Category: Photo inspiration

Interview with a tattoo artist

Interview with tattooist Marie Cox, age 32, Folklore Tattoo Studio, Tamworth

What first attracted you to the tattoo world? I can’t really remember a specific event, I’ve always been surrounded by tattoos and loved various forms of art, so I guess it was a natural transition, or fate I suppose.

When did you decide you wanted to become a tattoo artist? and how? I’d never really thought about it as a conscious decision, I worked as a workshop tech at a college. I decided to get a machine to tattoo leather as I was formerly a sustainable design graduate, so I loved recycling things and making jewellery and trinkets. I’d been drawing designs and watching tutorials so I could apply the techniques to tattooing leather. It was my partner and dad who encouraged me to pursue tattooing people. Someone I knew mentioned there was a guy opening a studio and I should go meet him with a portfolio. He offered me an apprenticeship on the spot and here I am six years on doing what I love.


How would you describe your style as an artist? I’d say my style is neo-traditional mainly, with some realism elements. I’m not sure really I just try to stay true to nature in my work.


Tell us a little bit more about your studio… My studio, Folklore, is based just outside the Tamworth town centre, and everything we do here is custom. There’s my illustrative style artist Adam who keeps me sane and my apprentice Tom, they’re awesome and very supportive, I feel blessed to have them. My clients say my studio is kind of nautical and homely, so I’ll go with that.


What’s next? For the studio I’d like to take on more artists and expand. We’ve discussed and all agreed that we’d like to hit more conventions, do some guest spots and try working abroad too. I’m excited to see how things unfold. It makes me happy and proud to watch our little tattoo family grow, can’t wait to see what the future holds!


Follow Folklore on Instagram @FTS_TATTOO

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  




Animal Tattoos

Some of our favourite animal tattoos that we’ve seen on Instagram recently

Kelly Smith 

Steve Butcher

Amy Savage

Tom Wagstaff

Ashley Newman 

Hannah Oliver

Max Rathbone

Alessia Pedrosa

Arran Burton

Amber Elliott

Charlotte Ross 

Mike Moses

Charlotte Timmons


Have you seen any cool animal tattoos lately? We’d love to know!

Our pick of the best tattoo inspiration accounts to follow on Instagram

The Things&Ink team are pretty addicted to Instagram, here’s the accounts we just can’t get enough of at the moment…


Lucky Mutt, South Street Tattoo.
Black lines, bold colour, clear designs


Olivia-Chlöe Amateur painter Portside tattoo,Liverpool,UK.


Roma Severov, Artists based in Ukraine, pen and ink illustrator.


Abby Drielsma Tattoo apprentice, Eternal Addiction, Melbourne, Australia.


Andrei Svetov Tattoo artist, Master&Tattoo, Kaliningrad,Russia.


Annita Maslov, Illustrations Tattooist and Illustrator, Alchemy Tattoo Studio, Melbourne.


Lucy O’Connell ,Red Tattoo and Piercing, Leeds, UK.


Sam Smith, StevestonTattooCo.


Trailer Trash Tattoo, Australia.


Dan Fletcher, Winnipeg.


Georgina Liliane, Southampton,UK.

Who’s your Insta obsession?

Things&Ink The Identity Issue Review

Editorial assistant Rosalie Woodward reviews the Identity Issue out now. Purchase your copy here


Peacocks in Afghanistan – Page 18

Photo by Heather Shuker

Tattoo artist Axa Shireen talks to us about  growing up between suburban Manchester and dangerously enchanting Afghanistan and how art has always been a driving force, steering her towards new worlds, whether these be tattooing or love. The sense of her own identity comes from not constraining herself with boundaries, but embracing it all…

Her interview is accompanied with stunning images of ornate sarees, intricate henna and a peacock stealing a sneaky glance at beautiful Axa covered in glittering finery.


Laura Jane Grace – Page 57

Photo by Heather Shuker

Our music editor Jen Adamson interviews Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, formally Tom Gables, about her struggle to show the world who she really is.  Laura explains how her song lyrics allowed her to explore and release her inner self, allowing her to cross the lines of socially defined gender boundaries.  Laura has many crow tattoos, these important birds have perhaps given her the wings she needed in order to be free…


Tattooing in Prison – Page 34 and New York Prisoner – Page 38

Ever wondered how inmates tattoo each other when tattooing is prohibited in prisons? What do they use for ink? How do they make a machine? The men behind their crimes are revealed in their honest discussion of prison life. In jail, tattoos become even more important, playing the part of a bargaining tool as well as a seemingly simple way to pass the hours.  This was one aspect of the prisoners’ lives that the officers could not control and they weren’t going to give up.


Meet the Customers – Page 26

Photo by Heather Shuker

Meet tattooist Dominique Holmes and her customers, in The Royal Albert pub (where we did the photo shoot), why not follow their lead and crack out the vino! Unique relationships are built when people are regularly tattooed by the same artist, way more so than if they had stepped off the street for a bit of flash.  Dom and her customers alike explore how tattoos add to their sense of identity and how both their friendships and art have evolved.

To read these articles in full purchase your copy of The Identity Issue here

Exclusive new images in Mark Leaver’s facial tattoo project

Facial tattoos are bold and unflinching, they cannot be hidden – perhaps this is why they still sometimes provoke fear and prejudice. Mark Leaver’s photographic project tackles this issue and tries to dispel some of the myths that exist about this niche within a subculture.

These are two brand-new, unseen portraits in Mark Leaver’s beautiful (and much talked about) series of portrait photographs. (previously blogged about here, and also featured in The Identity Issue of Things&Ink). This time Mark photographs a couple of our friends, Duncan X and Blue from Into You, London.


Duncan X, 48 years old, Tattoo Artist

Duncan  x Duncan x


Duncan was 21 when he got his first tattoo. Duncan was in a band for 7 years until he began working at Into You as a receptionist at 30 years old. He did an apprenticeship in Soho with Dennis Cockell. Duncan’s first facial tattoo was by Curley Moore (when Curly worked at Into You). Duncan doesn’t intend on getting any more facial work.



Blue, 50 years old, office manager at Into You, London

Blue Blue


Blue was 18 when she started getting tattooed and it wasn’t until her mid 30s that she decided to move to her face. For her, the hands and neck were a bigger deal to get tattooed than her face. Blue has been at Into You for 20 years and she wants more facial work, but not for a while – maybe at 70! 


A word from the photographer Mark:

It seems oddly timed that the project has had so much publicity and attention right after I’ve graduated from university! To get the series published by the Daily Mail is an amazing (and unexpected) progression of the project. This marks a new audience which is amazing for much a niche subject – before the series was only really viewed by people from the tattoo community, for it to be in a tabloid paper is incredible.

The project is nowhere near over, I’m still shooting. I shot these portraits last week of Duncan and Blue. And I actually shot two more today and will be doing two more tomorrow. There’s still a few big names/characters I’d like to have in the project before I put it to rest.


We will continue to keep you updated on Mark Leaver’s progression with this project. His work can be viewed at

Identity – Portraits | Modification | Adornment. An exhibition

Artwork by Susanna Widmann


We are very pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition ‘Identity – Portraits | Modification | Adornment’ at Into You, London, in May 2014.

Launch party: Thursday 22 May from 7pm
Location: Into You, 144 St John St, London EC1V 4UA
Join the Facebook event, here.


Glimpse of a piece by Matt (Oddboy) Barratt-Jones 


The exhibition coincides with the launch of The Identity Issue – issue 7 of Things & Ink magazine and celebrates the work of tattooists, photographers and artists. Each piece is the artist’s interpretation of the theme – no restrictions or limitations. This collection, curated by the team at Things&Ink, is varied, exciting and thought-provoking.

Identity means something different to us all, and this collection of original artwork and photography – and The Identity Issue of Things&Ink magazine  – explores the way our identities can be informed by the world around us and what we choose to do with our bodies.

There will be work from:
Alex Binnie 
Araceli 4ever
Andrea Furci 
Axa Shireen
Aimee Cornwell 
Antony Flemming
Clare Goldilox
Delphine Noiztoy
Duncan X 
Joao Bosco 
Matt (Oddboy) Barratt-Jones 
Susanna Widmann
Wendy Pham
Ramon Maiden
Luke Garwood
Heather Shuker
And a selection of artists from Into You Brighton and London. 

The Chin Women of Myanmar, by photographer Luke Garwood
Ma Apoi aged 66


Come and join us to celebrate the launch and view the entire exhibition on Thursday 22 May from 7pm, Into You, 144 St John St, London EC1V 4UA. The exhibition will run for three months from that date.

The exhibition has been curated by the team at Things&Ink magazine

Street Spotting in London

While interning at Things&Ink I spied some cool tattoos and stopped the owners for a brief chat.With everyone rushing to wherever they were going, it was difficult to ask everyone lots of questions about their tattoos!

Things&Ink reader  Mia MaCauley, 20, art student in London on a college trip.
She often gets tattooed at conventions, her chest piece is by Billie at Afflecks  in Manchester.


Her favourite tattoo is this little creep by Jemma Jones at Raincity, Manchester


Louise Fury, 36, body piercer at Original Skin, London. Originally from America but she lives in London.

She had just had a six hour sitting on her back tattoo and I didn’t want to bother her too much, we all know how tiring getting tattooed can be!


Daniel Herridge, 34, Birmingham. In London with his girlfriend.

Jen, 30 and Bruno 35 Owners of Gypsy Stables Tattoo Emporium, London.


Have you spotted anyone out and about with tattoos?




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!