Category: Photo inspiration

Interview with a Tattoo Artist: Claudia Ottaviani

Italian tattoo artist Claudia Ottaviani is currently backpacking around the world and guesting at different studios. 

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to her about her love for the power of tattooing, here is an insight into her karmic journey through life.  

 

Portrait by Esther Galvan

 

 

 

How would you describe your style and how did you choose it? Even if the subjects are not always inspired by traditional style, I would say it belongs to old school, both for the technique and for the colours. Last year I also approached  ornamental and dotwork style. I can not tell which one I would choose, this profession is constantly evolving, but in the end I definitely remain a colour lover!

An Italian girl around the world. Tell me about your experiences abroad. Do you find any difference between Italian and Central European customers? My work experience abroad began more than one year ago, when I moved to Barcelona to work at LTW. This year, in February, I started to organise a small tour in Europe which led me to work in many  studios: Admiraal Tattoo Studio, True Love Madrid, The Bunker and many more! When invited to do guest spots, most of the customers will choose you because they trust your work.  There is no need to convince the customer to get something less commercial, let’s just say I’ve had better luck abroad.

Can you tell me about the feelings your travels gave you, both as a person and as an artist? I started travelling when I was 19, and at 23 I found myself as a backpacker in South America, an experience that has definitely changed my outlook of life.
I’ve realised that, as much as the tattoo itself, even the travel is fundamental and should be a goal to pursue. And here I am today. New places, new tattoos, new cities, landscapes, cultures and languages. It’s very stimulating and it opens your mind.

Have you ever met obstacles along your way? How important is the support from family and friends? Obviously I found obstacles, as everyone does in their life. Rome was not that easy for me. That’s why I decided to leave it more than once, but I have never felt like an unfortunate victim. It’s life, everyone makes their path!
My family is a good one, I am really proud of them. They have always helped me and believed in me, even though my mother still does not talk to me for three days after I get each new tattoo. Friend are also a huge source of energy.

What do you like best about being a tattoo artist? How deeply can you feel your subjects while preparing them and how important is your state of mind as you create them? Being a fundamental part of the process of creation of indelible marks that people decide to carry forever on their skin is always a great honour. While travelling, the drawing part is physically more difficult, but a lot easier mentally. I will try to explain it better: in the beginning, I sometimes had to force myself to find inspiration and then start creating. Today everything is much more spontaneous and instinctive, there is no need for a particular state of mind, maybe just a general wellness.
What are your favourite subjects? Women, flowers, hands, Kama Sutra positions, everything I see as classic and elegant. This oriental inspiration reached me thanks to a friend and colleague of Barcelona, Alexis Jofre, who one day took me to a nice library. We were right in the centre of the Asian art department. My mouth was wide open in front of those beautiful books! So I had to buy one, it was about musical paintings of ancient India. I could already see a thousand new ideas in my mind. Thank you Alexis!

 

Are you also interested in religious and sacred images? Is it a choice linked to your beliefs or purely aesthetic? I am not a believer, or rather not in the strict sense of the term. I believe in many things and my vision of life is certainly closer to eastern philosophies than to western religions. That said, there are symbols like crosses, svastike, tao, om that are to me simply fascinating. I like to see the power that these simple cultural lines have, if only put together.

What do you think of the tattoo culture today?  People I’m encountering in my path and the experiences I’m having are extremely positive. Regarding the negative side, there is always karma!


Which artists do you admire and give you inspiration? Whether in the world of tattoo art or art in general. Inspiration comes from many people, and the list of names would be infinite. I admire some artists I have personally met, or with whom I had the pleasure to work with. Rodrigo DC, Alexis Camburn, Angelique Houtkamp, Lina Stiggson and many, many more!

Is there a particular subject you would like to tattoo or one you would you never tattoo? I do not like politician tattoos. I think I would love to start tattooing more animals and oriental religious figures.

What tattoos are on your skin and by who would you get a tattoo in the future? On me I have amazing pieces by: Diego Brandi, Alessandro Turcio, Cassandra Frances and many more! I really hope to get something by Tony Nilsson, Guy le Tatooer, Jaclyn Rèhe, the list could never end!

 

Summer Flowers: Peony Tattoos

Summer is upon us and the world is in bloom, what better way to celebrate the sunshine than our pick of peony tattoos?

@elliottwells666

 

@lucylucyhorsehead

@lucaortis

@henbohenning

@adamcornishtattooer_otc

@rodrigosoutobueno

@darylwatsontattoo

@maxrathbone_tattoer

Have you got a peony tattoo you’d like to share with us?

ARE YOU A TATTOO COLLECTOR? TAKE THE QUIZ!

Eva Laflamme, editor of The Tattoo Tourist, invites you to take our tattoo collector quiz.

tattoo by Jeff Gogue

 

“Tattoos can say a lot about a person. Having a tattoo or tattoos, subject matter and placement all form an impression of an individual whether it is accurate or not. If you are reading this you probably have a tattoo or are thinking of getting one. What will your tattoo say about you? What do you want it to say? Ask yourself, “How will my tattoo/s represent me? ”

“Or don’t. Seriously – Do. Not. Get tattoos because they are cool as shit and you like them and you had some time and a hundred bucks to kill while you were getting your tires rotated and that is how you got your latest ink. I’m not making fun here – that is a completely legitimate way to ink up and the chosen method for a majority of tattoo enthusiasts. The sheer number of tattoo shops in the USA and abroad allows for a free-wheeling approach to acquiring ink that is unprecedented,

Twenty plus years ago when I got my first tattoo I was living in Utah. (Don’t judge. It could happen to anyone.) I decided to get my first tattoo and choosing a shop was very easy. There was only one in a hundred mile radius. My choice of artist? Limited to the sketchy metal head with the tattoo machine and a terrifying case of the shakes. Now you can find shops in the most unlikely of places including some very tiny locations and upscale towns. Where you used to have to go to the sketchier areas to find a shop you can now go to a fancy mall and get tattooed right in the display window. Times have changed but what about the way people get tattooed?

“Back in the early 70s when tattooing started to emerge from the docks and honky tonks and into “polite society” the first tattoo conventions were held. These were serious-minded collectives of tattoo artists looking to share information, check out each others equipment (basically all hand crafted) and compare work. The non-artists in attendance were mostly wives and girlfriends of the artists (precious few women tattooing at this time) and a sprinkling of die-hard fans. Now  many tattoo conventions are  full-scale lifestyle events with bands, car shows, beauty pagents, acres of branding and merchandise, celebrity artists, fans and collectors. So what is a tattoo collector exactly and what is the difference between a person who loves tattoos and has a bunch and a tattoo collector who also loves tattoos and has a bunch. Welllll – it’s subtle.

“A tattoo fan will get a tattoo as the mood strikes based on proximity to a tattoo artist, cash in pocket and whatever looks good on the flash wall or idea they have swimming around in their head. A tattoo collector will get a tattoo based on extensive research of favourite artists, email stalking of said artists, long waiting periods of anywhere from six months to two years and an investment in their ink that would shock a lot of people who have tattoos.”

tattoo by Teresa Sharpe

 

Here is a check list to see if you are a Tattoo Collector

(If you answer “yes” to more than two you have got the bug)

1. You have a list of artists you would like to work with

2. Those artists have waiting lists or their “books are closed”

3. This fact causes you angst to varying degrees.

4. You are willing to let an artist dictate partially or completely what they will tattoo on you and where and how big

5. This causes you no angst – you are totally game

6. You are willing to travel more than a couple of hours from your home – even fly and even go out of country for a tattoo (If you answered yes to this one you have the bug – period. – no cure in sight!)

7. You don’t have as many tattoos as you want because you are waiting for that particular artist to agree to work with you

8. You can identify more than five tattoos artists’ work at a glance

9. Your friends and family think you are a little nuts about the whole tattoo thing. You sort of agree with them

10. You know most people “don’t get it” but that is fine. Some people collect Beanie Babies or schnauzers and you don’t get that but it’s their thing and that is cool with you. Serious tattoo collecting is YOUR thing. You are approaching your body like a curated tattoo exhibit and it is a fascinating, exasperating, thrilling and expensive ride. Buckle Up!

tattoo by Erin Chance

 

“How did you do? I said “yes” to all ten so I am definitely up to my neck in it. And does it matter if you said no to all of them? Does that make your tattoos “less than”? Oh hell no. Part of me wishes I could tap the brakes on my tattoo mania and just get some ink without having to move heaven and earth first. I chatted about Rock and Roller Andy Biersack’s “random” ink collection last week and I wasn’t kidding when I said I thought it was cool as hell.

“That is one of the many things I love about tattoos and tattoo culture – it truly does embrace all types. From the middle age housewife with a serious tattoo collection to the young 20 somethings inking up on the fly with no plan and no worries.  At the end of the day it all looks pretty damn cool. Unless you get a crap tattoo. That is not cool.

“So maybe you are not a “collector” but at the very least be a good tattoo consumer. Go to a professional tattoo artist who employs proper safety standards and knows how to handle a tattoo machine. Scratchers are called that largely because their line work is shaky as shit due to their lack of know-how. Tattooing well takes serious practice and skill to do it right. Don’t offer up your skin to a half-assed amateur. Make sure you are getting inked by a professional who takes pride in their craft – whether it is an elaborate full back piece or a simple word tattoo – then your ink will always be cool to the only person whose opinion on it truly matters – Your Own.

tattoo by Kelly Doty

 

all tattoos in this post are done by my short list of “dream” artists. If you help me get an appointment with one of them I will bake you your favorite cookies and Fed Ex them to you – I promise!

Trainers and tats…who can resist?

In honour of Nike’s #airmaxday last week, we got a few of our readers to send in photos of themselves rocking their favourite pair of Air Max alongside some cheeky leg tattoos. Who doesn’t love rocking a subtle slice of tattooed skin above a pair of Nikes?

Photo by @floraamalie

Ophelia by Tracy D from Kings Cross Tattoo in London and lady head by Matty D’Arienzo from Into You London

Pussy toad by Dan Sinnes from Luxembourg Electric Avenue and snake by Emerson Ventura from LTW in Barcelona

 Rose tattoo by Bunk Ink

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

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

Courtney Lawes Courtney Lawes

 

Jim Hamilton Jim Hamilton

 

Romain Taofifenua Romain Taofifenua

 

George Ford and Joe Marler George Ford and Joe Marler

 

Mathieu Bastareaud Mathieu Bastareaud

 

Images from BBC

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

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

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

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

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

 

We love kewpies

As you know, we are kewpie crazy here at Things&Ink… so here’s a little history about the kewpie, first published in The Love Issue of Things&Ink #3.

Words by Kelli Savill. 

Rose O'Neill 1907 Rose O’Neill 1907

 

Rose O’Neill first illustrated Kewpie dolls to be featured in the Ladies’ Home Journal, and they swiftly became extremely popular. Born in Germany, their name derived from the word “Cupid”, the Roman God of love.

Original kewpie

 

Shortly after Rose was 19, she moved to New York city alone with only sixty drawings. Within three months, she had sold them all. She was shocked by their popularity. She began illustrating children’s books and was highly successful, appearing in many popular publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping. She drew over 700 cartoons for the humour magazine, Puck, which was a predominantly male-centric title at the time.

Her career was unparalleled and she truly demonstrated the traits of a strong woman. During her success, she sent her earnings home to her father, who converted their two-bedroom cabin in Missouri into a 14-room mansion. Rose also bought homes in New York, Connecticut and the Italian Isle of Capri. In a time where women could not even vote, she was truly supporting her family and allowing them to live a life they were not previously accustomed to.

Kewpie by Lauren Winzer

 

Rose took inspiration for her work from many different areas of her life. Her Kewpie dolls came to her in a dream. Rose O’Neill had a dream of little cherub-like elves jumping on her bed, one night in 1909. When she woke, she hurried to her drawing desk and sketched the first Kewpie. From there, her love of the small creature never faltered.

Kewpies took their doll form in 1913, manufactured in Germany, designed byJoseph Dallas. They were five inches tall, with jointed arms, painted eyes and a distinctive moulded face. They became highly collectable, and in 1939 a Kewpie doll was entered into a time capsule in New York’s World Fair. Early dolls now raise thousands of dollars, and are highly collectable by men and women of all ages. But they were not only captured in celluloid and plastic, Kewpies were immortalised in colouring books, stationery, cups, plates and poems. More recently, they have been commonly eternalised in tattoos. Many artists now tattoo the dolls in different outfits and styles, but always keeping to the distinct Kewpie characteristics Rose O’Neill designed.

Kewpies were popular in tattoo flash around the time of their conception, but faded out by the 1950s, being seen as old-fashioned. Today, they are almost as famous in tattoo flash as other bold traditional designs, such as the pin-up girl. Many artists are known for their amazing renditions of these cherub-like children, including Kim-Anh Nguyen, Lauren Winzer, Jemma Jones and the late tattoo legend Mike Malone whose work is notoriously not online or republished. ❦

Kewpie by Lauren Winzer

One year in the Things&Ink world – 2014, some highlights

A year in the Things&Ink world – 2014, some highlights

The first issue of 2014, was The Modification Issue, issue 6 of Things&Ink. And we shot our amazing cover with space elf Grace Neutral in January 2014 at the London Film Museum. The magazine was released at Brighton Tattoo Convention in February 2014.

Here’s some behind the scenes footage of the shoot, which really gives a feel of how impressive the photo shoot venue was and how beautiful Grace is. 

The Modification Issue also featured one of our most moving shoots to date. Therapist and model Laurence Moniasse tells the story of her tattoos and scarification, and how they link to her past and her family. During the emotionally charged photo shoot where old family photos were projected onto the background, Laurence shed tears as she remembered her grandmother. It was a beautiful moment and a stunning editorial feature.

In February 2014, our most popular blog posts were: SHORT FRENCH FILM REVERSING GENDER ROLES and CELEBS WITH TATTOOS #SHOPPEDTATTOOS

Issue 7, The Identity Issue, was launched in May 2014, and starred Wendy Pham on what is – surprisingly – our most controversial cover to date. She looks strong and powerful in the image we chose for the cover, however some readers commented that it was too “sexual” and were shocked that it wasn’t a “typical” Things&Ink cover. We like to divide opinion, and get people talking. But it also reminded us that all our covers are collaborations between us and the artist who is featured – they choose how they are portrayed too. Their personality is represented and so is the ethos of Things&Ink… what do you think of the Wendy Pham cover? We would love to know.

Things and Ink identity Wendy Pham

In June 2014, our most popular blog posts were: WOMAN TRANSFORMS HER FACIAL SCARS WITH TATTOO INK and MUM TATTOOS HER 12 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER.

September 2014 saw the launch of The Illustration Issue, starring tattoo artist Danielle Rose. On the cover she becomes one with her artwork – the artist becomes artwork, the illustrator becomes the illustrated. This cover was one of our most collaborative and the results are simply breathtaking. This issue also marked a change in our identity, instead of our tagline: Embracing Female Tattoo Culture, it was Independent | Tattoo | Lifestyle that was printed underneath our logo on issue 8. We had occasionally been criticised for being a “female-only” magazine (which we actually never have been, we set up Things&Ink as way to portray art and not objectify the person wearing it), so we wanted to clear this up in our strapline and allow as many readers as possible to enjoy reading the magazine.

In September, we also celebrated our two-year birthday with a charity exhibition of post card sized artwork by over 100 of the world’s leading tattooists. The opening of ‘Miniature Ink’ was electric – readers even queued outside Atomica Gallery from 3pm in the afternoon (the exhibition opened at 6) to get their hands on a tiny piece of art. We were even lucky enough to get a special guest appearance from tattoo artist Cally-Jo and her friend, supermodel Cara Delevingne. The night was incredible and the exhibition ran throughout September and during the London Tattoo Convention, with all profits from sales going to the charity Sarcoma UK.

Supermodel Cara Delevingne, tattoo artist Cally-Jo and editor Alice Snape at the launch of the Miniature Ink exhibition

 

Editorial Assistant Rosalie and Editor Alice Editorial Assistant Rosalie and Editor Alice at London Tattoo Convention September 2014 – we LOVE conventions and hope to do even more in 2015

 

Throughout September and October 2014, we also worked really hard on issue 9, as it was the last issue of the year, we wanted to do something extra special. S0 we created three extra special covers for you to choose from – including a woman, a man (for the first time ever) and a couple. Flo Nuttall, Brian Wilson, and Yann Brenyak and Delphine Noiztoy were all a pleasure to photograph and each of their personalties shines through.

 

2014 has been an incredible year for Things&Ink and we want to thank everyone who has made it possible: readers, writers, contributors, photographers…  – we are sure 2015 will be as full of surprises… we can’t wait to share it with you. What has been your highlight of 2014?

“stripped back” beauty photo shoot starring El Wood

“I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a faery’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.”

– from La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats 

Full “stripped back” beauty photo shoot in issue 9, Things&Ink.

Art Director – Marina De Salis
Photographer – Philip Rhys Matthews
Makeup, Hair & Styling - Adrianna Veal
Model – Elena Wood