Category: News

Tattooed lady, Isobel Varley 1937-2015

Isobel Varley 1937-2015

We’re so very sad to announce the news that Isobel Varley the world’s most tattooed senior woman – has passed away. RIP Isobel, such an inspirational woman breaking boundaries, we salute you Isobel.

The following was taken from her official Facebook page:

It is with deep sorrow that we must announce the passing of Isobel.

Shortly before 7 this morning Isobel passed peacefully onto her next adventure.

The Varley family would like to express their thanks to everyone for their support, their friendship and kind words expressed to, and about, Isobel and her numerous achievements during her time.

We would like to invite everyone to share their experiences and photographs with her on here as a tribute.

Heaven has a gained a new Angel.

I did it! I ran a marathon!

She did it! Things&Ink editor Alice Snape ran the London Marathon 2015, for Sarcoma UK. You can read about her training journey in past blog posts and on her Instagram page. This is her diary entry about her marathon experience… 


“I am writing this post from the comfort of my bed. I am finding it difficult to walk down stairs as my legs are so stiff… God knows how they ran a marathon yesterday…? This weekend has been a huge mix of emotions, from the nerves on pre-marathon Saturday to the high of crossing that elusive finishing line… I don’t know how I can even begin to put into words the experience of my first ever marathon…

“I always knew Saturday was going to be filled with tension. But I didn’t imagine that I would be moved to tears so many times. My mind was plagued with doubt, have I done enough training? What if I can’t do it? What if I need to wee? How will I feel? I just couldn’t relax. But a text from my boyfriend James’s mum, Glenys, flicked everything into perspective and moved me to tears of sadness, as she spoke of a very special person who I never had the honour of meeting – and who I know I would have been great friends with… James’s sister, Glenys’s daughter: Katherine – who very tragically lost her life to Sarcoma just before James and I met. The months of training and fundraising were to pay tribute to Katherine, and to raise awareness about this rare form of cancer.

“Aside from the emotion and nerves, there’s also the practicalities! I had to sort my running kit out – the vest, the leggings, the really unsexy pink running bum bag to store gels and jelly babies in, the trainers and the Vaseline (you have to lube up to avoid chaffage on long distances). And I needed to make sure I ate lots of nice healthy carbs, also known as carb loading. I also wanted to make sure I had a nice early night – even though I knew I probably wouldn’t get much sleep… I only dozed in and out of sleep all night, thinking about what epic journey I was going to embark on…


“Race day morning, it was a weird one… I was so tired when my alarm went off. I had a night of broken sleep and did not feel refreshed at all. For half an hour at 6.30am I did lots of stretches, and also made sure my hamstring was taped up, as unfortunately I picked up an injury during my training. Breakfast was porridge, berries, a coconut water and a coffee. Then I set off on the most nerve-wracking train journey of my life… although I was very relieved to see lots of other marathon runners on the platform, who all looked equally as apprehensive…

“I don’t know how I imagined race day would feel, but I don’t think any training really prepares you for it. Time means nothing. It goes so quick and so slow all at once… and the run feels so very different to a training run. I wanted to try and take in all the sights I saw on the way, but everything is a blur as you’re trying to concentrate on how fast you’re running, all the people around you, the crowd, the runners, the atmosphere… I saw a woman running in stilettos, Jesus Christ, and a rhino (luckily I overtook all these people). There are roadside parties the whole way round… people cheering and drinking. I just kept thinking I am jealous of the people drinking or just smug that I am running a marathon? There are old people, young people, those who are thin and those who are fat, some in costume, some running, some walking… so many walks of life all united on this marathon journey.

“But there were low points too. My parents and friends were going to be at the Sarcoma UK cheering point at mile 12, and I had been spurred on by that thought from around mile 8… I just kept thinking it would be four miles until I saw their faces. But mile 12 went past and I didn’t spot them. I don’t know how I missed them (especially as my parents had a banner with my face on it!), I must have been in a weird marathon daze. That put me on a bit of a downer and then I was worried I wouldn’t see them again. It was such a pity as mile 13 was running across Tower Bridge, and I had been so excited about this point in the marathon… There were other dark moments along the route too, women cowering on the kerbs, head in hand, men being carried on stretchers, bleeding nipples… signs that the marathon really is a true test of human endurance…


“But I plodded on… I kept on running focussing on how I might feel at the end, and trying to ignore the pain and the heaviness of my legs, counting down the miles… Until mile 25, and I spotted the second Sarcoma UK cheer point and the faces of my boyfriend, friends and family… I had no idea what a boost that would give me and I managed to pick up my pace as I embarked on the final the mile and a bit… That was a huge high – probably my marathon highlight – and I smiled and waved. I knew now I could run until the end…  Trough The Mall and past Buckingham Palace, then as I crossed the finish line, I lifted my arms in the air and burst into uncontrollable tears, I was literally sobbing. So much so that one of the marshals took me in her arms and gave me a huge embrace. I have never experienced anything like this feeling before.

“I managed to complete my first ever marathon in a time of 4 hours, 30 minutes and 21 seconds – almost exactly the time I had wanted to achieve and never thought I could… but my immediate thought was, oh maybe I could do it next year and maybe I could do it in 4 hours… Then I thought back to myself at exactly this point last year, I was so impressed when one of my friends ran the marathon, I thought it was something that I would never be able to do myself. At the time, I drank a lot, smoked and I was around a stone and a half heavier and I couldn’t run for more than a mile without needing to walk. But running really has made me feel happier in my own skin, and  I have a new found respect for my body and what I can do when I really focus on a goal. It has also made me feel much closer to James and his mum, and really made me think about Katherine, who I so wish I could have met.

“And to top it all off, as I met everyone at the meeting point, my mum told me that I had more than hit my £3,000 fundraising target as I was running. How incredible that people were following my progress and donating as I was actually running…

“It has been an amazing journey over the past few months, one that I am almost sad  is over. Training for the marathon has been such a huge part of my life since November last year. And now I have been advised by a physio to take a month off and let my hamstring heal. I guess once it has, I can start chasing my next running dream. Bring it on. Let a life-long love affair with running really begin…”

You can read more about Sarcoma UK and donate to Alice’s fundraising on her justgiving page.

Day after marathon brekkie. It tasted so good…

Lessons in drag

Anyone who thought that drag wasn’t worthy of being called ‘art’ have been proved very wrong… The UK has become the first country ever to offer a module in the art of drag queens and kings as part of the performing arts, dance and drama degree at Edge Hill University in Lancashire.  The module will include how to perfect a lip sync, the use of makeup and costume, comedy and general stage performance.  Theories surrounding gay, lesbian and transgender activism will also be included.

American drag queen superstar, Ru Paul

The senior lecturer of the course, Mark Edwards was in charge of pushing the module forward.

“This module not only explores drag as a highly camp performance art, it also engages with complex gender, feminist and queer theory to explore the social and political implication of ‘doing gender’ in performance. Drag as a performance art form has seen a relative decline in the past decade, yet there are new and exciting emerging forms coming through which makes this module all the more relevant to performance contexts. There’s a lot more to drag studies than wigs, make-up and high heels!”

 Trixie Mattel with British drag queen, Meth who also runs the London drag night, The Meth Lab

This groundbreaking step forward for the LGBT community comes in the same month as the closure of infamous pub, The Black Cap which used to host The Meth Lab – one of the most popular drag nights in London.  Last week saw a large protest outside the venue with many famous faces of the drag community rallying together to prove their undying love for this iconic venue. Paul McGill, owner of Camden securities which agreed terms on the pub in December stated, “It’s a site of historical value, we understant that. We feel we are saving it as a venue, not destroying it.” Only time will tell if McGill holds any truth in what he says!

 Female drag star, Tete Bang who was a long running performer at The Black Cap.


On Instagram, we recently posted an amazing tattoo of an ultra realistic nipple, which covered a mastectomy scar. It’s by tattoo artist Kerry Irvine.  After posting this image I suddenly thought, “is this breaching Instagrams rules on no visible female nipples?”

How ridiculous is that! Being worried that your page may get shut down due to a tattoo of what 50% of the human population own! Luckily our page is still alive and kicking, but in some small way I wanted Instagram to react to this and give us a warning but luckily they didn’t stoop quite that low.

Instagram have recently updated their community guidelines stating: “We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”
So we are allowed to keep the Kerry Irvine nipple tattoo… whoop!  But what does “some photos of female nipples” actually mean? Are some nipples more visually acceptable than others? Maybe nipples of the small, pert, “normal” variety? Cara Delevingne has responded to the #freethenipple campaign by posting the below photo on her Instagram with other celebrities jumping on the feminist bandwagon.

But when searching #freethenipple on Instagram the main bulk of images using this hashtag were pages with names like ‘tits and ass’ ‘hotties land’ and ‘bikini shoutouts’ so maybe the feminist message has got slightly lost amongst the smut and “male admin” pages? (One page I found actually states it has a male admin just in case anyone mistook it for anything to do with feminism.) Can anyone tell me why the female nipple is not allowed but crotch shots with a pink thong covering a vagina are ?  Yeah… I’m not sure either!

The latest Instagram backlash came when they removed an image of a woman asleep but showing where her period had leaked through her trousers onto the mattress.  The photo was part of a project by the Canadian artist, Rupi Kaur and actually since then, Instagram have allowed her to re-post this image.

She responded by saying: “Thank you @instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. You deleted a photo of a woman who is fully covered and menstruating stating that it goes against community guidelines when your guidelines outline that it is nothing but acceptable. The girl is fully clothed. The photo is mine. It is not attacking a certain group. Nor is it spam. And because it does not break those guidelines I will re-post it again. I will not apologise for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak. When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified. Pornified. And treated less than human. Thank you.”  Well said!

The battlle over tattoos in the U.S Army hits a new phase

A new policy has been introduced within the U.S Army that will no longer limit the size or amount of tattoos a soldier can have in a bid to encourage more recruitment and retain those already listed.  In a press conference last week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno stated: “as part of the regular process that we go through in reviewing regulations, covering the wear and appearance of the Army uniform, and the appearance of our Soldiers, we will be releasing in the coming weeks, an update to that policy, and the most notable change is going to be the change in the tattoo policy in the Army.”

Tattoos on the face, neck and hands are still forbidden, along with any tattoos referencing racism or hate, but the amount on a person’s torso, arms or legs are no longer restricted.  “We have listened to the Soldiers,” Gen. Odierno said. “I’ve talked to our sergeants major and our non-commissioned officers and some of our officers and frankly, society is changing its view of tattoos, and I think we need to change along with it.”

War Ink also coincides with this new law and is a series of short films showcasing veteran servicemen and servicewomen talking about the relationship they have with their tattoos in correlation to the duty they undertake for their country.  War Ink is a partnership between the Contra Costa County Library, a collective of California’s libraries, and Jason Deitch, a former Army medic and military sociologist.


Australian model, Stefania Ferrario has called on the fashion industry to stop using the phrase ‘plus size model.’ She believes that a model of whatever size or shape should not be differentiated depending on their body shape hence coining #droptheplus“I am a model FULL STOP. Unfortunately in the modelling industry if you’re above a US size 4 you are considered plus size, and so I’m often labelled a ‘plus size’ model. I do NOT find this empowering.” Ferrario is a UK size 12 and the face of Dita Von Teese’s lingerie line. 


 Ferrario believes that the “misleading label” is “damaging for the minds of young girls” and judging by the thousands who have tweeted and Instagrammed under the hashtag, it seems like she’s not the only one. 



Last year there was a social media uproar when 27 year old model, Myla Dalbasio got labelled ‘plus size’ after appearing in an ad campaign for Calvin Klein.  Dalbasio is 5ft11 and a US size 10 which is approximately a UK size 14 and even her modelling agency, Jag have said that they do not have a ‘plus size’ board and a model is a model regardless of her size. 


Join in the debate on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages using the hashtag #droptheplus. 

Wedding cake with a slice of tattoo

A couple from Brisbane, Australia decided to commemorate their big day by having a mobile tattoo van at the wedding, tattooing themselves alongside their friends and family. Many couples get tattooed before their wedding to symbolise their love for one another but this is the first time we have seen friends and family joining in. They enlisted the tattooed wedding celebrant, Paul Voge to help organise the event who obviously seemed like a good match due to his obvious love for tattoos!

Marlee and Jordan Follman both had tattoos already and decided to commission a set of designs for people to choose from on the day, with even the bride’s mother getting tattooed! They decided to enlist one of their good friends, Luke Bishop who owns Bishop’s Mobile Tattoo Parlour with 15 of the wedding party getting a tattoo.


All photos by Jess Jackson

Rugger Tats. We’re loving spotting tattoos at the Six Nations Rugby

We’ve loved watching the Six Nations Rugby this weekend… but more for the tattoo spotting than anything else…

Courtney Lawes Courtney Lawes


Jim Hamilton Jim Hamilton


Romain Taofifenua Romain Taofifenua


George Ford and Joe Marler George Ford and Joe Marler


Mathieu Bastareaud Mathieu Bastareaud


Images from BBC

Issue 10 – The Anatomy Issue cover star reveal… Cally-Jo

We are SO excited to announce that the cover star for issue 10 – The Anatomy Issue – is the insanely talented tattoo artist CALLY-JO… get your hands on a copy now…

We love collaborating with tattoo artists to create interesting and innovative photo shoots, and this one is simply divine… the cover looks like a modern-day Death and the Maiden… order the latest issue now to see the full photo feature and read an exclusive in-depth interview in which Cally-Jo reveals all about her move to New York, how she has grown artistically as a tattooist and what it was like creating this stunning cover…

The new issue can be purchased from Newsstand… plus the first 100 people to order will receive a free treat on us from our friends at Sun Jellies

Photography and Art Direction by Philip Rhys Matthews
Hair, Make-up and Styling by Adrianna Veal


Tattooed Dad who wears his son’s drawings on his skin…

The Telegraph recently shared a photograph of a dad who wears his young son’s drawings tattooed on his skin… hailing him ”The World’s Most Supportive Father“… we absolutely love the photograph, but why do you think people criticised it so much?

Some comments read from Telegraph readers: “The World’s Weirdest Dad” and “He’s just an idiot.” But what do you think?

keith-anderson-tattooed dad 2

We think these photos are beautifully captured… and we can’t believe people criticised him so much.

The images of Dad, Keith, were taken by photographer Chance Faulkner.

Each one of these tattoos on my right arm my son has drawn over the years. The first tattoo is from when he was four – he is now 11. We add once a year from his drawings… We will keep going until he doesn’t want to do it anymore. At this pace he is still very excited about it, so we’ll keep going. People ask me what will happen if I run out of space; I guess I’ll just get him to draw smaller pictures.

Says Keith of his tattoos.