Category: Art

Interview With Owen Paulls

28-year-old tattoo artist Owen Paulls is currently on the road, creating incredible black and grey realism. We chat to him about his love for Disney, the process behind his tattoos and his travel plans…

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How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing since around April 2014, so a little over three years now!

What drew you to the tattoo world? I was always into drawing and painting growing up. I was designing shirts and artwork for a band I was with before I got into tattooing. Coming from the music world, where everyone’s heavily tattooed, this probably sparked the idea of putting something permanently on the skin.

Has your style of tattooing changed? How has it developed? I think like most tattoo artists, I was drawn to classic designs and bold colours at first. I spent about a year putting together more traditional pieces, trying to make my work as clean as I could before really getting into realism at the end of that first year.

I did a few portraits on friends, to build my portfolio, and loved it! It felt a lot more natural to build pieces from the bottom up rather than lining everything first so I started switching my designs to have a realistic element. Recently I’ve developed more of a surrealism style I guess.

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What do you love to tattoo? You do a lot of Disney portraits, are you a Disney fan? Absolutely anything Disney or animated, I love tattooing it! I don’t know if that’s still the traditional artist in me trying make an appearance with a little throw to the old school – who knows! I’m a huge Disney fan, so getting to tattoo it all day is a lot of fun for me.

I love the whole process modern animation goes through while it’s being made, there’s so much behind the scenes that you don’t get to see when watching the movies. I’m just trying to pay homage to all the animation greats by replicating their creations on skin in my own way.

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You mainly work in black and grey, what do you love about this? How long does a  typical piece take, can you explain your process?  My art work outside of tattooing is mostly charcoal and pencil so I think that draws me to the black and grey side. Colour is a lot more challenging for me. I love getting to do it occasionally, as it keeps me on my toes, but black and grey is where I feel the most creative. Pieces usually take anywhere from eight to 10 hours.

I’m very meticulous with my work so I’ll spend at least a couple of hours adding details and highlights at the end with a small liner, apologising to my customers the whole time and periodically promising that we’re nearly done!

I usually start with an email or FaceTime consultation to get the over all idea of the tattoo before designing to save as much time as I can. I like to make my stencils on the day so I’m familiar with the shapes and concept before applying it to the skin. Due to the amount of time I spend in the skin, I always try to make sure I leave my stencil to dry for about 15-20 minutes before I start. I’m a detail lover, so having all my stencil hold for the whole day helps me to relax. I don’t line much so it’s nice to have that information there to use when I need it.

Would you like to do more colour pieces? Eventually, I’ll probably make the move to full colour work. I feel as an artist, I’m still growing and creating an identity within my tattoos. For the moment, black and grey is the perfect medium for me. People who can break stencil with their photo reference and use brave colour choices make a big impression on me, I’d like to have that affect on other artists.

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What inspires you? Are there any artists that influence your work? Animation plays a big part in how I design tattoos and my artwork. Also sculptures and modelers like Philippe Faraut or Lutsenko really push me to add more depth and dynamic. Tattoo wise there are too many to name. I’m a big fan of Ralf Nonnweiler and Megan Jean Morris for the way they put their own identity into their pieces. Any artist who is bringing something new and unique to the table is up there for me!

Can you tell us a little about your own tattoos, do they have to have a meaning?  I’d love to say I’m a collector, but it’s not strictly true! I have a collection, but it’s not the same! My tattoos have been mostly spur of the moment ideas when I’ve been working alongside someone that I admire or in a shop where a couple of us have a spare few hours to fill. I’ve got some crazy ones and some more meaningful ones from back in the music days. I have a Studio Ghibli half sleeve and I suppose that’s the most meaningful so far. Apart from one done by a friend when she was first starting out.

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned?  This year and the beginning of next has got a little crazy so far! Ive just done the Brighton and Manchester/Scarborough shows and have Bristol, York, Halloween Bash and Kustom Kulture coming up this year, alongside guest spots all over! It’ll be my first time in Switzerland in October and I’ll also be working with Sandry Riffard in December at his shop in France! I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has got or travelled to get a piece from me and to my little tattoo family including ‘Team Penny Black’ who have really looked out for me!

The Art of Alicia Rihko

27-year-old freelance illustrator and designer Alicia Rihko lives in Spain where she creates digital pieces focusing on neon pink and black line work…

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I create everything digitally with a graphic tablet, and my work changes according to my tastes, but there are many things that inspire me. When it comes to my work I always start looking for locations, and pictures of places that I would like to be or know more about. And so I start to collect ideas. Music influences me a lot too, I always work with music on. In the end everything is mixed together, and my work is the result. 

I can’t tell you which illustration is my favourite, usually once I have finished drawing, I stop liking it. But the one I did of Freddy Krueger, is very different from all the others. It’s the craziest idea I’ve ever had, as I’ve used an existing film character, with one of my girls. Yes, it’s my favourite!

I don’t like the pink at all, it is far from being a colour that I love. But I found that it fits very well with the aesthetics of my work, and that it gives even more personality to the piece along with the other colours.

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In Colourful Company Street Spotter

If you haven’t heard of In Colourful Company yet you may have spotted their colourful community walking around a city near you. The group is ‘an all inclusive community of kindness, encouragement and adventure’ that started out in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Their goal is to bring people together in fun and creative ways, and to encourage each other to take chances and make changes, all whilst grabbing their cameras and searching the streets of their favourite cities in search of colour.

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Our music writer Amber caught up with a few from this colourful lot during their Leeds walk to find out more about their creative careers, tattoos and their experience of In Colourful Company…

Name: Kayley Mills
Instagram: @Kayleymills
Job: Illustrator and etsy shop owner
Tattoos: Sleeve and forearm by Raychel Maughan at Northern Glory in Newcastle.

“In Colourful Company has brought me right out of my shell and has helped me meet so many awesome like-minded people.”

Name: Lisa Barlow
Instagram: @lisa__barlow @magicalthunderpress
Job: Illustrator and freelance designer
Tattoos: Sewing sleeve by Sway at Northside Tattoos now at Sacred Electric
Cactus, gypsy lady, castle and snow globe all by Bailey at Sacred Electric

“This is my first experience of In Colourful Company for the Leeds colour walk and it has been loads of fun meeting new people”

Name: Sarah Jane Smith
Instagram: @sj.sdsphotography
Job: Photographer
Tattoo: Rose by Polly at Cry Baby Tattoo

“It’s been a bunch of warm, welcoming, like-minded people who have been great fun to hang out with.”

Name: Alice Christina
Instagram: @awonderemporium
Job: Blogger & Photographer
Tattoo: Wildflower bouquet, by Lea Snoeflinga at Northside Tattoos

“This is my first walk and everyone is so friendly and colourful. It’s inspiring to see so many incredible women bossing it!”

Name: Katie Abey
Instagram: @katieabey
Job: Illustrator and company director
Tattoos: Hogwarts by Vicky Morgan, cat by Jody Dawber, WIP back piece by Ashley Luka, lemon grab by Paul Tipping.

“In Colourful Company has brought me so many new friends. It’s inspiring to go on adventures with amazing girl bosses!”

Name: Nicola Fernandes
Instagram: @fernandesmakes
Job: Illustrator
Tattoos: Lady by Adam Steel, Squirrel by Adam Cornish, Wasted Rita quote by Mike Boyd, Cat and Scribble by Rainey Harley.

“It’s like I’ve stepped inside of Instagram. It’s great to meet people in real life and make connections and hopefully BFF’s”


To find out more about In Colourful Company and how you can get involved head to their website.

Interview with Gaston Tonus

25-year-old guest writer Jessica Miorini chats to Gaston Tonus, an Argentinian tattoo artist based in Germany, as she gets tattooed in his private studio. Between a thigh piece and a Fritz-Kola, they chat about his unique graphic style, his inspirations and his background as a tattoo artist…

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It’s a long way from Argentina to Wiesbaden, both physically and culturally. What brought you here? Here, in Europe, I believe I can express myself better. People give me the freedom to tattoo these crazy things on them and this gives me the greatest satisfaction.

What made you want to become a tattoo artist? I first approached tattooing as I wanted to get tattooed myself. This was 20 years ago in Argentina, where I started to build my own machines and experiment with them. You’ll have to imagine a completely different industry, where there weren’t too many machines available and still a strong stigma attached to tattoos.

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How would you define your style? I would define it as graphic blackwork. It’s also sketchy and dark, but it has something more personal to it.

Among graphic tattooers, your artwork has a distinctive identity. What is your style most influenced by? The work of other tattoo artists, especially here in Europe, has definitely had a big impact on my art. My stylistic influences come from a lot of different places, from painters and cartoonists, like Caravaggio, Dürer, Mark Ryden, Alberto Breccia and H. R. Gige, to film directors, like Kubrick, Lynch, Cronenberg and Hitchcock. Music also plays an important role, there are bands that take me to a dreamland, like Tool, A Perfect Circle and Deftones, among others. I tend to mix all these different inputs together and translate them into tattoos.

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 Your works include traits of both surrealism and dark naturalism. Where do you draw your inspiration from? I find inspiration in almost all things, from nature, dreams and places, to people and buildings. I love tattooing animals, I’m a vegetarian as well, and I’m deeply inspired by nature, plants and birds, as well as manmade objects. I like to mix them, merge animals and faces, and come up with some strange and crazy combinations.

 Do you prefer to tattoo your own flash or enjoy the whole custom-made process more? Most of the time I prefer to tattoo my own pieces, as I invest so much energy and time in drawing them. But if the client’s idea speaks to me and we’re like-minded, it can turn into something even more beautiful, as this exchange of ideas and thoughts can spark my creativity even more.

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What are your favourite pieces that you’ve tattooed so far? I put too much of myself in each single piece to choose one. They all have a unique history or meaning, which will end up being completely different from my clients’.

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Finally, how has your art evolved and what further direction do you see yourself taking in the future? When I started, almost 20 years ago in Argentina, there weren’t many styles and techniques to choose from. You had magazines full of mainly tribal and traditional tattoos, and that’s what I started tattooing. With time, I started to draw more, I studied graphic design and decided to focus on my own artwork.

I never stop, I love spending my time drawing all day in my studio to make better tattoos every day. I keep pushing myself to improve and always keep an eye open for new things that might tickle my imagination. I always hope I will get to know new people, make good friends all around Europe and keep sharing experiences and good times with clients and colleagues.

Interview with Tattoo Artist Hanah Moore

23-year-old Hanah Moore works out of Queen Square Tattoo Club in Wolverhampton and creates beautifully neo-traditional tattoos. We chat to Hanah about her developing style, what inspires her and how she started in the industry…

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How long have you been tattooing? I started my apprenticeship just under two years ago, and I’ve tattooed every piece of fruit and all the friends you can imagine. But I officially did my first paid tattoo in January 2016, so just over a year.

How did you start? How did you get your apprenticeship? What did you do before?  I was extremely lucky with the whole “it’s who you know” business, my partner Josh Jeffery has been tattooing for just over four years and is insanely talented. So, when I met him I was plunged into the world of tattooing, I was studying at university when he arranged an apprenticeship interview for me. I was extremely lucky to get the job and I quit university the following week.

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Do you have a background in art? I did A-level art but we weren’t given much freedom with what we could create. I never really enjoyed that so I used to doodle tattoo ideas in all my books.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I got my first tattoo in Ibiza in the back of a seaside shop, and my first tattoo experience had no impact on where I am now. I was intrigued about the potential of what can be created on the body. So, I started my research and began collecting work from amazing artists who inspired me.

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Describe your style, has it changed? 
I’ve always loved anything floral, whether it be tattoos or not, I’ve always found the flow of nature to be beautiful. So recently I’ve tried to channel that and incorporate it into to my work, and make that my style. What I’ve wanted to create has never changed but my ability to do it has. I’m still learning and growing as an artist that will never stop, but I’m slowly getting closer to what I’d like to one day to be my style.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I love drawing and tattooing flowers, there are endless possibilities when you bring them to life on the skin. I’m also all for the pop culture tattoos, as cheesy and overdone as they are I’m a sucker for them. Harry Potter is my main obsession and I keep trying to create pieces that no one else has done, which is very tricky, everyone loves a good Harry Potter tattoo!

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What inspires you? Do you admire any other artists? I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by some insanely talented artists, I live and work with my partner Josh and he’s my biggest supporter and inspiration. I’ve learnt everything I know from him. I admire way too many artists to list, but it has to be said female tattooists are killing it right now and I look up to them!

What would you love to tattoo? I’m dying to tattoo more animals and bigger pieces in general. I have a habit of drawing small so I’d love to break out of that and start some project work and bigger pieces.

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What’s a typical day like for you? I’d love to say I lead an exciting life but I’m afraid I don’t. We drive to work with the loudest music on you can imagine to get pumped for the day. I’m always super prepared so I know when I get to the studio my design was already drawn a week in advance. I’m the only woman in our studio and due to the style of my work I tattoo mainly women, so my days consist of gossiping and laughing really loud with all my customers. I’m extremely grateful of how amazing every one of my customers has been since I started, genuinely I feel like with every customer I tattoo I make a new friend and I love that.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? 
I don’t have that many tattoos to talk about but the ones I do have I adore. I have one nearly completed sleeve which consists of a hand holding a Harry Potter letter, a free hand cover up of a compass, and a mystic fortune teller with cat’s ears and crystals all done by the talented Lewis Weatherley. I had a spontaneous tattoo to the side of my face of a little flower by Paul Terry last year at tattoo freeze that I absolutely love. I wouldn’t say they all have any particular meaning most of them are more memories from a fun day or just pure appreciation of an artist and I am honoured to where their work on me.

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Short documentary, Johny Midnight

Beautiful short documentary following Johny Midnight, a south London based artist, as he completes a painting, from start to finish, of Battersea Power Station.

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Johny’s gallery/studio is in Balham, south west London, gallerymidnight.com

Midnight from James Stittle on Vimeo.

Director: Andrew Grayshon
Cinematography: James Stittle, shot on Sony FS7 using Canon Lenses
Editor: Olli Abbott

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The Tattoo Flash Colouring Book and Interview with MEGAMUNDEN

The Tattoo Flash Colouring Book created by MEGAMUNDEN, and published by Laurence King, is filled with a vibrant and varied collection of tattoo flash for you to colour in. Inspired by  traditional style flash sheets and tattoo imagery, it’s a celebration of the tattoo world and its history. It’s perfect for tattoo lovers who love to unwind by exploring their creativity. 

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We chat to 35-year-old Brighton-based illustrator and creator of The Tattoo Flash Colouring Book Oliver Munden, AKA MEGAMUNDEN, to find out more about his book and what originally drew him to tattoo art…

Do you have a background in art? I followed the fairly typical route of doing art and design at school, then a foundation course at college, and a graphic design course at university. This gave me a really broad understanding of design and my first job was at a graphic design studio. It was here I realised I wanted to follow a career that focused on illustration. I’d drawn all the time from a very young age, so it made sense that I came back around to focusing on that.

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What kinds of things do you create? As a lead designer at Ilovedust, I create anything from tequila bottle labels to graphics for restaurant interiors, book covers to huge murals and everything in between! As MEGAMUNDEN, I focus generally on tattoo inspired artwork but that changes from project to project. I get bored doing one style all the time, although I do always come back to a tattoo-inspired aesthetic.

I’ve created two colouring books with Laurence King Publishing, both with a tattoo theme. I’m currently working on a deck of Tarot cards with them too, these have a tattoo theme and we have other projects under discussion, so watch this space.

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What inspires you and what inspired the book?  I took a trip to the States before making the second book and I collected tons of photographs and various other trinkets to inspire me.

The first book was a 50/50 split between Japanese and Western inspired tattoo style artwork. I wanted the second book to be more Western focused in its source of inspiration. I wanted it to be decorative yet bold and graphic. I wanted patterns to be woven into the visuals. I’m really into the old sailor style tattoos, and they’re a big trend right now. I looked at many recognisable tattoo icons, including vases, flowers, anchors, gypsy girls, ships, snakes, tigers, and tried to give them all my own spin.

What medium do you prefer to work in? I hand-drew most of my first book but at the moment I tend to work digitally using a Cintiq drawing tablet. It allows me to draw more complex things quickly, although the second book took even longer than the first despite having less pages! It’s just that much more complex in design and I like to think it’s a much more consistent and considered collection of tattoo flash. All there for people to colour if they wish!

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What drew you to the world of tattoos? The way designs impact you when you see them, like when you see a amazing tiger head tattoo and it stays with you. So many fields take influence from the world of tattoos, for example snowboard riders want their design to be easy to see when their board is flipping, so bold tattoo inspired visuals work nicely for that.

Skulls, snakes, spiders and flowers all resonate with me. My father has been keen on keeping reptiles and amphibians all his life, and that definitely rubbed off on me. I think all of that has a lot to do with the icons within tattooing it’s just so inspiring.

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Can you tell us about your tattoos ? I have a full Japanese sleeve on my left arm and my right arm is a collection of more sailor style pieces that I’ve got on my many travels and work trips. I’ve been to the USA a lot and had stuff done there, but I’ve also got a couple of pieces from Lisbon and Barcelona. Dan Frye does a lot of my tattoos when I’m at home in Brighton – he’s ace!

The Tattoo Flash Colouring Book created by MEGAMUNDEN and published by Laurence King is a must for tattoo lovers and available to buy here.