Category: Photo inspiration

Meet Lorena Morato

We chatted to the awesome tattoo artist Lorena Morato, 31, who is based in Cologne, Germany, about her “mystic neo-traditional” style, weirdest requests and UK guest spots…

Lorena Portrait

What first attracted you to the tattoo world?
The great and magical idea that you can record something on your skin that often symbolises something important, a certain kind of ritual using blood and ink… tattoos can be used as a magic tool too.

1

How would you describe your style?
My style is neo-traditional, a mix of traditional with a touch of realistism. I use elements of spiritual and mysterious things, animals with a touch of dark magic, obscure figures who are at the same time full of grace, memories of childhood books and stories I used to read and create, and the magic crystals of which my mum once told me that fairies were living in and that they would protect me. I would say I do “mystic neo-traditional” tattoos.

How do you like to work with a customer to create a tattoo?
I ask them to send me pictures of what inspires them, and if they have a story to tell, I like to hear it to feel inspired. I like to meet them in person before the appointment, if it is possible. I like to know a bit about their personality to create the design, I think that is important.

4

6

What’s the weirdest request you’ve ever had?
I had many weird requests when I worked in a street shop. There were so many funny moments back then. No part of the body is weird for me now, since I’m working on my own body suit… but what I don’t like to tattoo are armpits and palms. I have denied many requests for armpit and palm tattoos…

What’s your favourite tattoo you’ve ever created?
I have many, many favourites, but the herbal incense I did at Brighton Tattoo Convention this year is definitely one of my favourites [below]. The peony and incense burner symbolise my new path into a more peaceful inner self, a walk seeking inner peace and calmness.

7

Is there anything you haven’t tattooed that would really love to?
I would love a request for a design picturing the goddess Kali, but I am still waiting, anybody out there?

Do you ever guest in the UK?
Yes, very often! I will guest at The Warren in Canterbury with the talented Amy Savage in October!

21

What does the future hold?
More meditation, more time for investing in new watercolour paintings, more little projects and hopefully working not five days a week anymore.

Apprentice Love: Jay Rose

We spotted the work of 21-year-old apprentice Jay Rose on Instagram and instantly loved her dark dotwork and floral tattoos. We chatted to Little Jay to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Dot Tattoo Studio in Glasgow where she works… 

_Z0A9380-Edit

Photo by Nik Antonio

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been an apprentice for just over a year, I did my first tattoo on May 18th 2015.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I’ve always had an interest in tattooing, I was exposed to tattoos my entire childhood. My granddad has some really old traditional style tattoos, I grew up looking at pop eye tattooed across his hand, with old school lettering in a heart for his mum and dad. I think being exposed to tattoos so frequently they drew my attention more towards them. I knew I was going to be heavily tattooed; I just didn’t think I’d be the one doing it!

When I started to properly get tattooed one of the people who tattooed me was Raph Cemo, when I went to get tattooed by him I was a little lost, things weren’t going to plan and I’d lost my vision of what I wanted to be doing. I came out of that tattoo session so empowered (and a little physically drained), knowing what I wanted to do and feeling silly for not realising how obvious it was that I should start tattooing. It wasn’t until a year later, when I had set up a clear path and done a lot of self-development that I met Tom and somehow convinced him to let me be his apprentice.

FullSizeRender-2

Do you have a background in art? My parents brought me up drawing and letting me make creative messes in the house, my mum’s a wonderful artist but she’ll never admit that to anyone. My nan used to paint water colours and I’d draw the flowers in her garden when I was a little girl, I guess that’s where my love for flowers comes from as well. I’ve always been artistic due to the way I was brought up, I studied fine art and photography before starting my degree in painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of Art.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I get tattooed for lots of different reasons, but long story short tattooing is allowing me to create a vessel I feel comfortable in and am proud of. My journey with my body is a continuous one that I work on loving everyday but tattooing has allowed me to externalise the vision I hold for my body, watching that come to life and loving myself a little bit more each time is an emotional path. I have never been more myself than I am now due to tattooing, and that’s a really comforting feeling. This vessel is the only thing I will ever truly own, the only thing that will ever truly be mine and I am working on improving it and worshipping it every day.

I am so thankful for all of the artists that have allowed me to sit in their chair and help me with my journey, if I can even help someone half as much as these incredible beings have helped me I’d be overjoyed. Seeing how much of an impact you have had in someone’s life, be that from helping with self-improvement or to be a part of a creation of a memory is magical to see, that’s why I love tattooing.

FullSizeRender-4

Describe your style, how has it changed? I guess the style I tattoo in would technically fall under dot work, my style itself however is constantly changing and developing as I meet new people and discover new things. Tibetan art has been a major influence throughout my life and was a really heavy part of my style and what I was tattooing at the beginning. The impact it has on me hasn’t changed however I’ve naturally moved towards more botanical tattoos as of late. I wish to never become ignorant of the origins and meanings of what I tattoo on others as well as what I put onto myself.

What inspires you? It sounds cliché but for me I gain inspiration from the little things, a lot of my inspiration comes from flowers, I find myself happiest when sitting in botanical gardens surrounded by life continuously blossoming around me.

I didn’t have the most stereotypical upbringing, my mum taught me about Buddhism and took me to galleries so that I was exposed to different cultures and their art. I take a lot from Tibetan Buddhist art and symbolism, their art is not only aesthetically beautiful but the meanings behind everything comes from love and understanding.

People and places are the most vital inspirations you can get as that’s what is continuously surrounding you, if you make a point of living a positive life, surrounded by the most inspiring people, in the most beautiful places you’re going to have such a love filled creative outlet and there’s something really blissful about that.

FullSizeRender-3

What would you love to tattoo? At the moment I’m really enjoying more botanical pieces, I’ve recently grown a love for drawing plants with the bulbs attached. I’ve started to get really into anatomical drawings as well, so I’d really like to do a large botanical/anatomical thigh piece, I think that would be really stunning.

What is a typical day like for you? It normally involves a lot of reading, I get a lot of inspiration from books so am often reading a few things at once and often drawing from them as well. My work outside of tattooing is text based so a lot of that involves writing pieces and hammering them into large metal plates for hours on end. That’s also where I end up drawing up a lot of my tattoo designs, as it’s my creative space and outlet.

I work in a private studio, so it’s by appointment only which means I get to control the amount of tattoos I’m doing a day and I don’t have set hours. Tattooing is where I find my mind the most clear, when I’m tattooing, drawing or reading my mind is simply taking in what is in front of me. When I’m tattooing I am so engrossed in the experience, in what I’m tattooing, in why the person is getting it and who they are, that I often forget this is a job.

FullSizeRender-6
Can you tell us about your own tattoos? A lot of the work I hold upon my own body is that of Tibetan and Buddhist symbolism along with some personal links with friends and family. Everything I hold on my person means something, which can be taken in the form of Buddhist myths to my own personal connections to the objects or imagery my vessel now features.
One of my favourite tattoos is an outlined heart with ‘JuSt’ written inside; ‘JuSt’ stands for Julie and Stephen which are both of my parents names, the font is from my typewriter and the non symmetrical heart is hand drawn by me and was kept imperfect to represent me along side them as a continuous link to one another when I’m far from home.

I also now posses The Three Graces upon my arm which is taken from Botticelli’s painting the ‘La Primavera’, after studying this painting for a year whilst studying history of art at the age of 18 I flew to Florence to view this painting in the flesh.  I sobbed staring at it for hours mesmerised by the impact it had not only on my body but on me as a person. I decided to get the Three Graces tattooed on me due to what they represented as goddesses of such things as charm, beauty, and creativity.

_Z0A9444-Edit

Photo by Nik Antonio

I made a start of my full back piece earlier this year with Hannah Sykes which is not only the largest piece on me to date but arguably the most physically and mentally draining also. The whole process through the amount of time, continuous alterations, and adjustments to fit the vision that both Hannah and myself hold for my body is a long and exciting journey we hope to finish at the end of this year. The piece itself is an array of Tibetan flowers spread over my full back and wrapping around my bum. Getting my back tattooed was a huge decision for me, not only for the amount of space it spanned on my body but also to make sure it fitted and worked with my petite frame rather than over powering it. However any worry swiftly disappeared when I saw the vision Hannah had come up with and altered to fit my body perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with the way in which this continuation is turning out.

Women With Tattoos: Rosie

A few weeks ago our blog content manager Rosie was photographed and interviewed for the Women with Tattoos blog that explores the stories and art behind inked skin. In this post we share her photographs and interview where she talks about how tattoos have helped her to accept and celebrate her body…



What drew you into the world of tattoos? It all started when my boyfriend booked in to get his first tattoo. I was 18 at the time. If he was going to get one, so was I! I had always wanted one, but until then hadn’t really thought about it or had the guts to go through with it. My family have always been pretty against them. I remember one of my uncles getting a small football team badge when I was younger and everyone hating it.
I’ve always loved henna and mehndi-style patterns so I decided to start small with a floral design on my foot. I was totally unprepared for the pain that I never got it finished. I just couldn’t sit still so there are some wonky lines, but it is mine and reminds me of that time in my life.

It took me three years to pluck up the courage to get another tattoo. When I eventually did, I got a small fortune fish. I am obsessed with lucky symbols and talismans from different cultures and I’m secretly hoping these things will bestow on me some much needed luck! The lovely Sophie Adamson tattooed me and continued to tattoo me for most of my university years. She started my tattoo heyday; in the midst of it I was getting a new tattoo every week. I just loved spending time with Sophie and, of course, I adored everything she created for me.

Goddess sleeve by Lucy O’Connell

Lady Lamp by Sadee Glover

Left: moth by Sophie Adamson, Russian doll by Abbie Williams. Right: butterfly by Sonia Jade, hot air balloon by Sophie Adamson

What role do tattoos play in your life? Right now, they’re kind of a hobby and also a labour of love. Being involved in Things&Ink has opened a whole world of tattooing to me. I can interview, write about and research tattoos for hours! Without the magazine and blog I probably wouldn’t be as tattooed as I am and I wouldn’t have found so many awesome artists. Also my list of people I need work from wouldn’t be so long or frustrating. Tattoos have allowed me to meet some awesome people, make new friendships and travel the country. I’ll always be grateful to Alice (the editor) for the wonderful opportunity she has given me.

Why do you think that tattoos help people feel more confident? I’m not sure about everyone else, but with every new tattoo, I begin to love my body that little bit more. I see it as an empty canvas that I can fill. A tapestry that I alone can weave and create, a thing that I can change in a positive way rather than something that I feel negatively towards. I can make it my own and no one else can dictate what I decide to do with it. Now when I look at my body, I see the blank spaces that need filling, the possibilities and the gaps that have been mapped out for artists and ideas. Tattoos have become a way for me to celebrate myself and my body, a way for me to not only express and explore myself but find out what I find important in life.

Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.


Bird tattoo by Jessi James

If you had to explain what a tattoo is to a child, what would you say? Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.

How long does it usually take you to decide on a tattoo? Do you do lots of research beforehand? It depends whether an artist has drawn some flash that I love or whether I love their style and want them to create something. My left sleeve by Lucy O’Connell is two years in the making. I’ve always loved oriental styles, culture and objects. A trip to Vietnam last year to visit a friend really cemented my love for the Far East. I fell in love with the country that I saw from the back of my friend’s moped, from the beautiful pagodas to the street food. Being in a completely different country with some of my closest friends really helped me decide what direction I wanted my arm to go in. This sleeve is not just beautiful, it’s a tribute to the time we spent together and how important these people are to me.


Peacock quill by Sophie Adamson, bobby pin by Abbie Williams

Is a tattoo artist’s personality important to you? I know someone who makes sure she meets the artist before deciding to go ahead with them. I tend to get tattooed by mainly women, who I always feel more comfortable with anyway. I guess I just prefer the company of women. I also find that the styles of tattoo that I go for – bright, colourful and girly – tend to reflect those who create them. I have met a couple of tattooists at conventions that I didn’t click with or I got a bad vibe from and so I won’t be getting tattooed by them, no matter how much I like their work. If I get on with someone I definitely tend to get tattooed by them more, especially if they enjoy tattooing what I have commissioned. If I have fun – well, as much fun as you can have getting tattooed – I usually feel a lot better about the tattoo. I associate the person, jokes, music or the time in general with how I feel about the completed tattoo.


Tattoos by Lucy O’Connell

You work in digital media and I wondered how you feel Instagram has changed the tattoo scene? I’ve only known the tattoo scene since Instagram. Before then I didn’t know a lot about it, except just the local shop in our town. I think it’s amazing for the industry. There are so many amazing artists to discover and find all over the world. I spend way too much time on Instagram, finding new tattoo inspiration and generally wasting time! Everyone I have been tattooed by I found on Instagram and anyone I have chatted to for the magazine or blog I have found on the app. Instagram opens up tattoos to copycats and trends, but it also allows us to feel a wider sense of community and belonging.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about getting their first tattoo? Firstly, find a good artist whose style you love – there really is no excuse with social media now. Don’t just go to your local artist because they’re cheap or your friend went – tattoos are worth travelling for. They’re an investment, they’re worth waiting for. It’s great to draw inspiration from other people’s work, but get your artist to draw something custom for you – it’ll have more meaning and will age better with you in the long run. Saying that, not every tattoo has to have some grand meaning or story. With each new one I get I tend to notice them less. They just become a part of me that will always be there. Be true to yourself, don’t follow fashions, these are fleeting, it is your skin forever, adorn it with beautiful things and just do it!

Featured artists: Lucy O’Connell, Sadee Glover, Sophie Adamson, Jodie Dawber, Ashley Luka, Abbie Williams, Jessi James, Hanan Qattan, Sonia Jade.

Shaded: Martyna Wisniewska

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 21-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Martyna Wisniewska is a 21 year-old photojournalism graduate based in Southampton who is as much a talented live music photographer as she is an ethereal visual artist. Contributing to ‘Shaded’, the South-Western surrealist enlightens us as to what it is that influences her creatively, the importance of tone in her photography and her fascination with crows that’s soon to inspire her next tattoo…

13511536_1704193683175499_1623918067_n

When did you start taking photographs? I moved to Southampton to study at university and started shooting at the beginning of 2014. I was reviewing gigs for three months prior, but I realised I hated writing more than anything so I picked up a camera instead. It hit me following a 65daysofstatic show that I was going to pursue this weird little path I found myself on. I remember running home from the venue with tears in my eyes – it felt like I finally found something I loved doing!

What influences your work? My work is very heavily influenced by people. I would be lying if I said the people I work with don’t influence the look or feel of certain frames. Other than that, I’m influence by the same things as to any other content creator: the internet, books, advertising – It’s all part of it! I look at images all the time. I was that weird kid in my art class, so I always had a wonky sense of what the things I make should look like. Dali was obviously a huge influence along with Eric Lacombe. It’s super tough to pin-point what exactly influences me, but I feel like it’s fair to say the way my work looks is environmental. I adapt my concepts to situations.

13523870_1704193686508832_65509960_o

Can you speak about the artists who inspire you? To be honest, it would be easier to speak of people who don’t inspire me. There’s naturally a bunch of artists who’s work I love. One of them being a German photographer based in Berlin, Gundula Blumi. She makes these dreamy, surrealistic images that I can’t get enough of. The tone of her work makes my brain tingle. It bugs me how one can be so creative. I also closely follow the work of other content creators like Joshua Halling, Sam Haines, Daniel Patlan, Liam Warton, Nona Limmen and Tamara Lichtenstein.

What do you use to create your images? In terms of cameras, anything from compact cameras to my ultimate baby, the Canon 6D. In terms of the look of my shots, I own a bag full of glass that I use to reflect my images and manipulate them. That’s it really. A bag full of glass is the key.

13514484_1704193583175509_2002431569_n

What do you admire in other people’s work? I struggle with tone a lot – my colour palette is so odd! Sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s the most infuriating thing in the world. Months ago, I went through a phase of making everything look dirty and over saturated. I now strive to get the dreamiest frames I possibly can, so tones and the use of natural light are things I admire the most in other people’s work.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t really have that many. I’m pretty much covered in animals, bones and plants. When I was a kid, I owned a bunch of lovable creatures, so a lot of my tattoos are either of animal skulls or my pets. I got a stick and poke last October when on tour with Milk Teeth and Title Fight. My pal Daniel Liljedahl did it. Most of my tattoos have been done by a Southampton-based tattoo artist and illustrator called Gemma Piper who works at Ginger Toms Tattoo Studio. I love her style, hence why I essentially let her cover my right leg in her work.

She was an apprentice at Ginger Toms when I started getting tattooed by her. I’ve been pretty lucky to have been able to watch her progress so closely. Sucha Igla produced a pretty big piece of mine. He’s this insanely talented artist who’s based in Gdansk, Poland. The design is a rat skull contained within a wooden hexagram. It sounds pretty gnarly, but it’s actually kind of girly. The only tattoo on my body that can really be considered to have any existential meaning is this funny looking lizard I’ve got tattooed on my calf. He has the word ‘relaxo’ written above him, simply because I forget to slow down and be mindful of my surroundings a lot of the time.

13518194_1704193569842177_1534605099_o

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? I always liked the look of tattooed skin; my family never really approved. I got in trouble for getting my nose pierced when I was 16, so you can imagine my Mum’s reaction when I first started getting tattooed. She made me promise not to get any more after my first, but 22 tattoos later and I think she might finally be over it all.

Do you have any plans for future work? The only tattoo I have planned right now is a big black crow that’s gonna go on my arm. I recently developed this weird attraction to crows; they’re not only the most handsome of birds but also super interesting to watch. They’re like a bunch of bad boys hanging out, pissing each other off and protecting their turf. There are a lot of artists I’d love to get tattooed by, Hugo Tattooer being one of them. He tattoos the cutest little animals – it makes my heart hurt! I’d also love to get tattooed by this surrealist artist from Holland, Levi Jake. His portraiture is something that inspires my work and I would love one day to be able to get him to design me a dreamy piece to compliment my bag of glass.

13517858_1704193543175513_1976614625_o

Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world your photography gravitates toward? There is definitely a link between tattoos and music. It’s all art in the end, isn’t it? I think the factor of self-expression is what makes band culture gravitate towards the world of tattoos. Both music and tattoos allow you to express yourself and your values.

Journey

Things&Ink was launched over three years ago, it has become a community, not just for tattoo lovers, but creatives of all kind. This photoshoot was created by our stylist Olivia Snape, who has brought together creative minds, models, make-up artists in this stunning series of images titled: Journey.

olivia1web

“After an amazing three years being a part of Things&Ink, I reflected on how inspired I was by all the incredible people I had met along the way… this lead me to piece together this photoshoot, which illustrates a journey to whatever and wherever that may be,” says Things&Ink stylist, Olivia Snape

olivia6web

When the mind allows you to flow into realms unknown
Floating on a moment
Do not allow the eye to trick the mind
Explore all beings of light
Express, be,
Journey…

olivia2web

 

olivia5web

 

olivia13web
olivia6webupdate

 

olivia4web

 

Art Director & Stylist – Olivia Snape
Models – Monaisse & Maxi More
Jewellery – Tessa Metcalfe  & Jayne Fowler
Clothing – Prangsta with special thanks to Amaya Dent

Oh Bones Illustration

25-year-old Brit is an illustrator, writer and musician from London. We chatted to Brit about her dark gothic archaeology inspired drawings and her tattoos…

brit

Inspired by Things&Ink Brit created this self portrait just for us…

Drink things and ink
Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I don’t have a background in art at all, I began drawing at university when I was studying archaeology – In the labs we had to draw the artefacts and bones. It was there I noticed that my drawings were good and not going so badly.  I then graduated and moved to Amsterdam to do an MA in archaeology and I started drawing for an hour a day and thought, this is much better than being in a library studying. So I didn’t do the MA and continued drawing instead!

What inspires you? Being an archaeologist inspired me the most because I spent years researching the human psyche and behaviour throughout time. My speciality is death and burial, and I guess that often comes across in my art work. I also love poetry, which inspires my art quite a lot and along with every illustration, I write a poem.

you drained me 2

What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I use both digital and non-digital. I love using fine line pens and Indian ink to create my work. I like things to be imperfect because that way you seen the human in it.

What kinds of things do you draw? Usually I will draw people, disembodied limbs, plants – anything really. I almost always draw around a poem or song I’ve written, to give some visuals to my other artwork in my music and writing. I like it all to be one big art piece – audio, visual and written.

Describe your style? Tailored, black, kind of like an old fashioned 1920’s boy!

i did so much for you

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I usually admire artists whose work is nothing like mine! It’s nice to clear my head of anything remotely like my work now and again, so I really like the work of Gordon Armstrong and Robert Saeheng they’re really great. But I also like old school artists like Patti Smith, her word work really inspires me in my own poetry and in-turn in the art I create around the words.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t have too many tattoos, definitely under 30 but most of them I love, even though some of them are definitely bad prison style ones. I have some plants, pinky promise hands, trouble making pigeons, dead fish, skulls, love letters, words. Everything! My first one was was just a small one on my foot in Hebrew, nothing too interesting!

britgg

How do tattoos make you feel?
My tattoos mean a lot, I’m sure a lot of people say that. Because most of my work is visual, it’s a way that I express myself, so I really do try and add some depth to the things I get tattooed! But sometimes you have so many tattoos there’s only so much meaning behind all of them – some don’t mean a whole lot, but there’s always a good memory behind getting it tattooed.

Do you do commissions? I do commissions, I do ink originals and screen prints for sale on my shop, but I also do a lot of album cover work, tattoo designs and logo designs.

i need space

Where can people buy your art? They can head over to ohbones.com and find my shop that way, I will be stocking up for the summer soon, so there’ll be some new T shirts and badges!

Quick-fire questions with tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani

Our resident make-up artist and managing editor, Keely, recently got tattooed by tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani while she was guesting at Sang Bleu in east London… she asked her some quick-fire questions that she doesn’t normally get asked!

 

IMG_7496Keely’s tattoo by Claudia
IMG_4911
 Keely and Claudia

If you could tattoo anyone dead or alive who would it be and why? I’ve never really thought about it, but it’s always an honour when another tattooer asks you to get a tattoo. I’ve never met him in person, but I’ve been in his shop and I think it is one of the most powerful places… So I’d have to pick Freddy Corbin at Tattoo Temple – and I hope he will never read this ha ha!

IMG_7444

If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be? Some other creative job for sure: singer, guitarist, wood artisan, writer… I just need to use my hands when I work.

IMG_5901

What’s the strangest body part you’ve either tattooed or have been asked to tattoo? I tattooed a girl’s pubis, that was pretty strange, but not so difficult.

 

IMG_5476

Who is your favourite artist of the moment? I follow so many artists who don’t come from the tattoo world, so I can’t choose just one… Here are a few: Robert Ryan, Adde, Jess Swaffer, Matt Chahal, Bailey, Cheyenne Sawyer, Tony Nilsson, Becca Gennè-Bacon, Lina Stigsson and I have no idea how many more…

IMG_1328

What is your response to someone saying to you “what will you think of your tattooed body when you are old?” First I laugh… I think I get tattoos to make the body more beautiful. I love to see the story on the skin! The body and the skin will grow old in any case, with or without tattoos, so why wouldn’t I get something that I think makes my body more beautiful now? It will be even more beautiful in 40 years.

Art Macabre: Becoming Art for a Night

Our editor Alice Snape was asked to pose for an Art Macabre lifedrawing session at Museum of London, which was part of the Tattoo London exhibition. As a first-time naked model, here’s how she felt about the experience and seeing her body as art…


img_5701.jpg“Me? A model? That I am definitely not. I hate having my photo taken, and I am very critical of my appearance, which probably comes from years of self-conscious anxiety and a childhood spent in a chubby awkward body that I was never quite comfortable in – I think I am yet to grown into my nose! But when I was asked by Nikki, who runs Art Macabre, to be a lifedrawing model for the evening, I had to say yes. It felt like one of those experiences that should be on your bucket list, and as a 32-year-old woman who has worked really hard on overcoming that teenage insecurity and becoming comfortable in her own skin, there didn’t seem like a better time to do it.

“Before the evening, I asked Nikki to give me some advice, as a first-timer. She told me to: Breathe and relax into poses and, on a practical note, bring a dressing gown to wear in-between poses and during the break. All day before the event, I was a bag of nerves, running different scenarios though my mind – a constant reel of what ifs! But, the moment I took step onto that platform and got into the first pose (five minutes to warm up), I felt incredible, empowered, strong and beautiful.

IMG_5718 (1)

“I fixed my eyes on the twinkling lights that surrounded the space and they lulled me into a mediative state. I listened to the sound of pencils and quiet concentration, eyes looking up at me and back down to the blank canvas, pictures of my body and tattoos slowly forming on the pages. I thought about how my body might look through the eyes of everyone in front of me, during one pose I focused on a determined looking woman who seemed lost in the movements of her pencil. A few brief moments of self-doubt flitted through my mind – what if I am not interesting enough to draw? – but they soon dissipated when I realised everyone surrounding me was creating their own interpretation of me.


“The evening consisted of a few short standing postures and some longer (25 minutes) seated poses. As the night drew to a close, each of the artists lay their work onto the floor to share it with each other and the models… Looking at each work of art, I realised I have grown very fond of my body as it has become more covered with tattoos. I have taken ownership of my body by choosing where each tattoo goes, and I love my colourful skin. Over the past couple of years, I have also started exercising regularly and even ran a marathon! I love the fact that my body is fit and healthy, and that has boosted my confidence hugely. My thighs, for example, have always been a part of my body I have hated. I always think they are chunky, they have bumps and cellulite that no matter how much I exercise will not disappear. But they are mine, they are strong and that means they are beautiful.

“I saw that each person had drawn my body slightly differently, my curves slightly more or less rounded, in some I looked bigger and in some small. Everyone sees an object through their own eyes, putting on that object their own preferences. It was enlightening and uplifting to see that subjectivity about the form of my own body – no one is ever going to be as critical of it as myself.

“I walked away from the evening with renewed self confidence and a want to relive the experience. It felt like a true celebration of my naked self and at last a goodbye to any anxiety I had!”

Here’s some works of art created on the night:

IMG_5692

IMG_5694

IMG_5695

IMG_5712

IMG_5717

FullSizeRender

Brighton Tattoo Convention Street Spotter

Last bank holiday weekend, we had an absolutely blast at the 9th annual Brighton Tattoo Convention. The sun was shining and everyone was looking amazing, we couldn’t resist snapping a few of our favourite outfit/tattoo combos while we were there…

Amanda / Honey Pop
29, Blogger, Glasgow

DSC_7199

DSC_7203

Amanda’s bee by Rebecca Vincent

Tessa Metcalfe
27, jeweller, London

DSC_7176

DSC_7182

Tessa’s swan by Brian Wilson, jewels by David Corden

DSC_7192

Tessa’s rose tattoo by Clare Frances

Sophie
21, hairdresser, Brighton

DSC_7321

DSC_7326

Sophie’s back by Dotwork Damian

Lucy, 27, marketing, London (left)
Lauren, 30, trainee tattooist, Eastbourne

DSC_7329

DSC_7332

Lucy’s tattoo by Jaid Roberts

DSC_7337

Lauren’s tattoo by Kiley

Tiggen / thetigerstyle
19, blogger/works in coffee shop, Herts

DSC_7345

DSC_7363

Tiggen’s tattoo by  Ricky Williams

Did you attend Brighton Tattoo Convention? Are you planning on going to any more tattoo conventions this year? Keep us posted @thingsandink 

Photos by James Gilyead 

Nicole Leth: Sex and Ice Cream

23-year-old Nicole Leth is an artist and designer based in Kansas City, Missouri. We chatted to Nicole about her self love journey and her new store which will celebrate the work of hard-working female creatives… 

How would you describe your style? My style is Katy Perry meets Marilyn Monroe meets Jeremy Scott meets Yayoi Kusama meets tween girl in America all wrapped up in a Miami in the 1970’s colour palate.

What inspires you? I am inspired by day to day life and everything that goes along with it. When I first started designing I pulled a lot of inspiration from past relationships and break ups and now I like to view my work as an autobiography or visual diary where I can talk about things I’m experiencing and going through as a 23 year old woman in the world today. I like to translate these ideas and emotions through traditional textile processes, imagery from my diaries, and colour play. I guess to sum it all up: I’m inspired by the notion that everyone has a valid and important story to tell regardless of their age or gender.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.26.04 PM
When will your new shop open? How have you made this happen? Do you have a background in retail?  Ah! My shop is opening on May 6th! ( Eeeee! I’M SO EXCITED!) I’ve been working my way up in retail jobs for the past four years and just recently quit all my other jobs to do Sex + Ice Cream full time. How did I make this happen? Hard work. No bull shitting. I don’t take days off — when I was working my other jobs I would work there for eight hours and then come home at night and work on my own stuff for eight more hours, fall sleep on a pile of sewing supplies, wake up and do it all over again.  I think that sometimes people underestimate what it means to be an artist, let alone have your own business, and make it work. I think its super important to set goals for yourself and be your own support system.

What can people expect to see in it? I’ll be selling my pieces that I’ve designed over the years. Everything that is for sale on my online store you’ll also be able to buy in my shop! I’ll also be selling one of a kind items that I’ve hand sewn and hand painted the fabric of. Also, I’ve brought in a lot of work from some of my favourite brands and artists from around the world! Lots of ceramic pieces, zines, handmade panties, patches, pins, and all that jazz. I like to think of it as a badass collective of work made and designed by extremely talented female makers.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.25.11 PM
Are there any artists that you’ll be collaborating with? I think collaborating is one of the most important and stimulating parts about being a practising artist. I’m working on a million different projects: doing surface design on clay pieces from ceramic artists, creating handmade candles in candle holders with a candle girl, working with photographers and video graphers to produce digital work, and with writers on zines!

On your website you say that your garments are your personal diary, what do you mean by this? I mean it in both a very literal and theoretical way. A lot of my pieces have imagery or doodles that have been scanned directly from my diary pages and printed on the fabric. Other pieces I literally treat as my diary and hand draw, write, or paint on the fabric to record what’s going on in my life, what is exciting me or making me sad. Designing garments is a way for me to express my words in a visual way.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.25.32 PM

Do you see yourself as a feminist? Yes.

How do you hope to empower and inspire other women? I chose to start designing and creating clothing because I had gone through a bad break up and wanted to do something to empower myself and reclaim the person I knew I was. That was a pivotal, breakthrough moment for me and led me to discover something I was truly passionate about and a future that I wanted for myself. Most importantly, it made me realise how I strong I could be on my own, for myself. I think every women should feel that way — like they are capable of attaining anything in the whole goddamn world. I think the thing that a lot of women connect to in my work is the way I tell stories openly, without shame.
Recently, I’ve also been doing a lot of community work with young women’s organisations. I’ve done a few empowerment workshops where I tell my story, talk about relationships and ambitions, and create shirts with the girls.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.25.22 PM

Is self love and body positivity important to you? Is it something you want to share? Yes. Its one of the driving forces behind my work and the stories I tell.

Can you tell us about your own self love journey? My self love journey has been a long one with lots of ups and downs. My childhood was filled with endless crash diets and gym memberships. At my thinnest I’ve weighed 120 pounds and at my heaviest I was over 200. I’ve been in relationships that were so tormenting I lost 50 pounds and I’ve been put on medicines that made me gain it all back. It was hard to have a healthy and accurate relationship with my body because it felt like something that was always changing and that I had no control over.

It took years and years and years but over the past two years especially I have developed an intense love and acceptance for my body. It feels really good to finally be content. I think its important to realize and understand that your body is something that cannot be labelled. That your health and self love is not something that can be determined by someone else. That your body is the one thing that has been with you since the beginning and helped you get through every hardship you’ve endured. That your body is beautiful and perfect as it is at this very moment in time.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.23.40 PM

Can you tell us about your tattoos? Which was your first, do you still love it? My first tattoo is a big feather that turns into birds on my lower back. My father passed away when I was 17 so it was something I got for him. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of tattoos — all of which have personal meaning to me. My tattoos act a lot like a diary as well — I get them to record exact moments in time, experiences, feelings that I never want to forget. I have a portrait of my cat Sprinkle on my forearm (she was the first pet I ever adopted on my own, she’s handicapped and the most loving cat I’ve ever had). I have a few matching tattoos with people who I love. I have a diamond tattooed on my ring finger (my love for myself will always be the most important, I will always belong to myself). I have tally marks on my hand counting how many people I’ve truly been in love with in my life (right now there are two, I hope to add more to it someday).