more obscene pieces. It makes me happy to know people are just as weird as I am. There are many tattoo artists that create beautiful hand gestures on flesh and I hope I’m doing them right on paper.

Are there any artists that you admire and that influence your work? There are so many amazing artist out there that I admire, such as Bryn Parrot and Liz Clements. Others such as Garth Hixon, Daniel Cotte, Iris Lys, Drew Linden, Anna Sandberg, and Gareth Hawkins have inspired and impacted my work immensely. Every day I see new work from these amazing tattoo artists and I can’t help but be inspired. Their talents make me want to better my work and my knowledge of the tattoo culture.

What medium do you use? I use many different mediums, but I mostly use pen and ink mixed with digital for my hand gestures. I line everything out and finish the background on Photoshop to give it a clean solid colour. Once in a while I’ll use ink and nib with liquid acrylic and watercolour to practice my line work.

Do you have tattoos? Do they have a personal meaning to you? I have many tattoos. I can’t really count them any more. I’m completely solid from my neck to my knees with traditional Japanese pieces. From under my knees down I have some American traditional pieces that I have created or my artist has. I’ve always wanted a full body suit and I’ve been working on it since I turned 18. I always embraced my grandmothers Japanese heritage and was raised learning some of the traditions. Most of these pieces I have are based on Japanese folklore monsters. I always loved the stories behind the mythology of Yurei and how each Provence has different adaptations of them. I knew it was taboo to get ink and be completely covered in tattoos, but I can’t imagine anything more beautiful that someone could do to their own body. It’s definitely the only body enhancement I will partake in. I also have matching tattoos with my husband of our two dogs that I designed. Definitely the biggest matching tattoos I’ve seen. Garth Hixon of Village Tattoo in Romeo, Michigan is the artist behind 99% of my existing body suit.

Where can people buy your art? My art can be purchased at a couple of online stores such as society6.com/alishaannredbubble.com/people/aamurray, and my very own website, scoobtoobins.com. Society6 and Redbubble also carry my work on apparel, bedding, and more.

Ilaria Pozzi – tattooed model and muse

Ilaria Pozzi is a model, a muse and so much more. In photographs we see her portrayed as a woman, who is obviously tattooed, but that it not what stands out the most. The way that she can show her audience more than one person, more than just one facet in a two dimensional photo, is inspiring. The emotions that Ilaria can project hits the observer in so many different ways, meaning that she can be numerous people at any one time. 

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to her about the tattoos on her body and the emotions connected to her photo shoots…

Which photo would you choose to introduce yourself to those who do not know you? The one above. Titled ‘Almost Blue’ by Francesco Tretto. 

Was your first love tattoos or photography? What is the relationship/connection you see between the one and the other? They both are two forms of art expressed through images, the mean of communication with which I have always had more affinity. They are often linked artistically but in my opinion their relationship is, above all, a huge historical and cultural value. The first memories I have are about photography. I remember that my grandfather took pictures of me in his garden.

 Mira Nedyalkova

Beauty is fragility. Beauty, however, is also strength. What is your concept of beauty?  For me, it’s uniqueness. I usually find beautiful what is outside the box, that is not how it should be or as you do not expect.

What emotional impact does getting a new tattoo have for you? How do you feel after a photo shoot? I choose to get tattooed because it makes me feel good. I am happy after every tattoo. After a photo shoot I feel different emotions, depending on the type of work and the team. I can be excited, stressed, calm, etc.

Ilaria’s favourite photo by Mira Nedyalkova

In many of your works we see you are almost or completely naked. What is your idea of intimacy? To me the moments of my private life are intimate, my thoughts and my feelings. As those who wear a uniform at work, I can be naked or I wear clothes that I will not use in my private life.

You cannot separate the body from the soul. True or false? False. There are two distinct realities: the physical one, which has a structure inherently mathematical, determines every physical process, chemical or biological. And there is psychic reality, that generates feelings and thoughts and that transcends the laws of physics.

Share Your Air by Mira Nedyalkova

A photo, a memory, can often become a tattoo. Those who photograph you also capture your life and your memories. How does this make you feel? I believe that, whenever you portray a tattooed or not tattooed person, you always capture their history, life and memories, etched on the face, the body or in the eyes. Yes, I can feel vulnerable, but if I have faith in who is behind the camera, that doesn’t happen.

Which are the tattoos you are more connected with? And the artists you admire the most? I am attached to all of them, because they were made by friends who are also artists I really admire. Here are some: Stefano Prestileo (who also tattooed my back piece) Carlo FastColors, Krooked Ken to name just a few.

Share Your Air by Mira Nedyalkova

How do you feel when it’s you behind the camera? I like to be able to observe and capture what I see as I see it. In a simple yet direct way, I can create an image from my point of view, always having a lot of respect for who or what I’m observing.

Do you have any ideas for your next tattoo? I should colour the snakes on my head, done by Stefano Prestileo, and I was also thinking to get a duck on my left foot!

Share Your Air by Mira Nedyalkova

Interview with tattoo artist: Johnny Gloom

Johnny Gloom is a 23-year-old tattoo artist who works out of a private studio in Paris. Here at Things&Ink we are memorised by Johnny’s simple, yet elegant style and her sophisticatedly seductive women have captivated us. We chatted to Johnny to find out how she became a tattooist and what inspires her…

How long have you been tattooing? One year.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have a background in art? Not really, I was studying communication and advertising in Paris, but it was the wrong direction for me. One day I fell in love with tattoos. I now find myself here in the world of tattoos.

How would you describe your style? I don’t know actually. Minimalist and black.

What inspires you? Absolutely everything inspires me, but mostly emotions. I’m very sensitive to my own emotions. We are all humans and we have common emotions, if it’s about me, someone else too. Love, hate, violence, passion, sex.  Love is the burden of humanity, everyone recognizes it.

What is it about women that means you to chose them as a subject?
I love women, they are the most beautiful things I think. I particularly like Parisian girls, I find them very elegant. I love watching them, their positions, their hands, how they smoke cigarettes, and when they are sad.

Do you admire other artists? Are you influenced by any? I admire lot of artists and tattoos artists. But I try to be influenced by artists who don’t create or have tattoos,  for example photographers Helmut Newton, Steve Klein and Guy Bourdin. They make things that are different.

Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Maybe, I have planned nothing. I salvage and I love my freedom.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: New Tattoo Blues

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the second of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Read the first in the series here

I woke up with a deep crushing regret for the tattoo I’d gotten the day before. Thoughts of laser removal and cover ups running through my mind. Don’t get me wrong it was an utterly beautiful tattoo by a talented artist, it just wasn’t the tattoo I thought it was going to be…

These thoughts and feelings weren’t all that alien to me, nor did it seem to others too. Only days before my friend had confessed that details of her latest addition had been lost in translation with an Italian artist. I too bore in mind the first large and highly visible tattoo I had, a rooster stretching from ankle to knee. Bold and unapologetic, dark against my pale skin. It was something on me, rather than part of me. Yet as it healed and settled into my skin, became smooth to the touch, my eye grew used to seeing it everyday, my body and gaze accepting it as part of me.

Cockerel by Max Rathbone 

As the day went on I found myself going through a series of emotions, I felt like I was betraying my artist by admitting my concerns, whilst feeling ashamed of myself for ending up in this position. Why hadn’t I put across any specifics that I wanted to the artist, before letting someone etch this onto my skin for the rest of my life?

In truth I was exhausted that day. It was the third time in a week I was getting tattooed. For the past few months I’ve gotten tattooed on average 2-3 times each month. You could say I’d become a bit blasé about the whole thing, when you have most of your body covered in tattoos another small one really doesn’t make that much difference – or does it?

I’d decided on the design based on the artists flash and asked her to do something similar. I didn’t see the design till the night before, again nothing unusual – in fact for all my other tattoos I’d not seen the design until right before it was to be tattooed. I choose artists because I like their work and I trust their judgement. But of course you are the one who will carry this art on your body for the rest of your life (possibly). I’ve never been too specific in my tattoo requests, I’ve given indications  and let the artist get on with it.

So why was I so upset about this tattoo? This was the first tattoo I’d gotten which had meaning, real meaning on a personal level.I have a Japanese bodysuit on the go and lots of Western traditional tattoos so yes of course in the symbolical sense all my tattoos have some meaning, however this one held personal meaning. It was my heart on a plate that I couldn’t explain away. It was my soul laid bare in a great big heart on my thigh. I realised I wasn’t worried about explaining the tattoo to anyone else.

Tattoos by Kelly Smith, Holly Ashby, Max Rathbone & Paul Goss 

No, the shock was in admitting to myself what I had actually done. This tattoo I got because of my boyfriend, not for him, not a gift, not an unyielding declaration of my love. He knows that without the need to permanently mark it on my body. I got it for myself. As a reminder not to run away when things get tough.

Now the swelling has gone down, the blood and plasma washed away, my new tattoo somehow fits.  I like to trace the tattoo with my finger whilst it’s still raised. If I had the chance to alter it now to what I’d previously imagined it to look like, I can safely say I wouldn’t – a tattoo that would have sat alongside my others, small and hidden, no that doesn’t seem right now. I adore this tattoo, its mine, its part of me. It might not have been the tattoo I first expected, but it’s definitely the tattoo I needed.

Post script: My tattoo is now healed and I utterly adore it, the overly emotional state passing in two days leaving me puzzled at how I could ever question such a perfect tattoo. I think we underestimate our bodies sometimes and the endurance we put them through in life. My advice, if you choose an artist whose work you adore and you trust them you can’t go wrong. Getting a permanent addition to your body is a big deal, let yourself be emotional about it but also give yourself time to adjust to it.

Grace Garcia Illustrates No Cure Magazine

Spanish illustrator Grace Garcia  has created a series of drawings for Issue 7 of No Cure Magazine, an Australian indie art culture publication.

GIRL POWER is 84 pages devoted to the many kick-ass, talented chicks out there creating cool shit for those of us who appreciate cool shit.

Grace’s illustrations perfectly capture this notion as the women are covered in self-made tattoos and doing a whole host of sporting activities.

Cultural appropriation and tattoos

Our guest blogger is psychologist, freelance writer and creator of the blog Dream Electric, Ally Richards. In this post she considers cultural appropriation and tattoos. 

Heritage often acts as a source of inspiration for tattoos. It’s also equally common for tattoo collectors to adorn their bodies with representations of other cultures – perhaps memories of places visited or finding inspiration in another population’s practices.

By Carlos Torres

When getting a tattoo referencing a culture that is not your own, issues can arise. We cringe at the (often misspelt) Chinese character tattoos that attracted popularity in the 90s and the use of other cultures as “exotic” or “edgy”. Beyond these examples is the possibility that the tattoo will provoke offense in members of the cultural group referenced and the wearer may be accused of “cultural appropriation”.

What is cultural appropriation? A quick google quickly evidences the controversy behind the term – angry voices making claims of racism and further angry voices proclaiming freedom of expression. In brief, cultural appropriation refers to a majority group who adopts the symbols and signs of a minority group. A power dynamic is inherent; the privileged group (often white and western) takes from an oppressed and marginalised group. This differs from “cultural exchange”, in which the trading between groups is mutual. The power lies in the hands of the majority group – they get to choose which symbols they take on and stand to benefit from this appropriation. This “accessorisation” trivialises and erases the oppression experienced by the minority group.

But I’m not racist, I just think it’s pretty…

Headdress by Ben Klishevskiy

A recent example of cultural appropriation is the wearing of “Red Indian headdresses”, which have become popular accessories. The headdresses (known as warbonnets) have a deep spiritual significance in Native American culture. Native Americans are also a minority group who have a history of oppression and suffering at the hands of Americans. The wearing of the headdresses encourages stereotypes and when worn with skimpy festival-wear it promotes the sexualisation of an ethnic group which already has a high level of sexual assault perpetrated against them. This year Glastonbury banned the sale of the headdresses at the festival for these reasons.

Mandala by Jonathan Toogood

But what about tattoos? Unlike a culturally insensitive costume, a tattoo is usually carefully considered and a lifelong commitment, not a trend to be picked up when convenient. However, by the above definition, cultural appropriation is very common in tattoo culture. Many white people sport tribal blackwork designs inspired by Maori culture. Mexican “sugar skull” designs and mandala tattoos inspired by Hindu and Buddhist practices have become increasingly popular. All of these designs come from cultures that have been historically (and in many cases still currently) oppressed by white people. Is this problematic?

Skull by Mike Harper 

You are free to present your body in whichever way you choose, and your tattoos are your own choice. However, others also have the right to be offended and express this. If you decide to get a tattoo representing a minority culture, you should be prepared for this possibility.  Although your intention is not to be racist, others may see it as such.

If you are in the white majority, it is not for you to decide what is and is not offensive to other groups. Inform yourself of the history and significance around your chosen design and discuss this with members of that community. You may find it helpful to speak to a tattoo artist from that culture. It may be possible to incorporate the aspects of the symbol you find appealing into a more culturally respectful tattoo. Above all, regardless of the eventual choice you make, being thoughtful is key. A tattoo is for life and you don’t want to be spending your later years defending it! Careful consideration of the cultural context around your tattoo may avoid unintentional offense and embarrassment in the future.

 

Peacock Tattoos

Peacocks are such beautiful birds, what with their colourful plumage and regal air, also we think they make even better looking tattoos. Here’s our pick of some of the peacock tattoos we have seen recently…

@charlotteross_tattoos

@tattooer_nadi

@simone_clare_tattoo

@magda_hanke

@mattadamson

@marialavia.tattoo

@hlctattoo

Interview with a tattoo artist: Schuyler Abrams

Celebrate all things fruity with the recent release of The Fruity Issue. Here at Things&Ink we love discovering new tattoo artists who also share our love of fruit and fruity tattoos. We chatted to 29-year-old Schuyler Abrams who works at Savannah Ink in Savannah Georgia to find out more about his spooky and fruity bat tattoos that he has become known for…

 

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been tattooing since July 2013, so I just hit my two year mark! I’ve still got a lot to learn and room to grow in this industry.

How did you get into the industry? I’ve always considered a career in the art world but it wasn’t until late 2012 that I actually started giving tattooing a serious thought. I was working multiple jobs and doing a bit of freelance artwork at the time. One day I came across an internet post from a good buddy of mine who had recently become a tattoo artist himself. His post was a picture of his tattoo machines with the caption: “my job is better than yours.” I figured, “he’s probably got a point”, so I got a portfolio together and asked if his shop had an apprenticeship available. He talked it over with the owner, Duke, and got me an interview. Duke took one look at my artwork and gave me the apprenticeship on the spot and the rest is history.

Do you have a background in art? Aside from a high school art class and hours of Bob Ross videos, just about all aspects of my artwork is self-taught. I’ve done a few cool freelance jobs doing band posters and album artwork, but that’s about the extent of my professional art career.

How would you describe your style? My style is something that I’ve been trying to cultivate for years. It’s a bit of new school with some touches of old traditional. I love taking weird/macabre subject matter and juxtaposing it with bright colors and bold lines. The way I draw is constantly evolving the more I learn.

Where do you get your inspiration? I get most of my inspiration from 60s and 80s horror, Saturday morning cartoons, anime, and dad jokes. Jamie Hewlett’s work on the Gorillaz really changed my life as well.

 


What was your first tattoo? First tattoo I ever got takes up the length of my left forearm. It’s a drawing I did of an octopus jack-o-lantern (Oct-O-Lantern as I like to call it). I got it tattooed by Johnny Theif of Seppuku Tattoo back in 2007. I was hooked instantly!

Who would you like to get tattooed by, are there any artists you admire? There are so many great tattoo artists out there these days! I’d really love to get pieces from Kelly Doty and Timmy B. Their attention to detail and the smoothness of their techniques is outstanding! I really admire a lot of local tattooers as well, including Cory HandCorey Steverson and Josh Hilliard just to name a few. All rad dudes who do rad tattoos.

 

We love your fruit bats how did these come about? The fruit bats actually evolved from an idea that Michael Ferrera had. He came to me asking for a tattoo. When we were discussing ideas, he described  ”a strawberry with bat wings! …fruit bat! Get it?!”I loved the idea so I made a mental note as he rambled off other tattoo concepts. I drew it up, but when he came to get tattooed we ended up going with a completely different design. I held onto the fruit bat drawing for a few months until one day my co-worker’s sister came into the shop. She took one look at the drawing and fell in love with it. It was a slow day at the shop and I was really itching to tattoo it so I zapped it on her as a favor.

A few months later one of the Savannah Derby Devils saw the strawberry fruit bat tattoo and commissioned me to do a grape version. Little did I know that that was the beginning of the fruit bat trend. Since then it’s become a team initiation of sorts for the Savannah Derby Devils to get a fruit bat tattoo. I’m currently up to seventeen different fruit bats with more already on the way. This weird trend I started doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Hopefully I don’t run out of fruits to draw!

 

Interview with a tattoo artist: Holly Astral

We chatted to 31-year-old tattoo artist and jewellery maker Holly Astral from Hertfordshire about her painting style, her inspirations and the art shows she has been involved in. 

Do you have a background in art? I studied art at school and college before doing a degree in model making and special effects. With regards to painting and drawing I’m self taught, just figuring things out as I go along.

How did you get your apprenticeship? Why did you want to become a tattooist? I am trained as a model maker, and spent the first ten or so years of my working life prototyping toys and products for manufacture. To cut a long story short, I realised I wasn’t in love with what I was doing any more and decided to make a change. I love to paint and draw, and I had been thinking about expanding this. I wanted to learn to tattoo for years, but it was always a kind of distant far away dream. It occured to me that the only way to learn would be to make that dramatic change and immerse myself fully into learning to tattoo. I was working for myself at the time, so I stopped saying yes to model making jobs, closed my toy making company and got cracking with finding an apprenticeship!

How long have you been tattooing? Just over a year, but it’s gone so quickly! This year has flown by. I am loving every minute of it!

What kinds of things do you like to tattoo? I love tattooing animals and flowers the most so far! Flowers look so lovely flowing across the body. I am still just working on smaller, simple pieces right now.

How would you describe your tattoo style? I’m still just getting started, so my style is still very much in the developing stages. I’d say it’s pretty girly and some times cute but not too cutesy-poo. And more spacey, dreamy and magical when it comes to my art. In terms of painting I love to paint spacey pin up style ladies, and I hope my tattooing takes me in that kind of direction once I’ve built my skills up further to do larger pieces.

What mediums do you use? Oil paints mostly, sometimes acrylics. I always add some gold leaf to each painting, too. I like a bit of sparkle

Where do you get your inspiration from? Magic, nature, films – I love fantasy films and anything with ghosts or aliens in it. I am also really inspired by the vast loneliness of space, it kind of depends on how I’m feeling that day. Usually I start by sketching away in my sketchbook, I draw every single day, and then I see which ones start to flesh out and feel real to me on their own. My favourite part of any drawing is adding all the tattoos and long swishing hair.

Can you tell me about the gallery shows you have been involved in? I’ve exhibited at galleries in Europe and the USA, including The Sho Gallery Wales, Forbidden Planet London and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.  A lot of the shows in the states I sent my work over, but I always prefer to go to the show and getting to meet all the other artists involved. My art has taken me all over the place, all around England and Wales, and LA. I used to run my own line of collectible plush toys called Cavey, I produced a small numbered run of them each month in a different design, a bit like beanie babies. For Cavey’s birthday each year I would put on an art show where other artists and toy designers would contribute their own interpretation of the Cavey platform. The show was held at a pop up location each year in London, but one year I put the show on in LA. That was a lot of fun!

In April I put on my first solo show at Toycon in the UK and I’ve also curated shows at pop-up locations in London and LA.

Were the pieces you created for the galleries based around themes? Often the show will have a running theme that the artists are encouraged to work to, and I really like to work this way. Having a little bit of direction as to what to produce really gets the creative juices flowing!

A favourite show of mine was ‘Dragons’ which took place in Wales. Each artist was given a blank plastic dragon toy to customise, and everyone made their own interpretation of he platform. I made mine in the image of Falcor from The Never Ending Story. It was such a fun night!

Where can people buy your art?  I have a small online shop where I sell my silver jewellery. My artwork is available to purchase privately by emailing me at hollyastral@gmail.com

Holly is currently doing guest spots in Hertfordshire, if you’d like to get tattooed by her email: hollyastral@gmail.com

Follow Holly on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for more artwork and tattoos.

Janet Bruesselbach: Trans Women in Art

Daughters of Mercy II is the second in a series of portraits painted by New York based artist Janet Brusselbach. The oil paintings depict transgender women demonstrating the changing nature of women’s bodies, their fluidity and the very essence of femaleness, as Janet seeks to introduce more trans bodies into the art world.

Janet paints with live models so that the subject can be comfortable and have control over their image. She is hoping to fundraise enough money so that the portraits can be on show in a New York gallery, as well as creating a calendar of the images.

Janet explains why she created the series and what she hopes to achieve on her Kickstarter site:

Daughters of Mercury is a series of full-length oil paintings celebrating the beauty and diversity of trans women. Each portrait is driven by how its subject wants to be seen and the collaboration of artist and subject. I am a cis woman who wants to support and advocate for amazing women I love and admire, using the medium I know best.

Sybil Lamb, oil on canvas, 36x48in, June 2005

Mae (detail), 23×32,  oil on canvas, May 2015

Andromeda, oil on canvas, 36x60in, April 2015