Category: Vegan

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…

Avalon Westcott, 24, Melbourne

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.

Dina DiCenso, Brooklyn

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.

Careers: Tattooed Operations Manager

We chat to Lauren who works as the Operations Manager of Twisted Burger Co in Sheffield about a day in the life managing a developing food franchise and her growing collection of beautiful tattoos… 

How old were you when you got your first tattoo?

I got my first tattoo when I was 18 so it’s not like I’ve got this underage story of a shit tattoo, even though it is a bit. I don’t think I’ll ever get it covered because I like that it’s my first tattoo, I like the back story. It was done in some dodgy tattoo shop in Rotherham and I got it because I wanted to know what a tattoo felt like. It’s just below my ankle and it’s ever so tiny, just a little daisy with some really shitty swirly stuff around it and I think it cost a tenner. I was bit worried that my foot was going to drop off but at the time I thought that it was the shit, like the bees knees, that I was so cool and took loads of pictures to put on the internet like ‘look at my new tattoo’ but I do still love it.

What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you?

Richard Lazenby from Crooked Claw Tattoo who is doing my right arm sleeve. His stye is very traditional, thick lines and bright colours that’s the kind of style that I like. There’s also someone I like called Filip Henningsson who works at Red Dragon tattoo in Sweden who I religiously follow – he is incredible. One day I want to go to Sweden just to get tattooed by him, he does really cool flash as well as a lot of necks and hands because obviously he is that good. And then my friend Alexandra Bawn her tattooing is incredible it is so intricate but she’s really versatile and changes. She also just got engaged to Matt Webb who is also a tattooist and I love his style and insanely bright colours. I usually just wear black so I kinda like my bright tattoos.

By Richard Lazenby at Crooked Claw Tattoo

Can you tell us about some your tattoos?

I have these three party dots on my hands, which I have matching with Anthony Allen from Skull & Bones Boys Club. We actually tattooed each other at 3am when we were absolutely hammered in my kitchen. We decided whilst drunk that we were ready for our party dots. So we bleached down the kitchen, got a sewing needle and some biro ink and put these black dots on each others hands. It was very silly but they’ve sort of grown as our friendship group has now got them too.

Then I’ve got ‘CFTHY’ which stands for Cult For The Haggard Youth which is an album by Dead Harts. I think there are now 14 or 15 people with this now in different places which is incredible. Next to that I have my brotat with Dom from Dead Harts as it was Friday the thirteenth and Niall Shannon was doing £13 flash so we got matching ones.

By Niall Shannon at Forgiven Tattoo

My baby is this one on my forearm, which is my late grandad. He passed away in February 2014, and I’ve got his nickname Sonny and my late grandma’s name Joan as well. I gave the task to Richard Lazenby and said here’s a picture of him do it in your traditional style. He did this beautiful traditional portrait of him but it’s not realistic but still a likeness of him in Richard’s style. I was originally going to get him on my leg but I changed my mind once I saw the design and I had him on my forearm, so it is definitely my all time favourite. Then I have a butterfly for one sister, a horse shoe for my other sister and some of my sleeve was paid for by family members. I’m building up bits and bobs like that and I’m getting some for my mum and dad further up my arm.

How did you get into your current role?

I actually started working for The Harley (flagship Twisted Burger Co venue) in October 2013 as the assistant manager of The Harley not Twisted Burger Company and within the space of a couple of months I moved up to being general manager, running the building, the club nights, managing all the staff and everything like that. From that my boss, Dave Healy saw something a little bit more in me, saw my ambition, saw my passion for food and my work ethic. I have always worked really hard all my life and he said right I don’t want you to be general manager anymore I want you to be the operations manager of Twisted Burger Company they need someone and I think you are the right person. I’d never been an operations manager before, I had no clue what I was doing and he said not to worry he’d teach me. So as well as the operations manager my role also entails being the area manager, the brand manager and I do all the marketing.

Did you have to get qualifications or did you work your way up?

I’ve been in the hospitality industry since I was 14, waitressing and working my way up. I also did some other management jobs before I was at The Harley but at the same time I went to university and got a degree in media studies and got a couple of NVQ’s in hospitality and catering so I got my qualifications as well. I originally wanted to go into radio but my career in hospitality just took over and I kept getting promoted. I’ve never had a company that has pushed me to be so creative and it’s definitely brought out the best in me.

Dead Twisted Vegan Sauces

What is a typical day like?

I’ll just describe what has been happening in March and that may just show you how crazy my career actually is! We’d planned to release our sauce range with Drop Dead, a new menu and a unit at the Moor Market in Sheffield City Centre. But originally these were all spaced out in our business plan for the year. Various things happened and it all ended up dropping into March. So in the space of like five weeks we launched the unit at the market, we launched a sauce range and we launched a brand new menu across all our franchises. So it has just been a really crazy past few weeks. But obviously everything that we’ve done with the sauces, from designing the labels with Tom J Newell, to coming up with the right recipes to the names on the new menu has just been mad.

It is just myself and Alex Malins who do all the day to day working for Twisted Burger Company, he is the executive chef but he has a lot more involvement than just the cooking- we do a lot together. It’s a very fun job, hard work but very rewarding.

Sweet Potato Fries from Twisted Burger Co

How do you dress for work? Do you show off your tattoos?

We dress however we want, most offices have a dress down Friday but usually I do dress up Fridays but just on my own because I do like to wear smart clothes and dress up a bit! If I’ve got meetings with future franchieses and I’m doing a sales pitch I will always dress up a little bit.

Do you find in hospitality people react more to your tattoos? 

I actually worked for Wetherspoons before I worked here and as soon as I got my first visible tattoo my boss sort of said  ‘you’re covering that up’ and they wouldn’t let me have my nose ring in either. Here there is a lot more freedom and it took me quite a while to get used to it after having to dress so smart all of the time. So coming to Twisted Burger Co and letting myself go was a bit of a weight off of my shoulders in a strange kind of way. But when I was working behind the bar, customer facing you do get a lot of comments or people touching you are grabbing where your tattoos are. But you just kind of get on with it.

The new Twisted Burger Menu

Do you have any advice to other people considering their careers when getting tattooed?

In the day we are in now I don’t think it matters as much as it used to but obviously with things like face or hand tattoos you’ve got to be quite discreet unless you know for the rest of your working life that you are going to be in a company that doesn’t mind you having those. But even with that sometimes when I have business meetings with future Twisted Burger franchisees I do cover up just to look a bit more professional rather than risk that judgement.

Even as a tattooed person I have that opinion that to look smarter you should cover your tattoos up – it depends entirely on who you are with and what you are doing. I don’t want to risk a bad decision for this business but then sometimes that is the quirk of Twisted Burger Company in that we can dress and look how we want. A few of us are tattooed and Alex Mallins my colleague has his eyebrow pierced so he is a bit of a goth as well. So if we turn up to a business meeting I bet sometimes people think God what have we let ourselves in for and then we sell our product and they think it’s a great product and a great brand. We’re so proud of TBC so its really easy to say great things about it because we love it as well.

We just want to grow in Yorkshire and keep getting bigger. It’s a lot of work to do but I love working here and I love my job!

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After we spoke to Lauren we then had the pleasure of checking out Twisted Burger Co’s new menu.  

From the ‘Return of The Mac’ burger with a pesto and mac and cheese combo to the incredible ‘Bury me in Smoked Sausage’ their new menu did not disappoint. If you’re into your chicken burgers but fancy something a bit different it’s well worth it for the creole mayo and smoked sausage topping.

Return of the Mac Burger

Bury me in Smoked Sausage Burger

But it was the ‘Drop Dead Twisted Barbecue Burger’ that really raised the stakes with a double vegan ‘meat’ patty, vegan ‘cheese’ slice and bbq jackfruit in the new Dead Twisted sauce which made this carnivore think twice before she orders another TBC burger.

Drop Dead Twisted Barbecue Burger

But if you aren’t in the mood for burgers Twisted’s ‘Jalapeño Business Fries’ hit the mark along side more amazing new sides to the menu. The incredible ‘Highway to Falaf-hell’ with coconut and coriander drip and ‘Hang up the chick habit’ consisting of a basket of confit chicken wings has an unbelievable blue cheese dip and will fill you up as much as any burger!


Pig Pimpin’ Fries

Crack ‘n’ Cheese

Highway to Falaf-hell

Jalapeño Business Fries

Next time be sure to check Twisted Burger Co at one of their venues across the North.

Part Three – Mindful Wanderlust Vegan Travel Diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle, creator of Mindful Wanderlust – a travel blog about responsible travel, tattoos, and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the third of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales. If you have missed their previous travel posts catch up and read Part Two and Part One

 

We made it to Tokyo! Before we even booked our flights to Japan I knew it was a country I really wanted to get tattooed in, so I spent some time back in Canada researching different artists.

After taking a look at their consistently beautiful bold artwork, I decided on American traditional for the design, I chose to go with the guys at Inkrat Tattoo in Tokyo. Rei is the owner of Inkrat Tattoo, and has been tattooing for over 22 years.  His shop is covered in art, new and old, and original flash from the 1950s hangs on the walls.

  I couldn’t stop picking out all of the pieces I wanted.

Prior to arriving at Inkrat I decided on a geisha and left the design up to Rei. I thought, “Other than a Sumo wrestler, what’s more Japanese than a geisha?” It’s the perfect souvenir from Japan.

I learned something very interesting and new about Japanese tattoo etiquette (or at least Rei’s tattoo etiquette) at the shop that day. Before arriving for my tattoo appointment, I was asked where I wanted the tattoo, and I said on the outside bottom of my left leg.

On the day of, Rei walked over to me to fit the design on my leg and it didn’t quite fit properly. I said “it’s ok, we can do it on my other leg” But Rei didn’t really respond, he just told me he would make it a little smaller so it would fit. A regular customer sitting across from me said that where I asked for the tattoo is where I am going to get it. The reason for this, is that the artist doesn’t want to inconvenience me, as I already chose the placement and he wants to respect that.

That came as a little bit of a surprise to me. I would have been perfectly fine with the tattoo on my right leg, but just hearing that he refused to put it on my other leg out of respect made me smile a little.

Respect – and integrity – seems to be an extremely important thing in the tattoo world among tattoo artists. It is something that really resonates with me, as integrity is hard to come by these days. I have a lot of respect for people who have a lot of respect for people. Go figure.

On top of my excitement over visiting and getting tattooed in Japan, arriving in Tokyo was a sensory overload. My senses were pulling me everywhere. The colours, the lights, the droves of people, and the, sometimes, disapproving stares from some of the locals.

Although tattoo shops are legal in Japan, the long history and mentality of tattoos being only for criminals and misfits has not yet dissipated.

The earliest signs of the Japanese getting tattooed date back to 5,000 BC. By the 7th century the Japanese adopted much of the same mentality that the Chinese had for tattoos, seeing them as barbaric and using them as a punishment for crimes committed.

In the middle of the 18th century Japanese tattooing was popularised by a Chinese novel with several of its heroes covered in tattoos. This novel influenced all Japanese culture and arts, but the yakuza also became interested in tattooing, further making it a tasteless form of art and self expression to many. The yakuza felt that because tattooing was painful, it was proof of courage, and because it was illegal, it made them outlaws forever.

Finally, tattooing in Japan was legalised in the 20th century, but to this day it is still taboo. People with tattoos cannot enter into any hot baths, so unfortunately we will not be visiting any onsen (hot springs) in Japan.

Thankfully the mentality of tattoos being only for criminals is dying out with the old generation and new generations are embracing their rich culture of the art of irezumi.

 It is an ancient craft that should be appreciated and respected for what it is, not looked down upon, because it is misunderstood.

As Japan tries to reclaim all of the beauty and positivity of this ancient art of expression; I feel honoured to be able to collect an original piece from a country so steeped in the tradition of tattooing.

Follow Giselle and Cody’s travels on their blog and Instagram

Part two – tattooed vegan travel diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle, creator of Mindful Wanderlust – a travel blog about responsible travel, tattoos, and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the second of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales. (read first post here)

 

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with travel and tattoos.

My first travel experience was when I was about five years old, and I received my first tattoo when I was just 15.

Driving on the open road for hours at a time gives me a sense of freedom; receiving a tattoo and not worrying about any consequence can also be very freeing.

Luckily, my husband and I have elected freedom as our life of choice and have been travelling the world for the past two and a half years.

The acceptance of tattoos has come a long way. Tattooing has evolved into a fine art, and this is partly what attracts us to it. They can mean so much to so many, but they also don’t have to mean a thing.

All of our pieces don’t have deep meaning. Many of them are permanently etched into our skin, simply because we love the design, or we were informed of a tattoo convention in Kathmandu and decided on spontaneity. But just getting a tattoo in the moment turns that piece into something of meaning – at least to me.

We have travelled everywhere from Tanzania, to Madagascar, Nepal, to Grenada, Venezuela to Thailand, Indonesia to Bhutan, and the response from the majority of people has been very positive.

In countries such as Burma and Thailand, tattooing has been steeped into their culture for thousands of years. The locals were always curious about our work, and it presented us with a great way to connect with people. We would be stopped on the streets and asked to see our work, often times getting photos taken with complete strangers.

As exciting as travelling the world is, it becomes even more exciting to imagine what kind of work we might get while visiting a country. It adds to our experience, making it richer, and more memorable.

My first tattoo while travelling was at the Nepal Tattoo Convention in Kathmandu. I hadn’t planned on ever getting my hand tattooed, but I was travelling the world, doing exactly what I wanted, and had noticed a heavily tattooed man with both his hands beautifully done. I decided right there that I was going to get a traditional rose.

 

Funny how things can change so quickly. At the time it was a tattoo that meant nothing. It was just an impulsive decision, but now it means so much. It was the moment I had decided that I was going to live my life exactly how I wanted to live it. My personal happiness and how I choose to live my own life, far outweighs the expectations of others.

A few months later we had arrived in Thailand, and lived at an elephant sanctuary for six months. We became close friends with the local elephant expert and tattoo artist on the grounds, Jodi Thomas. She tattooed us in her bamboo hut in the middle of the jungle while watching elephants stroll by. It was unreal.

Travelling to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this summer gave us another opportunity to collect some art from our good friend Jason Dopko. It’s a different experience being close friends with the person who is tattooing you. There is an understanding, and it can be a real bonding experience. You become involved with the ins and outs of the art, and business, and learn to really appreciate what goes into the process.

This week I travel to Toronto to get tattooed by Franz Stefanik, and our next big stop is Japan in January of 2015. We would love to get some work done by Shige or Ichibay.

Only time will tell.

 

Next entry… January when we visit Japan to get tattooed.

 

Mindful Wanderlust – The vegan travel diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle the creator of Mindful Wanderlust a travel blog about tattoos and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the first of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales.

 

 My name is Giselle, and I am a tattoo and travel addict. And an extreme animal lover.

I started travelling at the tender age of five, caravanning with my father and other family members to places like the Maritimes, Orlando Florida, Boston Massachusetts, and several different camp grounds throughout Canada.

When I was twelve my mom took me to Cuba; and by the time I was twenty, I had been to England, Venezuela, Peru, Egypt, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

For me, the road is life.

I was fifteen when I received my first tattoo. It is now resting under a better thought out piece of work. When I first started getting tattooed, every piece had to mean something to me. Like so much in my life, that has changed. I view tattooing as an art form. It helps many people through difficult times, and that is a wonderful thing, but it can also be fun and spontaneous, which can then turn into a piece of meaning.

Prior to our nomadic lifestyle, I was quite happy tending bar at home, and doing make-up on the side, but the road was calling. I have always been pretty unconventional in thought, and so the next step was to live unconventionally.

Two and a half years ago, my husband Cody and I set off on an incredible round the world adventure. We saved our pennies, sold a lot of our belongings, put the rest in storage, started up a little website, and off we went.

Egypt, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Indonesia, England.

We loved Thailand so much that we ended up staying for eighteen months. Cody and I spent seven out of the eighteen months at Elephant Nature Park, an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of Northern Thailand. not only did we work with elephants, but several dogs as well. It was magic.

We can’t get enough of the lifestyle.

We are now in Saskatchewan, Canada visiting friends and family, and getting tattooed. This September we are heading to Cuba for the 9th time; and in January we are travelling to Japan for two weeks, and then back to Thailand for thirty days.

We have been tattooed in Nepal, Thailand, and of course Canada, and I look forward to getting something done by Ichibay when we are in Japan.

Our plans always involve travel, tattoos, and animals; and to us, that is our kind of freedom and happiness.

There’s no telling when or if we’ll ever get tired of gallivanting around the world, but either way, we’ll be covered in memories.

 Follow their  journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course their Blog!

A Vegan Art Collection

The Sheppard collection of vegan art both curated and collected by Robert Sheppard hopes to highlight and question our treatment of animals in  society, as well as celebrate the beauty of animals and nature.
We’ve picked a few of our favourites to share with you. To see even more animal art visit the full collection.

Buddha Dog- Karen Fiorito

 

Paula 5- Roland Straller

Kitten Nugget- Dana Ellyn