Category: Guest bloggers

Interview with Céline, who runs Inspired Tattoo Portraits

Céline, 26, Paris.

What first drew you to the tattoo world? When did you decide you wanted to become a tattooed person? This is such a difficult question. I couldn’t really explain what really drew me to the tattoo world. In 2009, while I was in Albuquerque New Mexico to study, I met Steve Truitt a renowned body modification artist. I quickly became friends with him and the guys at his shop and I started to spend a lot of time there. So I would say that I was firstly introduced to the world of body modifications. At the time, seeing Steve’s tattoos was quite a visual shock. That was the first time I saw blacked-out arms, face tattoos and almost a complete tattooed body. I slowly started getting small tattoos until I eventually considered getting a full body suit.

What is your job? I have never been able to do one thing at the time, so I’m currently working several jobs. I’m in charge of the advertising for a magazine, I’m also managing a tattoo artist working at Sang Bleu London and, last but not least, I’m part of the Paris Tattoo Convention staff, Le Mondial du Tatouage organized by Tin-Tin, where I’m in charge of the sponsoring.

Tell us a little more about your project Inspired Tattoo Portraits? When did you start it? Inspired Tattoo Portraits is an artistic and journalistic project that I started in April 2013, which focuses on heavily tattooed people wearing quality art. I aim to create beautiful images and provide content that opens the door to new ideas. Each portrait is made of an interview, a set of analog pictures and a video. I never read tattoo magazines, so it came from a personal need to see something different. For each portrait, I try to find interesting and strong personalities and to shoot them in visually rich environments in order to create unique atmospheres. On one hand, it’s a way for me to broadcast an aspect of the tattoo culture I love and on the other hand to understand myself better thanks to the people involved in the portraits.

Do you find that you often get comments about your tattoos from the public when you’re out? Do you mind this? People are generally surprised, but not in a bad way and I actually get pretty good comments. I guess they can appreciate the artistic value of my tattoos. But having people staring at me in the street and on the subway is not something I always felt comfortable with. When I first started getting tattooed my tattoos were not visible, so as they began becoming more visible I had to adapt to the way people were looking at me. Now I try not to care anymore.

Tell me a little about the work on your body. Who did it? How does it make you feel as a person? The list would be too long to name everyone, I’m a collector. I get work by very different artists: black & grey portraits, neo-traditional, ornamental… So far I have been tattooed by Cokney, Mikael de Poissy, Jean-Philippe Burton, Matthew Gordon, Antony Flemming, etc. I just enjoy being surrounded by art on a daily basis. My tattoos don’t change me as a person. Also it is a big commitment and it’s definitely not a neutral choice…

Thigh tattoos by Mikael de Poissy


We have been watching the progress of your stomach piece on Instagram. Where did the inspiration for this come from?  Many women are nervous about using their entire front as a canvas, did you have any apprehensions? I have been looking at Matthew Gordon’s work and I noticed he was super-good at large-scale tattoos and I wanted a big piece for my torso. As I’m working on a body suit project it made sense to go big. I just gave him a few ideas and he nailed it. The placement and size were pretty audacious but I guess I was crazy enough to do it. Of course I had apprehensions. It’s a pretty big commitment. I was scared it would affect my femininity, but it didn’t. In fact feminity really depends on who you are as a person. So I feel pretty good about it.

You recently added a flower below the piece by Matthew, what inspired this? Honestly, it wasn’t really part of my plan but after finishing my torso this little area was left untattooed and blank spots just annoy me. That’s the problem when you’re getting a lot of work done, you tend to only notice the non tattooed areas! Also I wanted someone special for this piece and therefore I asked Japanese artist Gotch to do it.

Do you enjoy working on big tattoo projects? What are you planning next? I think bigger is better, but it’s also pretty hard to work on big projects. It takes a lot of time and commitment, plus it’s usually really painful. Working on my torso piece was challenging and I sometimes felt discouraged. Going through long sessions and having to catch a flight back home to Pares the day after to go back to work is something difficult. But I experienced amazing things as well. It made me realise how strong I am. My next big project is my back piece with Guy le Tatooer, which I’m pretty excited about…

Who else would you like to get tattooed by? Too many! Haha. But to name a few: Claudia de Sabe, Valerie Vargas and the guys at Sacred Electric.

Where do you seek tattoo inspiration? My inspiration mainly comes from artists’ work. I like to pick artists with a strong artistic personality and I only give them a few ideas. I just want them to enjoy the piece and do what they think is good.

Any advice for first timers thinking about getting tattooed? Have a look at artists’ portfolios and choose them regarding their style and most importantly trust them!


Below are some of the portraits from the Inspired Tattoo Portraits series, check out the project in its entirety at

Boob jobs and tattoos. An interview with Emily Vine, by Kelli Savill

Emily Vine is tattooist Kodie Smith’s girlfriend, she runs jewellery company With Love Treasures and is a qualified make-up artist. We met up with her to her to chat about her boob job, tattoos, and how they have made her a more confident woman.

Emily Vine Emily Vine


What made you decide to get your boob job?

From around the age of 17 I’d always thought about having a boob job as I was never  really happy with them. I started going to various cosmetic groups for consultations when I was 18 years old to get more of an insight into the surgery and see what each company had to offer. Overall I must have had consultations with about eight different companies until last year I went to MYA for a consultation and immediately knew they were the company for me. I’m only a month post surgery so they still have a lot of changing to do but I can honestly say it is one the best decisions I have made.

by Gemma B (helfire)


Was it a hard decision? 

Being 100% sure on the company and surgeon was a pretty difficult decision but the actual surgery itself I was adamant I wanted. The build up to the actual procedure was so exciting that I am a little gutted its over but now I have the results I’ve always wanted.


You already had a chest piece prior to your surgery, has the tattoo changed at all?

As I knew I wanted a breast augmentation since I was 17, it was something I took into careful consideration before getting the tattoo done. I was worried it might distort the tattoo and that was something I didn’t want to happen. I got my chest piece done last January and I told my artist that I was going to have my boobs done sometime in the near future and she said that it would be fine. I trusted her opinion and went ahead with my tattoo. Just as she said, my tattoo hasn’t changed at all even though when I put my sports bra on, the pendant that sits in between my boobs vanishes but that isn’t something that bothers me.

Chestpiece by Gemma B (helfire)


Do you plan on any other kind of cosmetic surgery? 

We all have imperfections that we wouldn’t mind changing, which is completely natural, but I don’t hate anything else enough to put myself through surgery again. A while back I was considering getting my nose done but the recovery doesn’t look like too much fun so I think I’ll avoid that. I might have lip fillers in the future, as it’s something I have been looking into, but that’s a simple procedure that doesn’t involve going under the knife so to speak.


Do you think cosmetic surgery changes the way you see yourself?

Most definitely. It’s such a life-changing experience going from living with something that bothered you everyday to finally being happy with how it looks. I feel like there’s a lot of stigma surrounding cosmetic surgery, and granted sometimes it’s taken a little too far, but everyone should have the chance to improve something about themselves if they want to. It’s all about how you feel in yourself, not what anyone else thinks.

Tattoo by Amy Savage


Are you confident because you’re tattooed? 

Personally, yes. They have made me a lot more confident. My tattoos are one of my favourite things about myself and make me focus a lot less on silly minor flaws. I feel so grateful to have some absolutely beautiful work on my skin from the likes of Gemma B (Helfire), Amy Savage, Kodie Smith, Anthony Cole, Rose Whittaker and so on. I will definitely feel amazing once my Eckel sleeve is in progress too.


How do you feel about your boyfriend Kodie (Smith) tattooing you? 

I feel honoured to have his work on my skin. I’m such a proud girlfriend of how far he has come in such a short space of time and I love how modest he is about it. We are currently in the process of planning my foot tattoos which I’m excited but nervous about.

Tattoo by Emily’s boyfriend Kodie Smith


What is your favourite tattoo? 

This is such a difficult one to answer because I have a lot of tattoos I adore but if I had to pick just one, my chest piece is definitely a favourite. It came out better than I expected and it’s such a solid piece. The artist behind quite a lot of my work including my chest piece is Gemma B (Helfire). She is such a talented artist who I feel doesn’t get enough recognition for her work.

Tattoo by Rose Whittaker



Interview by Kelli Savill

Tattooed on the Job – the Perks of being a Things&Ink Intern

I took the train to visit Lucy O’Connell and Ruth Rollin, both from Red Tattoo and Piercing in Leeds who were doing a guest spot at Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour in Northfield, Birmingham.

The studio is absolutely beautiful, like no other I have ever been in. Forget sterile white and tiled floors Painted Lady is like stepping into your much loved eccentric Auntie’s house. Instead imagine ornate frames, muted green walls and bare wooden floor in what was once a living room. The collection of art and taxidermy is incredible and the homey feel is so relaxing, this is how I want my house to be like! There was so much to look at while Lucy tattooed my forearm for three hours with her practically silent tattoo machine.

Owner of the Painted Lady, Dawnii Fantana, one of Lucy’s inspirations, was so welcoming with cups of peach tea and cake! What more could you want? Other inspirations of Lucy’s include; Xam (who she’s planning to get tattooed by when he guests in Leeds), Emily Rose Murray, Valerie Vargas, Jason Minauro and Claudia de Sabe (who is tattooing Lucy’s hands very soon) – Lucky thing!

Lucy had drawn the Chinese lantern design with a cute bird a while ago and I had to snap it up for the start of my sleeve, I love everything she does! I’m a real Instagram stalker, even recognising the fruit fillers that Amy Savage had tattooed as belonging to Lucy. We chatted and laughed the whole way through the tattoo swapping stories about not crying at films, university courses, her love for Robert Downey Jr, (we were watching the new Sherlock Holmes) and other nonsensical things!

Lucy has been tattooing for only two years, yet her style is so distinctive; with women and flowers featuring heavily, as she could tattoo these all day. ‘I do try to turn everything into a woman! I try to get away with as much as I can!’ Fine by me, I especially love her flowers with women faces, perfect.

At first when she started out in the industry Lucy thought she’d specialise in realism but her imagination ran away with her, although ‘it is nice to be given some direction’, creating your own art is more enjoyable.

I can’t wait to get stuck into my sleeve, having already spied on Lucy’s Instagram a gorgeous Indian inspired lady face, which I hope she can recreate for my own collection. My arm will be filled with Indian goddesses, tigers and fans at The Femaletattoo Show, in Leamington Spa where Lucy is working at on 14th September.

Lucy also has numerous guest spots planned:
One Day Gallery, Manchester 28th-29th May
Loaded Forty Four, Manchester 10th-12th July
As well as exhibiting originals of her work at The Old Bones Emporium in Edinburgh 6th-12th  June

I also got my first ever hand-poked tattoo by Ruth Rollins. I picked a little wishbone from her sheet of cute small dot work flash, to bring me luck. I found being tattooed in this way so relaxing and part from a few points it was pretty painless. I could have lain on the table for hours… I asked Ruth which method of tattooing she preferred: ‘it’s too hard to say which I prefer, they are too different and you’re not comparing like for like’. While tattooing with a machine allows Ruth to create larger tattoos, she, like the person being tattooed, finds hand-poking therapeutic. Ruth is also working at the Femaletattoo Show in September and I’ll be popping down to have another little relaxing hand-poked piece of art!

Having these lovely northern lasses tattoo me yesterday was only made possible by Dawnii Fantana (have a look at her beautiful gypsies), Ruth explains that ‘as relative newbies to the tattooing industry it is brilliant having people like Dawnii who help and encourage you’, Hurrah! To Dawnii, her gorgeous shop and supportive nature! Definitely on my growing to-be-tattooed-by list! I hope I don’t run out of space first!



Why not? A short history of women and tattoos

Amelia Amelia


An edited version of an article by Amelia Klem Osterud – first published in The Launch Issue of Things&Ink magazine.

When was the first woman tattooed? Who was she? Who was the first woman tattoo artist? These are questions that we’ll never know the answer to, because, despite the idea that women and tattoos somehow are a modern phenomenon, women have been getting tattooed for as long as the idea to put ink and needle to skin has been around.  

Jessie Knight


Sluts and sailors
Over the last 100 years, a stigma has developed against tattooed women – you know the misconceptions, women with tattoos are sluts, they’re “bad girls,” just as false as the myth that only sailors and criminals get tattoos. Nothing can be further from the truth. Look around you, lots of women have tattoos. Maybe your mum has a tattoo, maybe your grandmother or your colleague. Probably your best friend has one, maybe two. Of course, tattoos have risen in popularity over the past several decades among both genders, but a look at history tells us that women have been getting tattooed longer than that.  

Jessie Knight is considered to be the first professional British female tattoo artist. Her career spanned from the 1920s through to the 1960s


The Tattoo trick
A 2007 article includes photographs of a female tattooed mummy from the Pre-Inca Chiribaya culture and small female figurines with tattoos. Tattoo historians have found evidence of women with tattoos throughout the more recent past, including records of encounters with early tribal European women (Picts, Celts) and of course, South Seas Island women of various tribes. Native American women tattooed and were tattooed extensively, and there is conjecture that, despite the lack of written evidence, medieval European women bore tattoos like their male counterparts. 

Heavily-tattooed performing women awed audiences from sideshow and dime museum stages. Even British and American Victorian women decorated themselves with tattoos – newspapers from the 1870s forward reported on the “fad” of tattooing among upper crust women of the time. One of the earliest mentions of ladies and tattoos from that time period was in the New York tabloid National Police Gazette. This sensational paper reported on a female tattooist (neither men nor women were routinely called “tattoo artists” then) in 1879 in an article entitled ‘The Tattoo Trick.’ The reporter had located an unnamed woman “found in an unpretentious but neat house in a respectable locality” whose profession was to tattoo crosses, serpents, monograms, and circles on the limbs of the demi-monde of Philadelphia. She “proved to be a pleasant-faced lady, attired becomingly…” with fingers stained “black with India ink.” She said that business was good, and her clients were primarily women, who she tattooed in their homes. 

The lady tattooist then answered age-old questions – whether or not it hurt (“to some it is, to others not”) and what it cost (between $5-$25, though possibly as high as $50 for very elaborate designs.) It’s very similar to articles from The New York Times with tattooist Martin Hildebrandt from 1876 and 1882, with the main difference being that the tattooist is female. Hildebrandt comments in the 1882 New York Times article that his “patrons are primarily ladies” and “they pay well for… inscriptions” like birds, flowers, and mottoes. Clearly, women in Victorian New York were interested in getting tattooed and being tattooists, despite the stereotype. 

ARTORIA GIBBONS (16 July 1893-18 March 1985) and her husband decided that they would make a good living if she became a performing tattooed lady, so Charles Gibbons tattooed her with images from her favourite classical religious artwork, in full colour.


The negative response
In contrast, Albert Parry’s 1933 book Tattoo: Secrets of the Strange Art as Practiced by the Nativesof the United States is part of the reason that, despite many women having private tattoos, popular opinion about women with tattoos was overwhelmingly negative. Parry viewed everything about tattooing as overtly sexual. “The very process of tattooing is sexual. There are the long, sharp needles. There is the liquid poured into the pricked skin. There are the two participants of the act, one active, one passive. There is the curious marriage between pleasure and pain.” 

Most of Parry’s writing on tattoos is focused on men and their sexual desires. The very little in Tattoo: Secrets of the Strange Art that discusses women and tattooing is overwhelmingly chauvinistic and negative. Women, according to Parry, most often get the names of their lovers tattooed on their breasts because tattooing is such a sexual act. The women that grace the pages of Parry’s book are simultaneously ashamed of their tattoos and exhibitionist bad girls who cheat on their husbands who are “asking for it” when they are treated badly.

Unfortunately, Tattoo, along with several books like it, made an impression on the readers of the mid-century. The image of a tattooed woman as a bad girl lingered, like the books and articles that reprinted stigma and innuendo. Only now, with more and more women both getting tattoos, and getting publicly visible tattoos, are things starting to change. Certainly, there are many who don’t understand the urge to decorate one’s body, and are afraid of something they don’t understand. But as women start to take control over their public images and public bodies, tattoos are going to only become more visible and accepted. Someday soon, the question won’t automatically be “Why would you do that?” but “Why not?” ❦

All issues of Things&Ink magazine can be purchased from, – we are currently working on issue 7, due out in May 2014.


MINI REVIEW: Shall Adore presents Ramon Maiden

By Pares Tailor

This evening some of the Things & Ink team had the pleasure of joining Ramon Maiden exhibit some of his finest work at Shall Adore tattoo parlour in Shoreditch. Ramon Maiden is based in Barcelona, Spain but tonight we had the chance to see what he’s known best for and that is reappropriating vintage & religious artwork and adorning them with tattoo imagery.

Before we get stuck in and tell you a little more about Ramon Maiden, we must thank Shall Adore for hosting such an amazing evening in what must be one of the warmest tattoo parlors in London. As soon as you walk through the doors your mind begins to wonder and think endlessly. I mean this little statement said it all…

“Enter and discover the world of Shall Adore, Let us take you on an enchanting visual journey in the celebration of that timeless art medium of permanently marking the skin” – Shall Adore

Ramon Maiden was born in 1972 in Barcelona but was never bound to one city, his travelled extensively and has considered NYC as his second home. Ramon has self taught himself his unique art form, his ideas and inspiration are forever dynamically changing and so are his techniques so you never know what to expect from Ramon but isn’t that all part of the fun and excitement? There is not a uniform side to Ramon, his full of diversity which allows his creativity to continuously grow. His work is a reflection of his life and tonight we got to see that, you could feel his career, travels and interests simply radiate Shall Adore this evening.

“My style is very characteristic and people are usually identified quickly. I try not only cause visual impact and also convey a message, idea, purpose.I perceive the tattoo as a form of artistic expression. Many of the artists I follow not only deal with tattoos, but they are also very good at other types of art.”

This was Ramon first exhibit in London this year and we asked why Shall Adore? Why London? and he came back with one word “Friends”.

The world is sizest and other women are so critical of each other

New blog post from our intern Rosalie Woodward:

Why is that when women have certain body parts tattooed it unfolds all sorts of negative and stigmatised reactions? But when men get these places tattooed it’s acceptable – even admirable.

“I recently  told a friend that I am booked in to get a tattoo on my arm, this will be my first in such a visible spot! The rest are on my legs, foot and shoulder – all hidden away in the wintery months. She hastily asked where I was getting said tattoo, responding that my inner forearm will be decorated and covered with a Chinese lantern design she physically sighed with relief. ‘Oh Good’ she exclaimed, ‘You’d look really butch if it was on your upper arm, women with tattoos there look awful!’ Meaning that I would look less feminine and my body would no longer be seen as socially acceptable. Many women including my friend hold the view that women who decide to be tattooed should choose designs that are small, discreet and pretty- everything that society deems a woman to be!

“My friend, although rude, was merely representing the common thoughts of society in which women and men are expected to act and look in certain ways. She, like many, sees a distinct difference between the limbs of men and women and how these should be adorned.

“I personally also believe that her opinions are based on the body type and size of the woman bearing the tattoos; I am not the owner of svelte, toned arms and possibly if I was a smaller woman a tattoo on my arm would not be an issue. Alternative models and popular Suicide Girls, with their toned, lean bodies and large spattering of tattoos could never possibly be called butch because of their body art. It is their conformity with the prescribed womanly body shape which saves them from being labelled as masculine.

“The world is sizest and other women are so critical of each other, that it is easy to see where my friend’s opinions have come from. Indeed I am sure that we are all guilty at some point or another of looking down on other tattooed women, maybe you disliked the subject they chose, the artistic measure of their tattoos or indeed the limb on which it has been inked.

“Although I tend to disagree with my friend, she is not alone in her thoughts. All tattooed women, simply by bearing ink are constantly fighting to overturn the media and socially created view of tattooed women and the negative traits that they are constantly branded with. Have you been faced with negative reactions from other women? Or have men been the ones to cast a judging eye?

“But the new found love for my colourful body as it becomes more and more covered in wonderful imagery will prevail. Ultimately if you are happy in your inked skin then that is all that matters.”


Rosie’s tattoo by Sophie Adamson



KMFDM Tour: A Lived Experience

KMFDM has been one of my favourite bands for more than 20 years, so getting the chance to see them live (again) and spend most of the day hanging out chatting about tattoos and music was wonderful fun.  On October 28th, I took the day off work, packed my camera bag and headed to Toronto, to the Phoenix Concert Theatre.  Kapt’n K, Jules, Andy and Steve, along with the crew and the opening band, CHANT, which that night was Bradley Bills alone (passport issues kept his bandmate in the US), were so lovely and a real joy to sit and share stories with.  Then there was the music … absolutely sublime.  Best birthday present EVER!

What you will find below are the complete transcripts of Jules, Andy, Steve and Bradley, on how tattoos have modified their lives. Listening to these guys tell stories is what inspired me to write about lived experience, since they so clearly demonstrated it.  At the bottom of the blog is a gallery of all the shots I took that day.  Click on the image to see it bigger and with some details.  I’ve also included some tattoo pics of KMFDM crew members David and Josh in the gallery as well.  It’s everything I couldn’t squeeze into my article (found in Things & Ink #6: The Modification Issue).  Enjoy!      ~Kimberly


-Jules Hodgson-

I came quite late to the tattoo game, so my first one wasn’t until 2000. A “tribal” on my right arm that was done in Japan by Permanent Mark. After its completion it was clear that I had gotten what looked like a tribal version of the old Kellogg’s corn flakes rooster. I’m in the process of having the covered up. The piece of flash on my upper right arm was done a year or two later at a shop in Tampa, FL while on tour with KMFDM. I recall Steve getting something done at the same time.

Next up was the glorious back piece that was done by my ex girlfriend who was apprenticing at a shop here in Seattle (where I live). I thought it would be novel to combine the”diamond” logo (Pig being the band that myself, Andy and Steve were in prior to joining KMFDM) with the fist symbol from the kmfdm “symbols” album. The addition of flames also seemed like a grand idea. The fact that she and I were in the process of splitting up and it was her first tattoo on something that wasn’t a grapefruit didn’t deter us from going ahead with the plan and the results speak for themselves!

The line work on my left arm is about 6 years old and I’ll complete the sleeve one day. It’s a bio-mechanical “twisted metal” thing that I’m sure is going to look amazing when I find the time and money to complete it. It was done by Jesse Roberts at Lucky Devil Tattoos in Seattle.

Most importantly, and most recently I’ve been covering up the “tribal chicken” with a more traditional roses and cobra sleeve. It’s a thinly disguised band tattoo – mine and Andy’s other band The Spittin’ Cobras. So as not to mislead your readers, it’s not industrial in any way. Think more punk/metal/hard-rock-n-roll. Sort of Motorhead vs AC/DC vs Judas Priest on PCP! How was that for a shameless plug? HaHa!

I’m really excited to get this finished. It’s being done by good friend Chani Murat, owner of Good Karma Tattoos in Edmonds, Washington. Every time we’d see each other she’d rib me about getting my tribal chicken covered up, so we got to it and started on my sleeve a wee while ago. Next up is going to be a heart and banner with my dog’s initials on my right wrist, and after that, who knows? Probably not another tribal chicken, though…


-Andy Selway-

I started getting tattooed at about age 14 or 15, at a tattoo shop in Ipswich, UK.  Me and a friend saved up lunch money, about £5 each, and went to this back alley shop.  These were little flash. Most are now covered over by other bigger tattoos. I had an uncle, one of my dad’s brothers – uncle Arthur – had a prison tattoo. Few playing cards on his arm. I saw them and I just wanted them.  Always wanted to fill up.

God, the early ones were awful, so needed to cover up and go bigger and bigger. Then just had to fill up the rest when the empty spaces were noticed. Once you fill arms, chest  and such, might as well do your back … and then you’re full.

Many are tour mementos – tattoos as tour souvenirs and band tributes (Swine, Pig, KMFDM, etc.) when tattoo artists are willing to do them for free.  My left forearm, this 3-headed purple thing was by a fan boy. Got it 2 days till end of the tour. Started it – 1.5hrs – immediately prior to going on and drumming – and 1.5hr after playing. Beyond painful.  You know Andy, Jules and I have been present for each others tattoos (most of them). Since 1997 or so we’ve been together (1996 he and Steve were in PIG, then Jules came in 1997).  I gotta mention these guys too, for my tattoos and other art:

  • Dan Gold, Astronaut guy on my arm, London Ink (Graffiti artist, Denmark)
  • Artist for cobra tattoos & Spittin’ Cobras band logo – Mark ‘Firehazzard’ Hodgkinson, he has a website and Facebook
  • Skunx Tattoo London, London, UK.  Nick Reid is close friend
  • Bones Lininger (my cobras tattoo) Fort Lauderdale, Bones Tattoos & Barbers (shop no longer exists?) – now an independent artist in Florida. I have plans to see him for a big back piece and some touch-up work on other tattoos
  • Kenny Dick (my knuckles) Lucky Seven tattoos, West Palm Beach, FL


-Steve White-

So, briefly I suppose living and growing up in London UK in the 80′s I wasn’t aware of Tattoo art, as virtually nobody had anything other than the odd prison/ school yard pin and ink (cue Skinheads with a spider’s web and tear on their faces). The art hadn’t really developed as it has today, so apart from the odd aged roadie or biker at a rock festival there were no peers.

When Jules, Andy and I toured the US in ’97 as Pig supporting KMFDM we became more aware of the advanced US development of Tat Art . We wore suits onstage in those days so we were protected from revealing our virgin flesh. Andy,  I remember, had a couple of coloured scabs that he insisted were Tats and he eventually had a tour tat that turned sceptic and peeled. Not a particularly enticing experience for Jules and I so we didn’t give them much more thought. Eventually it became apparent to me that this tour was fast becoming the time of my life and the only fitting memento would be an indelible one… A few years later and now on tour as KMFDM , it didn’t take us long to find a keen fan boy artist in Tampa to deliver our first ink. I rushed the decision and chose some colourful flash. He proceeded, while I gently snoozed, to choose olive-green as the only hue his colour blindness could register. I awoke from the tour fatigue and the gentle stabbing of the needle (quite a soporific experience despite what others warned ) to find a large bloody, verdant smudge on my upper arm. However, despite my disappointment at the shoddy needle – work, I gushed like a teenager onstage that evening, with my cellophane, bandaged arm, dripping and bloody a true rock ‘n roll badge of honour. Not one known for succumbing to peer pressure, I felt I had captured the essence of my foreign adventure and never missed a photo opportunity to show it off.. Ha!  What did I care if it more resembled a piss stain on my Khaki pants than a multi-coloured, fire-breathing Dragon?

These days teenagers with full sleeves and full chest pieces (and that’s just the women), have made me a little more wary, not to mention the huge hourly rate increases due to said popularity. However I’ve collected a few and still catch myself staring longingly at others ink and I feel good to be part of the experience . But unless we start selling truck loads of records again or that colour-blind fan boy from Tampa calls me, that will be all for now …


-Bradley Bills-

It definitely enriched my life experiences for the better. As a musician, it’s always wonderful to share the experience of writing music with another musician, so likewise, as an artist or even a human who loves art – when you get tattooed, you are sharing that art experience with the artist in a very open, intimate, and personal way – especially if it is custom art and represents something of deep meaning in your life – like my larger pieces (the Dragon and the Whale). But, another great thing about tattooing and art is that it doesn’t ‘HAVE’ to be all serious and full of deep meaning. Art is FUN, and like the silly anchor I have on the back of my leg, it was a fun and liberating experience to run get something with some friends so we had something to share. If I never got ‘inked’ then that would be fine, but then I wouldn’t have these experiences.

For ‘Tattoo credits’ – here are the shops and artists in Austin, TX who worked on my big pieces:





Should your partner influence your decision to get tattooed?

Should your partner influence your decision to get tattooed? asks our intern Rosalie Woodward.

‘I have numerous tattoos, all of these, bar one, are on my legs, and have been, for the winter, months hidden under leggings. I have been thinking about getting a small jewel tattooed under my boobs, and when my artist created a flash sheet of pretty jewellery inspired designs I became even more excited by the idea. The small ornate jewel would sit nicely under my boobs and look pretty and match my other jewelled pieces. The sternum placement has become increasingly popular, not only with celebrities and tattooed women, but with artists who are creating designs to enhance this area. I am not keen to jump on the bandwagon, as such, but there is something about this placement on women that I find beautiful.’

Rosalie and the BF Rosalie and the BF


‘My boyfriend of five years has not protested to any of my other tattoos, and although I rarely show him sketches of what I am getting, he is always happy with the design, and often chuckles at my subject choices. We met when neither of us had any tattoos and we got our first ones together in our home town, now we both have small collections and he is working on two sleeves. Tattoos for me are a way of capturing memories, showcasing my personality and more recently to simply make myself and others smile. My partner generally allows me complete freedom to permanently adorn my body how I please, and it was he who started my love affair with tattoos.

‘This was until I suggested the jewel under my bust, for reasons unknown to both of us he has been protesting. He has no problem with my other tattoos and says they are sexy, but I think it is the close proximity to my boobs and the design being on my torso that he is having difficulty with. In his mind I am still a bare skinned 17 year old, when, in fact, I am fast becoming a tattooed woman, and loving it!

Matching tattoos by Charlotte Timmons, Modern Body Art Birmingham


‘So should your partner have a say in your subject choices for tattoos and should they influence your decision on the body area which you choose to place the tattoo?  As the owner of my body I would say no, but with much internet searching I can sympathise with the partners who argue that it is partly their body, as well. They are the ones who will view your body especially as age affects your tattooed artwork, and they are the ones which we expect to love us as we grow old.’

Have you denied yourself a tattoo because of the views of your partner? Or do you not consider them in the decision, as you are the owner of your body?

Avocado tattoo is by Hanan Qattan, Infinite Ink Coventry


As for me I am slowly bringing my boyfriend around to the idea, but he also knows that if it is something that I truly want I will go ahead and get it anyway!


Rosalie Woodward

Moth by Sophie Adamson, The Projects, Plymouth.

The story of the buddy tattoo by Christina Owen

New guest blog post from Christina Owen featuring the cutest little Russian doll tattoos I have ever seen…here is the story of Christina and Jess’s matching tattoos.

Christina and Jess Christina and Jess


My friend Jess and I live a couple of hundred miles apart. She lives in Cardiff, I live in London. We work busy schedules and we don’t get to see each other much. We also both love tattoos and don’t take ourselves too seriously. So when I found time to go and see Jess for a couple of days in June, we decided the best course of action would be to get matching tattoos, for no other reason than because we are great friends, and because it will remind us that we’re always there, even though most of the time we’re, er…not.

It’s common for couples to get matching tattoos, but what about the ‘buddy tattoo’ (I may have just coined that phrase…)? When Lord of the Rings finished filming in 2002, the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring got matching Elvish tattoos. Earlier this year, Adele and Joy Williams from The Civil Wars got a tiny matching friend tattoo after being on tour together.

Our friends mean the world to us. And we express that in different ways. Jess and I chose a little, girly Russian Doll tattoo, for no other reason than because we LIKED it (and that’s reason enough). Some of our friends shook their heads at us and called us silly, but to us (and to every girl out there who loves tattoos and is comfortable in her own – colourful – skin) it made perfect sense.

Tasha Pollendine

Jess headed to Physical Graffiti in Cardiff and spoke to Tasha Pollendine, whose cute and colourful style of tattoos we had looked up online and loved. Tasha drew us a pair of gorgeous pink matching dolls based on a picture Jess showed her. All that was left was for me to take the National Express to Cardiff and for us both to jump in the chair…

Photo inspiration The original inspiration


Russian doll drawing The stencils


While we had our tattoos done, we both chatted to Tasha who was easygoing, friendly, patient and very talented. I grilled her, interview-style on how, why and when she got into tattooing, and made her snort with laughter and have to stop tattooing me at one stage, when I asked her if she’s ever sneezed and accidentally drawn a huge ink line down someone’s arm (probably better not to put a tattoo artist off like that when they are making permanent marks on your skin, guys). The atmosphere in the shop was relaxed, and we spent a fun couple of hours talking to the other tattoo artists and customers. Jess and I chose to have our tattoos in different places on our bodies (a nod to our own individual personalities) – she chose the back of her left ankle and I chose the back of my right upper arm.



Christina under the needle

I’m back in London now, and don’t know when I’ll see Jess next. But I now have mini-Jess on my arm to remind me that distance doesn’t really matter – good friends will always make time for one another.


Russian doll friendship tattoo

I think that Mini-Jess is definitely the cutest tattoo in my collection so far. Thanks Tasha – I’m sure I’ll be back to get tattooed by you again!

The matching ink


Guest blog post from Christina Owen – Tattoos and the women who love them

Christina-Owen Guest blogger – Christina Owen

I am very excited to announce the introduction of a new guest blogger – Christina Owen. She is a Th’ink feature girl and tattoo collector. Here are her thoughts on women and tattoos.

Tattoos and the women who love them  

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about women and tattoos, and what it is we love about them, and how they compliment or juxtapose our femininity, what they add to us and what they might take away.

the amazing tattooed lady

I read this article in the Daily Mail by Alex Blimes, which, while written in 2008 (before LA Ink hit our screens and suddenly everyone was going crazy over Kat Von D) was nonetheless published in a time where tattoos (on men and women) had never been more popular. And the article implies (in fact, it doesn’t even imply. It SAYS) that tattoos on women are unsexy, badly thought out and representative of nothing other than a vague hankering to be like a celebrity with a crazy lifestyle. I wondered if this woman had ever had an intelligent conversation with someone like you or I?

And so I decided to defend our position. Research wise, I didn’t know where to begin. And as I’m not as scientist, or a historian, I decided to ask my friends what they thought. Smart, professional men and women in our twenties, thirties and forties, most of whom have tattoos and none of whom regret them. Their thoughts were many and varied and they seemed to respond to many different questions about tattoos that I hadn’t necessarily asked, but that nonetheless come up in everyday life.

This is what they said:

“All mine have personal meanings to me. Also, personally ,once I had the first one I found them addictive . I don’t care what people think about me or my tats, I got them for me and if people want to judge you cause you have them, that is their problem.”

“I was very excited to make the transition from non-tattooed lady to tattooed lady. I’ve always found good tattoos beautiful and fascinating. For me, it’s about getting a good piece of art. It doesn’t necessarily have to have a meaning (although mine does), I just want it to be a great piece of work that I will always own and will just be mine. Even if I don’t always hold much to the meaning, good art doesn’t suddenly become bad art.”

“When people say the tattoos will look horrible when I am old, I think that when I’m old(er) I’ll have varicose veins, paper thin skin that bruises and tears every time I bang into the door frame and I won’t use the upstairs of my house as it will take two hours to get up and two hours to get my breath back. If my mental capacity has deteriorated badly enough then I’ll probably look at the tattoo on my arm and wonder whose arm that is. It’s likely that I’ll faint when I stand up and if I drop anything, I ain’t picking it up as I’ll be going over myself – I suspect that how my tattoos look, will be the least of my worries !”

“Chicks with tattoos are HOT !” (Okay, most of us are smart too!)

“Tattoos are just a way of adorning your body and modifying it.”

“Tattoos on women, if done well, look amazing to me, and I try my best not to judge anyone based on their ink.”

“With my first tattoo I do remember distinctly lying in bed that night thinking “Oh good god I’ve permanently scarred myself…” but I knew it was the right thing to do. That first one was a little bit about being free from all of the ‘What ifs?’ and so part of why I had it was to deal with that moment of panic. I suppose I wanted to give myself something I could deal with, to try and show my stubborn brain that if I am happy with something (or some part of me or my personality) then it doesn’t matter what anyone else might think. And future be damned because we can’t plan everything. Sometimes you just have to jump in and hope for the best and not spend your whole life worrying about what will happen if you do something and it’s wrong.”

Nowadays there are so many different interpretations of what is attractive that does it really matter to one person if another is covered in tattoos? For so many of us, it isn’t just mindless and it’s not just a whim. We’ve thought about it, we love it and we love how having tattoos makes us feel.