Category: Tattoo Studios

Interview with China’s “First Lady of Tattoo” Zhuo Dan Ting

We chat to 34-year-old Zhuo Dan Ting, China’s “First Lady of Tattoo” who owns Shanghai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, about what inspires her, how tattoos have changed how she sees her body and what her title means to her…

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How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing for 15 years now.

How long have you owned your shop? I have owned my shop for a total of 13 years, with nearly three of those years being in Harbin, China. The shop was originally called “Wenyifuxing” 纹艺复兴, but after moving to Shanghai, I remained the shop to Shanghai Tattoo 纹艺复兴.

How did you start? I have always have been doing art. It was when I got my first tattoo when I was 17 was that I fell in love with tattoos and I knew this was going to be my trade. It wasn’t easy though, back in those days in Harbin, China, you couldn’t  just go and be an apprentice under someone, there were’t many shops. So I took it upon myself to travel around to different cities in China where there were more opportunities for me to learn how to tattoo.

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How does it feel being called the “First Lady of Tattoo”? I feel old! It is a great honour to have set the bar for the female tattooists here in China as well as female business owners. It’s kinda crazy that only 15 years ago it was frowned upon for a woman to be independent in my country. I’m so glad that I was able to break out of that and do my own thing and be successful at it!

What obstacles have you faced and overcome on your journey to becoming a tattoo artist? In the old times, when I was getting started, tattoos were looked down on and people were not very supportive. People would always ask what about your future? What do your parents think about what you’re doing? Other obstacles were simply trying to get better, learning from somebody else and improving. I had to travel and do my own research to learn the art of tattooing. Putting beautiful quality tattoos on people for life, felt like my destiny – I had no choice.

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Do you have a background in art? I’ve always been involved with art. My father was an artist too, and a art teacher. He started teaching me art when I was five years old, every night I would draw on the kitchen floor with him. This eventually evolved to paper and canvas, then art college and university.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I’ve always liked tattoos, and was drawn to them through a sort of obsession. It was when I got my first tattoo at age 17 that I knew this was it. I had to do it, and not only create tattoos but be the best tattooer What an amazing way to express your art, I absolutely love tattoos and couldn’t live without them.

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Can you tell us about the tattoo scene and culture in China? The tattoo scene is improving, especially these past five  years, as tattoos are getting more popular. For example when I started tattooing here in Shanghai, there were a handful of shops now there are hundreds – I can’t even count them! The tattoo scene and culture is really taking off, I only wish more people would take the time to investigate what a good tattoo shop is and isn’t. People are always wanting to save money and go to a scratcher. Overall though tattoos are being more and more accepted in China, it’s pretty awesome.

How do people view women with tattoos? People’s attitudes are getting better, they’re seen as cool. Before this it was pretty brutal, people would always ask how are you ever going to get married? (This being top priority in Chinese culture) How are you ever going to find man to take care of you with those tattoos? Most of the time it’s still like this but I’m married to a wonderful man, so I don’t listen to that shit anymore and we take care of each other.

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What kind of reactions do you receive? Reactions to my tattoos, green hair and clothes are pretty crazy! People stop dead in their tracks everyday and just stare! I’ve seen people almost get into serious accidents as they freak out when looking at me. I’m pretty much blowing their minds! Pretty funny, the closets people live in, and how they freak out when they see someone that doesn’t appear the same as everyone else here in China. The further you go out of the cities the more people freak out too – like they seen a ghost, alien or something. They just stare at you with no shame in total disbelief!

Have tattoos changed how you see your body, and how you feel about it? Yeah I feel good,  as there’s no blank skin. My tattoos are like armour for me, without them I would feel naked, bland and not like me.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? I like to draw creepy different styles, snakes with legs and such. With my tattooing I like to focus on black and grey realism. I would love to do more large pieces including backs – the bigger the better! I love a good challenge.

What inspires you? Anything different or creative I suppose – movies, things on the internet and randomness. Walking down the crazy streets of Shanghai can be pretty inspiring!

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Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Yes actually I’m doing the Frankfurt Tattoo Convention this year in April, also I will be heading to Malmo, Sweden, guest spotting at my friend’s shop Malort. Hopefully Oslo in Norway too, but I’m still working out all the details. I’ll be heading to California as well to Sacramento, Bay Area possibly Portland, Oregon later in the year, around November, December. I will have more details later this year!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have a lot of tattoos, around eight that I have done myself. Most of them are now covered up but still there to remind me of my beginning days. I love all my tattoos they all tell my stories, and I’m continuing to build my own canvas.

Shaded: Danny Rossiter

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-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.

Danny Rossiter is a legendary 37-year-old tattoo artist and co-owner of Manchester’s Rain City Tattoo Collective. As part of Things and Ink’s ongoing interview series ‘Shaded’, I spoke with ‘The King’ about his passion for tribal tattooing, surfing and Japanese culture as he tattooed my shoulder.

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“Before I was tattooing, there wasn’t anything I wanted to do,” answers Danny Rossiter, more commonly referred to as ‘The King’ by his peers, to a question regarding his relationship with tattoos that I can barely ask as the Traditional-Japanese heavyweight begins to hammer an Eastern-inspired demon onto my shoulder. “I just wanted to surf,” he continues casually – as if he were telling the story over dinner as opposed to the violent process of tattooing. “My grandma was an artist – a painter, and she always encouraged me to draw, but it wasn’t until I was 17 that I asked myself “what can I do that’s really cool?” and tattooing looked cool.”

From fantasist beginnings spent dreaming up his very own ‘Endless Summer’ meets Horiyoshi III existence to a nomadic life spent darting across the Southern Hemisphere, Danny is currently tattooing me out of his own shop: the legendary Rain City Tattoo Collective. The 37 year-old Zimbabwean’s corner of the shop holds a plethora of books – most of which relate to the subject of Japanese culture. “I just love Japanese Culture! The imagery is really powerful and holds so much meaning. You can find yourself looking at a brutal battle and a serene scene of beauty within the same Ukiyo-e print!” Although a master of the craft himself, Danny constantly humbles his position that’s backed-up by an 18-year relationship with the industry by suggesting that he’s simply riding history’s wave. “There’s so much tradition to Japanese tattooing, and ‘tradition’ loosely translates into ‘repetition’. It’s traditional because it has worked, been repeated and been passed down, so I’m well aware that all of my work has either been stolen or borrowed.”

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The idea for the collective was born out of a drunken, lightning-strike evening Danny spent with talented artists Matt Cooley, Gre Hale and Dan Morris, who had all decided they no longer wanted to work under the thumb of any kind of shop hierarchy, but wanted to create a diplomatic space that allowed them the time and freedom to develop and concentrate on their work. Founded in 2012, the shop has grown to be one of the most well respected spots the world over. “The shop has influenced me to keep working and to keep going,” speaks Danny of Rain City’s effect on him. “You can get complacent when working with one other person, but when you’re surrounded by so many people that are so stoked on tattooing, you can’t help but get caught up in it.”

When speaking of his first memories of tattooing, Danny speaks with a cool detachment as if unburdened by nostalgia. “I got my first tattoo when I was 18. It was this tribal biohazard symbol. It’s covered now, but I do love tribal. It’s such a strong look that often invites passionate criticism. That’s what’s so great about it: it encourages passion – it’s so powerful that people fucking hate it!” Danny’s enthusiasm for tribal bled into the story of the first ever tattoo he produced. “I vividly remember the first tattoo I ever produced: It was this tribal spider – I couldn’t stop shaking! I’d love to see what that tattoo looks like today. ”

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As someone who is called ‘King’ more than he is his own name, I feel hesitant asking Danny of his inspiration, but much like the rest of our conversation Danny is open and unpretentious in his answer. “Everything is visual with me. I’ve never been the kind of person who finds inspiration in more abstract places, like music or writing. Maybe there’s a whole world of work I could be producing if I dug into that.” Danny follows the thought with how he sees his work evolving. “People can get lost in the idea of ‘style’ and leaving their own unique mark on tattooing, but producing work for the customer rather than yourself is far more important. People think too much about the mark they want to leave, but it’s all about what you’re doing in the moment. You don’t want to get too involved in the future.”

Interview with Charlotte Verduci

24-year-old Charlotte Verduci works out of Lav Mì Tattoo in Milan and Ink Factory Tattoo Shop in Bergamo, where she creates wonderful blackwork tattoos inspired by her love of baroque patterns…

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How long have you been tattooing? How did you start? I started tattooing at the age of 19. I’m now five years in, I started very young. I fell in love with this wonderful craft straight the way at the age of 14 as I read tattoo magazines.

What you did before? Do you have a background in art? Before I was tattooing I was studying and I graduated from art school. I did a year’s academy illustration course. But as soon as I was asked to start as an apprentice at a tattoo shop, I stopped studying. I have not thought twice about it, I don’t look back and I’ve been thrown head first into learning the art of tattooing.

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How would you describe your style? How has it developed? I started with colorful tattoos, traditional and classic style at the beginning. Then I began learning the rules of ornamental tattooing, it all happened one evening, a day before a tattoo convention, when I wanted to propose something new.  So I started to draw, and I developed the Baroque figures that I do so much now. It was love at first sight, at last I felt that I could give my work a touch of originality. I wanted to create something that fully represents the Baroque style. Over the past year I have developed a recognisable style- you can’t miss it! I call it a Baroque blackwork!

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What inspires you? I would answer this question with everything! I’m very sensitive to everything around me. Milan is a city where you find art in every corner, from craft shops to the Art Nouveau buildings. I love to walk into a bookstore and browse through books filled with antique prints and vintage prints, and I go the markets on Sunday where there is no shortage of decorated frames. I am fascinated by the baroque vector, textures, and mostly historical illustrations. However I always try to maintain solid work in my tattooing, this a basic rule for me. As much as I can fantasise and dream I always keep order in my designs, making them as clear and readable as possible.

Do you admire any artist? Do they influence your work? I follow a lot tattoo artists who make ornamental tattoos, but also Japanese and traditional. Not really anyone in particular, but I follow so many! Thomas Hooper, Kelly Violence, Jack Papiette, Filip Leu, Abby Drielsma and Lus Lips always remain my favorite artists!

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What kinds of things do you like to tattoo and draw? Baroque filigree! I had a period in time when I only drew snakes, I could do an encyclopaedia! Then came the month where I would only do cats! I really like to draw female faces with hats and dresses in a vintage style, of course embroidered with my style added to them. I really like to evoke an ancient and classical touch in my designs!

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Can you tell about your own tattoos? For now I have a Japanese arm made by Simone Valentinuzzi, the other arm with works carried out by various colleagues – Angela Smisek and a miniature swallow by Stizzo. I definitely want tattooed by the artists I mentioned. I always want a tattoo, but they hurt more and more!

Interview with John Avanti

35-year-old John (Lupo) Avanti works out of Ocean Avenue Tattoo in San Francisco and Lucky Drive Tattoo in San Rafael, where he creates surreal tattoos. We chatted to John about his style of work and how he likes the idea of reading people through their tattoos…

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I began tattooing  about five years ago, after my friend Joey Cassina decided to open his shop Ocean Ave Tattoo in San Francisco. I used to work in construction so I helped to get OAT built and eventually spent enough time at the shop to pursue an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship was going great but was cut short, so I decided if I was going to keep tattooing then I would have to figure it out on my own. I quit Ocean Ave and started working out of my basement in Oakland tattooing friends and locals to build my portfolio up enough to get in another professional shop.

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Fortunately, the guys at Lucky Drive tattoo saw I had some potential and gave me a sort of soft apprenticeship. I was at Lucky Drive for about a year until I decided to take my tattooing to Australia. I spent three years in Australia and just recently moved back to work at both Ocean Ave and Lucky Drive where I started. A bit of a complicated start but I really love my friends and family in San Francisco and I’m proud to have made the long journey back.

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Tattooing has been the best way for me to do what I to do best. As I said before, I was in construction but over the years I also worked part time in many other forms of illustration including: animation, comics, large-scale murals, and commercial illustration. The only formal training I have was a trade school style animation course I took in Vancouver. I also did a landscape painting class in Italy. That’s probably more artist experience than most tattooers have starting out so my style has a lot of influences.

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Coming from San Francisco I was initially focused on doing traditional tattoos but after my time in Australia I wound up wanting to make tattoos that resemble a style closer to my acrylic paintings. If you had to put a label on it – you could describe it as “neo traditonal surrealism.” Italian style tattooing and George Burchett tend to be my “go-to” influences but it’s hard for me to draw things without it being overly imaginative. I want people to like my designs without fully knowing the reason why they like them.

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A good image will always jump out at you and you don’t always have to understand it. It’s that geo treasure kind of searching for new iconic designs that makes it interesting for me. I also tend to think about what people will look like when they are dead and in a morgue having their bare bodies examined. I like the idea of seeing a person’s tattoos and understanding who they are without knowing them. Sometimes I just want to make designs that are classic with little to no distortion but most people like my more artsy pieces. Usually they are simple concepts in unique combinations.

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I don’t put many restrictions on what I want to tattoo but it also depends on the person. If the person is not familiar with my work then I don’t just put a fine line surreal image next to the their sailor Jerry eagle. I am also careful when it comes to people with intense mental illnesses. Tattoos are therapeutic in troubled times but I will never tattoo a person who’s mental condition is constantly changing.

Black Inc Tattoo, Frome

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Jo Black tattoos out of Black Inc Tattoo in Frome, Somerset and specialises in neo-traditional tattoos with a dark and gothic twist. We chat to Jo to find out more about the fun and vibrant studio, the artists that work there and the tattoos she creates…

blackink Merry Morgan specialises in blackwork and apprenticed under Jo. He became a full time artist about a year and a half ago. He recently won his first award at the Northern Ireland show for his blackwork tattoos.

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Verity Ann Fox specialises in neo-traditional in black and grey.  Verity moved to black Inc this year from a shop in a neighbouring town. She has brought a fresh and exciting attitude into the shop. She currently works part time so she can spend as much time with her little girl as possible

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Yoji Canniffe works in blackwork and tribal and joined the studio this year. He does most of the shops walk-in customers and loves anything tribal or blackwork.

 

INTERVIEW WITH JO BLACK

How long have you been tattooing? I have had my own shop for six years now, although I tattooed for a couple of years before that. We have expanded once already into a bigger shop and a second expansion is on the cards for the near future!

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Tattoo by Jo Black

How did you start? What did you do before? I did it the wrong way and learned on my own legs and a friend took me under her wing at her studio to show me the right way to do it. Before tattooing I was at uni completing my graphic design degree in Cardiff. I was also a chef, this supported me through university. I actually decided to open my own shop in my third year and spent my final year commuting between Cardiff and Somerset to run the shop and complete my degree. It was hard work but it was so worth the effort!

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Foot tattoo by Merry Morgan 

Do you have a background in art? I have always been encouraged by my family to be creative and artistic, in primary school they noticed early on I had a passion for art and teachers throughout my education continued to nourish this. After GCSEs I went on to do a foundation degree in art and design and then a BA Hons in graphic communication.

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Hamsa by Yoji Canniffe

What drew you to the tattoo world? Firstly it was the creativity and excitement of such an unusual art form, and one which so many people look down upon. When I realised that making a regular income from my canvas art was practically impossible, I started thinking about other options. As someone who already had tattooed it seemed to fit. Then as I got further and further into the industry I realised what an incredible community of just about every kind of person from every walk of life it is. I was totally hooked on just how many talented, beautiful and inspiring people I began to meet. Not just other tattoo artists but my clients as well!

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Verity Ann Fox

Describe your style, has it changed? My style has always been neo-traditional, I suppose this is how I have always drawn anyway but I never had a label for it until I began to tattoo. But in my early days I was certainly more drawn towards a cartoon like style which I have outgrown and I now try to balance on the line between cartoon and reality. It’s what I enjoy most and even if it goes out of fashion I will plug at it until it comes back again.

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Skull by Merry Morgan

What inspires you? My mum and dad, every day! They are so strong and patient and kind and generous and they have always supported me in every aspect of my career and personal life. Without them I would not be doing this now.Also, every artist I admire and look up to, not just tattooers but all kinds of artists, inspire me to do better and push myself all the time. I love flicking through books, fashion magazines and tattoo mags and just soaking up a bit of everything!

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Lantern by Jo Black 

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I always adore tattooing animals, the more natural the better for me, I don’t understand symmetry, my brain does not seem to work that way. I adore it visually and appreciate how incredible it is, but I find it hard to do things in a symmetrical way. Perhaps because nature isn’t symmetrical and I prefer to do nature based art.

I don’t often do tattoos that ‘celebrities’ have – the moment someone comes in and says ‘you know that one Cheryl Cole has’ my ears just tune out. I can’t think of anything less original than copying a tattoo someone already has.

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Tattoo by Verity Ann Fox

Do you have any guest spots, guest artists or conventions planned? Next two tattoo conventions are the one in our home town Frome Tattoo Convention on Feb 18th and 19th. Then right after that I am at the Manchester Tattoo Tea Party which is one of my all time favourite shows to work. We have a constant flow of guest artists in the shop, next up is Beci Murphy and then Emily Dawson and then pretty much someone every other weekend thereafter. It’s great, keeps the studio fresh and exciting. I haven’t any guest spots planned at the moment because we might be moving shops again soon and I want to focus on that before I take any time off to travel.

Shaded: Maidstone John

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-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.

Maidstone John is a 25-year-old Cantebury-based freelance illustrator and tattoo apprentice who conjures up gnarly magic from the comfort of Three Crows Tattoo. As part of Things and Ink’s ongoing interview series ‘Shaded’, the master of morbid etchings tells us of his past-life as a fruit picker, his current obsession with medical journals and how he’s working hard towards producing “bigger and busier” work.

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Can you talk me through your relationship with tattoos? I got my first tattoo at The Brighton Tattoo Convention when I was 18. I got a portrait of my mum on my forearm, and it’s still one of my favourite tattoos to this day. My Uncle was a biker, and I’d always hang out with him and his friends who were all heavily tattooed at the time. Its always been my plan to be covered before I reach 30, and so far It’s going pretty well! I’ve always been lucky enough to have a lot of friends in the tattoo industry. I was over the moon when my buddy Chris got me a full-time job as a shop boy at a tattoo shop! At the time, it was never my intention to tattoo, but I would always draw and the boss would let me display my prints and drawings in the shop. I would often get asked if I was apprenticing, but I would always say no and tell people that it wasn’t for me. I left the shop on good terms after two years and moved on to Canterbury where I got an early morning job on a farm picking fruit and doing odd-jobs. Three Crows Tattoo in Canterbury was in the process of opening when I moved, and I would pop in whenever I could to help paint the walls and frame all of the flash. I told Adam, the owner, what I had been up to and that I planned to put a portfolio together over the next year or so to apply for an apprenticeship. There and then, he offered me an apprenticeship!

What’s the most valuable piece of knowledge that you’ve gained since the start of your apprenticeship? It’s kind of hard to explain, but I would personally have to say that gaining an understanding of the tools for the job at hand has been incredibly valuable. You have to take into consideration the area of skin you are working on, what needle grouping and voltage to have set-up and, of course, the high level of hygiene for the customer and everyone else in the studio.

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What attracts you to black-work and etching? I have always worked in that style from day one. Craig Scott, Dan singer and Richard Sayer got me drawing in the first place and were always such strong influences, and it wasn’t until I discovered guys like DuncanX and Liam Sparks that I ever thought it would be possible to adapt that style to tattooing. I have always loved and appreciated every style of tattooing, but I personally think that black tattoos just look so strong, and as for the etching, I just want to be able to stand out and offer something a little different.

Can you tell me about your own tattoos? I wouldn’t say any of my tattoos have any particular meanings behind them. I’ve been tattooed by a fair few people now. My legs consist of a lot of apprentice tattoos by my friends when they were learning. I recently tattooed myself a few times too. My buddy Dan Frye has tattooed some of my favourite pieces of mine. He recently tattooed a solid, black spider caught in a traditional web right in the ditch of my knee. I’ve mainly been getting tattooed by Philip Yarnell recently though.  We are currently in the middle of finishing off my front, which includes a huge bat across my chest and shoulders.

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What is currently inspiring you? I am currently very inspired by old medical journals, as well as monster toys from the 80’s. I have a never-ending collection of books and curiosities. I’m pretty obsessed. Me and my pal Dan Carrington have some pretty gnarly collaborations in the works that involve murder and suicide victims, so keep your eyes peeled!

Have you tattooed anyone yet? I’m currently in the process of filling up my friends’ legs with as many small designs as we can possibly fit, including cover-up work and blast over’s, which I love to do. One of the first tattoos I did on him was this tripped out Mickey Mouse, the other being this devil moon. Both tattoos took me so long to do. I was in the shop by myself for one of them which was a struggle when it came to packing the black in. I was just so lucky and grateful for my trooper of a friend who let me do what I had to do.

Despite the struggle at the time, its all healed up better than I could ever have imagined. I was never nervous as such when tattooing, it was more excitement which was just as bad at the time because it still made me a little shaky, but that shortly disappeared. I am now up to tattoo number seven and I am happy to say I have defiantly gained a lot confidence and picked up a lot of speed in a pretty short gap. I still have such a long journey ahead of me but I am so determined to reach my goal and get to a point where I am clean and consistent enough to move on to bigger and busier designs.

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Who inspires you artistically? I would have to say Dan Santoro, Daniel Higgs and Duncan X predominately – as well as everybody else at In To You. At the moment, I am so inspired by Jack Ankersen and my buddy Lice4Life when it comes to tattooing and printmaking: out of the box and out of this world. They both produce very unique and exciting stuff!

How do you see your work evolving? I’m just forever going to strive to get my line-work, blackwork and shading to the point where it is as clean and consistent as possible. At that point, I would like to focus on bringing back some of my more detailed and complicated designs. I will always be putting out flash and illustrations for records. I enjoy that side of things so much! I equally want to keep pushing that too.

Megan Massacre Colouring Book

We chat to the infamous Megan Massacre, 30, tattoo artist and co-founder @GritNGlory, about her new colouring book, reality TV and her tattoo style

Megan, we love your work! How would you describe your style?
Thanks! My tattooing style is mostly known for my very bright, colourful palettes and I usually mix a few tattooing styles together such as realism, traditional, neo-traditional and new school.

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Tattoo by MeganWe loved you in America’s Worst Tattoos and NY Ink… Did you enjoy doing reality TV, what were the highlights?
Yes very much! The highlight for me was getting to share my work with such a large audience of people.

If you could tattoo anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Probably Gwen Stefani, I’ve loved her since I was a kid listening to No Doubt!

What made you decide to venture into colouring books?
I’ve always wanted to make a book of my tattoo drawings, tattoo flash is what we call it in the industry. When I realised it could double as a colouring book I thought it was such a cool, fun idea that even more people could enjoy.

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What do you hope people will get from it?
I like to think of it as a book for both tattoo artists and fans, as well as colouring fanatics. I hope that tattoo artists and fans find the book useful for tattoo ideas and flash, as well as fun and therapeutic for colouring as well.

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It is aimed at adults and children?
Yes I think it’s great for both!

Do you think colouring books are important for wellbeing?
I think colouring is a great way to relieve stress and relax your mind while also working in a creative outlet and creating something awesome you can feel proud of.

Is it important for you to be involved in lots of different creative projects?
For me personally yes. I always have a few different projects going on, I like to stay overly busy. I also like to be involved in as many different creative industries as possible, it allows me to keep learning through art.

What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to make more colouring and art books for fans to enjoy, and to continually keep breaking into new, creative industries.

When will you next be in the UK?
I don’t have any plans at the moment but I try to go once a year, I’ll definitely be posting on my social media when I’ll be heading there next!

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You can order a copy of Marked in Ink, the colouring book by Megan Massacre from Book Depository

Shaded: Rich Wells

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-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.

Rich Wells is a 29-year-old tattoo artist, clothing designer and co-owner of Dock Street Tattoos, who is currently living and working in Leeds. As part of Things & Ink’s ongoing interview series ‘Shaded’, the documentary enthusiast sheds light on his love of C-list celebrities, his relationship with simplicity and how he sees his Louis Theroux inspired clothing range, Jiggle Apparel, evolving.

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What is Jiggle ApparelJiggle Apparel is a Louis Theroux influenced clothing range that’s mainly centred around his infamous rap episode. I design the t-shirts and my friend John, who runs the operation with me, screen prints them and looks after all the online stuff. It’s a Louis Theroux obsession that’s gone a bit too far.

Can you speak about your relationship with Louis Theroux? I’m an old-school Louis Theroux fan. His ‘Weird Weekends’ series is definitely my favourite thing that he’s done. I’ve watched them hundreds of times and they never get old! It’s the only reason I have Netflix.

What influenced you to design and print the first t-shirt that eventually led Jiggle Jiggle Apparel to come together? The first Jiggle Apparel design was originally drawn up as a tattoo design for a flash sheet. I hadn’t thought about putting it on a t-shirt until I uploaded the design to my Instagram account. It got way more attention than I thought it would, so for a bit if fun I decided to print it. People were really into it and Jiggle Apparel was born!

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What do you do when you’re not thinking about Louis Theroux? A good 80% percent of my day is spent thinking about Louis. You know, working out how I could meet him, or maybe just brush past him at a UFO convention or a swingers party. The other 20% I spend tattooing at Dock Street Tattoos Leeds. I co-own the place.

What inspires you artistically? I’m really into documentaries and I draw a lot of inspiration from the strange side of human nature: cults, conspiracies – all that type of stuff. I also like to design things around words, like, quotes or songs. I find it’s a really good foundation for a solid idea.

What do you admire in other people’s work? Simplicity is one of the things I admire in other people’s work. I can appreciate tattoos with incredible detail, but I personally get more out of simplistic, bold, powerful designs. The ability to create something effective using only simple techniques really appeals to me.

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Can you tell me about your own tattoos? I have a photo-realistic black and grey portrait of Ross Kemp on the back of my calf. I got it done as a bit of a joke really. Rather than getting an A-list celebrity tattooed on body, I thought I’d go a little more C list with Kemp, as I was watching a lot of ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’ at the time. I ended up going to one of his book signings that he held at ASDA a few months after having it done. I told him I had a little something to show him, pulled down my jeans and presented him with the portrait. He was totally freaked out by it. I think he thought I was going to stick a potato sack over his head and stick him in the boot of my Corsa. I haven’t seen him since.

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? No one in my family really has any. The influence came from seeing the bands I was into at the time with them. I thought they were really cool! My first tattoo was done in a street shop that was next to my old school. I got the tiny sunflower that’s on that girl’s t-shirt on the cover of Green Day’s album Kerplunk. It’s really small, but I thought it was the best thing ever at the time.

Most tattoo artists have no space left on their body for additional work, but do you have any plans for more tattoos in the future? Yeah, I still have some space to get some more work. I’m not totally covered yet. I’d like to get some more single-hit traditional pieces. I guess a Louis Theroux tattoo is on the cards as well.

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Since you have now found yourself bridging clothing and tattoo art with Jiggle Apparel, can you speak about the relationship between the world of fashion and the world of body modification? I really like the crossover! The high end world of fashion collaborates with tattoo artists all the time. I think company’s like RSI Apparel who commission tattoo artists and illustrators to work on designs for them offer artists a whole new platform for their work to be seen which is really great. However, I could definitely live without Ed Hardy’s diamond studded jeans…

How do you see Jiggle Jiggle Apparel evolving? We’re looking at getting some more merchandise; hats, hoodies, patches. Maybe our own brand of red, red wine would be nice! The ultimate goal though would be for Louis to actually see what we do, stick one of our t-shirts on and possibly take us out to dinner. If he could be there when we open our first store that would also be pretty great.

Interview with Karolina Skulska

25-year-old Karolina Skulska tattoos out of Kult Tattoo Fest in Krakow, Poland and creates wonderful floral tattoos. We chatted to Karolina about the natural world that inspires her and how she started tattooing…

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How long have you been tattooing? It’s been two years since I took hold of a machine for the first time. But I’m not sure if my first steps could even have been called tattooing!

How did you start? What did you do before?  Before I was studying journalism but after a short time I realised that the work didn’t suit me. During that time I was a customer of Kult Tattoo Fest and was getting tattooed by Edek. One day I noticed that guys from TF Mag (magazine about tattoos which is released by people who are a part of Kult team) were looking for another editor. As a journalism student and tattoo fanatic I was a good candidate. I worked there for few years and was drawing a lot of the time, I was tottally absorbed in the tattoo industry.

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Do you have a background in art? I didn’t graduate from art school or academy, but I was always drawing a lot and also taking some drawing lessons. I was doing it for no real reason, but I felt that it might be useful in the future.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Since I remember I’ve felt that there’s something in tattoos that attracts me more than other people. When I was under the legal age I was begging my parents to let me get my first tattoo. Then work in TF Mag showed me this tattoo world from the inside. Doing interviews with tattoo artists was helping me to become more more interested in the craft. I wanted to try the things they were talking about and understand them. Now it’s my greatest passion and job all in one.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I don’t think it has changed, my career is too short for big changes. I call myself a tattoo florist, because I love to put lots of flowers into my works, lots of leaves and other botanical aspects. It looks great on all body types as it’s easy to fit the anatomy lines of the body. I use strong outlines but in the same time add small details, I love pastel colours and dotwork.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? What inspires you? As I mentioned, nature is the most inspiring thing for me. In my camera roll I have more photos of botanical elements than food and selfies combined. I love drawing these things, I find a great sense of pleasure from the dots, lines and floral designs.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do?  I don’t have a  list of stuff I want to do, I simply love all tattoos. Colouring people and using machines is great fun and pure happiness for me,  so I just want to do it! I will refuse to do motives that are harmful for other people like racist symbols etc. and I’m also not into religious stuff. I also refuse to make designs that I know will look really bad after a  few years, like very small and detailed stuff or super fashionable white ink tattoos.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? This summer I will go to Trondheim for a few guest spot for sure, but as I was travelling a lot last month I’ll probably take a break. Then I’ll start guest spotting with renewed energy next year.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Most of them are made by Edek, but you can also find on me works of Piotr Bemben, Bartek Kos, Marie Kraus, Davee, Mazak, Kay Lee. Most of my tattoos were spontaneous and creates in the happy moments of my life.

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.