Category: Guest bloggers

Interview with tattoo artist Gia Rose

Sofia from Geeked Magazine talked to tattoo artist Gia Rose for us about tattoos, being a female artist and her battle with cancer. Read her interview below and don’t forget to check out more of Gia Rose’s work on her Instagram 


Sofia: “Having been diagnosed with a chronic illness – even though not dangerous/deadly – it affects my everyday life, I draw a lot of strength from the artist Frida Kahlo who suffered for more than 30 years, but has never let her health deter her from doing her art. When I decided on getting Frida tattooed on me I knew I wanted a woman to do it. I remembered seeing the awesome portfolio of tattoo artist Gia Rose from Art Machine Productions in Philadelphia, so I decided to look her up. Sadly she was off work on medical leave due to cervical cancer, but hopefully she would survive it, get better and come back to work as soon as she had recovered. Thankfully that happened and today I have the most wonderful tattoo I could have ever asked for, full of meaning, passion and female strength. Here are some questions I asked Gia about her amazing turbulent and brave journey.” 

Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you come to be a tattoo artist? I consider myself an accidental tattooist. I pretty much stumbled into my apprenticeship with all the excitability and ignorance that youth offers!  After a few years of being a general misfit and vagabond I landed myself in Asheville North Carolina. I always drew and never fancied myself an artist but liked the idea of learning a trade, so I hastily put together a portfolio of sketches and drawings and threw myself at Miss Kitty, who owned Sky People Tattoo (a private tattoo studio that no longer exists), but she still tattoos in Asheville! I know now that getting an apprenticeship like that is not the norm and pretty difficult these days! I did my apprenticeship for a year, then left to work in a street shop in New Orleans. After that I pursued a degree in Illustration in Portland, Oregon. That’s the short of the long. It’s been a long journey!

What’s it like being a female artist in the tattoo industry? To be frank, it’s awesome. In the beginning, I definitely felt the differences in what being a woman meant. It meant I had to work harder, push harder, strive for more and be very careful about who I dated. We live in a patriarchal world that still subjugates women and uses them as a commodity. So we face these challenges in our daily lives in all fields. So in all actuality, I would argue that the tattoo industry may offer more benefits to women, mainly the fact that I make the same amount of money as my male co-workers. Getting into tattooing is hard for anyone at first. But once past those gates and once you establish your skills and place in the industry, there’s a whole world there to support you.

I did my apprenticeship in 2003 and I’ve seen girls explode into the tattoo industry with such awesome creativity and skills, it’s been so cool. I’m very proud to be a female artist and I feel very supported by the guys. Yes, there is the “sex sells” aspect to this industry, but that’s in ANY industry, tattooing just has no shame in it. So it’s hard at times, we do indeed have to work harder, but I think it’s just hard being a girl in this world sometimes.
Which is why I love Things&Ink magazine, us ladies gotta stick together and celebrate what we bring to the table.


Where do you get your inspiration? Other female artists, and a lot from fashion  collections and jewellery artists, as well as artisans and crafts people. I find so much inspiration from Instagram! I like pulling things from life and peeking into people’s personal curating of the world around them. Sometimes I’ll design a tattoo completely around a piece of jewellery I saw.

Your life has been brutally interrupted and affected recently by cancer, how did this affect your work, your life as an artist and as a woman?

Holy hell. Cancer blows. But it’s also a really great gift once you find your centre. You don’t just learn about yourself, you learn what you’re fucking made of!

I was diagnosed in January 2014 with an aggressive cervical cancer. Uninsured like most American artists, I found myself very alone and very afraid. I refused to wait to even see someone, so I did something I will never ever regret doing. Via social media I went public and reached out to my tattoo community for help. We also had a fundraiser that raised over 30K to help me in my fight.  Through Tattoos Cure Cancer and tattoo artists all over the country I was able to get the best care possible. I had a radical hysterectomy in February 2014 and found out in May that at this time, due to fast acting and early detection, no further treatment is necessary. I’m 100% convinced my industry saved my life.  I will never have children but in a way, I feel like this gives me more drive to push myself as an artist and reach out to other women survivors and continue to add my efforts to making people feel beautiful and strong.

Every January (cervical cancer awareness month) starting this year, I will be donating proceeds from my tattoos to someone battling cervical cancer like I was. This has been the most humbling experience in my life. The tattoo industry has made me so proud.  Tattoo artists are some of the most generous people on the planet.

It’s definitely made me a stronger artist and person. Life’s too short to fuck around.



How did you feel about tattooing Frida Kahlo on me? I LOVED it. This was seriously a bucket list tattoo for me. Frida Kahlo is one of my personal artist heroes and I find her radiating such beauty and strength!  I hope I captured it well. It was also very empowering to get the opportunity! This is my second colour portrait so it was challenging, which I like and I’m very happy with it.  My stuff is usually very illustrative, which I think this tattoo is, but it works.

I love it. Hands down one of my favourites.

Mindful Wanderlust – The vegan travel diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle the creator of Mindful Wanderlust a travel blog about tattoos and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the first of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales.


 My name is Giselle, and I am a tattoo and travel addict. And an extreme animal lover.

I started travelling at the tender age of five, caravanning with my father and other family members to places like the Maritimes, Orlando Florida, Boston Massachusetts, and several different camp grounds throughout Canada.

When I was twelve my mom took me to Cuba; and by the time I was twenty, I had been to England, Venezuela, Peru, Egypt, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

For me, the road is life.

I was fifteen when I received my first tattoo. It is now resting under a better thought out piece of work. When I first started getting tattooed, every piece had to mean something to me. Like so much in my life, that has changed. I view tattooing as an art form. It helps many people through difficult times, and that is a wonderful thing, but it can also be fun and spontaneous, which can then turn into a piece of meaning.

Prior to our nomadic lifestyle, I was quite happy tending bar at home, and doing make-up on the side, but the road was calling. I have always been pretty unconventional in thought, and so the next step was to live unconventionally.

Two and a half years ago, my husband Cody and I set off on an incredible round the world adventure. We saved our pennies, sold a lot of our belongings, put the rest in storage, started up a little website, and off we went.

Egypt, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Indonesia, England.

We loved Thailand so much that we ended up staying for eighteen months. Cody and I spent seven out of the eighteen months at Elephant Nature Park, an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of Northern Thailand. not only did we work with elephants, but several dogs as well. It was magic.

We can’t get enough of the lifestyle.

We are now in Saskatchewan, Canada visiting friends and family, and getting tattooed. This September we are heading to Cuba for the 9th time; and in January we are travelling to Japan for two weeks, and then back to Thailand for thirty days.

We have been tattooed in Nepal, Thailand, and of course Canada, and I look forward to getting something done by Ichibay when we are in Japan.

Our plans always involve travel, tattoos, and animals; and to us, that is our kind of freedom and happiness.

There’s no telling when or if we’ll ever get tired of gallivanting around the world, but either way, we’ll be covered in memories.

 Follow their  journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course their Blog!

Sailor Jerry’s tattooed Ambassador EmmaLi

EmmaLi Stenhouse, 29, from Hastings, UK, talks rum, Sailor Jerry and shows us her tattoo collection

What do you do for a living? I am currently the UK Ambassador for Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.

Fly Lightly My Heart by Ben Davies


Fly Lightly My Heart by Ben Davies



How did you get into being an Ambassador and what exactly does it entail? Are tattoos a part of this? 

I guess it was all down to being at the right place at the time and maybe a little luck. I went from managing bars in Hastings to setting up my own Tiki Bar, Huny Lu Lu’s. One day, completely on the off chance, someone from Sailor Jerry came into the bar and said that they were looking for an Ambassador and thought it would be worth me applying. I thought I’d be brave and give it a go as there was nothing to lose, so sent in my CV, got an interview and to cut a long story short, got the job. They wanted someone who was into rum and tattoos, which sums me up as I’ve always been genuinely passionate about both. My time is split between talking to bartenders, organising events and trying to educate people about Sailor Jerry.

On EmmaLi's legs by  Alexis Camburn-Cox On EmmaLi’s legs by Alexis Camburn-Cox


How different was being a bartender that to what you do now? 

I travel a lot more now and am rarely at home – my days are completely varied. One day I could be at a tattoo convention or throwing a party, and the next I’m in the office planning the next event or doing a training session at a bar. The variety means I’ve had the chance to meet some amazing people and travel about a lot. I do love bartending and I still miss it loads, so it is nice to still be involved in the industry without having to be on the front line, which, trust me, can be really hard. I don’t think we really appreciate how hard bartenders work or what we have to put up with – anyone who’s ever worked in a bar will know what I’m talking about. Saying that, I still get the chance to stay pretty close to the bartending side of things, as Sailor Jerry is always keen to find a way to support bartenders. For example, we’re currently running a campaign to get “Bartender Appreciation Day” recognised as a national holiday within the UK. It’s nice to have the opportunity to reward those hardworking guys and gals who make our good nights out possible whilst dealing with all the bad and the ugly!

By Madame Butterfly


Can you give us a bit of a rundown of your tattoo collection?

 I was 18 when I got my first tattoo at Madame Butterfly’s in Hastings. I started with my ankles, and then moved onto the “True Love” roses on my feet.  I worked my way up to the backs of my legs and hips, then my ribs and stomach.  I accidentally got most of my painful bits out of the way early, which I’m now pretty glad about. I wanted to save space for the places that would be more on show until I found the right pieces. I’m slowly but surely adding to my collection, and now that I’m 29 I know what I like, and I’m confident my mind won’t change too drastically. I’ve recently started getting serious on my arms and adding to my back.

I’ve always loved traditional tattoos and was probably influenced by Sailor Jerry before I even knew who Norman Collins was. I love the romanticism and hope that his tattoos portray. The messaging behind them evokes a strong sense of telling a story and holding on to a memory which I love. For me, Sailor Jerry tattoos are as timeless and relevant today as they were back in the day.

Love it or leave it by Alexis Camburn-Cox


Ladies and lower butterflies by Rebecca Butterfly – Neck by Alexis Camburn-Cox


What are your favourite pieces and why?

 My arms are definitely my favourite pieces at the moment because I’m still excited about adding to them. The peacock is one I particularly love and is done by Caleb Kilby at Shangri-La, someone who I have known for a long time and despite it not being my usual style, means a lot to me. I love his style. Some of my other arm was done by Alex Bage, whose style I adore so I was lucky enough to catch him twice. Other pieces I’ll always love are probably my feet and my ribs, which I love as much now as when they were new, in fact I don’t regret any of my tattoos. I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing artists doing what I do, so I’m trying to build up my collection on my travels.  

Peacock by Caleb Kilby


Fat Panda by Alex Bage


What do you think your tattoos say about you? 

I dread to think! Personally, I think they bring out the hopeless romantic in me. I love tattoos on women, but for me, keeping them classic and feminine softens the edginess of having quite a lot of tattoos.

By Alex Bage


What else is in the pipeline for you this year? Work and tattoo wise.

 I will be busy running the campaign for Bartender Appreciation Day, so get voting! We’ve got a few big events coming up which are definitely keeping me busy, and I’ll no doubt be hanging around in bars across the city! With regards to tattoos, I’ll definitely be getting some more work done on my arms and I’m planning on getting to work on my shoulders next.

By Aracelli 4Eva


Last but not least, a quick cocktail our readers can make at home? 

Heavy Punch – it’s a great summer cocktail which is refreshingly fruity and easy to mix at home.


1 ½ parts Sailor Jerry Spiced
1 part pineapple juice
½ part port
½ part simple syrup
½ part fresh lime juice
4 dashes of bitters

Method: Combine ingredients, shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.

Respect his legacy, drink responsibly  




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: