Category: Photo inspiration

The Art of Jana Brike

Latvian artist Jana Brike creates oil paintings that explore notions of innocence and coming-of-age narratives.

Her inspirations for work has been as diverse as: folklore fairytales, children book illustrations, imaginative soviet animation films and supernaturally realistic classical painting; the colorful forbidden rare secret imagery of the western pop culture surrounded by mystical, almost religious tone for the soviet children; the terrifying war and deportation stories that her grandparents, and their little brothers and sister witnessed as small children; pompous alienated eerie atmosphere of the catholic church ceremonies in the Latvian countryside, and the breathtakingly beautiful ballet performances in the opera house, where she was taken since the age of two, as well as others. – all the bitter-sweetness and irreality of the every day.

The main focus of Jana Brike’s art is  the internal space and state of a human soul – dreams, longing, love, pain, growing up and self-discovery.

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Sailor’s Wives

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Aphrodite with Kitten

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The End of the Last Unicorn

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Paradise of Shared Solitude

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Gardener and the Centre of the Universe

Body Modification: Tongue Splitting

Meet 21-year-old Sophia Bickerton, an aspiring tattoo artist who we featured in our Stripped Back issue in The New Normal, a circus-themed shoot showcasing four inspirational people. Here tells us about getting her tongue split…

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I can’t say that I had a real reason for getting my tongue split, apart from the fact that I think it looks amazing! I love that you are able to do that to your body. I had wanted to get it done for the past eight years and only recently I plucked up the courage to actually go through with it! For two months before I got it done, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. I was dreaming about it almost every night. And I’m a big believer that what is stuck on your mind needs to happen. So it happened!

After a lot of research, I ended up travelling to London to have it split by Veronica Blades. When I woke up on the day, I was so excited – I  just couldn’t wait. While I was travelling I started to feel nervous, so nervous that I felt like I was going to be sick and in the end I had a panic attack because I was so excited and scared at the same time, I just couldn’t process it!

The actual tongue split was magical. I had forceps on either side of my tongue so when it had been cut, Veronica held them a part and I just couldn’t believe it. The thing I had wanted for so long had finally been done. I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling, I was over the moon! My tongue was finally in half! So after that I was on a natural high, I couldn’t feel a thing, only happiness.

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After everything was over and I had been sutured up, I sat down and talked to Veronica for a little while about aftercare and what my dos and don’ts were. After that, it was back to the underground to catch the tube and that’s when it hit me. I was in so much pain and, to make it worse, I ended up having a random coughing fit, which as you can imagine wasn’t very pleasant. It ended up making my tongue bleed a lot as it was putting pressure on my sutures. And that’s when I started to realise what I had done, I’ve just had my tongue split in half, and I must admit for the three or more hour journey home I started to regret my decision because it just hurt so much, it was throbbing and it was starting to swell.

Day two and three were the most uncomfortable, the swelling had taken over and my tongue had ballooned that much that I had to sit with my mouth open, my tongue just wouldn’t fit in my mouth – I couldn’t even push my tongue in to close my teeth. But pain wise, it didn’t hurt during the day but strangely would hurt at night.

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And sleeping, oh damn, that wasn’t fun. I went through so many tissues! The drooling was unbelievable and just when the pain would subside and I was drifting off to sleep I would wake myself up by drooling everywhere. In the end I had to sleep with tissues pressed up against my mouth so it didn’t go everywhere.

Day five was the best day, the swelling was minimal and there was hardly any pain. The only down side was the fact my tongue looked so disgusting due to the white scabs. After a week, I ended up taking the stitches out, they were so uncomfortable and hurt so much. But  without them, my tongue felt amazing, I felt free, it felt just like my normal tongue again. The best part was that I could eat properly again.

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People have had mixed reactions, my nanna doesn’t like it at all and doesn’t understand why I would do that to my body, where as my grandad was happy for me, as he knew it made me happy. My niece and nephew love it, they are always asking if they can see it, but for them, it’s normal. They have grown up around me and know that I’m a little different to the rest of the family.

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When I’m talking you can’t really tell what has happened, my tongue looks different but for someone who hasn’t seen it before they don’t know. I’ve had  people ask me what is wrong with my tongue and they seem shocked when I tell them that I chose to do it.
But for the most part, people don’t care, they find it odd but they know it makes me happy and that’s all that matters.

I plan on having my tongue split further back in a few months, which I am really excited about! It healed up just a tiny bit and I’d like to have my split as big as it will allow me without having to have my frenulum cut. I’d also love to get my ears pointed in the future,  but I cant see myself going through the healing process, as it will take months to fully heal and be very painful. For me, having my tongue split is the best thing I have ever done and it is now my favourite part of my body.

Gypsy East Desert Erotica Photo Shoot

In the depths of the Rajasthani desert, the Gypsies created magic… 

Check out the Gypsy East ASOS for your own magical treasure that the gypsies discovered on their travels 

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Art direction & styling – The Gypsy East Collective
Model – Emily-Louise McGuinness
Photographer – Alexandre Fantie-James
Shoot assistant – Harry Newbould

 

Interview with Myra Brodsky

Editor Alice Snape recently got tattooed by Berlin-based Myra Brodsky, 27, aka spinsterette on Instagram, while she was guesting at Seven Doors in east London. Alice couldn’t resist asking Myra some questions while under the needle… 

Tattoo artist Myra Brodsky and editor Alice Snape at Seven Doors in east London Tattoo artist Myra Brodsky and editor Alice Snape at Seven Doors in east London

 

“Myra’s work is heavily influenced by art nouveau and the Victorian age – the periods of art that I am drawn to… so I couldn’t resist getting a tattoo by her while she was over in London. I picked a moon and hand from her flash, and conducted this interview while I was getting tattooed… just imaging the buzz of the needle as you read.”

Alice: “How long have been a tattoo artist for?”
Myra:
“I started tattooing in late 2008, after studying visual communications at university. My parents were always very anti me going into tattooing, but my father has now passed away and my mother has moved to Spain, so they are not part of my life anymore and are not aware of what I do. My parents were very religious and this is probably where their attitude came from. I was born and raised in a very conservative, jewish family.”

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Alice: “What do you think drew you to tattoos then?”
Myra:
“It was really actually by accident that I came into tattooing. I never planned it, I never had the wish to become a tattoo artist. My best friend started to tattoo, and I thought that seemed kinda fun. So she immersed me into the tattoo world, she had all the gear at home, and I started tattooing too. At first, just for fun – it was never big business or starting something serious. I did shitty little tattoos on my own body, but never thought it was something I could make a living from… I thought my parents would hate me and turn against me.”

“What did you do for a job at this time?”
“I worked for an ad agency. I found it really boring.”

“When did you start tattooing properly, as a job?”
“I actually started tattooing when I was still at university too, I used to have to do 12-hour days. I was still working at that agency and attending university and I was already tattooing. It was a lot to do. I found it easy as I didn’t have the wish to meet up with friends in my spare time. I was dedicated to my work, being productive was great.  Now I need tattooing for my living.”

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“Do you think that is something that is hard being a tattoo artist? Would you want to change it or be something else?”
“Yeah. I mean being self employed is hard in general. I hate that. I hate doing my taxes, I am really bad at counting, I cannot count at all! If I had the choice I would be a magician. My father comes from the casino business and when my sister and I were still young we used to go to Las Vegas pretty often. My sister and I grew up watching shows like David Copperfield. I admire those magic shows, even if it is an illusion, I love it. I wish I could do that.”

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“Do you think that has a big impact on your work?”
“Totally. I love all that imagery surrounding all those magic things. I also believe in magic powers. Whenever I have a problem I call my fortune teller instead of going to the doctor. They tell me different things, I can ask her anything. When I was planning my tour through Europe I asked her which shops would accept me. In London, she said there would be a chance that only one shop would accept me and now I am here at Seven Doors.”

“Do you plan to live in New York?”
“I want to move there and work Red Rocket tattoo in Midtown.”

“Do you think that is part of the beauty of being a tattoo artist being able to travel around?”
“I think it is a good thing. I know a lot of people who aren’t into travelling, but I am because I don’t really feel comfortable in just one place. I get bored so easily. I think it is a fun game  to have to challenge yourself to act like a local in so many cities. I like that kind of game.”

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“What is your favourite city you have been to so far?”
“New York. I like London too. You cannot really describe New York in words. It is just perfect.”

“How would you describe your style as a tattooist?”
“I would say I  don’t really want to put a name on that. I can only say what inspires me and what I use as reference. These are actually images from all of the great eras from the past, in art history. I know a lot about art history. Most of the things I take are from art nouveau and the Victorian age and Edwardian age. Art Deco is also nice but it is too geometric for my kind of thing. I rather like organic decoration elements, because you can always take them and change them for every part of the body.”

“Do  you like doing bigger pieces as well?”
“I prefer doing bigger pieces. But I don’t get to do many of them, I think because I’m not in one place all the time.”

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“What would be your favourite thing to tattoo? If you could do anything on someone’s back what would you do?”
“I think it would be a scene out of a classic novel or play. Maybe a play by Shakespeare or a novel by Kafka. Anything that is already existing, that I could adapt. That is what I like, because I think it is timeless.”

“How would you like your style to progress in the future?”
“I am planning on starting more big pieces with more detail, more history behind them. More details and meaning in general.”

IMG_1800 Myra at Seven Doors

 

To view more of Myra’s work and to see where she will be working next, follow her on Instagram @spinsterette

 

Interview with Céline

We first interviewed Céline in 2014 (read the post here) since then she has had many more tattoos and is currently working on a body suit with Guy Le Tatooer. We caught up with Céline to find out more about her tattoo journey and what inspires the project… 


What inspired you to work so closely with one tattooist to create your body suit? I’ve had different approaches since I started my journey. For a long time I collected tattoos from a lot of different artists: Jondix, Gotch, Cokney, Sway, Burton, Mikael de Poissy, Rodrigo Souto, to name a few. But I don’t see the point anymore. I think meeting Guy le Tatooer certainly changed my whole perspective on tattoos and on how I wanted to be tattooed. I never thought I would get that much work from Guy but after spending time with him my vision evolved and in the end it just made sense to give him full freedom with my body suit.

How did you decide to create such a huge project with Guy? Who approached who? Well, it just happened. Things were not supposed to be that way,  I approached him in the first place to get a full back done. I guess he saw the potential of what we could do together and I think he pretty much knew right from the start the kind of direction he would take. But the project is in constant evolution. Every time we meet we discuss new ideas and ways of developing the project. We went from creating one piece to a full body project. Guy is now reorganising most of my existing work to create a cohesive look. It’s a neverending concept.

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Do you let him have creative freedom or do you both generate ideas? We both generate ideas and discuss everything. We don’t need to talk that much though, we are on the same page. And he obviously has all the creative freedom he wants.

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Do you worry that when it is complete you will lose a part of your life, that the journey will be over? Or will you be satisfied and feel a sense of achievement? There is no way I could get tattooed as much as I do on a permanent basis. It has to be temporary. Getting tattooed is not a hobby. And even though it should remain fun, it’s definitely not an insignificant process. Getting a body suit is a huge transformation for the body and mind.

I absolutely love the journey, I think it’s an incredible experience but I can’t wait for it to be over! I enjoy every minute of it but the more I do it, the more difficult it becomes. The pain is harder to take and I think harsher. Over all it’s mentally exhausting.

It’s a long process to see my final idea come to life. So I think I will definitely feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction the day I consider it’s finally over.

How did you make the decision to cover/change your existing front piece? I think the idea came up after Guy redesigned my chest piece. Like I said Guy is reworking every area of my body in order to create a cohesive look, which involves covering and/or blasting some old tattoos. We are basically creating a new look together. That’s the main idea. We don’t see tattoos as a permanent thing, even a tattoo can evolve. I think my chest piece is a great example. Phase two of my project with Guy is a full leg sleeves concept.

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Do you worry about offending artist’s work that you are covering? A journey is a series of destinations. Nothing is final. So, no I don’t worry about offending anyone at all.

How often are you getting tattooed, how long is each session? I started getting tattooed seven years ago but the last three years have been the most intense. I get tattooed once or twice every month. To give you an example I had a total of 16 sessions in 2015.

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What are your future tattoo plans? I suggest you follow my Instagram account to see what’s next…

The Tattoo Love Story – Wedding of the Year

We proudly present: The Things&Ink tattoo love story of the year! The wedding chapter… Two Christmases ago, we set ourselves the challenge to find the ultimate tattoo love story! And we did it… we found the amazing couple Roxanne & Greg (read more in previous blog posts)

And we headed over to Trinity Buoy Wharf weddings in East London earlier this year to join them on their very special wedding day… Photographed by Things&Ink Photographer Heather Shuker for Eclection Photography.

Take a look at some of the photos from their wonderful wedding day, including Sailor Jerry, of course… we’re so happy we could share the day with this stunning couple whose love just shines through.

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A few days before the wedding, they also got their fingers tattooed by Alexis Camburn at her studio  Two Snakes Tattoo in Hastings. Greg and Roxanne designed the ring/tattoo together. The star and the moon simply symbolising that they are each other’s moon and stars. The four dots represent Roxanne, Greg and their two cats (so cute!)…

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“From the offset Heather put us at ease and made us feel relaxed and comfortable on and off camera,” said Roxanne and Greg about photographer Heather Shuker for Eclection Photography. “She captured the essence of our wedding perfectly and everyone who has seen our photos has been blown away by the great job she has done. What we especially liked was that the images are a great mix of relaxed formal and candid. Giving us snapshots of our guests celebrating with us as well as some amazing photos of us with family and friends. We cannot thank her enough for all the wonderful moments that she captured.”

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“Our wedding was everything we’d hoped for and more. We were deeply touched with the help our friends and family gave us decorating the venue and doing the flowers. The day itself was amazing, everyone seemed to be enjoying it as much as we were, covering themselves in temporary tattoos, swigging rum from the bottle with us and tearing up the dance floor,” said Roxanne and Greg about their wonderful wedding day.  “Looking back on the day, we can honestly say that we had the most colourful rainbow, rum fuelled, fiesta ever and to top it all off we were married and sharing this with the people most dear to us. We’d do it all again if we could but I’m not sure we or our guests could cope with that hangover!”

 

Check out more photos from the day on Facebook.

Mais2 Illustration

Alessandra Criseo, better known as Mais2 on Instagram, is an illustrator and crafter from Italy who has lived in London for the past five years. Inspired by Things&Ink Alessandra created this tattoo inspired girl for us… 

 

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How would you describe your style? Sometimes it’s hard for me to see- I love trying a lot of different things and techniques so sometimes I feel inconsistent, but apparently other people can see my identity better than I can. People that know often talk about my style mentioning the fact that it has humour and makes them laugh, and that it has something creepy about it as well. Both compliments.

What inspires you? From my side I get inspired by things happening to me and sentences that I form in my head in specific situations, things connected to my childhood and people and things I love. Externally I get my inspirations mostly from fashion, food, objects, strange combinations of items together. I realised that I get inspired more by photographic stuff than illustration, I guess because it is a different media.
I do of course follow a lot of amazing artists, but often when I see a drawing I really love and I think that is perfect, I don’t feel like I need to repeat what they already did.

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Do you have a background in art? I do, instead of high school I went to art school in my city, but it was quite crap at the time. It was the only art school in town and It wasn’t very good. In my third year I have chosen to specialise in fashion, where I met two of my favourite teachers though, so no regrets. I also did a two year course in a school of comics that allowed me to meet some of my artist friends and professionals and start my career.

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What medium do you use? I tend to draw and ink traditionally (with any pencil and graphic liners) because it relaxes me much more than digital. I colour digitally in Photoshop, or if I go for a more traditional technique I use markers.

What do you like to draw? I definitely love to draw silly people,oh and food- if together even better. I love spooky and dark subjects too, drawing street fashion and animals.

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Can people buy your illustrations? I have a bigcartel shop where people can buy everything I put on sale. At the moment you can find a few things in there and between those there is my first self published book Memento Bento that is an illustrated diary of my first trip to Japan- I’m very proud of it!

Do you have any tattoos? What do you think about tattoos? I love tattoos, I adored them from far away for ages before getting mine.
It’s always hard for an artist to decide what to get as a first tattoo because we change our mind easily and in my case my only certainty was that I didn’t want to design it myself- but I couldn’t stop picturing the composition in my head!

Tattoos are a big influence on my style, a lot of people get my illustrations as tattoos as well. Becoming a tattoo artist and tattooing my pieces myself is a dream of mine, I seriously have thought about that but I haven’t been brave enough to just do it yet. I wish some of my friends were tattoo artists to teach me and help me get started! Maybe one day, hopefully soon!

I got my first tattoos two years ago, on both of my calves.They are subtle references to two video games that really influenced my taste during my childhood and I’m sure I will love forever: Monkey Island and Prince of Persia. I also have a moon on my right wrist and I love it.

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Are there any artists that you admire? One of my biggest weakness is making lists of things I love or hate, seriously, that’s so hard for me! I don’t even know what my favourite food or song or colour are! Generally speaking I love a lot of Japanese illustrators, ancient and modern. I love their humour, I feel like they get me. I love a lot of graphic illustrations- I enjoy the process of limiting yourself with the amount of colour and detail. It makes the result so elegant and timeless, and I find it calming as well when I do it myself.

As I have already mentioned, tattoo art is a huge inspiration as well. I love symbolism and really appreciate the composition that a good tattoo artist is capable of creating. I love how a well done design can stand alone perfectly without even any need for a context. I also follow a lot of illustrators that don’t fit in any of these categories, especially on Instagram and Tumblr- I kinda like everything.

Skin Deep – an exhibition featuring photographic portraits of male models

Cheshire born and now London based, photographer Danny Baldwin explored a range of art forms, from drawing and drama to music and modelling, before finding his niche as a photographer. It was actually while modelling that Danny discovered a world where his creative vision could be channelled by flipping sides from in front to behind the lens. Influenced by fashion and counter-culture, Danny’s style mixes colours, tones and textures, and emphasises the power of beauty and shapes.
In his new exhibition, Skin Deep, Danny  documents a seismic mood change within the fashion industry that has seen agencies shift from representing only models with no tattoos, or those that are easily hidden, to building entire campaigns around elaborately inked individuals. Encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity, Skin Deep features 100 black and white nude images of professional tattooed male models shot against a stark black, signature background.
We found out more in this interview with Danny…



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> What attracted you to photographing tattooed models? Why?

The underlying message is to encourage acceptance and freedom of expression, Skin Deep has been created over the course of a year to show the versatility of beauty and ink, and is something I could relate to myself. I needed it to be something that I understood, had knowledge about and was part of my life – and I wanted to represent and celebrate the rise of the tattooed model and its acceptance, slowly, into the fashion industry.

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> What is your background? Have you always photographed people?

Yes I did a general photography course at college in Cheshire when I first started as a photographer and this covered all types of photography, when I was doing landscapes etc i used to have imagine people there to be able to create the image. I decided very quickly one of the main reasons I am a photographer is because of the people, so I continued my studies at London College of Fashion studying fashion photography

> Why only men in the project?

I decided when I started this as a personal project that It had to be relatable to myself, it had to say something from me and be pure to my vision and I felt – as a tattooed male myself – I would be able to better understand the body of the male and their process of thought. I want to represent the male models in a way I haven’t always been able to represent them due to client limitations.

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> The portraits are in black and white… is there a particular reason for this?

Due to the scale of the project and the timeframe of over a year of shooting, I wanted to create something distinctive that showcased the models and their tattoos in a consistent way and I felt this was the best way to do it. I shoot a lot in black and white as I love shape, line, texture and movement and really feel this can be explored a lot deeper with a black and white image.

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Are you tattooed yourself?

I do have a collection of tattoos and plan to have more done in the future months and years. I have my left top arm , finger, both feet, all my toes and most recently I have had the title of this project “skin deep” on my inner lip which was done at One By One tattoo studio in soho, London. All my tattoos have a deep rooted and significant meaning to me and are connected to parts of my job as a photographer, people who have impacted my life and the evolution of myself. They look quite macabre but they are more my own personal affirmations.


What are your hopes for this exhibition? How many portraits does it include?

The exhibition will feature over 100 portraits of the selected agency signed male models, which I hope will showcase their diversity. I want to show a wider audience something that is visually stimulating and celebrates how these people are breaking the mould. They are being true to themselves in an elite industry and expressing who they are through the medium of tattooing, which I think is an incredible art form and I don’t know why it has taken so long for the two worlds of tattooing and fashion to collide and be more accepted in the mainstream. I think the bigger picture is about encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity.

Danny has just reached his fundraising target on Kickstarter, so it looks like there will be a physical exhibition of Skin Deep in London next year. Look out for updates from @thingsandink and @skindeeplondon.

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Betty Latusek

London based photographer Marta Hawrylow interviewed Betty Beata Latusek who along with her partner Kamil work at Betty Tattoo in Wroclaw, Poland. On the day Betty organised a few of her clients, with healed tattoos, to come into the studio to talk about their tattoos and allow Marta to photograph them… 

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How long do you know each other? Gosh, ages, we’ve met when we were only kids,  14 years old. We have been inseparable since.

Was tattooing important to you back then? Our love for art and tattoo flourished few years after we met.  Kamil was my first skin, he trusted me enough when I was training, now he laughs that one day I’ll have to cover up my first tattoos.

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How long have you been collaborating? How is it working out for you guys? We do everything together, always have been. This isn’t our first job under one roof. Our roles are very clear, I draw and tattoo, Kamil focuses on customer service, the clients are very important to him and he is the CEO.

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How do you work with clients in order to design a project for them? This is Kamil’s part. He meets every client during the first consultation, he discusses what they want- the colours, size and placement. He also does the first draft, most clients bring in photos and other materials  to show what they want in their design. During the session, I chat with the client before we start, over a cuppa.

Does your work depict your personality? I don’t think so. I try to get to know the client and their wishes, I try to portray them, not myself in my work.

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What do you like to tattoo most? What is your favourite theme? I love portrait, realism, always have. Even in art school I loved painting faces.

Is there something you wouldn’t tattoo or a part of the body? I’d always said I will never tattoo faces. But broke that rule, and with pleasure I now say to never say never. I love a challenge and nothing surprises or scares me.

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What or who inspires you? Do you have any favourite artists? Everything what surrounds me inspires me, from changing seasons to people who come to the studio. There are many ultra talented polish artists whose art I admire like Marcin Surowiec or Giena Todryk. However, I might surprise you here, my favourite artist is our eight year old daughter Nadia, who is so gifted. She became a little star and I tattooed a few of her art work onto people already.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to be a tattoo artist? I knew in high school, when I was studying art and got my first tattoo. After that I was drawing projects for friends and their friends and that is how the love started.

And how did you get into tattoo world? Well, it was a bet with my nephew. And as very stubborn being, I did (and still would do) anything to achieve what I set my mind to.

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How long have you been tattooing it? Only seven years, five of which as Betty Tattoo.

How does your own tattoos make you feel? I always wait for super special moments in my life to get them on my skin. Few are a spur of the moment, but most are done by person who helped to change my life, Damian Kowal, my dear friend and my teacher.

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If you weren’t a tattooist, what would you be? I probably would still paint or draw, just using different tools. I am a jeweller by profession. Surely I would be doing something creative and interesting.

Covered: a photo project where tattooed people bare all

Covered: a portrait project of tattooed people. This beautiful photographic project illustrates the variety of people who get tattooed and the vastly different reasons why…

Photographs by Alan Powdrill | Interviews by  | Feature from theguardian.com

Woman tattoos underneath

Victoria Clarke, 37, Coventry
My tattoos are part of who I am, and I’ll always love my bodysuit, now and when I’m 80. The respect and love I get for what I look like is what it’s all about.

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Man tattoo underneath

Graham Platts, 58, Cleethorpes
I was 51 when I started getting tattoos. I wanted one in my teens but my parents wouldn’t have agreed. About 10 years ago, I stopped smoking and thought, “I ought to do something with the money, to have something to show for it”; I decided to get a tattoo. I got one on my right arm. Then I got one on my left arm. Then on my right leg, then my left leg – it just escalated. I’ve replaced one addiction with another, but a healthier one. When I see a gap, I want it filled. Once I’m covered, I think I’ll start saving for a nice holiday.

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Tattoo underneath

Izzy Nash, 48, Maidstone
I was 16 when I got my first tattoo, a tiny rose on my thigh. For me, it’s about being different. You’re never naked, because you’re covered in artwork. My bottom is always the talking point: I’m forever showing people.
I’m talking with my tattooist in Brighton about doing my neck and my legs – then there’s only my stomach left. My kids love it. I’ve told them, “When I die, you need to skin me, dry me out and put me on the wall.”

Tattoos underneath 2

Tattoos underneath photo

Alex Coates, 49, Whitby
When I started getting tattooed, over 30 years ago, it was frowned upon. It was the skinhead era, and I saw a guy with two swallows on his hands. That was it: I wanted them, too. My mum wasn’t happy. Now I’m completely covered. Recently, I asked my mother if she’d mind if I got some little tattoos on my face: a cross and a few dots. She said, “As long as they’re not too big.” I had it done that day. I woke up the next day, and thought, “What have I done?” But everyone said they looked cool and now I love them.

Tattoos underneath photo 2

Drew tattoos

Drew Beckett, 32, London
When I was 27, my hair fell out. I have total alopecia. I decided to reinvent myself so that the first thing people see is my tattoos, rather than the fact I have no eyebrows. I thought, “I’m a blank slate.” I started, embarrassingly, with a 90s tribal dragon on my stomach. I was 18, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. The artist was a Goldsmiths graduate called Thomas Hooper, who is now an internationally famous tattooist. I’m a civil servant; I check with my boss before I get a tattoo. If I was told no, that would be OK. It’s good manners to ask.

Drew tattoos 2

You can view more portraits on photographer Alan’s website, the Covered portrait exhibition of tattooed people will open on 11 November 2015 at Mother, in east London, RSVP alan@alanpowdrill.com.