Category: Guest bloggers

Inkluded: Witch Tattoos

27-year-old Beccy Rimmer is the founder of Inkluded, a blog that explores tattoo culture, who also works as an arts marketer in Leamington Spa. Celebrating the launch of The Horror Issue we chatted to Beccy about why she started blogging and her witch tattoos inspired by her pagan mother… 


How did you get into blogging? I always loved writing – when I was a kid, it’s what I “wanted to do when I was older”. I always looked at the world through a certain (weird) pair of goggles and this became more apparent as I grew up. I studied English at University, which I loved, and then found my place in arts marketing. Over the last 6 years I have worked for various different theatres and venues, and love it still, but was starting to get that itch to write contemplative editorial again. I was going through a tough time some months back and was starting to re-evaluate many aspects of my life and I suddenly thought, where am I going, what do I really want to do? The answer was within me all the time – write!
Tattoos are such an interesting and rewarding thing to write about. We have this beautiful creative industry of artists in this country, and the media doesn’t give justice to it. There’s so much to talk about and explore together – why do people get tattoos? Where do they go for information? Who are some of the best artists working in our country today? What do artists feel about creating a piece of artwork for someone else? How do the rest of the public view tattoos? Is the industry changing? Why?

When did you set up Inkluded? Why did you create the blog? I created Inkluded in November 2014, as I mentioned above, to fulfil my love for writing and tattoos, and because I felt there was a lot to talk about… but not just because of that. Inkluded’s mission is make people feel part of tattoo culture, not alienated. I wanted to create a place online where tattoo art was appreciated, explored, discussed and celebrated. The process of getting a tattoo is so complex and interesting, it’s not like anything else in the whole world – it’s not fashion, it’s not just a lifestyle, or a trend, it’s not even just about the art. It’s also, to me, not about profit, and that was a strong thought it my mind when I launched the blog. Inkluded doesn’t make any money and so I manage it in my evenings, weekends (and lunch breaks!) alongside other jobs. I would love to be able to run it full time in the future, but I think when you’re setting up a blog, it’s important to have your respects for the industry come first, and then see what follows in the future. A good blog is built on genuine passions and interest, rather than any kind of profitable plan.


What inspires you? I’m inspired by everything. I’m wide-eyed, impulsive, inquisitive, analytical and I question everything. I used to hate that part of my personality but as soon as I realised I could channel it into writing – I found my way. The world is overwhelmingly meaningful and beautiful; history, patterns, cultures, art, people, our past, our present, our future, the universe. There is so much to philosophise about, and that in turn makes me think, write and get tattoos of the things I think are important. To quote my favourite film American Beauty, I always ‘look closer’ – it doesn’t matter what inspires each person, but the fact that we all take meaning from different little things, is so special, and what makes us human.

Can you tell us about your mum and pagan upbringing? My mum is a pagan and reads tarot cards professionally. She is a real eco warrior in a way, like many of her time (the early 70s, when witchcraft was just taking off) so she has always ‘worshipped’ nature, the planet and the elements. She uses certain Gods and Goddesses in her work and is particular drawn to the Morrigan, a Celtic Goddess of Ireland.

Growing up, I didn’t know this, as my mum has never tied to force her belief system on me, but she always instilled certain morals and ideals in me that have stemmed from her pagan beliefs – such as the power of positive reinforcement to attain something you desire. In other words, asking the Universe for something and believing wholeheartedly that you can get it. This is the art of spell craft. I have done many spells with my mum to great success!

Morianna Ravenswood Inkluded

What does she think of your tattoos? She loves all of my tattoos and was inspired this year to get her own, on her 60th birthday. It was a beautiful watercolour raven, one of her favourite animals and symbols, and she loves it.

The raven is the symbol of the Morrigan and it is her witch name – ‘Morianna Ravenswood’. Ravens and crows symbolise the power of prophetic sight, which is important to her in her tarot work and divination.

AHH Coven (506)

Can you tell us a little bit about your tattoos? I have been collecting tattoos for the last seven years or so and they all have different meanings. I have quite a lot of roses, most of them red – the rose is my favourite symbol because of what it signifies, and I am also a Lancashire red rose and feel connected to my heritage and family. I’m also fascinated by nature, the symbol of the skull, mandalas and pattern work, meaning a lot of my tattoos are floral (some bright, some dark), intricate and almost quite henna-like. Some have quite a personal meaning, but some are just because I love the design or artist. I’ve always been quite impulsive with my tattoos. I don’t give them too much thought, but like to analyse and think about them afterwards, and question the process of getting tattooed, which is what led me to want to blog about tattoos.

What was your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old, and it’s an Egyptian ankh on my leg. It’s tiny, it’s wonky, but I love it and would never cover it up. The symbol has meant a lot to me since I was a little girl, and I am in the process of adding another one to my witch-themed sleeve. I would like to add to the original ankh maybe and create some sort of huge epic Egyptian piece one day!


Are there any artists you admire? And want to get tattooed by? Some of my favourite artists are Keely Rutherford, Joanne Baker, Charlotte Timmons, Paula Castle, I could go on forever! I love traditional tattoos, but also abstract styles and anything bold, colourful, girly and bright. I think some of my favourite tattoo art at the moment is coming out of Poland – I went to the Krakow Tattoofest last year and it was the best convention I have ever been to, just because of the atmosphere and the art. The next artist I want to book in with is definitely Keely – I have lots of cool ideas that are right up her street, I hope!

Have you got any tattoo plans? I really want something Blackpool themed, as the seaside town’s symbols (the tower, the piers) represent nearly all of my childhood memories (as I grew up there and Rimmers have lived there for generations. I’d also like a colourful, kawaii Caribbean piece and something to signal gambling and Las Vegas – again, both things that have family and memory significance. I’m also still working on my pagan witch themed sleeve with artist Alex Rhodes, we have tarot cards, a raven and a few other symbols to add to it, then it should be finished. Alex has a beautiful, clean, bold traditional style so I have quite a few tattoos from him, including the roses on my chest. Most of my other tattoos, including my other sleeve, were done by Adam Frame.


Inkluded is also presenting a tattoo art exhibition, in Leamington Spa, in the Midlands, running from the 3rd to 20th of October. 

Pet Tattoos

Our guest blogger is 25-year-old London-based Amber Bryce, who not only writes her own blog but also the social media copy for Tesco. In this post she talks about her own pet tattoo and talks to other pet owners to find out why they decided to immortalise their pets in ink… 

Getting a tattoo of your pet can be as simple as a paw print, as intricate as a portrait, or as fun as a moggy cat dressed in scuba gear. Although the stories behind them may sometimes be sad, there’s always something so heartwarming about hearing the impact a pet has had on someone’s life. 

Here’s my own story about why I chose to get a tattoo of my pet, followed by some more pet lovers… 

“My dog’s name is Punky. He’s a puggle (beagle crossed with a pug) and looks like he’s either constantly philosophising or in a really bad mood. I got Punky when I was 15 and from the very start he was a nightmare. My sister and I would get home from school to find he’d got into our bedrooms and eaten through half our wardrobe (RIP leggings) or escaped to the local curry house (seriously).


“As naughty as he was, I find it hard to remember my life without him. Since moving out of my dad’s house I miss him so much; the jingle of his collar, the deep sighs he does before getting settled at the end of my bed, or the way he rolls over for belly rubs like a big, blubbery seal. I decided I wanted to get a tattoo of him, to keep a little bit of him and his comforting presence with me wherever I go.

Rebecca Vincent created my beautiful and personal portrait of Punky in her poetic, naturalistic style. The subtle nature of the sketchy tones makes him look as though he’s left an imprint of his soul in dot work.”



The thing I love most about seeing other people’s pet tattoos is the variety of ways in which people choose to symbolise their pets, whether through their strange little quirks and eccentricities or the emotional narrative they left behind. I decided to explore other pet tattoos and the stories behind them… 

Name: Natasha Westlake Age: 26 Lives: St Albans 

“The first pet I had as a child was a moggie called Harmony. He loved swimming and would frequently come into the house covered in moss, soaking wet after chasing ducks in the nearby pond. He also had half a moustache! Sadly he passed away a few years ago, so I wanted to get my first tattoo as a dedication to his memory.


“My second pet is my Shih-Tzu dog, Lilly. She is a stubborn little princess and loves a lot of attention, she isn’t a fan of wearing any kind of doggy clothes (so I took a really adorable photograph of her wearing a feather boa — needless to say she wasn’t a fan) and she has very crooked teeth and an under-bite, which always shows. She had a really funny and lovable relationship with Harmony, and I love her very much so I wanted to get her tattooed on my other thigh.


“I have always had an obsession with Asian culture, cartoons, and cutesy things, so I knew I wanted the style of my tattoo to be cartoon-y and cute, but to keep the characteristics and personality of my pets. I found my artist through Instagram, which I would say is definitely the place to find tattoo artists. I hash-tagged pet tattoos and came across Keely Rutherford from Jolie Rouge, whose main style is a cutesy kawaii animated style.

“I love the very personal details in my tattoos that make them my own, I gave Keely a bunch of ideas and she was able to translate them. The scuba diving gear and the bandage on Harmony represents his  love of swimming and fighting, and the tiara and feathers on Lilly represents her princess-like personality. I also love how vivid the colours are.”

Name: Amber Schwartz Age:24 Lives: LA

“Charlie was five years old. I got him when I lived in Chicago and he went everywhere with me. We flew together countless times and he moved to NJ and California with me. He was my son. He was a Malshi and his birthday was a week difference from mine. A few months ago I moved to Hollywood and my roommate lied to an organisation and neglected to tell them that Charlie and I lived there. They gave her a 70 lb pitt bull who attacked and killed Charlie. I was not home during the incident and I left Charlie locked in my room. My roommate took Charlie out of my room and Jameson attacked him. He passed away about 2 months ago at this point, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him or miss him.

Charlie“Before Charlie passed; about a year ago I got a paw print tattoo for him witha “C” in it. After his passing it was a no brainer that I needed to honor him. I got his actual paw print tattooed on my elbow, and “Good Morning Char”. That did not feel like enough; hence I got my best friend’s portrait.

I went to Victor Hugo at Norwalk Tattoo studio in Norwalk California. He is a dog lover; and honestly I could not have asked for this piece to come out any better. His work is amazing; his detail and care is obvious in all tattoos he does. I am so so, so grateful for Victor!”

Name: Jennifer Byrne Age: 23 Lives: Liverpool 

“Bubbles is my 12 year old tabby cat, the smallest and cutest of our three cat family. I got her as a kitten when I was 10 years old and I’ve been smitten ever since!

Amy Savage does the most amazing stippled tattoos of cats and other animals. I knew I wanted to get a cattoo by her and thought that it was only right I got my favourite cat tattooed – Bubbles. I love the fact that I will have her on me forever, I can’t believe such a little animal has made such an impression on me.


“Her work is incredibly detailed and I sat for my longest sitting yet with her when getting Bubbles tattooed. She was so friendly and I felt really comfortable, especially considering I’m a huge wimp! I may ask her sometime in the future to tattoo Bubbles’ brother on my other leg… I’ll probably end up with all my pets on me!”

Five Best Tattooed Film Characters

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward

5 best film characters with tattoos

5) Name: Jack Sparrow (sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow)
Played by: Johnny Depp
In: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003
Tattoo: A sparrow on his wrist

If you’re on the run (or sail rather) from the Royal Navy or the terrible clutches of the East India trading company, surely you wouldn’t get a certain avian tattoo on your forearm that would give a clue to your name?

4) Name: Leonard
Played by: Guy Pearce
In: Memento, 2000
Tattoo: Daily reminders all over his body

Here’s proof to your disapproving elders that tattoos can be useful. In a more interesting movie by Christopher Nolan than his Dark Knight films, Guy Pearce plays a chap searching for his wife’s murderer while suffering from short term memory loss. To combat this, he  tattoos of all the things he needs to remember like clues, who he can trust and I guess daily reminders onto his body. However useful and painful the process, it’s best to keep those shopping lists short. I guess it’s quite impractical stripping off in a supermarket just to check you’ve got everything.

3) Name: Lisbeth Salander
Played by: Noomi Rapace
In: Män som hatar kvinnor or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009
Tattoo: A dragon on her back, in case you were wondering.

Lisbeth’s huge tattoo on her delicate frame is a sign of the power and strength she felt she lacked as grew up watching her father beat her mother. She is a world class hacker and all round computer goddess, but she is a troubled heroine. She is ruled legally incompetent as a child and lives under the care of a legal guardian, initially the kind hearted Holger Palmgren. When Holger suffers a stroke, he is replaced by Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson). Nils is a heinous man to say the least. He abuses his position to extort sexual favours from Lisbeth and eventually rapes her. She catches the entire incident on film and threatens to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life – and uses a tattoo gun to write across his belly “Jag är ett sadistiskt svin och en våldtäktsman” – I am a sadistic pig and a rapist. Lisbeth has everything her tattoo embodies – triumph over adversity and strength from pain.

2) Name: Francis Dolarhyde aka the Tooth Fairy
Played by: Ralph Fiennes
In: Red Dragon, 2002
Tattoo: Also a dragon on his back.

Red Dragon
Probably one of the greatest tattoo identity crises. In this prequel to Silence of the Lambs, Ralph Fiennes (who has an arsenal of terrifying performances including a Nazi, a gangster and a psychotic megalomaniac wizard) portrays a serial killer who has a William Blake  Biblical dragon painting tattooed all over his back. This is not just because he likes it but because he wants to become it. In his most deluded scene, he displays his mighty sexy dragon body before a captured Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is clearly terrified at the amount of days, agony and expenditure that went into that ink.

1) Name: Harry Powell
Played by: Robert Mitchum
In: The Night of the Hunter, 1955
Tattoo: The words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ tattooed on his knuckles.

For marrying a widow to get her ex-husband’s money, killing her then stalking her runaway children across the country, this devilish preacher surely wins for being the creepiest inked character in this classic film noir. His most sinister feature besides his eerie singing are the striking tattoos on his hands. One hand bears the word ‘love’, the other ‘hate’. He uses these to physically represent the struggle between the two emotions in a one-man arm wrestle. What they may actually signify is the duality of his personality, a criminal masquerading as a Christian, and perhaps in conservative 1950s America a man with tattoos was surely disreputable? Whatever the meaning behind the tattoos (if there is any, for they might be his tenth and meaning stopped mattering a while ago) and even though they are basic compared to the other tattoos in this list, they are instantly iconic and a bizarre and original character trait for 1950s cinema.

All images from IMDB

Pastel Paradise: Lemon Freckles

Toni or Lemon Freckles is a 30-year-old illustrator and blogger from Sheffield who lives in a pastel paradise of pink hair, her pugs and girl gang inspired drawings. We chatted to Toni to find out more about her fashion and artistic style, how she became a blogger and her tattoo collection… 

Processed with Rookie Cam

When did you start blogging? How did you get into it? I originally started blogging around 10 years ago under a different name but Lemon Freckles is around five years old I think. At the time I was working full-time in mental health and in need of a creative outlet, blogging seemed like something I was able to do while working full-time, I didn’t really think anyone would ever read it.

What things can people expect to see on your blogA mixture of things, I like being able to share what is happening in my world; from my latest cute find to things that inspire me. I want Lemon Freckles to be a positive place, full of colour and silliness.

Processed with Rookie Cam
Do you have a background in art? No, my degree is in mental health but I have always been a doodler. After 10 years of working in the mental health industry, I decided to take a step back and reflect on what I enjoy doing and last year I enrolled in a year long course in design. A few months ago I went self-employed full-time and it has been one of the best decisions I have made.

What inspires you? Colour and my ever so slight obsessive collecting of cute toys from my childhood. I want to bring back a little bit of that magic I left at the school gates sometime between the late 80s and early 90s. I am a firm believer that just because you’re an adult, it doesn’t mean you have to act like a grown up.

What things to do you like to draw? The more colour the better in my eyes. I love doodling toys and making characters out of everyday objects.

Processed with Rookie Cam

What medium do you use? Pen and paper, Illustrator, whatever is to hand.

How would you describe your style, both in art and fashion? I think they are both the same, eclectic. It’s all in the detail, from the Polly Pocket earrings to the denim jacket covered in patches, the more cute the better!


Can you tell us a little bit about your tattoos? Of course! I actually only got my first tattoo last year, which was a pug (a forever reminder of my two furry pug babies, Doug and Lola) and since then I have got three more; a My Little Pony, a Lefton, Miss Priss Kitty tea pot and a sewing related one. Sam Whitehead of Blind Eye Tattoo Company in Leeds has done all of mine and also has the same love of cuteness that I do, which makes her wonderful to work with.

Processed with Rookie Cam

Do you think they have to have meanings? Nothing deep and meaningful I’m afraid. I get tattoos of things I love, things that make me happy and of course, the more colour the better.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? I’ve got one later this month actually, a Roly-Poly doll, which will be going on my arm. I’m wanting to get my full arm covered in cuteness over the next year, much like my style, eclectic and cute.

Film Review: Berberian Sound Studio

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. In this post he reviews Berberian Sound Studio directed by Peter Strickland released in 2012…

Sometimes, you’re sure that you’ve seen a good film, and the critics say it’s good.  You just can’t see why.

Toby Jones plays a British film sound technician named Gilderoy, who arrives in an Italian sound studio in 1976, where they’re recording the soundtrack for a horror. Tensions among the crew rise, and Gilderoy becomes increasingly alienated and disturbed, though he doesn’t show it, since Jones gives a great reserved performance, communicating isolation with as little emotion possible.

This film works best as a tribute to 70s Italian horror and as an exploration of the art of film sound effects. Watching the sounds of mutilation being provided by hacking up vegetables, and demonic screaming being produced by weirdly talented vocalists are the movie’s most fascinating elements. Technically, the film is impressive, with great lighting, sound, and shots, all creating suspenseful atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the film only offers suspense, which never builds up to much. It felt like an experimental indulgence in technology that shunned sense, confusing and excluding the average filmgoer. Some scenes questioned film violence and expectations of the horror genre. Overall, however, it tried to say something without saying it, which annoyed me.

Though original and inventive, it felt atmospheric and menacing just for the sake of it. As much as I applaud cinematic strangeness, a film is only threatening if it shows what it’s threatening you with. The fact that the film tried to say lots through the exclusive setting of a sound studio just felt (though I hate using this word) pretentious.

Image From Worn by Heroes and ICA 

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Alessandro Lemme

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to tattoo artist Alessandro Lemme who works out of Psycho Tattoo studio in Rome. His clean lines and selective colour palette lend themselves to the world of traditional tattoos. 

Alessandro Lemme (3)
When I first saw your work on Instagram, I knew right away that the tattoos had been made by an artist who had real passion in his blood. Did you always know you would become a tattooist? I don’t think it was a flash of inspiration but rather a path. It starting from painting and drawing (that I have always cultivated), and from the first tattoos seen on other people. It all developed gradually, as my interest for tattoos increased, not only the ones on myself but also the ones I made for others.

How do you feel now that you are doing what you love? Very lucky, and grateful.

Alessandro Lemme

What fascinates you the most about the history of tattooing? And tattooing itself? I believe that, in a world that is becoming increasingly abstract and dull, chained to masks and superficial appearances of yourself, the tattoo continues to be a powerful means of self-determination and concrete aesthetics. It is a re-appropriation of your own body and your own inner life, with flesh, blood and symbols, and therefore reality and truth.

The colours you use for your tattoos denote a great love for the past and at the same time they are traditional yet delicate. Do you agree? I hope so, although I do not think they are so unique and rare. I don’t know if we can call it nostalgia, but I think that wherever there is love and respect for the history and the past, there will always be good tattoo artists.

Alessandro Lemme (2)

You can create a strong and fierce subject, like a tiger, and at the same time a romantic and mysterious one, like a mermaid. What are your everyday inspirations? The tattoo artists of the past, that’s for sure. I can produce and draw what I want, but I could never create something that coincides with my idea of tattooing without their inheritance. In my ideal tattoo shop, drawings are chosen from the flash sheets affixed to the walls. I do not think at all that perpetuating (even without inventing) is demeaning. There is no doubt that there are and have been great and brilliant innovators of style and iconography, but our world – at least up to a certain point and period – has often had little to do with the ‘real artists’, as it has been composed mostly by people who have just ‘done tattoos’.

What are the subjects you would like to tattoo but you havent’t yet? The Rock of Ages, perhaps the king among the subjects of traditional style. It’s my dream and I hope it will come true!

Alessandro Lemme (4)

Tell us about the first tattoo you got and also about the most recent. Two different times on the same skin. What are the differences (if any)? My first tattoo was a Viking on my right shoulder, I was almost 17 years old. I remember that there wasn’t a lot of tattoo shops to choose from and the flash was limited: warriors, tribal and then fairies for girls! Coming from a metal environment, the decision of what subject to get wasn’t difficult! The last needles to hurt my skin were those who traced the lines of my back, by Alessandro Turcio. Two tigers fighting, immersed in vegetation, including palm trees, roses and butterflies. I think the difference consists essentially in the knowledge and preparation regarding the subject, and in the awareness of getting tattooed by an artist I trust.

Do you admire other artists? Do you have any values that you would never give up? I admire anybody who is sincere in what he does and who knows how to do it well. Both those who decide to remain stubbornly in the furrow and those who try to climb over it. Every person and artist who is good, skilled, experienced and humble.

Alessandro Lemme (5)

How important is humility for you? Both in your life and in the customer/tattoo artist relationship. It often seems that those who are full of themselves manage to attract and convince as many customers as possible. I believe that, after all, it is nothing more than a state of mind, a distinctive feature of some characters: what brings you to consider yourself to be close to others, rather than constantly trying to walk over their head.

Will you be doing any guest spots abroad? Yes, I will be in London, at the Family Business, from 5th to 9th October!

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Erasing the Past

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the third of many posts to appear on, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Catch up on the first, second, third and fourth posts in the series. 

Are we tattoo snobs? I think I might be. I have not so long since covered up my last teenage tattoo. I had laser removal for some of them and it was during this procedure that a friend challenged my intentions. ‘Why would you get a tattoo removed? Don’t you know they are permanent, they are markers of your life, don’t throw away your memories’. His body is covered in what must be close to one hundred tiny tattoos, each linked to a memory, a person, an event, an emotion. He collects his tattoos using his body as a trinket box. None of them you would describe as a piece of art, but they are pieces of him.

Beginning of backpiece with cover up

The tattoos I had early on in life I wanted covered up for two main reasons, firstly they were badly done and secondly they were taking up space on my body which I wanted to cover with large, professionally done tattoos. My tattoos now could be classed as artworks on my skin, they are beautifully executed and original in design.

But is that the point of getting a tattoo? I really don’t know, we all have different reasons for going under the needle. It cannot be as simple as collecting art, I could and do have a multitude of art hanging on my walls at home, there was no need to have it on my body. Most of my tattoos cannot be put down to any special meaning either, of course there are the traditional meanings, I have a rooster which is my Chinese zodiac sign, I have a Foo-dog which represents protection but these aren’t meanings deeply personal to me. I have a peony on my knee which is solely there to fill an awkward gap, there for aesthetic purposes does that make it purely fashion?


Like fashion, tattoos can cost very little or exorbitant amounts. You have the high street budget fashion comparison in the street tattoo shops, often boasting special offers ‘all you can sit for £250’, ‘full sleeves £300’, ‘any two names £20’ (all genuine offers seen on the streets of Sheffield), you can get a full outfit from Primark and your boyfriends name tattooed for under £50. On the opposite end of the spectrum you can pay $500 per hour – I won’t say who quoted that but on large pieces you can pay an average £80-100 per hour. Some artists charge by the piece and depending on the size and details a fairly large tattoo can cost between £200-£500. Just like a Chanel handbag, if you embark on a body suit you will look to pay into the thousands.

Therein lies the elitism, not everyone can afford the best artists and the largest tattoos. For some having a spare £50 for a tattoo is a struggle. When I had my early tattoos done they were the ones I could afford.  But does erasing those tattoos mean I’m erasing my past? Am I trying to hide my working class background? Every now and again I forget I had my first tattoo covered up and get confused for a second when it’s not on my wrist, there instead the snake concealing it. Throughout our lives we change, we change – our clothes, our hair, our jobs, our homes so why not change our tattoos to better reflect the people we are now rather than the people we were.


 Snake by Kelly Smith

Music Interview: Atreyu

Californian Metalcore legends Atreyu have just completed their first UK tour in nearly 5 years – following a lengthy hiatus, the band were playing a couple of intimate warm up shows at smaller venues prior to appearances at the Reading & Leeds festivals. Our guest music blogger Robert Moody caught up with the band at their sold out Nottingham show:


(From the left: Brandon Saller – drummer and vocalist, Dan Jacobs – guitarist, Robert Moody – our guest blogger, Alex Varkatzas – vocalist and Travis Miguel – guitarist.)

You’re playing much smaller venues for these warm up shows than you would normally play – how has that been on the tour so far?

Alex Varkatzas: No venue too big, no venue too small!

Brandon Saller: They’ve been a blast, it’s what we came from so it’s awesome to have an opportunity to do something like that. Sweating on kids, getting kicked in the face, it’s a good time!

And after this you’ll be playing the bigger shows at Reading and Leeds Festivals, how much are you looking forward to those?

Brandon Saller: I’m stoked, I really love the UK and their approach to festivals, they’re such big events and you get to see so many friends, it’s going to be a really good time.

Any other bands in particular you’re going to try and catch while you’re there?

Brandon Saller:  I’m not sure if they’re on the same day as us but I’d like to see Beartooth, they’re doing a tour with us later this year in the States. Stoked to see Bring Me The Horizon, stoked to see Pvris, stoked to see Ghost…

Travis Miguel: Be good to see our friends in Metallica…

Alex Varkatzas: Yeah we haven’t played with Metallica for a couple of years so it’ll be good to reunite!

Thinking about your new album, the songs we’ve heard so far have had a varied sound, almost encapsulating the styles of the band over the years. With that in mind, how would you describe the band’s sound now, and what does the rest of the album have in store?

Brandon Saller: I feel like this album has a lot of the spirit of our youth, combined with a lot of the things we’ve learned along the way…

Alex Varkatzas: It’s the spirit of our youth combined with the maturity of our years.

Brandon Saller: Exactly – it’s an Atreyu fan’s record, to be honest.

Several members of the band have always had a lot of prominent tattoos and artwork, even dating back to your early days, would you mind sharing some of the inspiration behind what you’ve had done and telling us a little bit about what motivates the tattoos you get?

Brandon Saller:  Personally, I’m not that big on the deep meaning behind my tattoos, I’m a lot more about the art. Several of my tattoos do have meaning of course, this key (below) was a gift for my wife for our 2nd anniversary, I’ve got tattoos for my Mom and Dad…but for the most part, a lot of my tattoos are because I’m appreciative of the art.


Alex Varkatzas: Yeah when I was younger, I was very appreciative of the art, but now I take the art and twist it in my own mind to make it personal. I just got a really large thigh-piece of an English Bulldog fighting a Cobra (below), and that’s because I have an English Bulldog and I love her…and I fucking hate snakes! So for me that’s about conquering fear.


You’ve travelled around the world with the band, are there any particular places that have inspired you or stuck with you after you’ve visited them?

Brandon Saller:  I’m a huge fan of the UK, Japan, Australia…

Alex Varkatzas: Which has some of the best tattoos, I think. I think everyone in Australia has really good tattoos. I really like Italy, I’d love to get tattooed there.

Brandon Saller:  Alex has just recently started tattooing, so he’s probably a bit deeper into it now than the four of us are. But it’s always helpful to have someone who knows where the good tattoo places are, wherever you go!

And have you found that it’s given you a new appreciation of the art, now you’ve experienced the other side of it?

Alex Varkatzas: Absolutely. It’s hard. It takes years to learn the craft – so you appreciate it so much more. It’s awesome.

As you mentioned, you’re heading back to the States for the tour with Beartooth, which is really the band’s first ‘normal’ tour since the break – does this mean the band is going back to the touring lifestyle now or is that just a one off?

Alex Varkatzas: It’s more that, as long as it’s fun, and it makes sense, we do it. So we might do this tour and then just cancel everything after it! I don’t think we will, of course – just as long as it’s fun.

Brandon Saller:  We just want to take as much of the ‘job’ aspect of being in a band out of the equation, and just enjoy every second of what we’re doing. We’ve scaled back a bit, we might be touring a little less, but we’d definitely want to get some packages together and then perhaps to a few shows here and there as well.

And are you finding the touring experience any different this time around?

Brandon Saller:  I think we appreciate it more now. For us it’s been great, the energy at our shows has been pretty fucking crazy.

Alex Varkatzas: We’re touring in a smarter manner these days, not just taking every single show that comes our way. The way we see it is that it’s a lot easier to get through some sprints, than it is to run 10 miles. So we can just put more effort into it. So for me, if I know I’m only going on tour for a couple of weeks, I can just go all out. If you’re going out for 3 months, you can’t do that. Plus it’s not so much fun when you’re just doing the same thing every day, so we just come out here, really push ourselves, give the cliché 150%. Then I feel more engaged with it and I think the audiences are more engaged. A good way to describe it is like the NFL season in America – it’s only 16 games, every game counts.

Dan Jacobs: We want our touring career to be like the NFL season and not the Baseball season which is way too long!!

Well we know the London show in April delivered on that so if it’s half as good tonight we should be in for a hell of a time!

Brandon Saller: It should be great, it’s been sold out for some time I think, I think the kids are excited and we’re excited too.

Film Review: Horns

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward… 

Horns 2013, 2/5
A while ago I saw Daniel Radcliffe’s  face emblazoned on a magazine cover. He was unshaven, had a steely squint and a smoking cigarette dangling from his lips with no consideration for influencing young wizards with this dirty muggle habit. The headline was ‘Harry Potter gone bad’ or something silly like that.

Daniel Radcliffe


My guess is that Radcliffe’s new bad boy image had something to do with this film I’m reviewing, for his character does indeed smoke, drink, curse, fight, has some sex and looks as if he could do with a bath, some attitude counselling and a good night’s sleep: you know, like a normal young adult.

This is not the first time I’ve wondered if Radcliffe is taking the same career path as Elijah Wood; in other words, attempting to trash the cute boy wizard/hobbit roles that made them famous by proving they can do darker, mature roles. For example, Wood starred in Maniac in 2012 as a woman-slaughtering psychopath and in 2014’s Open Windows he played an internet creep stalking his favourite actress (who happened to be played by porn star Sasha Grey to add further controversy).


Radcliffe has gone down a less violently extreme image-trashing career path than Wood, but his angry young man take in Horns is still hilarious, especially since he’s adopted an American accent. As grating as this sounds, you do get used to it and surprisingly I ended up caring a little bit for his character. He plays a young man named Ig living in some insignificant backwoods town whose girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) has just been murdered and everyone thinks he did it. After a drunken emotional night, he wakes up to find a pair of horns sprouting out of his forehead. He then discovers that everyone he talks to confesses their deepest, darkest secrets and desires. He decides to use this new awkward gift to seek out his girlfriend’s killer and force a confession.

As imaginative and darkly hilarious this setup is, it’s not really explained and doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m not one of those people who like every aspect of the plot dictated to me and I do believe a little ambiguity is good for a film. However, If director, Alexandre Aja, is trying to make some moral point about Ig being cursed with demonic powers it’s missed because there’s no reason for it. I don’t know if the novel by Joe Hill  offers more explanation and, like Kubrick did with The Shining , Aja decided to sacrifice some of the novel’s explanations for the film’s imagery.


But in The Shining, there is a vague justification for the weird spooky stuff, in that it’s a reflection of all the dark stuff that happened in the hotel’s past. In Horns Ig never does anything that justifies his curse. Sure he’s a surly, indulgent, non-believer like every young adult, but he’s not evil. If anything, he’s the character most wronged. The only heretic thing he does is smash the Virgin Mary figurine at his dead girlfriend’s shrine, pee on some candles and then rant about what good going to church every Sunday did for her. Do any of these pathetic, slightly justifiable actions merit the horror thrust on his life, whether by God or the Devil (unless either one has a very bitter sense of humour)? And if this curse is a punishment for whatever darkness lies in Ig’s heart, surely it shouldn’t give him advantages? Halfway through the film snakes swarm to Ig, willing to obey his will, I guess because he’s now tainted with evil? So he uses them for vengeful purposes, thus making him more evil than when he started. If God’s trying to punish him He’s doing a bad job and if the devil’s trying to corrupt him, why him? He wasn’t exactly a pure being to start with.

I do admire films that do weirdness for the sake of it, but only to an extent. Traditionally in Gothic moral narratives, like Doctor Faustus,  religious phenomena that has a negative impact on the protagonist’s life has a moral purpose, in order to give didactic instruction to the audience (let’s ignore the film Stigmata, which is based on random religious phenomena). With Horns we have what feels like a traditional Gothic narrative. But the fact that the reason and nature of Ig’s non-deserved curse, whether it’s a blessing or a punishment, is hidden to the audience means that the moral we’re expecting is not very clear. All we get is a character that has a lot of weird, bad stuff happen to him. This doesn’t do much for a story and throws up more questions than answers. The other thing that lets the film down is Radcliffe. As hard as he tries, whether he’s being distraught or vengeful, he’s never very convincing. He always looks like he’s straining when he should be easily slipping into these emotions. Unfortunately, since the entire film consists of him having emotional conflicts with every character, we’re stuck with Radcliffe in tantrum mode.


I didn’t expect the film to be great from the offset, as I’m not a fan of Radcliffe, but I was surprised at how gripping and entertaining it was on another level. Despite the vast room for improvement left by the issues discussed above, it’s still a good murder mystery and the idea of a superpower that removes people’s inhibitions is an original idea that leads to some hilarious and cringing scenes. The story and dialogue is good, even if it’s a lot of flashbacks and emotional angst. All the performances, apart from Radcliffe, are good too. Juno Temple playing Ig’s girlfriend shows Radcliffe up on convincingly portraying a troubled young adult. Even the child actor playing Ig in the flashbacks does a better job than Radcliffe. We also get Heather Graham  in a great minor role as a publicity-crazed waitress.

So if you want a supernatural murder mystery with a thrilling plot that looks cool but you don’t care about the supernatural part making much sense, knock yourself out. Other than that, there isn’t much substance here and the film will probably only be memorable for Harry Potter joining the forces of evil.

Sick Girls Official

Our guest blogger is 34-year-old administrator Alanna Lauren, creator of RubyxRedxHeart. She chatted to Natalie Watts and Fox Xoft founders of Sick Girls an online store which sells creepily cool  prints and accessories, about how they met, what inspires them and their tattoos… 

Tell me a bit about yourselves! How long have you gals known each other and what was the inspiration behind

Fox: We’re both freelance illustrators from Toronto, Canada who graduated from OCAD University in 2012. We weren’t friends right away though. Eventually we bonded over Keyboard Cat, because remember that used to be a thing?

Natalie: We met in second year, some bogus computer class, it was supposed to teach us how to make a website, but clearly I learned nothing.


Fox: SadGirls started off because I used to be really into making zines at the time and Nat and I had a graphic novel class together and liked each other’s work. We decided to do a zine based on bad ass babes.  I think we were vicariously living through our work and creating the world we actually wanted to inhabit, because in reality we were VERY poor, eating A LOT of ramen, while our tears bled the ink on our mountains of school assignments. Fast forward to three years later and basically we just got our shit together and shifted our medium from viewable art to a wearable product with a similar intent.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? 

Fox: I’m in love with Alex Snelgrove’s work. She did the black woodcut flowers on both of my arms. Last month she did a woodcut Pegasus on my hip because I’ve been obsessed with Greek mythology for as long as I can remember. Those ones are amazing, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the stick-n-poke on my ankle done by the talented Open Entity, which is a drawing of the welcome mat on the door to Hell that Natalie drew as flash art. Because Nat is MLC (Major League Complainer) and has that WAH tattoo, I started calling her “Wahwah” or “Wahtalie” a while ago and it stuck.


Natalie: I have one tattoo I had done when I was 18 somewhere in Oshawa that is of a Welsh Dragon and then two that are stick-n-pokes. One of them was done by Open Entityand of just ‘zzz’ on the back of my arm, and the other on my ankle by a guy I was seeing – which is probably my favourite one – of the letters ‘WAH’… because I like sleeping and complaining.

What’s in a name? Who came up with and what does it mean to you?

Natalie: I came up with the name Sick Girls one night while we were drawing, the name describes our style of art and ultimately it’s just who we are… I like the idea of being an outsider, and I like illustrating really gross shit. I am very shy, and have a hard time expressing my thoughts; I’m also a huge mumbler. I like the idea of being able to express myself through my illustrations. Sick Girls is a unisex brand, but definitely caters towards more females who want it to be known that they aren’t just your average girl. Pretty flowers and kitties? BORING! Slime and barf coming out of your eye sockets? Now that’s more like it!


What took you down the patches and pins route to showcase your designs?

Natalie: At first we didn’t have any patches or enamel lapel pins, for our first pop-up shop we began making Sculpey candy pins and necklaces, which were entirely handmade. I was also producing ShrinkyDink pins, which I still make today, but is time consuming and labour intensive. Once we started getting noticed on Instagram and making more sales, it was hard to keep up with producing all handmade items, so we started designing lapel pins and patches that we can get mass produced.

Fox: Patches and pins are great because they can add personality to a plain old bag or denim jacket. You can customize or make a statement on articles of clothing you already have. It’s great because everyone has their own collection that tells a story or says something about their personal aesthetic. I have my own pin collection on my bag, and I’m stoked every time I add a new pin because it’s another brand/artist I admire.

IMG_4303 (1) has a strong message for women. What does it mean to be part of the ‘sick girls club’?

Natalie: For me, it’s just not really giving a fuck, like what you want, even if it’s not the norm. I mean I like drawing stuff that gets me excited, and I get excited by drawing gross shit. I’m happy that other people enjoy it too.

Fox: We’re all about being tough, never giving up and in general not giving a fuck if other people tell you you’re not good enough. We’re “sick girls” because we don’t have a “typical girl” image to promote. Being ‘girly’ or ‘feminine’ isn’t a fault by any means, but we’ve always balanced the feminine imagery with things that were gross, disgusting, and visceral. Even though “girls” is in the name, the brand is unisex though obviously some products cater more to the ladies.

What does the future hold for

Fox: We’re working on the wholesale game right now. We’re still selling products individually from our online store, but we’re starting to sell wholesale to shops worldwide. So far our merch is available in stores in Toronto and Ottawa and few cities in the USA. Next THE WORLD.

Natalie: I’d really like for Sick Girls to take off, I think in order for that to happen we just need to keep creating as much as possible. We’ve been discussing some collaborations with other companies, as well as working with a large design label, which will be using one of our products on their next spring/summer line. We seem to be getting more and more interest from stores to stock our products each month. It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come in less than a year, I think things just seem to be getting better with each passing month and can’t wait to see what happens!