Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Conventions

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about getting tattooed at tattoo conventions… 

I went to my first tattoo conventions this summer, the first Liverpool Tattoo Convention, the second Leeds International Tattoo Expo. They were two fairly different experiences, Liverpool being a huge gathering spread out over a warren of rooms filled with artists and merchandise stalls whilst Leeds was a smaller, more intimate affair. I enjoyed both equally.


Before my first convention I wasn’t sure what to expect, admittedly getting tattooed with an audience wasn’t on my list of fun activities but it was an occasion to get tattooed by my artist without having to travel as far. So I booked in to have my knee cap tattooed by Max Rathbone who had tattooed the rooster on my shin the year before. Yep my knee cap, in public – one of the most painful places or so I’d been told. I wasn’t getting tattooed until later in the afternoon so I had chance to say hello to friends and watch my boyfriend James get tattooed by Andy Walker. This is where we differ as a couple, I like to book my tattoos in advance whereas he prefers to be spontaneous on the day and go for walk-ups (choosing from the artists flash or pre-dawn designs on the day). He also got a little filler from Ad of Folklore Tattoo– a super fun bunch. My turn came and Max scribbled on my knee with coloured pens, he assured me these freehand scribbles would be a peony so I trusted his word and let him crack on. Max had tattooed me before and I was familiar with his style so I could sit back and relax knowing I would end up with an amazing tattoo. To my surprise getting your knee tattooed wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected, phew! Although the swelling after scuppered any plans for a night out, it was back to the digs with a pizza and a bag of frozen peas, our arms laden with prints and other trinkets.

FullSizeRender (7)

My second convention experience was just as good, after the vastness of Liverpool the intimate nature of Leeds Expo was a real contrast. Whilst there was less to do there was more time to chat. I had booked in with Holly Ashby whose work if been a fan of for a while, having bought some of her stunning prints for our home and as gifts so I was excited to meet her. Even though I’d not met Holly we had chatted before hand and decided on a design, having already been tattooed at a convention I wasn’t freaked out like I had been for the first convention. That said at Leeds there was a lot more people walking past and taking photos, at first I found this a bit weird but Holly was absolutely lovely and it ended up being really fun talking to other people approaching her booth. We got to chat to people from all over the globe including other people there to get tattooed by Holly – it was like joining a special club. Inner thigh was a bit of an awkward spot as I ended up sat on a bench with paper towels tucked in my knickers, but it was worth the slight embarrassment as I adore the placement of my gorgeous pooch tattoo. In one hilarious moment a couple came running up to us brandishing a napkin, after some confusion it turned out they wanted a lipstick kiss print too use as a tattoo template. I am still left to this day wondering if some has my kiss tattooed!


Natalie getting tattooed by Holly Ashby taken by Graham Pile

Music Review: Strange Wilds

Our guest blogger is hobbyist reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward

Strange Wilds, Subjective Concepts , 2015, Sub Pop Records 

A grungy punk trio from Olympia, Washington State signed to Sub Pop records. No we have not gone back in time to 1989. I am reviewing a debut album released this year in July by a band named Strange Wilds, who sound like they’ve teleported straight from the late 80s/early 90s Seattle grunge scene to assault our ears. Their state and record label has been home to Nirvana and other indie rock legends, whose anguished noisy spirit they tap into with joyous enthusiasm.

Strange Wilds Band Photo Strange Wilds Band Photo


Now surely a band coming out and replicating a sound popular over a decade ago is a sign to be worried about the progression of music. Then again, there aren’t many places left for music to progress to. There are still lots of good bands coming out, but there’s no big unifying rock movement pushing the genre forward. There are lots of scattered bands who mostly try to sound like great bands from the past who already broke down some musical barriers. A few bands who have cropped up in NME , like Wolf Alice for example, sound and dress like a 90s grunge band. As nice as it is to see people still inspired by this great time in music, the fuzzy-angst-in-converse-and-scruffy-sweaters formula has been done a lot and some current bands (like, in my opinion, Wolf Alice) sound like bland reproductions.

Strange Wilds are the first grunge throwback I’ve heard that I enjoyed. This is because they choose not to channel the brooding stadium-ready gloom popularised by mainstream grunge acts like Pearl Jam  and Soundgarden, which countless post-grunge fakers have wallowed in (Nickelback being the chief culprit). The album Subjective Conceptions harks back to the glory days of grunge’s punk/hardcore roots, sounding like a lost Mudhoney  or Black Flag record. Each song snarls and drips with twisted scorn while thundering along with gnarly riffs not out of place on Nirvana’s first album or a Melvins record.

While there’s nothing strikingly original here, it is nice to listen to a band who like making noise for the hell of it and having a good time. Most current indie bands are either light and fluffy, or take themselves too seriously. Take Metz  for example, Strange Wilds’ fellow contemporaries of noise also signed to Sub Pop, who have released their second album this year. The bleak and terrifying din from Metz is impressive, but noise is all you get with some barely distinct lyrics hollered over the top.

Strange Wilds Band Photo Strange Wilds Band Photo


Listening to Subjective Concepts however, I found myself (shock horror) singing along, something I haven’t done with any recent bands for a while, especially since most bands insist on distorting the vocals beyond recognition. Strange Wilds singer Steven’s vocals are left free and clear to bitterly mutter the verses and howl the choruses in true grunge fashion. The twisted lyrics aren’t bad either, if a bit infantile (‘the streets are littered with our filth’ etc) but the whole band yells them with such gleeful abandon they’re infectious. The band have mastered the art of the catchy grungy chorus, with some spikes of smart sarcasm throughout.

Nowhere is this more effective than on the album’s most powerful track: the opener and single ‘Pronoia’. This is the one song that comes close to being a sincere anthem despairing of the human condition, roaring along with full throttle punk energy. The video is cool as well, showing off the band’s imagination. Standard shots of the blond, long-haired singer thrashing around on his guitar (remind you of anyone?) are interspersed with queasy shots of food and other unidentifiable squishy objects being smashed.

If you still buy CDs, the album’s artwork is cool too. I love record covers that don’t match the content. On the Subjective Concepts cover, we have a young woman dancing on the edge of a building over some urban landscape at sunrise. That and the delicate album title suggest you’re in for some soft ambient music about the self-destructive desire for freedom from social constraints or something. I hope someone picks this up and is pleasantly surprised by the loud, squalling bitterness within. This is a band I’ve been waiting for since headbanging to Nirvana as a teen. This is a short but unforgettable blast of glorious rage that borrows heavily from the past but still sounds fresh, fun and rocks like a boss.

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.

Film Review: Beasts of No Nation

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. On Harry will be writing a series of posts in which he will be sharing  his opinions on things he has watched. 

Beasts of No Nation, 2015, cert 15, dir Cary Joji Fukunaga, 4/5


You could say this is an important film not just for its content but also because it’s the first feature-length movie produced by Netflix. I have mixed feelings for Netflix. It’s fun to use but I find its content rather geared to American mainstream movies. You still have to seek out international and cult/arty films on DVD. Not that I mind, because I prefer owning physical copies of films and music rather than having exhausting amounts of movies and songs online that don’t belong to me even if I pay a subscription fee.

I also disagree with the way Netflix have released their first movie. They pushed for cinematic release but a few cinema chains refused to show the film as Netflix released it on their channel at the same time. As representatives of these cinemas argued, why would people pay for cinema tickets when they could watch the movie at home?  Their fears appear justified, for although the movie has over three million views online it only made $50,000 back from the $12 million Netflix doled out to distribute it in cinemas.

These cinemas have furthered accused Netflix of pushing for cinematic release just so they can qualify for an Academy award. If this is so, it feels slightly cynical to use a film about child soldiers just to get an award.


Not that it doesn’t deserve one. Cinematic politics aside, this is an almighty film. Based on a 2005 novel by Nigerian-American Uzodinma Iweala, the story is set in an unnamed African country (possibly Nigeria) and revolves around a boy named Agu played by first-time Ghanaian actor Abraham Attah. He lives the typical life of a fun-loving cheeky kid, safe within the buffer zone of a war-torn country with his friends and family. That is, until government troops storm Agu’s village, declare the men rebel spies and execute them, including Agu’s father and brother.

Agu escapes into the bush where he is captured by the real rebel army, mostly comprised of boys his age. He is trained by the formidable Commandant (played by British star Idris Elba) to be a guerrilla fighter and is thrust into a nightmarish world of bullets, blood and black magic.

For a young actor in his first role, Abraham Attah is magnificent. He doesn’t use a great deal of dialogue or expression and even his poetic interior monologue is used sparsely (as monologues should be). Nevertheless, he convincingly portrays the fear and trauma his character suffers, and the emotional damage and ageing war inflicts on him. Everything he says and does feels real, raw and pure: an incredibly mature performance from someone so young.


All the acting in the film is good, so much so it’s more like watching a documentary than a work of fiction. But the show is almost stolen by Idris Elba, whose portrayal of a guerrilla warlord is electrifying. His very presence and energy commands the screen along with his troops, especially during the scenes when he’s giving dramatic speeches to whip his boys up for battle. It’s great to see an actor we’re used to seeing play heroic characters like DCI John Luther effectively portray a devious and conflicted character like the Commandant. He proclaims to be a new father figure for the lost boys he recruits and that he’s given them fresh purpose in life, yet he’s willing to let them kill or be killed for his own ideals while never actually committing any violence himself. Rather, he’s more effective at inciting others to violence, which is what makes him so menacing. Yet he appears to genuinely care for Agu and this little bit of humanity is enough to make the audience feel some sympathy and respect for such a disturbing character, a great achievement on the film’s part.

The style of the film itself is an unflinching tour de force. The audience is thrust headlong into gritty realism, savage tension and heartbreaking tragedy. Rather than being steeped in politics, the film is more intent on portraying the psychological and emotional impact of war on its human characters. If there are any issues with the film, it’s that sometimes its portrayal of such psychological trauma is rather simplistic and idealistic, i.e. a child soldier can only recover from his experiences if he lets himself become a child again. You could also argue this is clearly another ‘issues’ drama, where the film is spending all its effort to show you how bad something is, along with the overriding strength of the human spirit etc etc. However, the film’s message is very clear and very relevant. Even if I judge Netflix, I praise them on getting behind such a masterpiece.


Music Interview: Creeper

In the perfect prelude to Halloween, our guest music blogger Verity Vincent went to Exeter’s Cavern club for it’s aptly named line up of Dead Frequency, Skeleton Frames and Creeper for a night infused with trick or treat sweets and even warm pasties on the bar. Yes, we were in Devon. 

Before the gig we caught up with lead vocalist Will Gould and bassist Sean Scott from to have a chat about all things Creeper.

Tell us about this tour, how’s it been going?

Will: It’s been great, it’s the last night of the tour and it’s been quite a long one for us. Tonight’s a headline show but the rest of the shows have been with Frank Carter and The Rattle Snakes. We weren’t planning to go on tour again this year as our last one with Moose Blood was going to finish the year but Frank messaged us and asked us to come out, so you can’t really say no to that!

But it’s been good and we’ve learnt a lot on this tour.  This year is all about us getting out there and playing and having as many amazing experiences as we can and I feel like with this tour everything that could happen – has happened. The Frank shows have been rowdy as hell. Frank is the nicest guy in the world, really softly spoken but when he’s on stage he’s mad as hell and the crowd are the same. Playing to them is not always what they’re expecting as we’re perhaps a bit more flamboyant! Black Coal were on the tour too so we got to know them really well.

We were opening up for the first time since January so we had to re-work the set to fit the crowd. We only got 30 minutes and we were used to doing a little bit more than that and doing a bit more of a closer. We’re a lot more theatrical than some of the other bands we play with and you can’t really do all that in an opening slot on a 3 band bill but it’s been really good, it’s really challenged us. I feel like we’ve come out the other side of it with not only a respect for Frank and his crowd but it’s made us give ourselves a bit more callus, and toughened us up a bit, it’s been really good. 

So doing headline shows for you guys isn’t as much more pressure, but more freedom?

Will: We’re not a warm up act for anybody, if someone’s coming to a show they kinda know what they’re gonna see and we’ll do it all. Like tonight, we’re doing one of our closing songs and all the fun stuff in between but it seems a bit pretentious doing a big dramatic closing song when we’re opening a show, it didn’t feel like the right thing to do.

Sean: There’s expectations of what people know you’re meant to be doing in terms of your own set, there is that respect to those people who come to shows all the time that they want to see that. If we’re playing to a completely new crowd, you can expect people to stand around, maybe not liking it, their ideas are going to be different to the average person so you’ve got to maybe play into them a little bit more than you would do normally.

Will: And it’s not that we would ever change what we do to suit someone else, it just doesn’t always seem like the right thing to do. There’s one song we’ve been playing with a piano theme and it sounds like it could be from a musical, so if we ended a set on that when we were an opening band it just seems almost disrespectful for the bands that are playing after. It’s difficult going back to being an opening band and working out how we do that now with our new material but it’s been really fun to do it. I think half the point about doing that tour was to go out and challenge ourselves.


Did you find it similar when you toured with Misfits? 

Will: It’s a very similar sort of thing but it’s something we couldn’t say no to again. We got the opportunity to do it and to be honest on the Misfits tour everybody there was wearing full makeup and a leather jacket and I was like – this is our crowd. So we did end with some of those big songs that we could get away with more on those particular shows. It didn’t seem as out of place for some reason. But that was really fun as well but a very similar sort of vibe you know, we’re proving ourselves and we’re cutting our teeth and it’s all about the experience for us.

You’re playing with Skeleton Frames and Dead Frequency tonight, have you heard much of them before or played with either of them? 

Will: Yeah, our agent sends a list of suggestions basically of everyone available and we check them out and this is our first time playing with them but I’m always excited. One of the best things about being in a band, and one of the first reasons you get in a band is to find new music and check out new stuff and it always really interests me what’s going on in a city. I might end up bumping into everybody again, you never know. So when we do get to do headline shows, I think we’re quite privileged to do it anyway, but even more so to have other bands play with you we try to take as much interest in that as we can, so I’m really excited to see everybody today. See what Exeter’s got going on.

Is it interesting to see how the music scene differs from city to city?

Will: It really does! Some places have a really strong hardcore punk scene and sometimes there’s no punk scene at all. But because you come through they’re so grateful that a punk band have come there and they’ll come out to the show because there’s not a lot of it in the area. So yeah it’s really cool to see how it differs place to place.

Sean: We’ve been here twice this year with Bury Tomorrow and Bayside and the demographic for those crowds is so far apart in a way so it’s kind of like each time we’ve come we’ve had a different scope of the audience. We’ve had the heavier crowd, we’ve had the sort of nostalgic Bayside crowd and now we’ve got what could be more ours and catered to with those who are playing with us.

You released your Callous Heart EP on vinyl which sold out on your website, why do think that format has had such a surge in popularity again? 

Will: When I was a kid and my parents divorced I remember my dad giving me a load of records so my first impression of owning music was holding something really tangible. So when I got more into music myself I bought CD’s and the whole thing was about going into town on a Saturday and flicking through CD’s and finding something new.

I think a big part of what we do is visual and our visuals are really important to us so we spend a lot of time working on those. Our band in particular translates very well to vinyl. It’s a large platform for our fans to interpret our band in an artistic sense in terms of something physical – something you can hold. But in terms of the medium itself, when mp3’s were happening and everyone was terrified that Napster was going to kill the internet, I think that was maybe ill-founded because people that care about music were always going to want to have something to hold.

When I’m at home and I look through my record collection, I’ll see something that I want to listen to and I might just put it on my phone straight away – but I’ve seen it and had a visual stimulus to do that. Imagery and visuals can define a band as well,  when you see a logo or a tiny little nuance – or when people do a colour variant it’s such a bit deal to people because people like to hold it and it’s about ownership. I remember my dad had a Pink Floyd gatefold record and opening that up, it was already like going into another world, having something to explore in itself and read all the notes. When I was a kid it was about finding out what bands were thanked on the record to then pick up bands that inspired the bands I like. So I think that stuff absolutely has a place and it was always going to come back round again. It’s why people are selling tapes now. You can laugh at it and say its retro or just a fad but I really don’t think that records will be. CD’s have gone now because you can have an audio download in great quality and play it right then and there and have the record for something to collect at the same time – that’s why most records come with download codes.

Sean: I think a lot of people don’t see a value in a CD for the money that it’s priced at, but with vinyl you get a bigger thing to hold or even with 7 inches, there’s more artwork, it looks like more time and thought has gone into it than the average person will see in a CD. On a wider scope, majority of people will see music as a service not a product. The may not think a lot of time has gone into the artwork or a CD booklet, whereas when you see a big vinyl that actually looks, like Will said, like art, you can frame them and have them on your wall, and have the download there as well.

Will: I think there’s something really romantic about it as well; going to a gig and picking up records and taking them home. It’s literally picking up piece of that music and taking it home with you, I think that’s something that will never die. Taking a record over to your friend’s house in a tote bag – that’s timeless.

There’s something about the sound as well isn’t there, it’s almost more tangible?

Will: Absolutely, it reminds me of being a kid because of my parents but I think that’s what I like about it, it my head the bands that I’m into, would have some relevance to my dad. Sending one of my records to my dad and him going “Oh! You’re in a band!” because he recognises that as music and something he would’ve got when he was a kid and I think that’s really cool. And the sound quality, absolutely.

Sean: It aids an artist as well, someone I always buy on record is Lana Del Ray, although she’s seen to be in a very contemporary music world, her sound is slightly of an older generation, it’s a very 50’s / 60’s influence. So if you’ve got that added thing of a crack or a slide of the needle going through a groove, you can’t get that with an MP3 pristine link.

Will: It’s almost ritualistic; you have to invest that time into it. Music can start to seem disposable to people. I remember Dave Hause once said he didn’t want to be on a record that was locked in someone’s hard drive and forgotten about forever, lost in time.

Knowing that someone would take the time to buy your record, unwrap it, put the needle across – that may not seem like a lot but we live in a world where people will click and play something for 5 seconds and then cross it off on Facebook. For someone to invest that time in 2015 when there is not time for anything, that’s really special.

You’ve been touring a lot! When it comes to recording do you take time out for that or try and juggle it on the road?

Will: In terms of records, we tend to keep what we’re doing very quiet and on the down low on purpose. As a band we like to make something and then present it when it’s done. Some bands I know like to record diaries but it’s not really our thing at all. Behind the scenes is something that only half interests me. I don’t like the idea of someone being in the studio with a camera or constantly doing updates like “recording drums today”.  With our band the appeal is to escape for a minute, to see something different, to find something in it that makes them think of another time or place. They want that nostalgia, that performance. What good does it do to walk round the back of Disneyland, who wants to do that? And that’s exactly how I feel about it. I’m not comparing our records to Disneyland! But in a way I think that we set the stage, we play in character and with the conviction that those songs need. The process of it may seem quite boring of it, quite mundane.

This time, we were recording in the day and doing festivals in the evenings. We didn’t want to slow down and take away from touring, but at the same time, we needed to record.

What’s next year looking like for you? More of the same?

Will: We’re going out on tour with our friends Neck Deep in the UK and round Europe, we’ve doing some of the biggest things we’ve done with this band, playing spaces like the London Forum it’s a dream come true for us. There’s a venue in Southampton – the Guildhall and we used to go to gigs there growing up and seeing that we’re main support in that venue we get to do all the theatrical stuff we dreamed of doing, it’s gonna be great.

We’re away a lot next year, putting out new music and having great new visual ideas already. It’s going a be a busy and hectic one! We take pride in our work and just try to work as hard as we can. It means a lot to us and we sacrifice everything to do it. We get things in place so we can just hit the ground with it in 2016.

In line with The Horror Issue, are you horror fans?

Will: Yeah! I mean in particular there’s a film called Phantom of the Paradise – i don’t know if you’d call it a horror film as such but it’s a play on Phantom of the Opera and there’s a great scene where the main character gets his head caught in a record press. It’s kind of Halloweeny I guess!

Sean: We went to the Pleasure Beach the other day and we had a moment that was like that scene from The Exorcist. Ian our guitarist is really into exorcism films and there’s a section of the Pasaje Del Terror where there’s a girl on the bed and you’re thinking – she’s gonna wake up in a minute and do something scary and then all of a sudden she does and chases you out of the room. So not only have we been watching those kinds of films with Halloween coming up, we kind of lived it a little bit too!

After continuing to chat about our horror icons and fancy dress, it was show time.

Daventry based Dead Frequency kicked things off with some classic punk rock, mixing their catchy original tracks with a little Green Day cover to warm up the crowd. Lead singer Matt threw himself into a high energy set and even got a mini circle pit of 6 people on the go.

Next up was local band Skeleton Frames. A mix of 90’s grunge and heavy guitars saw the indie rock band prove themselves popular with the night’s crowd. 

Lead singer Emily Isherwood will either enchant you with her introverted demeanour, or just annoy you for keeping her eyes shut and frequently sitting on the floor throughout their set. Their music though, can’t be faulted.

Creeper treated fans to songs old and new with tracks taken from recent release Callous Heart, right through to their first EP, including anthem The Honeymoon Suite and the beautifully theatrical Novena. After a pretty magical set, I’d urge anyone to join the Creeper Cult.


Charlotte Clark: Tattoo Inspired Ceramics

Charlotte Clark is a designer maker from Stourbridge, West Midlands who creates tattoo inspired ceramics. We chatted to Charlotte about what inspires her and how she makes each piece…


How did you set up your business? I fell into it really, after graduating from university with a degree in glass art, I was making and doing craft fairs to get some money whilst I was looking for a ‘real job’ and it ended up being rather more successful than I had imagined! I have now gone from dreams of just making a living to thinking the sky is the limit!

What inspired you to do so? I have always been creative, and wanted to go into arts management after uni, but found it really competitive in the current economic climate, so having worked unhappily in many retail jobs whilst searching for the dream job I was inspired to create my own job!


Do you have a background in art? Yes, I did three A Levels in art and design in college, before going on to study glass art at university in Wolverhampton.

How do you make your ceramics? What is the process? All pieces begin with an idea, whether that is when I see the perfect unusual piece of china to use, sparking a ‘I know what I’m going to do with that’ moment, or an idea which takes me a while to think around! My pieces are designed digitally, then the transfers are printed using my decal printer and applied by hand to the ceramic piece, before being fired in the kiln to melt the surface glaze and allow the ink of the decal to imbed onto the china. As my pieces are kiln fired they are all dishwasher proof.

What inspires your designs? How do you create them? Designs are all inspired by anything that grabs me! Sometimes the concept will be born first and I will look for something for it to go on, and other times it will be led by finding a piece and knowing what it should have on it!


Where do you source things from? All over the place! I am always on the look out for unusual pieces to use!

Where can people buy them from? Do you do commissions? People can buy online or at one of my outlets (currently mostly Midlands based) or at one of the shows I go to – all details are on my website!

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoos are for Sailors

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about tattoos and relationships…

I couldn’t have told you whether my grandfather had a tattoo. No matter the weather he would always wear long trousers and a sleeved shirt, occasionally folding up his cuffs an inch in summer. He passed away when I was 12 years old taking any secrets with him. As I write this there is a gentleman sat across from me on the train, dressed in a manor my grandfather would have seen fit; blue striped shirt, grey slacks, polished Oxfords. His snow white hair putting him at around my grandfather’s generation. As he sat down he slipped off his damp over coat, revealing shirt sleeves rolled up to just below the elbow. Scattering his pale freckled skin a series of small blue tinged tattoos. Now smudged with age it is difficult to make out the designs, a swallow perhaps and an anchor. With a nudge and a disapproving tut from the lady beside him he pushes down the sleeves, with it a knowing eyebrow raise and a quick grin to me. His look said it all, this wasn’t the first time nor would it be the last his wife would plead with him to cover up those tattoos.

FullSizeRender (5)
This exchange got me thinking about tattoos in relationships. When I was still dating I had a few odd comments, a general consensus that guys didn’t like tattoos on girls – even guys who were tattooed themselves. I had one guy tell me on a first date he wasn’t really bothered about my tattoos so long as I didn’t get any more, needless to say I never did call him again. I’ve also spoken to people both male and female who have admitted they’d rather their partner not be tattooed, or in contrast wish that they were.

After meeting my boyfriend for the first time my mum had said to me ‘you’d best keep this one you might not find another who likes your tattoos’ I’m still not entirely sure if she was joking or not. My mum likes my tattoos, although she thinks I’ve got enough now – not sure how to break the news to her when I get my sleeves done but that’s another story. But she is from a generation filled with tattoo stigma. Before I met my boyfriend’s parents she said I might want to wear something pretty and on the sensible side, hiding the tattoos and toning down the extreme fashion. My boyfriend said the opposite, don’t cover up your tattoos because otherwise they will wonder what on earth we have in common – a university lecturer and a builder (he’s the builder). In the end I wore something in between, just what is normal to wear to go for dinner and didn’t worry about it. Getting a tattoo is a permanent body modification, it’s not like a dodgy jumper you can eventually talk your partner out of wearing – or shrink in the wash. After all they do say love is about compromise, but, for me, someone not loving my tattoos would be deal breaker.

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.

Woman tattoos underneath 2

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.

Man tattoo underneath 2

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.”

Tattoos underneath 2

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.

Tattoos underneath photo 2

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.

Drew tattoos 2

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

Never too old to show some love

85-year-old Cyril Cooper honoured his love for his late wife by getting his first tattoo. The traditional design is a tribute to his wife and simply shows his unwavering love for her.


Cyril told Wales Online:

I lost my wife of 40-odd years in May. She was the love of my life and I wanted to get a tattoo in remembrance of her. I’ve always wanted a tattoo and I knew I simply wanted a heart with an arrow going through it with Sheila’s name inside.


Photos and quote from Wales Online 

Top 5 Creepiest Women in Film

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward

There’s nothing scarier than a woman, and horror films have given us an endless gallery of terrifying female characters and performances to choose from. So with Del Toro’s women-led Crimson Peak hitting cinemas, let’s have a look back at a few of the freakiest fems and chilling chicks to give us nightmares…

5. The Evil Dead Girls – Cheryl, Linda and Sherry
Played by: Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly
In: The Evil Dead (1981)

‘We’re gonna get you…’ I couldn’t cherry pick one of these girls because they’re all equally terrifying. Sure they start off as the typical sweet American college females you’d expect to find holidaying in some dank wood cabin in the middle of nowhere. But once they get possessed by those pesky forces of darkness… well where do I start? Linda spins her head 360 degrees while girlishly singing threats and she won’t stop laughing. Then Cheryl, good God, poor tree-raped Cheryl freaked me out just guessing her friend’s playing cards in some rising screeching voice. That’s before she levitates, growls doom-laden prophecies at her friends and stabs them with pencils. The film was brutal enough to make me worry about my friends being turned into grinning, screaming, vomit-spattered psycho bitches from hell.

4. The Exorcist girl – Regan MacNeil
Played by: Linda Blair
In: The Exorcist (1973)

‘It burns!’ Speaking of possession and vomit-spattered psycho bitches from hell, none will ever beat this doll. I know the infamous scenes have been talked about and parodied to death but I have seen various exorcism films and this is still the most extreme and affecting, mainly because most exorcism films that have come after are feeble imitations. For one thing Regan is genuinely sweet and appealing at the start, which is a first compared to most teenage characters in horror. So it’s quite horrific to see her gradually turn into a blaspheming, foul-mouthed, puking, ball-grabbing, crucifix-banging cockney beast. The best and freakiest thing about this character is that she (or it) is so extreme that no matter how much you’ve heard about the film, you’re never sure what she’s going to do next.

3. Mrs Carmody
Played by: Marcia Gay Harden
In: The Mist (2007)

You expect victims of demonic possession to turn evil, but all too often in horror films God-fearing women should be feared too. Take for instance Mrs Carmody, played splendidly by Marcia Gay Harden in 2007 movie The Mist. A fog descends on a New England town, bringing with it a swarm of ugly carnivorous critters and the townspeople are trapped in the store. Mrs Carmody immediately makes her extremist Christian beliefs clear and starts babbling about the apocalypse. At first she just annoys everyone and gets a slap or two. But as the situation worsens, her power grows over the trapped community until most of them are baying for human sacrifice to appease the beasts. So Mrs Carmody wins this spot not just for sticking to her bloodthirsty Biblical beliefs to the end, but for spreading them so easily over the fragile minds of her flock that they obey her every will and turn to violence without a thought.

2. Carrie’s mum – Margaret White
Played by: Piper Laurie
In: Carrie (1976)

‘I can see your dirty pillows…’ Another crazy Christian lady who happens to be the mom from hell. I guess Stephen King had a real problem with Christian women since he invented both Maggie White and Mrs Carmody. If it’s possible, Carrie’s mum is even crazier and scarier than Mrs Carmody and certainly not mothering material. For one thing, she likes locking her daughter up in cupboards (Harry Potter anyone?) and can’t handle any talk of periods, breasts (sorry ‘dirty pillows’) or sex let alone her daughter’s telekinetic powers. Carrie could really have done with a social worker. Now don’t get me wrong, Carrie is also a scary character but only at the end when she turns into some blood-drenched, prom-trashing bully killer. Her mother is scary the whole time. Piper Laurie gives such a fantastically unhinged performance that, like poor possessed Regan, you’re never sure what’s going to happen when she’s on screen. I haven’t seen the remake but as great an actress Julianne Moore is, I can’t imagine her matching Laurie’s performance, especially in the scene where she smiles so divinely when pursuing her daughter with a knife.

1. Annie Wilkes
Played by: Kathy Bates
In: Misery (1990)

‘I’m your number one fan. There’s nothing to worry about…’ Actually it’s a writer’s worst nightmare. Successful novelist Paul Sheldon (played cunningly by James Caan) suffers a car crash and wakes up crippled in the home of a smiling woman claiming to be his number one fan. Unfortunately she turns out to be too much of a fan. Kathy Bate’s extraordinary role wins number one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, compared to the other women she appears harmless: a dumpy farm woman with some nursing expertise and a bit of an obsession for her beloved author and his books. But some of her more eccentric qualities (her sudden mood swings and specialised vocabulary of ‘cockadoody’ and ‘oogy’) hint at the madness within. She’s not only crazy but also controlling, calculating and not afraid to use violence to get what she wants, particularly concerning hammers and feet. This brings me onto the second reason why she’s number one creepy woman. She has a very black and white view of the world. Everything she does and believes is right and everybody else is wrong… or dead. In short, not someone you want to be disabled and helpless around. But the other thing about her that beats the other characters is that you can’t help feeling sorry for her or laughing at her overreacting: when she’s safely behind the TV screen that is.