Category: Guest bloggers

The Hateful Eight

Our resident film reviewer is writer Harry Casey-Woodward who will be sharing his opinions on things he has watched…

The Hateful Eight, 2016, cert 18, dir Quentin Tarantino, 4/5

The first thing you should know about Tarantino’s latest feature is that it is very different to his last offering, Django Unchained.
I have decided that the quality of Tarantino’s films follows a certain pattern: he does two good films, then a not so good film, then repeats. His first two movies, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are considered cinematic classics. His third movie Jackie Brown is not quite as exciting. The two Kill Bill movies that came after are still very popular, while many people I’ve met loathe his sixth film Death Proof  and it certainly showed at the box office. Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained wowed nearly everyone.

So I was worried about Hateful Eight fitting the pattern and being a poor film. After seeing it, I feel it shares some of the negative aspects of Tarantino’s lesser efforts and lacks the energy and creativity of his best. However, it’s lack of action and location-hopping compared to Inglorious Basterds and Django doesn’t make it a bad film, just different.

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I was excited enough about Tarantino making a period western with Django after repeating how much he’s inspired by them. I was even more excited when he said he was making another one. With both films, he has mastered what I believe are the two essential western plotlines. Django is obviously a journey western, where the hero goes on a quest through the ever-changing landscape of the Wild West and grows in some way. Then there are westerns centred in one location like a town, which tend to be tense action pieces.

Hateful Eight is an excellent example of this, for apart from a few outside scenes on a stagecoach the action nearly all takes place in one wood cabin. It’s more like watching an intense stage play than a movie. This made sense after reading an article on cinemablend where Tarantino declared he was thinking of writing for theatre.

I personally enjoy plots that are stripped down to the bare essentials, which is partly why I enjoy plays. Stories set in single locations are more intense and focused than plots that jump around locations, because you’re thoroughly engrossed in the characters and their dialogue.

Hateful Eight is no exception, as Tarantino never fails to hold your attention with his colourful cast of characters and their dialogue. Nevertheless, the film sometimes suffered from the same problem as Death Proof, which is that Tarantino over-indulged in his love for dialogue. In both films, the first halves are full of long scenes of characters chatting about topics not immediately related to the plot. Although the dialogue is entertaining, there were a few moments where I wondered if certain scenes were going anywhere and what was the point of them.

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On the other hand, these scenes are certainly good for building up suspense and character and the audience’s long wait for action is rewarded when all hell breaks loose in the second half. There are Tarantino’s trademark scenes of outrageous violence, but there’s a darker, more macabre spirit wreaking havoc in this film than in previous. The violence of Hateful Eight is over-the-top and streaked with Tarantino’s viciously black humour. But there’s none of Django’s tounge-in-cheek or thrilling heroics, nor any sense that Tarantino is daring you to enjoy the violence. Like Reservoir Dogs, it’s played for brutal shocks.

Like Django, the film is also firmly rooted in the history and issues of the time. The film is set after the American civil war and the emancipation of slavery. These events cause some of the tensions and divisions between the characters, for they still feel very strongly about them. Racism rears its ugly head, with frequent use of the n word directed at Samuel L. Jackson’s character. Misogyny also joins the party, for the only female character gets the worst treatment. However, this is more for her personality than her gender and the offensive attitudes expressed by the characters are simply reflections of American history. The historical background adds to the film’s quality and, along with Tarantino’s mastery of drama and the camera, balances with the moments of explicit crassness on screen.

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As with any good western, the scenery and music are quality too. The menacing original score (a first for the soundtrack-stealing Tarantino) is composed by Ennio Morricone, who also wrote the iconic music for such classic westerns as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. When the action was happening outside of the stagecoach and the cabin, the snowy mountain scenery looks stunning too; especially in the extra-wide 70mm camera format Tarantino shot in that got him in such technical issues during cinematic release.

So don’t watch this expecting another Django, but do expect a master class in suspense, acting and cinema in general. Yes it’s slow and not packed with action, but Tarantino has really pushed himself and succeeded in making a unique film not just for his own filmography but westerns in general. Although there are good westerns regularly coming out, Tarantino has been the director to smash the most generic conventions. With Hateful Eight, he proves westerns don’t necessarily need showdowns at noon and characters riding off into the sunset.

All gushing for Tarantino aside, it is really the cast that keep you gripped. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins  from Justified are all perfect, and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s deranged role can be added to Tarantino’s gallery of powerful female performances.
So as it’s winter, hop on the stagecoach and ride into Tarantino’s cramped, snowy, blood-drenched hell. You’re in for a treat.

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Documentaries: Making a Murderer

Alexandra Langston is a creative copywriter, editor, and part-time blogger, living and working in Qatar. In this post Alex talks about the Making a Murderer series… 

Over Christmas, like a lot of people, I plummeted into the Netflix Making a Murderer vortex with wilful abandon. Living in the Middle East, I had heard a few grumbles about the series on the internet, but was otherwise unaware of details; in retrospect, blissfully unaware.
About a year ago, I delved similarly head-long into a series of documentaries about the West Memphis Three – three Arkansas teenage boys who in 1994 were found guilty of the murders of three younger boys. Two were sentenced to life in prison, whilst the perceived ringleader was sentenced to death.

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The murder, trial, and media coverage were all clouded by the so-called ‘Satanic Panic’ that pervaded the US for much of the early 90s. Wearing black, listening to heavy metal, and being interested in belief systems beyond the typical Christianity of the Deep South, meant a guilty verdict was more or less guaranteed. If it wasn’t for film makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky capturing proceedings, that would have been that for the boys.

Fortunately, after the first film aired in 1996 interest in the case built, and over the next fifteen years the tireless support of the public (and some celebrities) led to new DNA evidence. In 2011 the possibility of a re-trial that would potentially embarrass the state led to an unusual plea deal; all three men were freed, but the state maintained their guilt.
I watched in absolute horror and astonishment, feeling elated at their release and total disgust at the injustice of the state’s lack of culpability. Overall though, I felt that this scenario had to be an anomaly, a one off. I was very wrong.

Enter Making a Murderer. In 1985, Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, and spent eighteen years in prison before being fully exonerated by new DNA evidence. Two years after his release, and on the eve of a multi-million dollar settlement from Manitowoc County, Avery was arrested and then tried and convicted of the murder of a young woman. His nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also sentenced to life in prison for his part in the killing.

The confluence of a looming settlement that would have financially crippled the county, and the investigation by officers and prosecutors that had also played a part of the original wrongful conviction, is at the centre of the ten hour series. The documentary raises questions about the trustworthiness of the investigation and its key players, but it has also seen a heavy backlash that claims a lack of impartiality from documentarians Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. The two women are also accused of leaving out important trial evidence in order to more convincingly paint the defendants as innocent.

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What is clear is that for both men the investigations and trial were not entirely unbiased, and whichever side of the fence you come down on, the takeaway should be that we take a long hard look at our justice systems. In the twenty years since the West Memphis Three case came to prominence, how many more people have not received adequate defences due to a lack of money and resources?
Questionable journalism aside, it is important that these kinds of documentaries continue to be made – that we keep asking questions – because it is not just in the US that you can find yourself in an unwinnable situation.

Music: Jukebox

Our music blogger Verity Vincent takes us down music memory lane with a selection of her favourite albums and song… and we want to hear about yours. Drop us a line with your music and memories to music@thingsandink.com

Now and then we all dig out old music and rediscover albums that conjure up all kinds of memories. Whether we go back decades or just a few months, music will never be disposable – despite the ever-changing face of the industry.

An album I often land on while scrolling through iTunes, is La Roux’s 2014 Trouble in Paradise. This is one of those albums to perk you up on a dreary journey to work. The ’80s disco feel jolts you to a cocktail holding, tropical sun-beaming place. And I like it.

The initial track Uptight Downtown is relatable to everyone who has been in one of “those” clubs. The clubs where the cool kids stand around subtly nodding their heads and casting judgement on all they see and hear. Kiss and Not Tell and Sexoteque offer the current generation an “It’s OK, we’ve all been there” vibe, with themes of love, sex and relationships.

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For something a little heavier, I often make a return to Exit Ten. Their albums Remember the Day and Give Me Infinity are full of rock and metal enthused anthems which never really got the full notability they deserved. Give Me Infinity’s closer ‘Lion’ is a huge track and singer Ryan Redman’s vocals are just outstanding. Incidentally, he’s currently been playing with I AM GIANT, but maybe one day an Exit Ten reunion will be on the cards?

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2015 was a great year for music and one of my top album picks is Leon Bridges – Coming Home.The title track blew up over the summer and songs like ‘Better Man’ and ‘Pull Away’ give the album such authenticity for this style of music. Peaking at number 8 in the UK and number 6 on the US Billboard chart, it was a great feat for a soulful, gospel album. It could sit up there with Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, easily.

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There is also a staple record in my vinyl collection that never tires. The American Graffiti soundtrack. It’s like having a crash course in ’50s classics, some more well-known than others, but with tracks from Del Shannon, The Crests, The Beach Boys and Fats Domino, to name a few, it’s a timeless album that will resonate whether you’ve seen the film or not.

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Home Ink

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti tells us about the Home Ink tattoo party held at Home rock bar a night full of tattoos, burlesque and prizes… 

In December after I long day at work I found myself browsing Instagram and I came across a tattoo competition connected to Home Ink 2015, an event I really wanted to go to. It was being promoted by Home Festival, a music festival that I  love a lot and that is always held in my home town.
So I said to myself, why not? Let’s do it!

To enter the competition all you had to do was share one of your favourite tattoos on Instagram, tagging the organiser in the picture and then getting as many likes as you could. It was very simple, so I decided to share my bunny tattoo (by Amy Savage) and a few days later, they told me  that I won the Instagram contest!

My Rabbit by Amy Savage

The tattoo party was located at Home Rock Bar (Treviso), a great bar with good music and a fresh atmosphere.
The main theme was tattoo and their motto ‘Stay Inked, Stay Home!’ was plastered around the place, I loved the decor.

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The judges were Tizio from Klinik Studio, Amedeo Lombardi who organises the Home Festival events, a member of Tattoo Defender team, a tattoo artist and a tattoo lover chosen from the crowd.

Each participant (from the public) was given an identification number and allocated a category based on the size of your tattoo. During the evening you were called by the presenters to parade and show off your ink. As you were showing the judges your tattoo you weren’t allowed to mention who it was done by, as this may have influenced their decision.

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While the judges voted in secret the crowd was entertained by a burlesque show by Genny Mirtillo, she is such a lovely girl and I loved her fire eating abilities!
The show ended and the judges announced the winners. Once you were entered into the winners rank, you were called to appear again on stage, and collect the prize won. When it came my turn, I was a bit nervous. But it was also pretty exciting!

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I won a special limited edition pack where I got free entrance to the four day Home Festival events, some cute Sun68 gadgets I will receive this September, a personalised plate with the date and logo of the event and a little bag containing fir seeds to make the world a more sustainable place! Such a cute pack of goodies, right?

Home Festival is without any doubt the best music festival in Italy, you just need to take a look at last year’s line up. So I’m very happy to have joined this Instagram competition, and I can’t wait to find out who is going to play this September!

Interview with Morg Armeni

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Morg Armeni a travelling  tattooist and artist, about how Morg puts her soul into everything she does and how her passion for life is felt by all… 

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Your style is very traditional but you have put your own stamp on the genre, did you choose to tattoo in this way or did it choose you? It’s nice to think that ‘he’ chose me, and it can be true, in some ways. I love to put my own sort on magic into the tattoos I do. I actually use symbols that are familiar to me, coming from art, my musical background, and everything I like. Then I recreate an image that conceptually can be interpreted in various ways.
I like to imagine an idea, but also its opposite, both in colours and shapes. The contrasts are what make the difference.

When did you fall in love with art and tattoos? Since I was very small, even in kindergarten, my grandfather used to take me to Staglieno (a monumental cemetery in Genova). I could stay there for hours, I was fascinated by those beautiful statues and bas-reliefs.
I started drawing when I was 12-years-old, and I went to see my first exhibition, well the first I chose to see, which was Dalí After that I fell even more in love with art. At art school, in addition to learning the techniques of drawing, I studied the history of art and I loved ancient and medieval art. My love for tattoos was born from a fascination with the mystery and the underground scene in the 80s. All my musical idols were tattooed, and it was also thanks to them that I wanted to be tattooed.

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It seems like you have a sixth sense when you are about to create something for your clients, you always find the best way to draw any subject. What  are your methods for researching and creating a tattoo? I try to get to know the client first and understand how I can translate their idea into a tattoo.  I prepare a first drawing and then I simplify it, sometimes I also use photographs as references to edit my subjects. Often people are attracted to my imagination, and I think I accurately transform what a clients wants into a drawing.I like it when they trust my interpretation and my style of art.

Do tattoos leave a mark on your life, as much as on the client’s ?
Yes, of course! I put a lot of love into the creation of the subjects I tattoo. Often my customers and I reach a sort of harmony during the tattooing process and ritual which creates very positive vibrations that resurface when I happen to see them again.

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There are many differences between your paintings and your tattoos. Can you tell us the main ones? The main differences are the canvas and the techniques. I have to consider that the skin changes and ages, and that my customers will have my tattoos forever on their skin. With regard to the tattoo, I try to make sure that the subject represents and fits the wearer. I play with the customer’s ideas until the concept becomes a workable tattoo. That’s why I love sharp lines and contrasts.

In painting, I am definitely more surreal and visionary. For instance, I love micro realistic details for my paintings, but you won’t see many of them in my tattoos. I am in constant evolution in both fields, and both have my dedication.

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You have some really amazing pieces (by Rob Admiraal and Rudy Fritsch, just to name a few). Who else have you been tattooed by? Who do you plan to get tattooed by in the future?
I’m very proud of my tattoos and they make me happy, and these two guys you mentioned have been among the greatest inspiration I have had.
I also have pieces by Amanda Toy, Monga, Angelique Houtkamp and many others! I have a lot of talented friends from whom I would like to be tattooed by.
The list never ends!

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I am still so in love with the artwork you created that was exhibited at Somerset House. Can you tell us more about the whole process? I was excited when I got asked to contribute to this great event! I gave it my all to create something worthy of a museum like Somerset House.

It took me a month to decide what to paint, but it came to me in a dream and I created Flora’s clock. It really exists and is composed of different species of flowers, from all around the world, that open or close at a given time, so the flowers can be used like a clock to tell the time. The painting represents time, seasons, beauty, inner growth and realization of what we are, in the here and in the now.
Now I am also focused on some new paintings that will be exhibited in March at my solo show in Rome.

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Can you tell us why you decided to close your own studio in Genova? I let go a part of my life, yes. I closed my studio because I wanted to change, taking off a bit of bureaucracy, only dedicating myself to art and creation.
I will surely do some guest spots in London and in Milan, (Milano City Ink and Oink Farm) and now I’m living in Rome and guesting in some great studios.

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And finally do you have any personal advice for our readers?
I highly recommend to people, and also to myself, to spread positive feelings, as much as possible! So that we can change and affect more and more the reality around us and to improve the world in which we all live. It’s hard work but we can do it!

Tattoos in the Desert

Alexandra Langston is a creative copywriter, editor, and part-time blogger, living and working in Qatar. In this post Alex talks about being a tattooed Caucasian woman in a predominately Muslim country… 

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There are some parts of the Middle East that are almost indistinguishable from Europe. A huge Western ex-pat community, and the shops, bars, hotels, and events built to accommodate them, plus a booming tourism industry in many places, are a major reasons for this – with Dubai in particular fully embracing Western culture.
Qatar, however, is like Dubai’s little brother: playing catch-up with the economic, architectural, and cultural changes.
When my husband and I moved to Qatar one and a half years ago, we did it completely blind. After plans for a move to Asia fell through, and only a cursory Google of Middle Eastern countries, we applied for a few jobs and Qatar came up trumps. Neither of us had ever visited the region, and we had barely even heard of the tiny thumb-shaped peninsular that is Qatar. So we took a leap of faith, and just two weeks after getting married we had packed our bags, and were on our way to a new life in the desert.

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I was terrified. An outspoken, tattooed woman, with a penchant for short skirts and sinking a drink or two; I strongly doubted I would be a good fit for this conservatively Muslim country. Of course I fully intended to respect their laws, religious and otherwise, but I worried about inadvertently offending someone or causing myself problems.
From the very beginning, there was a large amount of pretty uninhibited staring, which I initially put down to being blonde, Caucasian, and female. I quickly realised though that there is a large, mostly male, Indian ex-pat community here too, and that staring is a quite harmless part of their culture.
As it turned out, I really didn’t need to worry about having tattoos at all.
I found that curiosity, above all else, abounds here. It is completely fine to have them, and there is no need to conceal them beyond the expected standard levels of decency, but because tattooing is illegal, and there are no tattoo shops in the entire country, knowledge of tattoos is quite limited.
The most frequent reaction I get is one of surprise, followed quickly by the question: ‘is that permanent…forever?!’ I still get the usual questions about it hurting, even long after healing is complete, and I once had a lengthy discussion about ink entering the bloodstream, but I get the impression that these queries come from genuine interest, rather than judgement – and I have even been asked to model my tats for an amateur photographer!

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I’m not sure if it’s the relative rarity of a woman with tattoos, the ever increasing Western influence on the country, or the prerequisite need to cover arms above the elbow and legs above the knee, but so far the consequences of being a tattooed woman in Qatar have been surprisingly minimal.
With more tattoos already planned, I can live with the questions, and I don’t even mind the staring…most of the time.

Film Review: San Andreas

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. On th-ink.co.uk Harry will be writing a series of posts in which he will be sharing his opinions on things he has watched…

San Andreas, 2015, Cert 12, dir Brad Peyton 

Why do big budget American filmmakers insist on making disaster movies and expect us to be entertained by them? Even worse, why do they ask us to take them seriously? If you wanted to make a movie about the power of the human spirit overcoming disaster, you could make a documentary about real tragedies like the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia. However there has been a pattern of American disaster movies pitting everyday Americans against fictional natural calamities. The problem with these films is that they try everything they can to get sympathy for their everyday American characters. Nine times out of ten they fail through bad writing. San Andreas is no exception.

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The only good point I can think of for this film is that it is based on some real geology, or geology I remember learning at school. The San Andreas fault line is a crack in the Earth’s crust which just happens to sit under the west coast of America. Regions that sit over divisions between the tectonic plates (like Japan, to give another example) have suffered horrendous earthquakes because the plates are constantly moving and rubbing each other, causing tremors. On the San Andreas line, the plates are moving apart and a small piece of the American West coast will eventually break off and become an island. This process is depicted in the film, just speeded up. Somebody clearly read about this theory and thought it would make a great movie.

The fact this film is loosely based on some geology doesn’t save it from being a ridiculous farce. For one thing, the hero is a rescue helicopter pilot played by ex-wrestler Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson. Johnson has made a name for himself as a muscle-bound action hero for the 21st century, being cast in such suitable roles as Hercules and the Fast and Furious franchise. So when I’m watching a film with Dwayne Johnson I expect him to play an action hero. I do not expect emotional drama.

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Johnson is playing a heroic pilot but he also happens to be a father going through a divorce. In the middle of his emotional turmoil earthquakes of mighty magnitude strike the San Andreas area, endangering his various family members who he attempts to round up and save. So he performs various action man stunts like pulling distracted drivers out of their wrecked cars and even knocking out a looter with his own gun. But there are also scenes where he has long intimate conversations with his wife about their family situation and a previous daughter who tragically drowned. The screenwriters have clearly gone to some lengths to build some family history for the main characters to get the audience interested. But it doesn’t quite work when the male character is a towering body builder and the female’s hair is always beautifully styled despite said woman surviving collapsing buildings and floods. In short, as hard as the actors tried their characters and their situation just weren’t believable.

While watching the film, I was getting confused about whether I should be paying attention to the good-looking everyday disaster survivors overcoming their marital strife or the spectacular, CGI scenes of tumbling sky scrapers and flooded streets. In fact, I always find it worrying when these disaster movies present earthquakes and tsunamis as excuses for epic set pieces to entertain audiences, when the devastation they cause in the real world is all too clear.

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I felt the makers of San Andreas needed to decide whether they were making a tasteless exploitation of natural disasters or an intimate family drama. You can’t really do both. Worse still is to turn this mess into some form of American patriotism. The film begs sympathy for American citizens by placing them through grand suffering and destroying their famous landmarks, then emphasising how great they are with the few triumphant survivors. It felt a little like the filmmakers were creating their own 9/11. I’m not saying Americans don’t deserve sympathy for their tragedies, but I can’t help feeling that the amount of effort and money spent on San Andreas could have been used, as I said before, to raise awareness of real natural disasters or even to provide relief for the victims.

It is unclear what the intentions of the makers of San Andreas were, but they have made an action-packed slice of nonsense you can stick on in the background and vaguely pay attention to while you do more important things. You also get to see Kylie Minogue in a very minor role.

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Collection Tattoos

Just like tattoos, the things people collect are personal and unique. Guest blogger Amber Bryce decided to explore the ties between the two by speaking with three toy collectors, to see what inspired their collections and how these in turn have inspired their tattoo choices…

“When I was a kid, I would daydream through every Saturday morning ballet class about finding the next thing to add to my collections. These ranged from Spice Girls photos for my fluorescent pink album, to sparkly Pokemon cards and miniature car models. Collecting has always helped my mind to focus in on something and block out the chaos of the world, creating soothing rhythms out of mundane objects.

Still to this day I can’t let go of my collection of Pokemon cards or Spice Girls photos. There’s just something about childhood nostalgias that’s so comforting and aesthetically inspiring. Perhaps this is why toy collecting in particular is so popular, as it allows people to hold onto the fleeting moments of growing up, and the joy such things brought us.

There’s also a very close connection between toy collecting and tattoos. Candy-coloured My Little Ponies, perfectly accessorized Barbies and the tall, bright hair of trolls all prove how the charismatic designs of our childhood toys make the perfect kitsch tattoos.

I spoke to three lovely Instagram ladies about their toy collections and which tattoo or tattoos these have inspired”:

Name: Jenna Greenwood Location: Bradford

I have always been a hoarder and collector ever since I was a child. A lot of the things I have from the 80s and 90s are my original toys that I could never seem to part with. When I was little my mum and dad would recall with joy a toy from their childhoods, and when questioned as to where it was or if they still had it, I would always get the same reply, they’d gotten ‘too old for it’. My brother and I used to be horrified at the thought of getting rid of our toys! I never wanted that to happen, so I stockpiled all my favourites. Now it’s a case of reclaiming my childhood and the simple things that used to bring me lots of happiness. The nostalgia now is lovely!

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I only get tattoos of the things that have or do give me great pleasure, I think if it’s a captured happy memory I can never go off it or change my taste. With that in mind, my right thigh is dedicated to my childhood and the things I used to love, so as well as my troll tattoo, there is an emerald for one of my favourite films Return to Oz, a mood ring, a dodo (a childhood obsession) and seaside paraphernalia. It’s not finished yet, but I’m hoping to add a tamagotchi and an ever-lasting gobstopper soon to complete it!

Jody Dawber has done all the pieces on my childhood tattoo. I found her work through Instagram and knew as soon as I saw it she was the one for this piece. Her style is fun and colourful with a grown up twist and I just fell in love with her work as soon as I saw it!

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In the future, I’d like to factor in something Sindy and Sylvanian Family related too, but I’m not sure where they’re going to go yet. I might have to start on the other thigh if I keep finding stuff in my parents loft!

Name: Andrea Taylor Location: Adelaide South Australia

I collect lots and lots of dolls! My main collection is of Barbie, though. I always loved Barbie as a little girl, and had so many of them, but when I was in my late teens I got rid of a bunch. About 4 years ago I realised this was a huge mistake and spent a lot of time making a list of which dolls I had had and tracking them down again. It sort of snowballed from there and I’ve ended up with a lot more than just recollecting my childhood dolls.

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This has inspired my one and only tattoo, which is of an illustration of Crystal Barbie. It was done by Sarah K at Pink Flamingo Parlour. She already had it drawn up with some other 80s/90s nostalgia and I saw it on her feed so I got in touch after some prompting from friends. It was exactly what I had been envisioning when I thought of my perfect Barbie tattoo.

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In the future I’d love to get a 60s Barbie heart on my other thigh as the 60s and 80s are my two favourite decades for Barbie, so I’d like to pay tribute to both of them.

Name: Jessica Reeves Location: London

I collect so many things! Right now I am actively collecting Nevalyashka dolls (Russian roly poly dolls), Sonny Angels, kewpie dolls, Blythe dolls and any vintage toy that catches my eye (usually something that squeaks or moves or plays music in some way). But I also have a pretty large collection of kitsch vintage ceramics – mainly cats and deer – that I have been collecting for about four years now. I haven’t added anything new to this collection for a while but the objects I already own bring me a lot of happiness! I am drawn to many of these objects for their nostalgic value but also their aesthetic just really appeals to me and I love to surround myself with things that make my environment an inspiring, relaxing and beautiful (to me) place to be.

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I actually have a few tattoos inspired by my collections! On my left leg I have two fairly large homages to my collection of vintage ceramics. Both of these tattoos contain so many elements that I just adore – cats, deer, sweets and Pearl Jam lyrics! They are so personal to me and I adore them both. On my right leg I have a super-cute tattoo of a Nevalyashka doll, inspired by my ever growing collection of these vintage roly poly dolls and a tattoo of a kewpie doll covered in tattoos. My boyfriend has a matching kewpie, which also makes this tattoo extra-special.

Both the tattoos on my left leg are done by Amy Savage and I chose her for her beautiful use of colours and personality that she brings to the animal portraits she has done a lot of in the past. The roly poly doll is by Rachel Baldwin and I chose her for her awesome cartoon-like style. I love that my nevalyashka tattoo kind of looks like a sticker, it’s just so bold and perfect! The kewpie was done by Luke Kempton and I picked him because he can turn his hand to any idea and style, and he has made some rad tattoos on my boyfriend in the past.

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I love how personal my tattoos inspired by my collections are and I don’t see that connection becoming any less powerful in the future. And as my collections evolve over time there always seems to be some new object to commemorate on my skin forever!

My Dog Sighs: Quiet Little Voices

Our guest blogger is 34-year-old  Southsea creative Alanna Lauren, founder of RubyxRedxHeart, attended ‘quiet little voices’- an exhibition by street artist My Dog Sighs in November last year… 

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My Dog Sighs outside the shop by the mural he painted for the show

It was 7am on Friday the 13th of November and already people were queuing outside Play Dead tattoo studio to get a tattoo by Samo White, fine artist turned tattoo artist, making Samo the perfect person to take My Dog Sighs limited (one time only) tattoo designs and paint them into skin.

After having a manic year with collaborative exhibitions not just in the UK, but internationally My Dog Sighs had a very short period of down time where friends graphic artist Lex Luthor and tattoo artist Samo White opened up a tattoo studio and street art gallery, just around the corner from his own studio. This was the perfect opportunity to go into the studio, relax with friends in a creative hub and come up with some ideas for a solo exhibition of his work, the first solo exhibition of his in the UK for two years.

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Samo and My Dog Sighs 

Sat in a tattoo studio/ art gallery called Play Dead, opposite a graveyard and planning for the exhibition to be on Friday the 13th My Dog Sighs started to explore in his sketch book a darker side of work which he hasn’t done before, something different from the norm and from these elements rose his exhibition ‘Quiet Little Voices’.

 

As well as working on art for this show My Dog Sighs was also working on larger scale pieces for group shows in LA (Nov 2015) and Miami (December 2015) and after Christmas break working towards a show in New York in May 2016.

Follow My Dog Sighs on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more artwork and news of future events.

At the box office with Sophie Elizabeth

Sophie Elizabeth is a 24-year-old social media/SEO executive and part-time blogger from London. We chatted to Sophie about her love for films, her fashion style and reactions to her ink at work… 

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I started blogging around three years ago and it was more just an outlet to improve my creative writing and share what I was interested in. It started out as a way for me to write film reviews and then I introduced the odd outfit post and it sort of just grew from there. The more I posted, the more people started to take notice and now here I am. I think at the time, I felt that there weren’t many bloggers out there (who I followed anyway) that really represented me and my style and so I figured I’d just create one myself.

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What kinds of things do you blog about? My blog is essentially film and personal style although over the last year or so it’s progressed more in to London lifestyle, events, food and a bit of beauty also. It’s pretty much all the stuff I’m interested in and the random things I get up to.

How would you describe your style? I think my style changes like the wind – I tend to combine vintage inspirations with modern trends and I love all things 80’s and 90’s. I wear a lot of black (perhaps too much) and I love to play around with textures and prints.

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What inspires you? For me, it’s totally film. Filmmakers, directors and other critics really inspire me to write and learn more. I love going to the cinema and, for me, it’s always been the experience and the nostalgic values that come with it. I think I’m also inspired by other tattooed women – I’m very much in awe of them a lot of the time. I have a major girl crush on Hannah Pixie Sykes.

Do you have a favourite designer/artist? My boyfriend is a designer and so I’m probably supposed to say him! I follow a lot of tattoo artists such as Claudia De Sabe, Matty Darienzo and Thomas Hooper – I think they’re probably among my favourites.

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When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo aged 16 and under age tattoos are never good tattoos. It was well done and by a good artist but it’s six stars on my stomach and very emo. I wouldn’t get rid of it though and I completely forget it’s even there now.

Tell us about your other tattoos? Most of my tattoos are traditional Navy inspired with thick, blown lines but I like to put a girly spin on it. Lots of flowers, animals and bright colours. I think my favourite is the Victorian lady on my thigh by artist Naomi Smith – I love the lines in her hair, the colours are amazing and how she’s got kind of a big nose. She’s perfectly imperfect.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I’d love to get more in the future as I haven’t had any in a while – I have some plans to get some dot work or menhdi and I find myself really drawn to bold, black tattoos lately. I’d like to add more to my legs and maybe get some more film inspired pieces too.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? I don’t think I ever set out to be but given the amount I now have, I imagine I am. I am running out of space now though so not sure how much longer the collection can go on for.

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How did you get your current job? I worked in retail for about seven years, from turning 16 to finishing university, before finally making the move in to an agency environment. I applied as an Office Administrator originally, to get a foot in the door, but luckily I was able to work my way up very quickly.

Did you study, did you do work experience? I did my degree in Film Theory and Major Production and I don’t think I’d even heard of SEO or anything at that stage. I wasn’t 100% sure of what I wanted to do and had lots of experience but not necessarily in the correct fields. Luckily, because of my blog, I was able to use that as a sort of portfolio. I’m surprised how many doors it’s opened for me. If you can show you’ve done work off your own back and followed through with it then that’s good experience to have.

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What reactions do your tattoos get at work? Do you cover them or show them off? When I first started I was terrified of having them on show in case someone said something or it upset the directors. Thankfully, after a few months I eased up and they didn’t care either way anyway although I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like me before. I have them out sometimes at work (especially when it’s unbearably hot in summer) and hide them for some clients but that’s my choice to do so. I think I’m very lucky to be in an agency that’s very laid back and embraces individuality. I know a lot of other corporate companies may not see it that way. I’ve always said that if they asked me to cover them, that’s fine – I’ll do that; but it also doesn’t affect my work performance.