Category: Art

Handpoke Tattoos by Boo

31-year-old Boo Tattoo, is a handpoke tattoo artist who works out of  Embody Tattoo Studio in Derby UK. We chatted to Boo about how she became a tattooist, her handpoke style and her own tattoo collection… 

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016

How long have you been tattooing? I started my apprenticeship at the end of 2009, so around seven years now.

How did you start? What did you do before? I had been asked to draw tattoo flash to sell and got a bit precious over my designs. I’ve always loved exploring different medias and decided I wanted to learn to tattoo my own designs. I couldn’t really leave it alone after that! I had one tattoo apprenticeship that fell through after a month so I then opened a fair-trade gift shop selling clothes I had revamped, jewellery I had made from vintage and broken pieces and much more. I shut it down after nearly two years to start a new apprenticeship at Tradition 180 Custom Tattoo studio.

Do you have a background in art? I have always drawn! It was crazy as in my second primary school I was actually taken out of art lessons to do more spelling as I am really dyslexic. I did 3D Design for Sustainability Ba Hons, it was pretty strict and so it kept me focused and well one of my life ethos is to live by the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Hence I guess why I am trying to make Embody Tattoo studio one of the first inclusive and sustainable tattoo studios in the UK. I want to minimalise our negative impact on the planet.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I very much fell in to it, I honestly thought I would be designing chairs and spoons, but I burnt through so many forms of art and so far handpoke tattooing has stuck. Every day I feel like I learn something new and I’m always looking to be better than yesterday.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? I try not to draw tattoo art and instead draw whats in my heart! I love realism but I try to make it more abstract. I love lines and I was told off a lot in art lessons for putting lines where there were none, I also love realistic forms and colour.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? At the moment I am trying to push handpoking as far as I can take it, so I’m loving colour blends and smooth grey shading. I love to draw things inspired by nature and incorporating symbolism, and relish encoding stories and thought into my pieces.

What inspires you? I’m interested in ancient cultures and their forms of art and symbolism, I get a lot of inspiration from there. Also the beauty of nature and our surroundings. I guess that why I also love the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. I often bump into things whilst looking up at either the flourishes on the tops of buildings or just the forms of the trees and skies.


What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? It’s always amazing when someone asks for a piece of my art that I’ve just drawn. I love creating custom work for my clients, but its always pretty special to have someone see what comes from deep inside. I would love to do more free form and free hand work. I try not to refuse things, but to guide in a better direction, however I refuse to do anything with a hateful intent.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I do! After I have got Embody Tattoo studio running smoothly I hope to be back up in Aberdeen at Sailor Max Tattoo Parlour. I also have a few more guest spots to confirm with other studios such as Electric Lady Tattoo studio (Reading) and The Crow and Quill Tattoo studio (Southampton), so I’ll be up and around the country.
The next convention I am 100% working is the Goa Tattoo Festival and you will for sure be seeing me at next years Manchester’s Tattoo Tea Party and Doncaster’s Tattoo Jam. I’m still waiting to confirm a few more, but you’ll be certain to see me down in the south of England, across in Wales and up in Scotland.


Can you tell us about your own tattoos? On my body I mostly have abstract pattern work and nature inspired pieces. My sleeve was done by the man who taught me, Adam “Starfish” Dutton and contains so much I swear seven years on I am still finding new things! My neck is by Touka Voodoo and it is based on sacred geometry and I can’t wait to get it finished! I am collecting a thigh of skulls from artists I admire and love. I have Hermes wings on my feet which I handpoked myself and I have hands with peacock feathers on my left side for Hera. I also had five of my chakra points tattooed in order of the most under active, I’m yet to have my third eye and crown chakra though as I believe I’m not at that level yet. I am also collecting Swastikas in respect of ManWoman and his work trying to bring back the original meaning of the symbol, which is actually luck and good fortune!

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016

Interview with Nicole Draeger

30-year-old Nicole Draeger tattoos at Lygon St Tattoo Co in Melbourne Australia, and creates wonderfully bright neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Nicole about her style and what inspires her work…


How did you start tattooing and what did you do before? I’ve been tattooing for eight years now. I was studying graphic design and working part time as a receptionist. I had been designing tattoos for my friends and they were all going to the same shop to get them tattooed. Then one day I went with my friend to watch her get tattooed and they offered me an apprenticeship because they had seen so much of artwork already.

Do you have a background in art? I have always been into art and drawing, all I wanted to do when I was a kid was to become a cartoonist so I could draw my favourite cartoon characters all day. But as I got older I got more into graphic design and illustration and then eventually tattooing.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I always liked tattoos but I was put off getting one for a long time because of my parents. I had never really thought of becoming a tattooist until I was offered an apprenticeship and then I just dived right in and never looked back.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? It’s always hard to describe your style but, the best way to describe it would be neo-traditional. My style is always changing, I don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing all the time. Some days I enjoy doing simpler cute designs and other days I love doing more detailed pieces.


What do you like to tattoo and draw?  Mostly animals and flowers. I draw a lot of cats, insects and mammals.

What inspires you? I love watching David Attenborough documentaries, I also watch a lot of anime and cartoons. I also find a lot of inspiration from some of my favourite tattoo artists.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love tattooing animals and stylised pet portraits but I also really enjoy the occasional pop culture related tattoo so movies, cartoons and anime.  I refuse to tattoo anything racist or ignorant.


Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned?  This year I have been pretty quiet with the guest spots, but I’m looking forward to the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival in November this year.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos?  Most of the tattoos I have are from my friends or artists I look up to. They are all colour and pretty much all of them are some kind of animal or flower. Some of my favourite pieces include a winged rabbit on my forearm from Rachi Brains, a big blue peony on my shoulder from Jamie August and a portrait on my dog from Clare Clarity on my leg.


Interview with artist Anna Volpi

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Italian-American artist Anna Volpi about her photographic series Skin… 

When did the Skin project come about and what is the idea behind these shots? Skin was created for a competition that I didn’t win, but that doesn’t matter now. I met so many wonderful people through the project which is more important that any prize.  The title of the competition was simply ‘Skin’. I began to think of the various interpretations of skin, what you can do with it, the way we can see and feel it. The skin is the largest organ of our body and we can not live without it. One thing all human beings have in common is their skin and how it can cause a variety of relationships and reactions among people. Love, hate, contempt, worship and much more. ‘Skin’ is more than just aesthetics it explores how we live in it and how people really are inside their own body.


How did you select the personal stories of each one of the subjects? To select the people I searched the internet and I spread the word among my acquaintances. I only chose people who had interesting experiences or felt connected to their skin in some way.  I listened to the story of each of them and the ones I chose were those that struck me the most. In each photo there is a summarising sentence, that encapsulates them as a person.


What did you like the most about this experience, both personally and professionally? What I liked the most was meeting extraordinary people that I would like to keep in my life. From a more professional side, this is the most methodical project I’ve done so far. From the start I already had an idea of how the aesthetics would be. However when photographing people I didn’t ask for them to pose, I took every picture naturally during our long talks. But I knew that I wanted clean, balanced and strong images. I usually get dragged a little more by improvisation and variety, but here I had to work within certain limits, and it was a great experience.


What are your thoughts about tattoo art?  I have two tattoos, but I’ve never studied the history of tattooing. I don’t like how stereotyped people with tattoo are, and I don’t like them as a fashion trend. Saying that, not every tattoo should have a deep moral significance. My tattoos act as reminders for me. The words ‘here now’ remind me not to be anxious about the future, or decay in the past. ‘Write’, instead, reminds me to finish my novel. I chose Evelyn Hays, the tattooed girl in the Skin project, because she totally believes in this form of artistic expression. And I would have chosen her even if she hadn’t had tattoos, because she believes deeply in this art form.


Evelyn Hays

Can you see a relationship between tattoos and photography? In a photographic portrait a tattoo can be a point of interest or it can be seen as a disturbance. I really like to photograph the naked body, and for some shots I look for women without tattoos, because the tattoo is somehow distracting. Tattoos attract the eye, and can disturb the lines of the body that I want to create. Other times, they accentuate the body.

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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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… 



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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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)


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


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


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


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

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.

Lucky Cat - Georgina Liliane

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.

Verity Peacock

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.

halloween bats

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!