Category: Art

Tattoo Apprenticeship: Another Education

Meet Leti Mortimer, she is a tattoo apprentice under Rose Harley at at Vagabond studios in east London. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…  

I came to tattooing pretty late on. None of my friends or family had tattoos and as I started to acquire my own small, mostly concealable collection, they were often met with disappointment or shock. The idea of being a tattoo artist never really crossed my mind. I took the expected path of doing a degree (English with Creative Writing) and when I graduated tried out a few things that could put my new qualification to use but nothing stuck.

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Leti with her portfolio…

I have always drawn. My dad put a sketch book and pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold them. I continued to draw through school, my degree and beyond but never thought I could make a career out of something so fun. Then it dawned on me. I started to put some sketches together thinking, I like this. My CV, rather than being the usual slog of boring notes about my education was a compilation of things I had made. I got myself a nice faux leather A3 folder, did a lot of cutting and sticking and set off.

After a bit of searching I was offered a tattoo apprenticeship at a street shop in South London. It did’t last long, and I was sacked after two months. I’d done nothing wrong and the guy invented a reason to get rid of me. There are no real rights for tattoo apprentices so people can take advantage quite easily- I found that out the hard way.

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I approached a few other places with more caution and after about six or so months I came across tattoo artist Rose Harley. In my interview she was very serious and professional, looking carefully through my portfolio. She told me that if I wanted to do the apprenticeship it would be hard work, like doing another degree. She offered me a three-month probation period – four days a week of cleaning, nothing to do with tattoos, for me to prove that I was serious about it, no apprenticeship guaranteed. I quit my job and found something part time, I had to work seven days a week to be able to support myself, it was going to be tough.

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Leti (right) with her mentor Rose.

Two and a half months later, she accepted me as her apprentice. I was over the moon, my life was about to change completely. We had a few drinks to celebrate and she told me we would be like family – that it would be hard work but she would look out for me. And so It began. I continued with cleaning and general apprentice duties and started learning.

Rose and I would go to a local pub one night a week, a sort of evening class, with a focus on a different topic every time – machines, skin, needles, important figures in tattooing, each week building up my knowledge. Her method of teaching suited me perfectly. I would observe her tattooing, she would talk me through each process, I would frantically scribble notes trying to memorise everything she told me. She set me homework each week –drawing, finger exercises, drawing, research, more drawing.

It was a few months before I did my first tattoo. (A little cactus on Rose’s leg) It was a scary moment. When you’re sat with a buzzing machine in one hand and human paper in the other, about to permanently mark them for life, it is a trying experience. And I didn’t take it lightly. It took me a long time and I had to go over some of the lines a bit but I got there. And that was it.

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The first tattoo Leti did on Rose

I continued observing, researching, drawing, cleaning, drawing, tattooing, gradually building up my skill set. I moved studios with Rose as she got a job at the beautiful Vagabond in Bethnal Green where owners Paul Hill (tattooist) and Rebecca Morris (manager and graphic designer) kindly agreed to let me join her. I’ve been lucky enough to continue my apprenticeship there since.

Vagabond sets the bar at a whole new level. Every aspect of the shop is so carefully considered. Each artist has such an extensive knowledge of tattooing and high standard of work. Every tattoo is so well thought out. They really care about tattoos and it’s so apparent in the work that each artist produces. It has proven to be a fantastic environment to be learning in and in addition to the continued support and advice from Rose, I’ve been lucky enough to have help from tattooists Paul, Harry Harvey and Andrew Hulbert. Things really couldn’t have worked out better.

It’s been a pretty mental year and I have loved every day. I am so grateful to Rose for taking me under her wing and being the best mentor. It has definitely been an education like no other. I am on my way to my dream job and I can’t wait to get started.

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A recent tattoo by Leti

Ella Strickland de Souza – Political and Feminist illustrations

Introducing Ella Strickland de Souza who does wonderful political and feminist illustrations, her work is often commissioned by Vice

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An illustration inspired by the shocking decision by the UK to leave the European Union.

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Sassy babes from mythology and folktales.

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An editorial illustration for Vice.com for an article about ‘The Clit List’ – an online porn resource for survivors of sexual assault. Read the full article here.

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An illustration for Vice.com about the possible effects of Britain leaving the EU on women. You can read the full article here.

 

Interview with Iris Lys

30-year-old travelling tattoo artist Iris Lys is based in Liège Belgium, where she guets at a friend’s shop every month. We chat to Iris about her love for cats, how her tattoos have progressed since she began tattooing and how she wants to create larger pieces… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I started tattooing in 2005 and I made my first tattoo ever in 2003, when I was just 17. That was in a awful shop in France, so I don’t count it, I started a real apprentice ship in Helsinki Finland at the end of 2004.

How did you start? What did you do before? I have always loved body modifications and I have always drawn and somehow I just knew it was my thing. I moved to Finland (where my mum is from) a year after I finished school, with the goal of finding a place to start my tattoo apprenticeship. I remember I arrived in Helsinki and found this shop where I got tattooed and I had all of my drawings in my bag hoping I would get the balls to ask for an apprenticeship. I showed them my drawings and they took me on!

My drawings had nothing to do with tattoos when I began, I think my drawings were pretty bad, but I was young and nobody makes perfect drawings from a young age! I had a difficult apprenticeship, as I was a very shy girl who couldn’t speak Finnish very well. So sometimes the language barriers got a bit problematic! I consider myself to be self made, no one really showed me things or helped me understand things and how to get better that’s why I learnt very slowly.

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Do you have a background in art? Both my parents are artists, they always took us to exhibitions and made us draw or do anything artistic. My father was an art teacher for years until he stopped to have more time for his own art, he was a sculptor and amazing painter. My mom also paints, draws and makes traditional Finnish wall tapestry, they both made me love art. I went to an art school in Helsinki for a year too but I wasn’t really into it as I wanted to learn tattooing  and I thought learning how to paint wasn’t really my thing which I now regret since I  would have learn so much.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I guess I can call my style traditional with a girly/kitty touch.  I use a lot of traditional images as inspiration that I try to adapt in cat style like rock of ages “rock of kitties”, pharaoh’s horses “pharaoh’s kitties”, handshake “paw shake”, I like to add funny words to the drawings. I also like to create funny and naughty designs with asses and cats involved!

My style has changed in a way and so has my tattooing ability. I am only now after 11 years of tattooing kind of happy with what I do since I have been travelling so much, living in different countries, working in a lot of shops and learning things from others. I am so much happier and confident now, I always knew I wanted to tattoo and I want to until I am unable to keep a machine in a my hand.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? I love to draw and tattoo flowers, hands, lady faces and of course cats!  I’m always happy to have people contacting me about their cat projects, especially when they have very funny ideas! I like doing other stuff too,  I don’t want people to think I’m not able to do anything else than cats or to think I only make palm size tattoos which isn’t right! I like bigger project too and when they have cats in it I am even happier.

What is it about cats that you love so much? I come from a tiny village in south of France where we always had cats and even more cats were coming to our garden, wild ones, I remember trying to catch them very silently to pet them, I have just always loved cats! I started tattooing my first cats a few years back and while I was in Montreal. I started to draw more and more and since people seem to like it I thought this is perfect, now I can make this my thing!

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What inspires you? My big inspiration is my own cat at the moment, I am completely crazy about her, she is my baby! Also sometimes I see funny cat pictures on my news feed that I use as reference.

What would you love to tattoo? I’d love to find someone who would get a full sleeve in a cat theme or a back piece, I want to make bigger pieces. I like doing palm size tattoos but sometimes I miss making bigger pieces, I feel like people think am not into that!

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I’ll be the last week of July at Salon Serpent, few days at Jolie Rouge London in August and will come back to London in November for a week but haven’t figured it out yet.  As for conventions, I’ll be at Tox Cit Ink Liège (Belgium), Montreux tattoo convention (Switzerland) both in September, at Nantes tattoo convention in October and should be at Lisbon tattoo convention in December.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are pretty much all about cats, I have many cat tattoos on myself. A few years back I said that the only thing I would get would be cat related and it has been like that since then, but as I have been running out of space this is header to do. I started getting tattooed when I was younger and some of then have been covered, blasted over and lasered, but some still remain unfortunately. The best tattoos I have are all hidden since I don’t show my legs that much anymore!

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.

Veganism and Ink

In this post our guest blogger Amber Bryce discusses how she thinks veganism and tattoos go perfectly together and she talks to two tattoo artists who also share her point of view…  

In many ways, I think that veganism and tattoos make a perfect pair. They’re  decisions that hold a lot of weight and impact, they can change your entire outlook on life and help to narrate a new kind of future for either yourself, or the world. To discuss the subject further I spoke with two lovely women in the tattoo industry: Avalon, a tattoo artist who works at The Grand Illusion Studio in Melbourne, Australia, and Dina, who owns Gristle Tattoo in Brooklyn, USA.

Here’s what they had to say…

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How long have you been tattooing for? I started apprenticing at The Grand Illusion (Melbourne) at the start of 2013 and did my first tattoo ever on myself by the end of 2013. Before tattooing I had been painting for a few years, doing custom pet portraits for people, which was so much fun.

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When did you become vegan? I went vegan five years ago when my fiancé Josh and I moved to the states for a few months. A month into my veganism I realised how amazing I felt, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. At that point I knew there was no turning back and that nothing, no peer pressure, no craving, no situation would ever make me eat animals again.

Is your veganism something that has always inspired your tattoo designs? I can’t count the amount of vegan inspired tattoos that I’ve done. Animals have become my speciality! I usually tattoo a combination of animals together, cows, lambs, chickens (lots of chickens) and piggies. Meeting like-minded people, chatting food, chatting animals and sharing a mutual lifestyle really brings me closer to the clients.

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How do you think tattoos can help veganism? It’s no surprise that people with tattoos are often asked about why they have particular tattoos. My clients get tattooed for themselves, often to celebrate a milestone in their veganism or to commemorate animals, however, if anyone were to ask about why they have a love heart with animals in it tattooed on them I’m sure they’re proud to explain why. I believe that having a vegan tattoo is a very courageous and inspiring thing. To welcome people to question your lifestyle or even comment on it takes strength.

Do you have any personal vegan tattoos? If so, who are they by? I do have a few animal tattoos myself! My most recent is a girl dressed up as a chicken referenced from some vintage flash painted by Earl Brown, circa 1950, on the side of my thigh by the brilliant Becca Gené-Bacon from Hand of Glory in Brooklyn, NY.

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What’s your favourite vegan tattoo that you’ve done? Every vegan tattoo that I have done holds its own meaning and its own memories. Really, they’re all as special as each other for the client, and myself.

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When did you become vegan? I’ve been 100% vegan for six years and the two years prior to that I was 90% vegan (I ate cheese once every four months) and then I was vegetarian for about 15 years prior to that. So when I opened my own business it seemed natural for it to be vegan.

How has veganism informed your business? I use the shop to do a lot of fundraisers for animal rescues. We work with small, local rescues that are in desperate need of funds. We tailor each fundraiser flash to fit the organisation. For example, we do wolves when we work with Wolf Conservation Center, we do farm animals when we work with Skylands or Woodstock Farm Sanctuaries and we have a TnR event coming up so we’ll design cat related flash.

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How do you think tattoos can help the cause of veganism? I think tattoos can inspire veganism in a few ways. First, if people encounter enough people with vegan tattoos, they may stop and think about how many people are vegan and that it’s possible for them to change and be vegan too. And second, they may also see an image that inspires them to change their own lifestyle and habits.

Tell us about your tattoos? For me, it’s important to have my tattoos have meaning so I don’t get sick of them. Few things have more importance to me than the animals I’ve rescued, and animals in general, so I’ve tried to get a few of my favourites as tattoos.

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You convinced Reprofax to make the first vegan stencil paper! Tell me more about that. I had read online about the stencil paper possibly not being vegan. Rather than take the postings at face value, I tried to contact the company directly. After several contact attempts and no response I had my geneticist friend test it. He came back with lanolin as the offending ingredient and then about the same time I got his results, the company responded confirming it was indeed lanolin — it holds the ink onto the plastic sheet.

I then began harassing them until they agreed to make a vegan stencil paper. Their chemist had retired ten years prior, which is why they were reluctant to create any new versions of the paper. We helped test their early versions and when they had a solid final version, I was the first one to buy it. Many artists are unaware products in the tattoo process are not vegan – they think it’s limited to the ink and aftercare. But it’s the ointment, the soap and even the moisture strip on razors.

Apprentice Love: Jay Rose

We spotted the work of 21-year-old apprentice Jay Rose on Instagram and instantly loved her dark dotwork and floral tattoos. We chatted to Little Jay to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Dot Tattoo Studio in Glasgow where she works… 

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Photo by Nik Antonio

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been an apprentice for just over a year, I did my first tattoo on May 18th 2015.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I’ve always had an interest in tattooing, I was exposed to tattoos my entire childhood. My granddad has some really old traditional style tattoos, I grew up looking at pop eye tattooed across his hand, with old school lettering in a heart for his mum and dad. I think being exposed to tattoos so frequently they drew my attention more towards them. I knew I was going to be heavily tattooed; I just didn’t think I’d be the one doing it!

When I started to properly get tattooed one of the people who tattooed me was Raph Cemo, when I went to get tattooed by him I was a little lost, things weren’t going to plan and I’d lost my vision of what I wanted to be doing. I came out of that tattoo session so empowered (and a little physically drained), knowing what I wanted to do and feeling silly for not realising how obvious it was that I should start tattooing. It wasn’t until a year later, when I had set up a clear path and done a lot of self-development that I met Tom and somehow convinced him to let me be his apprentice.

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Do you have a background in art? My parents brought me up drawing and letting me make creative messes in the house, my mum’s a wonderful artist but she’ll never admit that to anyone. My nan used to paint water colours and I’d draw the flowers in her garden when I was a little girl, I guess that’s where my love for flowers comes from as well. I’ve always been artistic due to the way I was brought up, I studied fine art and photography before starting my degree in painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of Art.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I get tattooed for lots of different reasons, but long story short tattooing is allowing me to create a vessel I feel comfortable in and am proud of. My journey with my body is a continuous one that I work on loving everyday but tattooing has allowed me to externalise the vision I hold for my body, watching that come to life and loving myself a little bit more each time is an emotional path. I have never been more myself than I am now due to tattooing, and that’s a really comforting feeling. This vessel is the only thing I will ever truly own, the only thing that will ever truly be mine and I am working on improving it and worshipping it every day.

I am so thankful for all of the artists that have allowed me to sit in their chair and help me with my journey, if I can even help someone half as much as these incredible beings have helped me I’d be overjoyed. Seeing how much of an impact you have had in someone’s life, be that from helping with self-improvement or to be a part of a creation of a memory is magical to see, that’s why I love tattooing.

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Describe your style, how has it changed? I guess the style I tattoo in would technically fall under dot work, my style itself however is constantly changing and developing as I meet new people and discover new things. Tibetan art has been a major influence throughout my life and was a really heavy part of my style and what I was tattooing at the beginning. The impact it has on me hasn’t changed however I’ve naturally moved towards more botanical tattoos as of late. I wish to never become ignorant of the origins and meanings of what I tattoo on others as well as what I put onto myself.

What inspires you? It sounds cliché but for me I gain inspiration from the little things, a lot of my inspiration comes from flowers, I find myself happiest when sitting in botanical gardens surrounded by life continuously blossoming around me.

I didn’t have the most stereotypical upbringing, my mum taught me about Buddhism and took me to galleries so that I was exposed to different cultures and their art. I take a lot from Tibetan Buddhist art and symbolism, their art is not only aesthetically beautiful but the meanings behind everything comes from love and understanding.

People and places are the most vital inspirations you can get as that’s what is continuously surrounding you, if you make a point of living a positive life, surrounded by the most inspiring people, in the most beautiful places you’re going to have such a love filled creative outlet and there’s something really blissful about that.

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What would you love to tattoo? At the moment I’m really enjoying more botanical pieces, I’ve recently grown a love for drawing plants with the bulbs attached. I’ve started to get really into anatomical drawings as well, so I’d really like to do a large botanical/anatomical thigh piece, I think that would be really stunning.

What is a typical day like for you? It normally involves a lot of reading, I get a lot of inspiration from books so am often reading a few things at once and often drawing from them as well. My work outside of tattooing is text based so a lot of that involves writing pieces and hammering them into large metal plates for hours on end. That’s also where I end up drawing up a lot of my tattoo designs, as it’s my creative space and outlet.

I work in a private studio, so it’s by appointment only which means I get to control the amount of tattoos I’m doing a day and I don’t have set hours. Tattooing is where I find my mind the most clear, when I’m tattooing, drawing or reading my mind is simply taking in what is in front of me. When I’m tattooing I am so engrossed in the experience, in what I’m tattooing, in why the person is getting it and who they are, that I often forget this is a job.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? A lot of the work I hold upon my own body is that of Tibetan and Buddhist symbolism along with some personal links with friends and family. Everything I hold on my person means something, which can be taken in the form of Buddhist myths to my own personal connections to the objects or imagery my vessel now features.
One of my favourite tattoos is an outlined heart with ‘JuSt’ written inside; ‘JuSt’ stands for Julie and Stephen which are both of my parents names, the font is from my typewriter and the non symmetrical heart is hand drawn by me and was kept imperfect to represent me along side them as a continuous link to one another when I’m far from home.

I also now posses The Three Graces upon my arm which is taken from Botticelli’s painting the ‘La Primavera’, after studying this painting for a year whilst studying history of art at the age of 18 I flew to Florence to view this painting in the flesh.  I sobbed staring at it for hours mesmerised by the impact it had not only on my body but on me as a person. I decided to get the Three Graces tattooed on me due to what they represented as goddesses of such things as charm, beauty, and creativity.

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Photo by Nik Antonio

I made a start of my full back piece earlier this year with Hannah Sykes which is not only the largest piece on me to date but arguably the most physically and mentally draining also. The whole process through the amount of time, continuous alterations, and adjustments to fit the vision that both Hannah and myself hold for my body is a long and exciting journey we hope to finish at the end of this year. The piece itself is an array of Tibetan flowers spread over my full back and wrapping around my bum. Getting my back tattooed was a huge decision for me, not only for the amount of space it spanned on my body but also to make sure it fitted and worked with my petite frame rather than over powering it. However any worry swiftly disappeared when I saw the vision Hannah had come up with and altered to fit my body perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with the way in which this continuation is turning out.

Shaded: Martyna Wisniewska

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 21-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.

Martyna Wisniewska is a 21 year-old photojournalism graduate based in Southampton who is as much a talented live music photographer as she is an ethereal visual artist. Contributing to ‘Shaded’, the South-Western surrealist enlightens us as to what it is that influences her creatively, the importance of tone in her photography and her fascination with crows that’s soon to inspire her next tattoo…

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When did you start taking photographs? I moved to Southampton to study at university and started shooting at the beginning of 2014. I was reviewing gigs for three months prior, but I realised I hated writing more than anything so I picked up a camera instead. It hit me following a 65daysofstatic show that I was going to pursue this weird little path I found myself on. I remember running home from the venue with tears in my eyes – it felt like I finally found something I loved doing!

What influences your work? My work is very heavily influenced by people. I would be lying if I said the people I work with don’t influence the look or feel of certain frames. Other than that, I’m influence by the same things as to any other content creator: the internet, books, advertising – It’s all part of it! I look at images all the time. I was that weird kid in my art class, so I always had a wonky sense of what the things I make should look like. Dali was obviously a huge influence along with Eric Lacombe. It’s super tough to pin-point what exactly influences me, but I feel like it’s fair to say the way my work looks is environmental. I adapt my concepts to situations.

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Can you speak about the artists who inspire you? To be honest, it would be easier to speak of people who don’t inspire me. There’s naturally a bunch of artists who’s work I love. One of them being a German photographer based in Berlin, Gundula Blumi. She makes these dreamy, surrealistic images that I can’t get enough of. The tone of her work makes my brain tingle. It bugs me how one can be so creative. I also closely follow the work of other content creators like Joshua Halling, Sam Haines, Daniel Patlan, Liam Warton, Nona Limmen and Tamara Lichtenstein.

What do you use to create your images? In terms of cameras, anything from compact cameras to my ultimate baby, the Canon 6D. In terms of the look of my shots, I own a bag full of glass that I use to reflect my images and manipulate them. That’s it really. A bag full of glass is the key.

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What do you admire in other people’s work? I struggle with tone a lot – my colour palette is so odd! Sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s the most infuriating thing in the world. Months ago, I went through a phase of making everything look dirty and over saturated. I now strive to get the dreamiest frames I possibly can, so tones and the use of natural light are things I admire the most in other people’s work.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t really have that many. I’m pretty much covered in animals, bones and plants. When I was a kid, I owned a bunch of lovable creatures, so a lot of my tattoos are either of animal skulls or my pets. I got a stick and poke last October when on tour with Milk Teeth and Title Fight. My pal Daniel Liljedahl did it. Most of my tattoos have been done by a Southampton-based tattoo artist and illustrator called Gemma Piper who works at Ginger Toms Tattoo Studio. I love her style, hence why I essentially let her cover my right leg in her work.

She was an apprentice at Ginger Toms when I started getting tattooed by her. I’ve been pretty lucky to have been able to watch her progress so closely. Sucha Igla produced a pretty big piece of mine. He’s this insanely talented artist who’s based in Gdansk, Poland. The design is a rat skull contained within a wooden hexagram. It sounds pretty gnarly, but it’s actually kind of girly. The only tattoo on my body that can really be considered to have any existential meaning is this funny looking lizard I’ve got tattooed on my calf. He has the word ‘relaxo’ written above him, simply because I forget to slow down and be mindful of my surroundings a lot of the time.

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What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? I always liked the look of tattooed skin; my family never really approved. I got in trouble for getting my nose pierced when I was 16, so you can imagine my Mum’s reaction when I first started getting tattooed. She made me promise not to get any more after my first, but 22 tattoos later and I think she might finally be over it all.

Do you have any plans for future work? The only tattoo I have planned right now is a big black crow that’s gonna go on my arm. I recently developed this weird attraction to crows; they’re not only the most handsome of birds but also super interesting to watch. They’re like a bunch of bad boys hanging out, pissing each other off and protecting their turf. There are a lot of artists I’d love to get tattooed by, Hugo Tattooer being one of them. He tattoos the cutest little animals – it makes my heart hurt! I’d also love to get tattooed by this surrealist artist from Holland, Levi Jake. His portraiture is something that inspires my work and I would love one day to be able to get him to design me a dreamy piece to compliment my bag of glass.

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Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world your photography gravitates toward? There is definitely a link between tattoos and music. It’s all art in the end, isn’t it? I think the factor of self-expression is what makes band culture gravitate towards the world of tattoos. Both music and tattoos allow you to express yourself and your values.

Journey

Things&Ink was launched over three years ago, it has become a community, not just for tattoo lovers, but creatives of all kind. This photoshoot was created by our stylist Olivia Snape, who has brought together creative minds, models, make-up artists in this stunning series of images titled: Journey.

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“After an amazing three years being a part of Things&Ink, I reflected on how inspired I was by all the incredible people I had met along the way… this lead me to piece together this photoshoot, which illustrates a journey to whatever and wherever that may be,” says Things&Ink stylist, Olivia Snape

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When the mind allows you to flow into realms unknown
Floating on a moment
Do not allow the eye to trick the mind
Explore all beings of light
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Art Director & Stylist – Olivia Snape
Models – Monaisse & Maxi More
Jewellery – Tessa Metcalfe  & Jayne Fowler
Clothing – Prangsta with special thanks to Amaya Dent

Interview with Lucrezia

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to tattooist Lucrezia about her beautiful tattoos and recognisable style… 

Lucrezia is a Sardinian girl with a colourful heart and sea waves in her hair. Her Sarditional style is getting more and more renowned and here she explains the perfect mix for a tattoo made with love. Among coricheddos (little heart shaped sweets), delicate feminine figures and amulets, she is bewitching the web! You can find her in Milan, at Toy Tattoo Parlour.

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You are a complete artist- a graphic designer, illustrator and tattoo artist! Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic career? It was a quite natural process, you know, I grew up with colors in my hands and I used to leave my marks on every surface. My path as an illustrator and tattoo artist were parallel to each other, they reflected a way more rebellious and emotional side of my studies in architecture and graphic design. My degree surely gave me the basics useful to search the composition and balance in each drawing I make.

What is your first memory connected to tattoos? My first memory is a feeling, I see the tattoo as a very important gesture that helps to fix an emotion and one that is on your skin for you to wear forever. As a tattoo artist,I find that the tattoo is a rite, that binds deeply the tattooer and tattooed during the creation of the piece.

The transformation of a story into a picture and the subsequent transposition of the skin, the pain, the amount of tension and excitement, and an indelible bond that is created with all my clients. These are the things I love the most about this work and I’d never imagined they could become so essential and vital for me.

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How would you define your Sardinian style? Is it a declaration of love for your homeland and the coricheddos (typical Sardinian sweets mostly made of almond and honey)? The sarditional was originally born as a hashtag game on Instagram. Initially, before I started tattooing, I filled my illustrations with little women tattooed with Sardinian buttons and motifs derived from the Sardinian tradition. Beginning my career as tattoo artist, they became my main subjects, executed using the technique of traditional style. The designs were simplified, with thick lines and black shadows, from there I put that Sar-ditional touch. Now it has become a real characteristic of my style, which is to bring to the world the Sardinian tradition, from ‘pavoncelle’, kokkoi, to buttons and coricheddos. And all those jewels that the Sardinian tradition considers to be protective amulets and charms. That’s how the design of a sarditional becomes a real ritual to put on the skin: for Sardinians and beyond!

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What are your daily inspirations, both personally and professionally speaking? Every day, the inspirations are the most varied, most of the time I get influenced by my moods, from the weather and especially by music. This last is crucial because it helps me to channel myself in mental states that may not belong to me and, for example, when I prepare a drawing for a client I can get closer and better identify himself using music.

From Alghero to Milan: how are you living this experience and what are your expectations? Milan is basically adopting and taking very good care of me, I am very good and I also managed to do a lot of experience, getting to know many people and growing especially from the professional point of view. Alghero will forever remain the seat of my roots and going home to do some guest spots is a must for my creativity. Sardinia is a land that offers so much inspiration, and especially its silence and its mystery stimulate creativity in me.

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Corals, beads, women faces filled with love. What are the subjects you prefer to tattoo? My favourite subjects are without doubt the little women, I find them super expressive and I am able to communicate anything through their eyes and hands.
I try to draw every little woman to resemble as closely as possible the client who will wear them forever.  In fact, I generally choose the colours together with the client, also to see what kind of colours and feelings that person sends me, and most of the time I guess right!

Who have you been tattooed by and who is on your wishlist? I have two beautiful surreal pieces made by the great Gabri Pais. Others by my boss Amanda Toy, who has spoiled my skin with bright colours. A piece signed with perfect lines by Paul Colli. A wonderful little woman by Viola Ceina. Another woman who remembers the old pieces of George Burchett, masterfully executed by Marco Sergiampietri. And a super old school tattoo by Alessio Errante.
In my wishlist you will find; Chiara Pina, Nicholas Rinaldi, Giampiero Cavaliere, Carlotta Cawa, Luca Font and internationally Bouits, Danielle Rose, Kirk Jones, Emily Rose and many others!

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Do you have any side projects you would like to tell us about?
I carry on various projects and collaborations, where I leave my mark with my illustrations. I have a newborn project this year, where my illustrations are combined with stories of “Appunti sparsi di una trentenne a Milano”; I often work approaching the magnificent letters of Gabriele Cecere. I always carry forward my graffiti under the name of La*tete, it was all born one evening, many moons ago, out of curiosity and in Milan, thanks to my good friend Nacho. When I have some time left, I also collaborate with the great artist and friend La fille Bertha.

Do you have any future guest spots and conventions planned?
My future guest spot will be in August for Cagliari Tattoo Convention. And then I will be in Rome and Florence within the year. The next dates and locations will be surely posted on my Instagram!