Category: Art

Katarzyna Mirczak: Special Signs

Special Signs by photographer Katarzyna Mirczak documents a collection of tattoos housed by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Jagiellonian University since 1872. Katarzyna photographed the collection creating a harrowing series, that closely looks at the lives of prisoners and the ways they wished to mark their bodies. The photographs are accompanied by the first name, age and cause of death of the prisoner, but their surname is not mentioned. By keeping some parts of their lives private, Katarzyna hoped to not completely expose the subjects.

The sixty skin pieces were removed from deceased prisoners in Kraków and are preserved in formaldehyde. Many of the tattoos were done in prison by other prisoners and tattoo machines made from objects they came across, including clips and pins. The pigment was often made from charcoal, cork and mixed with water, urine or fat to create a crude ink. It was forbidden for the Polish prisoners to tattoo themselves and many of the tattoos are symbolic of the wearer’s opinion of prison or signify things to other prisoners.

For example; an image of a mouth, usually red and open signified that the wearer was a homosexual. A dagger with a snake twisted around it shows revengeful intentions.



The Art of Ruth Knapp

Ruth Knapp, 38 is an artist, blogger and mother from Norwich, we chatted to her to find more about the kitschy colourful work she creates…


Do you have a background in art? I studied art at an adult education centre a few years ago, up to foundation level, I felt the need to do something artistic, and as my children were growing up I wanted to give them something to aspire to. I’m a single parent and I didn’t want to just be mum any more. They’re really proud of what I’ve achieved and love seeing my art about, that for me makes all the hard work worth it. deer What inspires you? I’m inspired by urban art, pop art, graffiti and anything kitsch. I have a collection of 60s animal ornaments and every bit of wall space in my kitchen is covered in kitsch pictures, mirrors and brass plates, some of them are tasteful but mostly they’re very tacky. I love it, I call it my Kitschen! kewpie Are there any artists you admire, do they influence your work? I love Andy Warhol, I know he’s an obvious one but I think he just got it so right, I recently saw his collection of cookie jars in the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition and it was clear we have the same taste in pottery! I also adore Pure Evil, his work is simple but powerful, you can tell his work instantly, his portraits are stunning. Most of my work is pretty happy, I like to make pictures that make people smile, but on the streets I’m going to start to be a bit darker. triple pineapple How do you create your pieces? I use stencils to create my work, I use spray paint on the streets and at home I use acrylic and stipple through the stencils to create smaller works which I can then scan and play about with on Photoshop. I love that they can look quite graphic but also still have a painterly style. I’ve recently worked on some large scale murals which were really fun and I enjoy painting live at events. halloweenkittyHow did you start making art? I started making art in 2013 I totally blagged my way onto a Btec I just turned up to an open day without being interviewed and they were like “see you Monday” I was pretty scared they’d see I had no idea what I was doing, but the first lesson happened to be pop art stencil cutting and I thought, hang on I can do this! I’m not sure if my skill comes from thinking that that day or if it’s just a coincidence, maybe if that first lesson had been oil painting it would all be very different. I passed the Btec with distinction and went on to do the Foundation. The pineapples were my final piece for my Foundation, people seemed to love them so I made more, they are where it all started so they’ll always be my signature. They have been nicknamed ‘Knapples’.


Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have loads of tattoos, I’ve pretty much run out of space now which is a shame as there’s so many great artists I’d love to have work by, I get envious of people who have loads of free skin! I do have some really nice work though, I’m really happy with my hands I left them until last and I’m glad I did, I’ve got two great pieces by Wink Evans and I can see them all the time so it’s good that I love them.
milkshakes Follow Ruth on Instagram for more art work and kitsch.

Skin Deep – an exhibition featuring photographic portraits of male models

Cheshire born and now London based, photographer Danny Baldwin explored a range of art forms, from drawing and drama to music and modelling, before finding his niche as a photographer. It was actually while modelling that Danny discovered a world where his creative vision could be channelled by flipping sides from in front to behind the lens. Influenced by fashion and counter-culture, Danny’s style mixes colours, tones and textures, and emphasises the power of beauty and shapes.
In his new exhibition, Skin Deep, Danny  documents a seismic mood change within the fashion industry that has seen agencies shift from representing only models with no tattoos, or those that are easily hidden, to building entire campaigns around elaborately inked individuals. Encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity, Skin Deep features 100 black and white nude images of professional tattooed male models shot against a stark black, signature background.
We found out more in this interview with Danny…


> What attracted you to photographing tattooed models? Why?

The underlying message is to encourage acceptance and freedom of expression, Skin Deep has been created over the course of a year to show the versatility of beauty and ink, and is something I could relate to myself. I needed it to be something that I understood, had knowledge about and was part of my life – and I wanted to represent and celebrate the rise of the tattooed model and its acceptance, slowly, into the fashion industry.



> What is your background? Have you always photographed people?

Yes I did a general photography course at college in Cheshire when I first started as a photographer and this covered all types of photography, when I was doing landscapes etc i used to have imagine people there to be able to create the image. I decided very quickly one of the main reasons I am a photographer is because of the people, so I continued my studies at London College of Fashion studying fashion photography

> Why only men in the project?

I decided when I started this as a personal project that It had to be relatable to myself, it had to say something from me and be pure to my vision and I felt – as a tattooed male myself – I would be able to better understand the body of the male and their process of thought. I want to represent the male models in a way I haven’t always been able to represent them due to client limitations.



> The portraits are in black and white… is there a particular reason for this?

Due to the scale of the project and the timeframe of over a year of shooting, I wanted to create something distinctive that showcased the models and their tattoos in a consistent way and I felt this was the best way to do it. I shoot a lot in black and white as I love shape, line, texture and movement and really feel this can be explored a lot deeper with a black and white image.



Are you tattooed yourself?

I do have a collection of tattoos and plan to have more done in the future months and years. I have my left top arm , finger, both feet, all my toes and most recently I have had the title of this project “skin deep” on my inner lip which was done at One By One tattoo studio in soho, London. All my tattoos have a deep rooted and significant meaning to me and are connected to parts of my job as a photographer, people who have impacted my life and the evolution of myself. They look quite macabre but they are more my own personal affirmations.

What are your hopes for this exhibition? How many portraits does it include?

The exhibition will feature over 100 portraits of the selected agency signed male models, which I hope will showcase their diversity. I want to show a wider audience something that is visually stimulating and celebrates how these people are breaking the mould. They are being true to themselves in an elite industry and expressing who they are through the medium of tattooing, which I think is an incredible art form and I don’t know why it has taken so long for the two worlds of tattooing and fashion to collide and be more accepted in the mainstream. I think the bigger picture is about encouraging acceptance and celebrating individuality, freedom of expression and creativity.

Danny has just reached his fundraising target on Kickstarter, so it looks like there will be a physical exhibition of Skin Deep in London next year. Look out for updates from @thingsandink and @skindeeplondon.

Interview with Miss Juliet

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Miss Juliet a tattoo artist working at South Ink Tattoo shop in Naples, about her easily recognisable and unique style as well as her new art project Overlap alongside Fabio Gargiulo… 


Tell us about your artistic career, from the beginning until now? Did you always know that you would be a tattoo artist? I have alway been passionate about tattoos, I started as a customer and, after finishing my studies at Academy of Brera, I began to work as shop manager at Don’t Tell Mama, my best friend’s tattoo shop.


How would you describe your passion for tattoos? To me it’s not just a job: it’s my life, my everything! Since I can remember, I’ve always been drawing a lot, everyday and all the time. It’s part of me. Tattooing gives me the opportunity to improve. I love every aspect of the process, from the first design to the execution of the tattoo.

Detailed lines are a regular feature of your tattoos, and with each design they are becoming more recognisable, how did you find your style?  I have always worked a lot with lines, even before tattoos. I think it was a mixture of natural evolution and constant research, then I slowly began to understand what worked and what did not.

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I noticed you tattoo a lot of animals. Do you have a particular preference for these subjects? I have always had a passion for taxidermy and entomology, I started drawing my collection of moths, investigating  illustrative works. From there on I’ve always wanted to do more. Mammals, insects and every other living creature!

I find that many artists focus on their most successful works and then they artistically get stuck. I have noticed your will to experiment with your style and technique, how do you keep up your momentum? I am a very curious and a hyperactive person, I research and I experience all the time, both with design and tattoo. I think it’s a side of my character that is unconditionally reflected in my art. I love to collaborate with artists that inspire me every day, I like to go to as many shows and events parallel to the tattoo world as possible. I believe has a huge affect on my path, because I like to look around, outside of a single creative sphere.


Tell me about the heart with crystals that you tend to tattoo, how was this idea born? This idea came up thanks to one of my clients, four years ago. I was requested to do an anatomical heart inside an ice cube, but it would have never worked as a tattoo. After having confronted him, I proposed an alternative, and from there it came the idea to crystallize and adorn with jewels both objects and body parts.

You are of both Chinese and Italian descent, in your work we can see both your western and oriental side. A dualism that, in my opinion, characterises the uniqueness of your style. Do you agree? Yeah, the dualism has accompanied me throughout life, both in lifestyle and in artistic aspects. I love to contaminate my work with oriental details,


Who have you been tattooed by and which are your favourite tattoos? I am particularly fond of my sleeves: the right one is by Lars Uwe, who taught me so much about neo traditional style. And the left is by Fabio Gargiulo, with whom I’m working at SouthInk in Naples. He is teaching me so much about tattoo technique and style!

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What are your future plans? Any guest spot and conventions? I always join a lot of tattoo conventions! I will continue to do guest spots at Family Business in London, but I will also be guesting in other Italian tattoo shops.
I’m also supporting Overlap project, with Fabio Gargiulo. We invite artists from all over the world. This project aims to bring together different tattoo artists and styles in a single artwork. They draw on a life size human body silhouette that is at first split in to arms, legs and torso, and then finally recomposed together, giving birth to a single masterpiece: it’s OVERLAP. The 7th session will be held on 27th, 28th and 29th November, during Naples Convention. Fifty international artists will be involved. So excited!

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Betty Latusek

London based photographer Marta Hawrylow interviewed Betty Beata Latusek who along with her partner Kamil work at Betty Tattoo in Wroclaw, Poland. On the day Betty organised a few of her clients, with healed tattoos, to come into the studio to talk about their tattoos and allow Marta to photograph them… 

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How long do you know each other? Gosh, ages, we’ve met when we were only kids,  14 years old. We have been inseparable since.

Was tattooing important to you back then? Our love for art and tattoo flourished few years after we met.  Kamil was my first skin, he trusted me enough when I was training, now he laughs that one day I’ll have to cover up my first tattoos.

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How long have you been collaborating? How is it working out for you guys? We do everything together, always have been. This isn’t our first job under one roof. Our roles are very clear, I draw and tattoo, Kamil focuses on customer service, the clients are very important to him and he is the CEO.

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How do you work with clients in order to design a project for them? This is Kamil’s part. He meets every client during the first consultation, he discusses what they want- the colours, size and placement. He also does the first draft, most clients bring in photos and other materials  to show what they want in their design. During the session, I chat with the client before we start, over a cuppa.

Does your work depict your personality? I don’t think so. I try to get to know the client and their wishes, I try to portray them, not myself in my work.

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What do you like to tattoo most? What is your favourite theme? I love portrait, realism, always have. Even in art school I loved painting faces.

Is there something you wouldn’t tattoo or a part of the body? I’d always said I will never tattoo faces. But broke that rule, and with pleasure I now say to never say never. I love a challenge and nothing surprises or scares me.

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What or who inspires you? Do you have any favourite artists? Everything what surrounds me inspires me, from changing seasons to people who come to the studio. There are many ultra talented polish artists whose art I admire like Marcin Surowiec or Giena Todryk. However, I might surprise you here, my favourite artist is our eight year old daughter Nadia, who is so gifted. She became a little star and I tattooed a few of her art work onto people already.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to be a tattoo artist? I knew in high school, when I was studying art and got my first tattoo. After that I was drawing projects for friends and their friends and that is how the love started.

And how did you get into tattoo world? Well, it was a bet with my nephew. And as very stubborn being, I did (and still would do) anything to achieve what I set my mind to.

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How long have you been tattooing it? Only seven years, five of which as Betty Tattoo.

How does your own tattoos make you feel? I always wait for super special moments in my life to get them on my skin. Few are a spur of the moment, but most are done by person who helped to change my life, Damian Kowal, my dear friend and my teacher.

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If you weren’t a tattooist, what would you be? I probably would still paint or draw, just using different tools. I am a jeweller by profession. Surely I would be doing something creative and interesting.

Art Love: Eugenia Loli

Fantastical surreal collage artist Eugenia Loli started her career in the technology sector, but she left that impersonal world behind in order to build new, exciting worlds via her art. Her collages, with the help of the title, often include a teasing, visual narrative, as if they’re a still frame of a surreal movie. The viewers are invited to make up the movie’s plot in their mind.

Three Minutes to Nirvana

Three Minutes to Nirvana

Mind Alteration – Dusty & Dicey
Part III of the “Smoke & Mirrors” trilogy.

Dusty & Dicey

Cultural Bias

Cultural Bias

All Fun and Games – Reptilian Snack

Reptilian Snack

Objective Obscurity – Reflection on Contemplation

Reflection on Contemplation

Find out more about the modern vintage collage artist at

Illustrations by Ree

We spotted Ree’s cute tattooed babes on Instagram and had to talk to her about her pastel palette and love of tattoos. Ree has created a tattooed out of this world girl just for Things&Ink


Tell us a little about yourself?  Everyone calls me Ree, I am a 25 years old freelance illustrator and I’m from Venezuela, but my current location is Miami, Florida. My location changes a lot! I’m a lucky girl. I’ve lived in Madrid, Spain for a couple of years too. I will be moving soon to Dominican Republic for work, and then who knows!

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How would you describe your style? My style is always changing, but right now I feel more comfortable with it than ever. I’m bad at describing these sort of things but I would say it is a mixture between cute, girly, surreal with a pinch of girl power.

What inspires you? Most days I get inspiration from what I am feeling at the moment or what I am thinking. Sometimes I watch a TV show and get really into it and won’t necessarily draw fan-art but something that inspired me from it.

What do you like to draw? Girls and powerful girls, sometimes in a surreal way. I would love to draw boys and plants better and post them more often too, but I have to practice a lot first!


Do you have a background in art? Yes, I’ve been drawing since I was little. I studied Art History in Spain but decided to pursue the career I really wanted and now I am studying animation at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (online division). It’s alright but I think the real way to become a good artist is practicing everyday!


Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have four tattoos, and I love them. My first tattoo is the biggest one that I have and it is on my thigh, it means a lot to me. All of them do, but I don’t mind getting something that hasn’t a deep meaning necessarily. I want to get a lot more just because I love tattoos, but I need to save up! I’m loving the blackwork style tattoos especially.

Can people buy your illustrations? Yes, I don’t have a proper online store open yet (I am working on it) but you can contact me personally through a private message on Instagram or send me a quick email at


Interview with Tattoo Artist: Becci Murphy

Tattoo artist Becci Murphy or Boo works at Vida Loca tattoo studio in Bolton, Greater Manchester and creates colourfully cute and cartoon like tattoos. We chatted to Boo about her love for Cartoon Network and upcoming guest spots… 

How long have you been tattooing, when did you start? I have been tattooing over four years and started around 2011 a year into my apprenticeship.


What did you do before, do you have a background in art? I was actually going to Bolton university to study fine art, after trying to get an apprenticeship.I was turned away so many times for being a girl and girls talk to much or they had no space. So I decided to carry on with my artistic venture after going to college twice studying fine art, graphics, photography and illustration because I just wanted to learn more .


What inspires you? I’d say my inspiration comes a lot from cartoons, I sit with my cat watching lots of adult swim cartoons and Cartoon Network. My mum and brother are both amazing artists, my brother has always drawn comics and watching him do that inspired me to try and be better than him! I’d say I’m quite a collective person too, I like to collect comics, video games, art, skateboards, records and box sets etc they all inspire me in different directions which I can’t help but love.


How would you describe your style? I’d say my style is a bright and bold with a twist on traditional.

What do you like to tattoo? I love tattooing cartoons and music inspired pieces, I think music goes hand in hand with my job and when you tattoo a fellow fan of your favour band and they ask you to design a custom idea it’s the best feeling in the world! I recently did a Futurama piece and I honestly could tattoo that every single day! Anything bright and that I can put my all into and hopefully create something my customer loves!


Is there anything you wouldn’t tattoo? I’d never tattoo anything offensive and I always go that extra mile when couples want each other’s names I always tell them to have a really good think about it and come back when they are both 110% . I’m really not into the first tattoo on the throat or hands trends, maybe I’m just old fashioned but I think you should work for your tattoos do your research and not just get them to show off .


Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned?  I am working Manchester Tea Party next year for definite , I’m going to try Brighton and Liverpool then hopefully venturing out of the country to try and work Amsterdam.

I will be guesting with a few friends hopefully my lovely friends at Cock A Snook in Newcastle, working along side my friend Gibbo at Rude Studios once they have room and then off to Tokyo Tattoo when I get my arse in gear! Then finally back to London to see my friend Will Thompson who has always helped me along the way.

Covered: a photo project where tattooed people bare all

Covered: a portrait project of tattooed people. This beautiful photographic project illustrates the variety of people who get tattooed and the vastly different reasons why…

Photographs by Alan Powdrill | Interviews by  | Feature from

Woman tattoos underneath

Victoria Clarke, 37, Coventry
My tattoos are part of who I am, and I’ll always love my bodysuit, now and when I’m 80. The respect and love I get for what I look like is what it’s all about.

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Man tattoo underneath

Graham Platts, 58, Cleethorpes
I was 51 when I started getting tattoos. I wanted one in my teens but my parents wouldn’t have agreed. About 10 years ago, I stopped smoking and thought, “I ought to do something with the money, to have something to show for it”; I decided to get a tattoo. I got one on my right arm. Then I got one on my left arm. Then on my right leg, then my left leg – it just escalated. I’ve replaced one addiction with another, but a healthier one. When I see a gap, I want it filled. Once I’m covered, I think I’ll start saving for a nice holiday.

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Tattoo underneath

Izzy Nash, 48, Maidstone
I was 16 when I got my first tattoo, a tiny rose on my thigh. For me, it’s about being different. You’re never naked, because you’re covered in artwork. My bottom is always the talking point: I’m forever showing people.
I’m talking with my tattooist in Brighton about doing my neck and my legs – then there’s only my stomach left. My kids love it. I’ve told them, “When I die, you need to skin me, dry me out and put me on the wall.”

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Tattoos underneath photo

Alex Coates, 49, Whitby
When I started getting tattooed, over 30 years ago, it was frowned upon. It was the skinhead era, and I saw a guy with two swallows on his hands. That was it: I wanted them, too. My mum wasn’t happy. Now I’m completely covered. Recently, I asked my mother if she’d mind if I got some little tattoos on my face: a cross and a few dots. She said, “As long as they’re not too big.” I had it done that day. I woke up the next day, and thought, “What have I done?” But everyone said they looked cool and now I love them.

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Drew tattoos

Drew Beckett, 32, London
When I was 27, my hair fell out. I have total alopecia. I decided to reinvent myself so that the first thing people see is my tattoos, rather than the fact I have no eyebrows. I thought, “I’m a blank slate.” I started, embarrassingly, with a 90s tribal dragon on my stomach. I was 18, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. The artist was a Goldsmiths graduate called Thomas Hooper, who is now an internationally famous tattooist. I’m a civil servant; I check with my boss before I get a tattoo. If I was told no, that would be OK. It’s good manners to ask.

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You can view more portraits on photographer Alan’s website, the Covered portrait exhibition of tattooed people will open on 11 November 2015 at Mother, in east London, RSVP

The Art of Ivan Alifan

Russian artist Ivan Alifan uses oil to paint works that explore sexuality, desire and intimate gazes. His art seeks to illuminate the latent sexuality that is always present in images. He hopes to break down barriers and de-construct how the body can be seen in art, he wants to viewer to decide for themselves whether they feel sexual attraction or curiosity.