Category: Art

Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.

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Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”

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Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”

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Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”

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George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”

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Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”

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Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…

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When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.

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You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.

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You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.

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What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.

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All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

Apprentice Love: Rachel Welsby

We spotted the work of 29-year-old apprentice Rachel Welsby on Instagram and instantly loved her dark traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Rachel to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Golden Daggers in Los Angeles where she works… 

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How long have you been tattooing? Since January 2016

How did you start? I spent almost a year putting together a portfolio of my tattoo flash and when I felt I had enough work, I started researching shops in LA and began approaching the ones I liked the look of for an apprenticeship. I’d just moved to Los Angeles and knew hardly anything about the tattoo scene here – I’m glad I spent so much time researching shops because I was lucky enough to find Golden Daggers and my mentor Rocky. I’m currently 14 months into my apprenticeship.

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What did you do before? After I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail when I lived in Brighton and then buying when I lived in London. I had a lucky escape from all of that when I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in November 2013. I didn’t realise how soul destroying those environments were until I left. I’m glad I did do that kind of work though because it’s made my so grateful for the work I do now and the lifestyle I have here in California.

Do you have a background in art? Yes, drawing and making things was all I did when I was a kid. I took art, textile and graphic design classes in school. I went to art college, and then onto university in Bristol, England where I studied Fashion Illustration. Alongside working full time, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing editorial and commercial illustration work, as well as my own personal projects.

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What drew you to the world of tattooing? It was through music. I remember seeing bands like Rancid, AFI and The Distillers on MTV2 when I was a teenager and thinking how cool they were. I grew up in a small town in Wales and never ever saw people who looked like them. I fell in love with the music and the aesthetic and haven’t ever looked back.

It was on a long drive from San Francisco to Portland one day that the decision was made that I should pour all my energy into becoming a tattooer. By the time I’d come to this conclusion, I had already been getting tattooed for 10 years and was already quite heavily covered. I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and the hard work that I’d need to constantly put in to make it work. I’m very fortunate to have such incredible friends and family around me who encourage and support me through all of this.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed at all? I’d describe my work as black traditional with a dark feel. I’d say my subject matter and imagery has remained consistent, but the technicality of my designs has changed. Before I started tattooing, I was drawing flash that was WAY to complex for me to attempt to tattoo. As a result I have totally simplified my designs to match my ability as a tattooer. I’m only working in black too – I think that’s more to do with the aesthetic I like, but in time I would like to be able to tattoo confidently with colour too. It’s a progression that will continue to evolve as I grow and I improve technically.

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What inspires you? Becca was one of my very first inspirations. She’s an amazing tattooer and became a dear friend after the amount of hours we spent together whilst she tattooed me. She’s very humble, dedicated and a true artist. I think incredibly highly of all she’s achieved. Another one of my biggest early inspirations is Simon Erl. He used to work at Jayne Doe so I met him through getting tattooed with Becca. He was the first tattooer I was aware of who worked so heavily with black. I loved his really thick lines and whip-shading. His dark imagery was also something that captivated me. His work is so well designed and considered. He uses so much black, but it’s always balanced and works.

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What would you like to tattoo? I would love to do a back piece one day!

What is a typical day like for you? I get up kinda early and have a coffee, do yoga, walk my dog and work on my embroidery projects. Then I get to the shop at 1pm and take care of all of my apprentice duties before I do my own drawings or begin appointments. This involves things like cleaning the shop, scrubbing tubes, buying supplies, making sure bills get paid and handing the shop money. I then spend the rest of the day drawing or tattooing.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? The majority of my tattoos are from Becca and I also have a couple of pieces from Simon Erl, Bastien Jean and Ed Mosley.

Princessehof Ceramic Museum: Sexy Ceramics

The Princessehof Ceramic Museum in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands presents Sexy Ceramics.

The exhibition runs from 27 August 2016 – 9 July 2017

‘The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden presents a titilating exhibition about eroticism: Sexy Ceramics. Classical Greek vases, refined Asian porcelain and contemporary ceramics by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Jessica Harrison escort the viewer into the world of sex and seduction. The exhibition follows the phases of love-play, from the first touch and gentle courtship to the act of lovemaking itself. Attention is paid to hidden symbols, evocative shapes and explicit objects, but also to the sensuality of the material, the clay itself.’

Artist Jessica Harrison has been commissioned to create a sculpture for the gallery exhibition, and she has crafted one her recognisable and beautiful enamel tattooed women, which we love so much.

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Tattooed Silicone Art Gallery

Posthumously preserving tattooed skin is a great way to appreciate tattoos without the need for animated human flesh holding it all together. But if the thought of having dead human skin framed and on display in your living room is a little too macabre for your liking then Melbourne’s Thing Gallery has you covered.

Thing Gallery commission tattooists to work on hyper-real silicone hands that they then exhibit and sell online. Have you ever wanted a unique tropical piece by Sam Kane or some black work by Hannah Pixie but live on the other side of the world? Thing Gallery have been busy curating hands from artists living in all corners of the earth, like Or Kantor in Israel, Poland’s Edek, and Oozy in Korea.

It’s a unique opportunity to own real tattoos as pieces of art disconnected and distinct from the human body.

Below are some of the first hands uploaded to their gallery. Be sure to sign up to their mail-list to be among the first notified when new hands become available, or keep an eye on their Instagram page for updates and images of awesome works of art.

 

By Charley Gerardin (Melbourne) @charley_gerardin By Charley Gerardin (Melbourne)
@charley_gerardin

 

By Nina Waldron (Melbourne) @goatlumps By Nina Waldron (Melbourne)
@goatlumps

 

By Elizabeth Huxley May (Melbourne) @elizabethhuxleymay By Elizabeth Huxley May (Sydney)
@elizabethhuxleymay

 

By Sam Kane (Melbourne) @samkanetattoo By Sam Kane (Sydney)
@samkanetattoo

 

By Mark Jelliman (England) @marktattooist By Mark Jelliman (England)
@marktattooist

www.thinggallery.com

https://www.instagram.com/thinggallery/

Interview with Georgina Liliane

23-year-old Georgina Liliane is a tattoo artist based at Intense Colours in Southampton, who is now currently working and travelling across Canada. We chatted to Georgina about what inspires her and the guest spots she has planned while travelling… 

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How long have you been tattooing? Including my apprenticeship four years and still constantly learning.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I drew designs for friends and my close friends got tattooed by my mentor and he was about to open a studio and was looking for an apprentice. My friends recommended me to the studio and they had a look at my work and I was offered an apprenticeship. At the time I was just about to finish my foundation in illustration so it was perfect timing as I didn’t want to go to university at all!

Do you have a background in art? I have always been drawing since I can remember, I studied fine art at college and illustration at uni.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember being at school and loved flicking through tattoo magazines and pictures online (instead of doing work I needed to do of course). I loved the bright colours and bold style of traditional tattoos.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? In my very early years of tattooing I drew in more of a traditional style, it wasn’t very distinct at first but through practise and patience I started to draw delicate, illustrative and more feminine designs, mostly animal and nature related.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? My favourite tattoos to do are cats, any animal, gothic/halloween related and pop culture related designs such as Studio Ghibli, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, all of which I’m a huge fan of!

What inspires you? Classical art and vintage postcards are something I frequently look at. I went to the Robert Bateman gallery on Vancouver Island and his paintings were beautiful. Although incredibly detailed he focuses mainly on creating a certain mood to be felt when viewing his paintings, and adding other details that wouldn’t necessarily be seen at first glance, which I found interesting and something I could take inspiration from.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I would love to do larger scale pieces in the future, I wouldn’t want to do anything that could be offensive. I often turn away certain cover up tattoos if the old tattoo is difficult or too dark to cover, I always suggest to laser the tattoo to lighten it. This means less limitation on what could be tattooed over it.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? So far I’ve worked on Vancouver Island at Painted Lotus, Vancouver at Gastown Parlour, I’m about to start working at Scythe and Spade in Calgary, followed by the Montreal Convention in September. Then I’ll be working at Deathless tattoo in Montreal, and in Ottawa I’ll be at Ink Spot. That’s all I’ve planned so far! I’m nervous for the convention as it’ll be the first one I’ve done by myself and in another country can be quite daunting. But everyone in Canada has been so friendly and helpful and I’ve settled in quickly.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Both of my sleeves have been done by the very talented Antony Flemming, I love them as everyday there’s a new detail I didn’t see before. I’ve done a couple of tattoo trades with my friends Ashley Luka and Charlotte Timmons both stupidly lovely and talented artists in Birmingham. I still have a lot of space and ideas for future tattoos for myself, I’d love it if I can get a tattoo from Sam Smith who I’ll be working with in Calgary, but if not I’ll be more than happy to sit and watch her work and hopefully learn a thing or two!

Lea Katz Illustration

19-year-old Lea Katz is a resident artist based in Melbourne, Australia, soon to be living in Bavaria, Germany. We chatted to Lea about the beautiful women she draws and how tattoos make her feel about her body…

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Inspired by Things&Ink Lea created this illustration just for us…

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What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I work digitally and traditionally. For my digital paintings, I use a graphic tablet and Photoshop. When I work traditionally, I usually rely on pencils, ink and sometimes watercolour. I also love mixing my drawings with other elements to create a collage-like look. I have some gold paper for example, that I combine with my drawings, sometimes I use photos from magazines for that and on other days, I just take whatever I can find and glue it to my sketches.
When I get to work, my usual process is to start out with a very messy sketch that I refine until I’m happy with it. Once that’s done, I begin to work on details to achieve a semi-realist look on certain parts of the artwork (like the face, when I draw a portrait), when I’m finished with that, I start bringing in flat shapes and lines and in the end, I combine it with different scans (in digital paintings), older drawings and photos.

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What kinds of things do you draw? I love drawing portraits, but I also enjoy drawing flowers, nature and birds. Every now and then I also do some typography, but I really need

What is it about women that makes you want to draw them? I guess it’s something that I do since I’m a kid, so it’s almost like a habit now. I love women, I love being a woman (most of the time, at least) and women get so much shit so often, that I just want to celebrate women and femininity in my paintings. I draw them as queens, strong, proud and independent, cover them in gold and all things fabulous.

What inspires you? Huge inspirations for me are art history and music. I’ve always been a little art nerd and a huge fan of art nouveau and surrealism, which are two big influences on my work. Music is a big part of my life, I always listen to music, I love singing (even if I’m a horrible singer. Doesn’t stop me though) and there are always songs that just make me want to catch the vibe of it and put it in a painting.

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How would you describe your style? I’d say my style is a mixture of semi-realism, art nouveau, graphic design and sometimes surrealism. It’s basically a huge collage of styles that I love and try to combine into one piece of work.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? Definitely! Frida Kahlo, Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Cindy Sherman, Man Ray and Hannah Höch are people that never stop inspiring me. I love Frida’s self-portraits, Mucha’s girls and Klimt’s golden paintings. Cindy Sherman’s photography is simply fascinating to see, as well as Man Ray’s and Hannah Höch’s dadaist collages.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I just got my first tattoo in March this year when I visited Amsterdam so I don’t have too many yet. My first tattoo was a beautiful little heart by Angelique Houtkamp, as a souvenir that reminds me of one of my favourite cities. Next, I got a flower on my wrist and after that Frida Kahlo from her “Wounded Deer” painting, which is a piece of art that has a lot of personal meaning to me. And since this Frida was tattooed in a more traditional style, I decided to get another one. This time, full on classic Frida as we know her. It was also my first tattoo in Australia, done by the amazing Marian Machismo.

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How do tattoos make you feel? Have they made you feel differently about your body? Tattoos make me feel great, they make me feel like a badass and I’m happy that they give me the ability to carry things that I love with me wherever I go. They definitely changed a lot about how I view myself and my body. I, like probably every person who had to go through puberty, have a lot of insecurities, I’m unhappy with that part of my body, this could be thinner, this patch of skin has too many freckles, blah blah blah. You probably know what I mean. Covering myself in art that I love changed the way I look at myself. I don’t look at my arm and worry about it being too fat or too whatever anymore, I look at it and see my beautiful tattoos and feel incredible. In fact, I’m happy for every inch of skin that I have because it’s potential tattoo-space.
Do you have any future tattoo plans? Definitely. My next appointment is in September, with Clare Hampshire from Hot Copper Studio here in Melbourne. And I have a lot of Australian artists on my list that I need to get a tattoo from before I move back to Germany in January.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? I do! I love doing commissions. I sell prints, shirts and a ton of products with my drawings on it via redbubble and I’m always open to sell my original, traditional drawings.

Apprentice Love: Jessica Ashby

Meet Jessica Ashby, she is a tattoo apprentice under Mike Stockings at Legacy Ink in Haverhill. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…

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How long have you been tattooing? Looking back through my diary, I’ve been tattooing on a regular basis for about 7-8 weeks now. I started my apprenticeship in October of 2015 and my mentor let me tattoo myself after about four months so I could get a glimpse of the world I was stepping into. I tattooed myself again a couple of months later and then a handful of my wonderful friends volunteered to let me tattoo them, and then all of a sudden I’m tattooing every day alongside all the other artists at the shop. This is something I’ve wanted for so long and sometimes I still wake up and think ‘is this really my life now?!’

How did you start? What did you do before? I remember telling my tutor at college that I wanted to be a tattoo artist and she looked at me blankly with no advice to give. I then went to university for a year, worked in bars and restaurants, went travelling for a bit, all the while knowing I still just wanted to tattoo.

It got to the point where I couldn’t stand my job any longer and I plucked up the courage to email Mike Stockings (my mentor) and asked if he would be willing to see me to discuss the possibility of an apprenticeship at his studio. I had been avidly following his work for years and I had my heart set on learning from him. He agreed to see me, went through my work, picked it apart, gave me some advice and then told me to go away and draw some more. I don’t think he expected that I’d ever come back, but I continued to take more work to show him for about six months until he offered me the apprenticeship.

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Do you have a background in art? Drawing was always ‘my thing,’ when I was younger. I remember going round to other kids’ houses to play and being shocked that they didn’t put the lids back on their colouring pens, or that they only had scrap paper to draw on. Looking back, I’m so grateful to my mum for nurturing my interest in art. Even at a young age she would take me to exhibitions and buy me good quality drawing materials.

I studied art at college and even went on to university to start an illustration degree. I probably thought my art classes were boring at the time but I realise now that they really did teach me some valuable things about composition, light and shadow, complementary colours etc.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember seeing some of Guy Aitchison’s luminous bi-mech work when I was about 16 and I was instantly blown away. It was like at that moment, my eyes were opened to a whole world of tattooing beyond the high street flash that I was familiar with. I then went on to discover Emily Rose Murray, Tiny Miss Becca, and (dare I say) Kat Von D who were all women starting to make waves in a male dominated industry at the time. I was so inspired and excited that you could make a living out of drawing wonderful pictures on people. I was desperate to get tattooed when I was a teenager and now I’m starting to build up a nice collection of my own I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever.

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Are there any artist that influence your work? I really like all the bold, bright work that is coming out of Germany at the moment. Lars Uwe Lus lips, is one of my absolute favourites. His use of colours, line weights and style in general is pretty mind-blowing. I love the illustrative quality of Kate Selkie’s work and I am always reminded that good drawing skills are the foundation of a good tattoo. And of course, watching Mike work is probably my biggest influence. His work has so much character and he’s always trying to push boundaries and put out fresh new ideas. It’s impossible not to be inspired.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I’d say my style changes a little bit with every tattoo I do. I think my work is leaning towards neo-traditional, working with bright colours and bold line. The guys where I work taught me early on to follow the fundamentals of traditional tattooing, emphasising the importance of clean lines and getting a good amount of black into any tattoo to create contrast and a tattoo that will age well.

What inspires you? Everything really. I guess that’s a pretty terrible answer but it’s true. I’ll often find myself sneaking into people’s front gardens to take photos of their flowers to use as reference, or stuffing a leaflet in my bag because I like the colour palette that’s been used. I feel like my eyes now scan everything to see if it’s a possible reference or inspiration in some way.

I love Japanese art and culture, art nouveau, pop art, film photography, and really enjoy going to museums and galleries. Even if the work doesn’t influence mine directly, I always feel so creatively energised after seeing another artist’s vision come to life.

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What would you love to tattoo? I consider myself incredibly lucky that Mike gives me the freedom to tattoo what I want already. He has always really emphasised that if you do work you enjoy then that will be evident, and people will come to you.

Eventually I’d like to be tattooing larger scale animal designs and faces (tattoos of faces, not tattooing on faces!) I love the idea of working on a project and can’t wait to be piecing together ideas for a sleeve or back piece. For now though, I am happy doing my little designs, trying to make each one cleaner and better than the last. I think there’s a fine line between continually pushing yourself to improve, and trying to run before you can walk. The guys at work will often tell me that I’m not ready to tattoo a certain part of the body yet, or that a design is too complex and then I just have to take a step back and remember that it’s still really early days for me.

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What is a typical day like for you? I usually get to the studio at around 9 am, mop the floor, clean the grips, set up Mike’s station and try to make sure everything stays tidy during the day. I’m trying to do one tattoo a day at the moment and truthfully I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in the shop during that time!