Interview with Tattoo Artist Paul Colli

Clean lines, not too many details. Paul Colli, resident at Satatttvision in Milan, likes to call his tattoos “ugly and ignorant”. In this interview, our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti explains why and discusses his humble view on current tattoo society, more about Horitomo references and his Monmon cats…

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What brought you into tattoo culture? How did you start tattooing? I walked into the tattoo world when I was 16, with total ignorance. I got the initials of my mum and my sister tattooed, I thought it was cool as I was the only guy to have one in my class. A few months later, I went for the second and then goodbye, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and I started getting tattooed all the time!

At 18, I bought my first “machine” and the first power supply at the Milan Tattoo Convention and I began to work on pork rind. Unfortunately some friends came in to get scribbled, but after a few months I stopped. I didn’t get tattooed for a couple of years until I met Max and Marta the owners of studio Vigevano. I spent everyday there, I had become a cumbersome presence and when I was asked if I was interested in learning how to clean, sterilise and live the apprentice life, I accepted. I began to draw more frequently, tracing Hoffmann, Sailor Jerry, Dietzel, tons of flash badly implemented on paper.

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You often say your tattoos are “ugly and ignorant” tattoos, how would you define this style? I’ve always loved simple tattoo designs. The less details there are the better.  “Ugly and Ignorant” is a deliberately extreme definition of  my work, linked to the clarity of a subject realised in an elementary way – a few lines that are immediately readable. Lately I’ve been putting a little more detail in my tattoos, but I prefer to use thicker lines that keep the process of simplifying the original flash, leaving many empty spaces where I can “scratch”.

Your cats are a traditional version of those recreated by Horitomo? Who/what inspires you? Yes, without a doubt! The first cat I made was at “Sailor Whisper” in Ravenna, the girl wanted the classic curled Monmon Cat. I remember having developed it until it became a skull! Since then I have studied and played with the cats of Horitomo, but also with various photographic references, changing the thickness of the lines and inserting traditional subjects pattern.

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What subjects do you prefer? Are there any projects you would like to start? In the past year I have concentrated on Eastern tattoo art, with the use of geishas, samurai and masks. I like to keep the classic traits of Japanese art but simplify it. The results look good, but I think I still have a lot to study and improve.

What are your points of reference in the world of tattooing? I have always studied traditional tattoos, and been inspired by the flash of tattoo artists who have shaped the history of this craft. Every artist I know is helping me to grow and to understand something different. Everything can be considered a good reference point when the exchange takes place in a constructive way.

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How do you think the future of this art will develop? On one side there are castes in the Italian tattoo scene that in my opinion should have never been created, and these contributed to make it definitely a worse world – success is not necessarily synonymous with talent. On the opposite side, however, exist and continue to come to light great artists who contribute every day to make the tattoo world a crazy and magnetic place. So really, I have not the faintest idea what will happen in the future!

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Some say that the tattoos are ‘not for everyone’, what do you think? Tattoos are for everyone. Now the market supply has exploded and this allows everyone to have the means to start tattooing, not necessarily having the qualities suited to undertake this type of work. Who now begins considering himself as an artist, often ignores history and is not interested in traditional iconography and has a very low personal culture. I think it’s fair to adapt to developments in a constructive way, to experiment, evolve, but always maintaining respect for the tradition. And above all, stay humble. If you think you made it, you will not be able to go on. There is always more to achieve.

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The role of the tattooist in current society, is it artist or craftsman? The question is all the rage in recent years! As I mentioned before, I think it’s a balance between craft and art. As I do not believe that a tattoo artist sees the tattoo only as an art work. Basically I think that technological developments have influenced the way tattoo artists act, work and so they’re a mix between a craftsman and an artist. Certainly it is always satisfying when a customer chooses you among a thousand others because of your personal style.

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Do you have any upcoming guest spots and projects in the works? I am now a resident artist at Satatttvision Collective in Milan. I will be working at Sang Bleu in Zurich at the end of February, April I’ll be at Area Industriale in Rome, Sailor Whisper in Ravenna and Maux Les Bleus in Paris. June I’ll be working at Modificazioni Corporee in Chiavari, and finally in November I will be at the Brussels Tattoo Convention.

TATTOO FAILS: ‘NO REGERTS’

Our guest blogger John James, Senior Associate at Levi Solicitors LLP, talks tattoo regrets and what to do about them… 

What happens when you choose a new tattoo, pick a tattoo artist you haven’t used before and then:
• “Never Don’t Give Up”;
• “Regret Nohing”;
• “It’s Get Better”;
• “Thuuder Only Happens When It’s Raisin”?

Never don't give up

Disaster! All of a sudden, you are an internet sensation thanks to your tattooist and your cruel friend who shares the photo with the world…

…Even worse, you have also been left with an infection from the needle the tattooist had used for the previous four days. And what’s more, you just found out he doesn’t have any insurance.

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What can I do?
The consequences for failed tattoo treatment can be very costly, both financially and physically. Needless to say, you have a right as a customer to have the artist fix the error or give you a refund.

However, you may also have other rights to compensation for personal injury or other damages you sustained as a direct result of this failed treatment.

Beware the tattoo fixer….

Unfortunately, there’s a surprisingly high number of people who have suffered cuts, burns, scars and even poisoning from failed treatments. Quite often, this is because people have been too hasty in choosing their provider – and if you choose unwisely, your options may be limited.

If you have been left with injuries after a failed procedure, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim against the person who carried out the treatment. Rather than trying to sue the individual (who may not have the money to pay your damages), your best chance of a successful claim is against the insurance company which covers them in the event that things go wrong.

However, if you have picked a tattoo artist without checking their insurance or their credentials properly, you could face the nightmare scenario of being left with an injury for which you cannot claim compensation.

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Prevention is cheaper than the cure

Whilst you might be in a rush to get your tattoo, or to have it removed, repaired or altered, you should take time to research properly the person you approach to carry out the procedure.

People who have taken their time choosing their artist to either create or remove a tattoo stand a much better chance of a claim succeeding if the treatment goes wrong.

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Therefore, my best possible advice to those people looking for the perfect tattoo is:
• Research the artist before walking into their studio
• Check they are insured before they go anywhere near you!
• Avoid the “backstreet” tattooist – you are unlikely to succeed in a claim against him/her if their treatment fails.
• If in doubt, do not have the treatment until you are certain you are safeguarded against things going wrong.

If you follow these three simple tips, you will have “no regerts” when you finally have your tattoo!

Guest article by John James, Senior Associate, Levi Solicitors LLP

Embroidery artist Jessica So Ren Tang

Here, 25-year-old embroidery artist and warehouse production worker  Jessica So Ren Tang, from San Francisco, tells us all about her beautiful hand-stitched pieces and the inspiration behind them…

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“As a child I knew I wanted a career in the arts. Throughout school I learned and experimented with various mediums, I started embroidering and playing with fabric and thread in my senior year of college in preparation for my senior exhibition. I graduated with a BA in Studio Art at Mills College in Oakland, CA.”

“I had semester-long assignment which involved playing with different materials and. for one of the experiments. I made a cup noodle container. I quickly found that styrofoam was a poor sewing material, so I began to replicate a cup noodle container with fabric instead. I enjoyed the softness and texture of embroidery in my sculpture pieces and I continued looking for other objects to replicate. I was more interested in sculpture but disliked the bulk clay and similar mediums had.

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“I continued to embroider because I loved the flexibility it gave me, as well as its rich history of being women’s work. In the future I want to explore more fibre art and sculpture and keep pushing my skills in fabric and thread.

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“I draw inspiration from memories of my childhood and my experiences of being an Asian American woman. For my object series, I look for items that I have bought or used that have Asian/American significance and use. Specifically, I look for Asian snacks and containers that I have used or seen in my childhood. Replicating objects in fibre is my way of exploring my Asian American identity – it is a way for me to replicate the duality of being too Chinese to be American and too western to be really Chinese.

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“Initially, it was not my intention for my pieces to have connections with tattoo art. Replacing the skin of suggestively posed Asian women was intended to obscure the girl’s identity, in an attempt to address this Asian American dual identity experience. the girls’ facial markers are removed but replaced with an Asian pattern, still retaining an Asian identity but non-specific to her ethnicity. But the style of pattern on the girl has specific origins to an Asian culture. I look for a variety of Asian patterns but so far they are mainly of Japanese and Chinese origins. Although I am looking to expand to different Asian patterns in my future pieces.

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“My girl series was inspired by Ikenaga Yasunari’s paintings of women and textile patterned clothing. The female forms help to emphasise the feminine medium that is embroidery, but it is also a familiar image that I express myself through. I create a little piece of myself through each girl, in the hopes of creating a tangible object that encompasses my Asian American experiences.

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“The colours in the patterns help to highlight a figure but to pull back and flatten – sort of like a silent wallflower girl. The facelessness of the women is to suggest a general Asian identity without pinpointing a specific nationality. Extending the pattern to the entire body was more aesthetically cohesive and balanced. Having the pattern on just the face drew too much attention to the head when I wanted the entire figure to be emphasised.

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“My object series, depending on the size and complexity, range from a week to a little over a month to be finished. Each mini girl takes about 50 hours of stitching and 100 hours for the larger girl pieces, as everything is stitched by hand.

“My works are currently not for sale for a variety of reasons. I still have a small body of work due to how long it takes me to complete one piece and exhibiting would be difficult if I started selling, I’m still attached to my pieces and I’m hard pressed to let them go, and I don’t have much free time outside of my day job and selling would take me away from working on my art. Of course, many of these reasons will eventually be solved and I do plan on selling my work.”

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View more of Jessica’s work on Instagram: @jessicasorentang

Interview with Lusy Logan

Lifestyle Fashion Trade Show, London Edge is this weekend – 12/13 Febraury 2017. This is an interview with Lusy Logan, alternative model for many of the London Edge brands, first published in The Edge Magazine.

Lusy Logan is an alternative model with a style all of her own. Known for her extensive tattoos and killer looks, Lusy has modelled for many LondonEdge brands and continues to reinvent her look each season. Lusy joined the show for the Influencer’s event – a part of the show where models, bloggers, media, press and other influential and creative people are invited to the show to connect with the brands. Here, Lusy tells London Edge a bit about herself, her career and her thoughts on the show…

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London Edge: So tell us a bit about your personal style…
Lusy Logan: I would describe my style as dark elegance, scruffy goth with a feminine twist.

LE: Have you always been quite alternative in your dress sense?
LL: I have always been alternative in my dress sense, all through school and growing up I wanted to be different.

LE: How long have you been modelling for?
LL: I have been modelling professionally for seven years. I’ve had many looks, different hairstyles and colours over the years, but it’s really helped me grow as a person and given me confidence in myself.

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LE: We’re used to seeing your modelling work at the show – namely that Hyraw campaign starring you and model Dickie Smith. Who are some of your favourite brands to work with?
LL: My favourite brand to work with is Killstar, they are my absolute favourite, and some others include Church of Sanctus, Disturbia and Hyraw.

LE: So you’re now moving into the world of tattooing. What motivated you to make this change?
LL: I started to learn to tattoo back in 2012 and it was put to one side due to personal issues going on in my life. Since then I’ve been working as a receptionist at my brother’s tattoo studio, and this year I have decided to get back into tattooing and make a name for myself because I think I could be really good at it.

I’ve started training with the master of portraits David Corden in Edinburgh, which I plan to continue to perfect portraits and realism. I plan to find a studio to settle into and carry on with apprentice work, hopefully Tokyo Tattoo are considering taking me on as I have applied to work there.

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LE: Sound like an exciting change. It was great to have you join us at the show as a part of our Influencers Event last season, and I know you’ve been attending the show for years.
LL: I enjoyed London Edge last year, seeing all my favourite brands, as well as gaining interest from other new brands who liked my look.

LE: Did you see any new collections at Edge in September that you’re exciting about?
LL: I saw some items from Collectif clothing that I really liked, one of them being a leather wiggle pin-up dress that I thought looked amazing! And of course seeing Killstar’s new range was very exciting.

Thanks Lusy! You can see Lusy’s work over on her Instagram @lusylogan

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Photos by Kris Askey

Women with Tattoos

The gorgeous blog Women with Tattoos was started by digital producer and photographer Eleni Stefanou, 30, from London, a year ago. To celebrate we caught up with Eleni to find out more about her inspiration behind starting the blog and her own collection of tattoos…

Portrait of Eleni by Eftihia Stefanidi

Photographer Eleni started Women with Tattoos blog
to record the stories that may otherwise go unheard

Photograph by Eftihia Stefanidi


Women with Tattoos
is celebrating its first birthday, but what inspired you to start it? 
I was spending hours on Tumblr researching my first tattoo when I realised how one-dimensional the representation of women with tattoos was. It’s the kind of imagery you’d find in a lad’s mag – women dressed and photographed to gratify the male gaze. Around the same time, a study came out revealing that, for the first time in recorded history, tattooed women outnumbered tattooed men. That’s pretty fascinating, yet mainstream culture wasn’t reflecting and exploring this shift. Women with Tattoos was an attempt to record some of the stories that may go unheard and to offer beautiful images that women could identify with.

Describe the blog in one sentence…
I think of it as a visual love letter to tattooed women.

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How has it evolved over the first year? It’s hopefully become more diverse in its representation of women from different backgrounds. I’ve also focused a bit more on the artistry of tattooing, by interviewing female tattoo artists and linking to portfolios when crediting the artists behind the featured tattoos. On a more general level, I’ve slowed down quite a bit. I used to do photo shoots almost every weekend, and while I loved it, it was becoming exhausting alongside my full-time job. I had to remind myself that this was something I was doing in my own time for my own enjoyment and that any pressure I felt was self-inflicted.

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Gabriella

Who has been your most stand-out portrait, why? There’s a photo I took of a woman called Gabriella, which is really hypnotic. We were in Camley Street Natural Park, this beautiful nature reserve hidden away in a busy part of London. Gabriella has a beautiful botanical tattoo by Saira Hunjan down the length of her arm. It includes a lemon, butterfly, bluebells and other flowers and there’s lots of negative space around these elements, so it’s not your typical sleeve. Ironically, her tattoos aren’t that visible in this photo, but I kind of love that they’re subtle and blend in with the nature around her. First you see Gabriella, the person, then you see her tattoos.

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Laurence

What have you learnt while shooting these portraits? I’ve learnt that most people feel quite vulnerable when they’re being photographed. As someone who spends a lot of energy avoiding the lens, I can completely relate to this. So I try and adapt my approach depending on the person. Some of the women like to talk a lot in between shooting, while others prefer to listen to music.

I’ve also found that photography can be an empowering experience for many women. One of the most common feelings they express when I reveal their portraits is a sense of surprise at how beautiful they look. But they *are* beautiful and I’m just capturing what I see. It’s like the photo becomes a form of validation. When I photograph someone, they’re the only person in the universe in that moment. My focus is entirely on them, in fact, often I catch myself gasping for air because I’ve forgotten to breathe! Hopefully, the women can sense that they have my full attention and admiration, which is something that comes through their disposition in the photos.

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What do you hope others will take from them? I really hope that the project will help shift people’s perspectives and prejudices about tattooed women. A friend of mine who I went to school with told me that he never really liked or understood tattoos, especially on women, but now he finds them beautiful and reads all the interviews on the blog. I also hope that women will see the project and feel understood and valued – that’s probably the most important thing.

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Daley

Tell us about your own tattoos…. I have a dotwork prism on my side rib and a wreath on my inner arm. My tattoos are a source of strength – they crystalise what’s important to me in life. I’m a big believer in the power of symbols and how they can hold meaning and memories. Every time I do a photo shoot I have a really strong urge to get tattooed. I try to avoid rushing into things though. Luckily, most of my favourite artists live in the US, South Korea and New Zealand, which kind of enforces a more patient approach.

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Jane

Where do you hope to take the blog over the course of the next year? I’d really love to travel to new places and represent cultures that aren’t reflected in the blog. I want to find out what it’s like to be have tattoos as a woman in other parts of the world – what is the common ground and what are the differences in experience? I want to photograph and interview more women who are over the age of forty (a large portion of the women I photograph happen to be in their 20s and 30s) and I’m really keen to speak to someone who has a mastectomy tattoo – to find out more about the healing process of covering a scar with a tattoo. I’m naturally inquisitive and drawn to people and their stories, so this is the driving force behind what I do.

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To view more portraits of women with tattoos, visit womenwithtattoos.co.uk

Jak Nola

By combining sacred geometry, erotica, and ethereal psychedelic visions, artist Jak Nola reveals a world as unique and capturing as her own appearance portrays. Swathed in layers of tattoo, her tongue bifurcation, tattooed eyes, and scarification render her own body an art work in progress.

While visiting Australia, she catches up with Fareed to talk about her art, tattoos, and how to go about attaining a free mind.

*this article contains a graphic image of a tongue bifurcation.

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Hey, Jak. So, tell us about your life in New Zealand.

I was born in Napier, but I’ve lived all over the south and north island.  Out of all the countries I’ve travelled to, New Zealand is by far the most beautiful; the lands here are powerful.

I’m a vegan that’s been creating art since I can remember. I have played guitar for about 16 years, so music is a huge part of my life. I only play for enjoyment though. I love building things, such as tables out of drift wood, anything out of old instruments, usually guitars. And I’ve also found a passion for creating jewellery.

So, my life is generally me doing all the above while traveling. I can never keep still, I love exploring new environments as much as I can, because I’ve found that new information stimulates my creative ideas profoundly.

What is the motivation behind your body modifications?

The motivation behind my body modifications… the human body in my eyes, in a sense, is a walking canvas, so I’d feel a fool to live this life without expressing my own in a way I find visually appealing.

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Because of your striking tattoos you’re subject to a lot of positive and negative appraisal through social media. What is that like?

It appears people who tend to write negative comments, are either just bored, dealing with their own issues, or heavily indoctrinated…it’s easy to attack people behind a screen, but most wouldn’t do it in person… so I don’t take any of it personally. As for the positive comments, I appreciate them immensely and take them gladly to heart.

Okay, so, let’s break this down, can we can safely say you’re currently in a third permutation of a body suit?

Yup roughly third one, some areas less, some more. I started with traditional Celtic/tribal, all except one a design of my own, all terrible though! But that’s all part of it, I learnt, as with everything. Then eventually I gained a body suit and modifications rather fast, still not how I wanted to express myself. So now I’m in the process of covering everything, with a full body concept of blacks, whites and scars. A process that will take a lot of time and endurance but it’s a true vision of my body, for myself.

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One thing that will stay will be my full back piece, from the top of my neck down to my ankle it says “Maybe Logic”, which is from my most influential author, Robert Anton Wilson. His words have inspired this idea of reality being perceived more in an ambiguous sense, which for me is far more fun and confusing. I think to be subjected to one ideal obviously limits the mind’s exploration of its experiences.

In saying that, I do enjoy the idea of there being a “truth” to this whole experience, but I’d imagine it to be something we couldn’t conjure up with the instrument we have for processing (human brain). Maybe. Plus, being stuck in a linguistic construct doesn’t help that exploration anyway. Many writings as such, along with psychedelics, have heavily influenced my creations.

In what way?

Pure psychedelics have widened my perceptions, given new ideas, understandings and depths to my creative expressions. I take them with respect, they are not something I would abuse. Through psychedelics I learn, love, laugh and just enjoy life as I usually do but in new ways.

And while we’re on that topic, you create art on many mediums, such as painting, jewellery and tattoos, could you tell me about each?

I’ve drawn since I was very young, along with playing music. I’m self-taught in almost everything I do. My art has transformed immensely over the years due to life experiences and psychedelics. Generally, it’s a combination of geometry and sacred symbols, or sex… as I have a passionate love/hate for it. I’m aware of the immense positive and negative aspects to it.

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I started teaching myself tattooing around the age of 15, but over the years I have learnt different techniques with different artists around the world which I am grateful for. Most of my art is done on a thick paper because its best for me to travel with. I’ve been trying to do art on a canvas over the last few years but it’s much more difficult for me, it’s always worth it once I’ve finished though.

I’ve been making jewellery for a few years now, usually when I’m traveling I’ll find precious gems or pendants and make something with them. It’s very therapeutic.

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With my tattoos, I like to somewhat connect with the person, and I only do tattoos that I enjoy doing. In my mind, it’s an art form, not work. I love doing mandalas and geometric designs with dots. Although I’m always keen to learn new ways of tattooing, so I have no idea where that path will take me

 

Written on one of your paintings is ‘At the peak of every orgasm is a truly free mind.’ Could you elaborate on this?

I’ve written this in a lot of my art, it’s one of the truest statements in my mind. When you reach the peak of an orgasm, there’s no stress, no frantic thoughts, no worries, it’s just you and that peak of bliss. A free mind from all of life’s daily, cluttered thoughts.

instagram : jak_nola

facebook : facebook.com/jak.art.nz

online store : www.etsy.com/shop.jaknola

 

GRLCLB: Roobs

We chat to 24-year-old Ruth Finn Leiser (aka Roobs), writer, feminist and founder of GRLCLB about starting her own business, creating a zine and her tattoo collection…

What inspired you to start GRLCLB? How did it come about? How did it start? GRLCLB is the product of frustration, neglected creativity, and a horrible job. I was working full time, often up to 60 hours a week, running a gift shop – for a boss who wanted me to give my all for just £7 an hour and to whom nothing was ever good enough.

I spent so long looking for that one thing that would save me, the outlet that I needed, and eventually I realised that the reason I couldn’t find it was because I needed to create it. I had stitched a couple of t-shirts – the reaction from my Instagram followers was really positive and I just sort of thought ‘well what have I got to lose?’ I bought the domain name for under a tenner and set up this rookie website with no clue what I was doing, and just took it from there.

What message are you hoping to spread or share? Really, I just want to be honest. It’s so easy to shy away from speaking your mind when the internet can be such a brutally unforgiving place. But when you realise that by simply speaking your mind, you can be providing comfort for other people who are thinking the same things as you or feeling the same way as you, it becomes a) less scary and b) more important. In a world where you can create an entire existence – persona, success, lifestyle – out of square pictures on a social media app, it is, I think, genuinely necessary that people are shown what’s real from time to time.

What can people expect to see and read on your blog? Well that’s where I start to feel like ‘blog’ doesn’t really apply. To me, blogs are like really well-oiled machines that rely on organisation and planning and structure and conforming to a particular kind of aesthetic/content for a specific intended audience. The writing side of GRLCLB is, honestly, completely shambolic. I’ve never really been able to write for purpose, I’ve always just gone with the flow and refused to ever force anything.  So the Girl Talk section of the website is littered with unscheduled outpourings talking about stuff ranging from body positivity to domestic abuse to the neurochemistry of introversion to what’s happening with the business side of GRLCLB to why I’ll never promote skinny tea.

Can you tell us about your new zine, what’s inside? The zine has been a highlight for me. Even though it was a little bit rushed to get it out in time for Christmas, it provided a really nice new level to the whole GRLCLB experience I think. I loved the thought of people settling down to read it on paper rather than a screen. The first issue had poetry, tips for challenging anxiety, a self-care guide, a recipe, doodles, a list of facts that make the world seem nicer etc.

How can people get involved? That’s something that I really want to focus on in 2017! From the outset, I wanted GRLCLB to be like a community, and I’m constantly trying to find ways for people to contribute. I’m excited for the next issue of the zine because the potential for exciting collaborations is endless. I just can’t think of anything nicer than a converging of girl power from the internet into real life.

Do you have a background in art? From a recreational point of view, I was such a manically creative child, but from an academic perspective, not at all. University also killed my creativity. I studied psychology. It was only when I graduated that I realised I’d forgotten how to be anything other than analytical. I spent a lot of time pointlessly wondering whether, if I’d pursued art way back when like I’d wanted to, I’d have ended up somewhere else. But, actually, part of me thinks that art school could’ve been even more damaging. The thought of creating something, only to have a quantifiable grade assigned to it is totally soul-destroying to me.

What inspires your creations? I truly believe that we’re a product of everything we experience. Everything we create is a product of all the people we’ve known and the music we’ve heard and the stories we’re told and the sights we’ve seen. My mum introduced me to a lot of great music – Bruce Springsteen and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Led Zeppelin etc – and my dad is just totally eccentric – anything weird or unusual or surprising that I like is definitely down to him. I think I draw equally from their generation and mine.

The more political side of GRLCLB is, I guess, just inspired by what’s going on in the world around me. The only difference between other people and me is that where someone else vents through Twitter or their friends, I’m like ‘this is going on a t-shirt’.

When did you get your first tattoo? What was it? Do you still love it? My first tattoo was a couple of years ago. I was late to the game because I’m so indecisive that I was convinced I’d get something on a whim and then end up hating it. So, obviously, I got an ode to Shakespeare. It’s based on a couple of lines from The Merry Wives of Windsor: ‘Why then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open’. The first bit has obviously filtered into general usage, but it’s the second bit that always appealed to me – the world might be mine for the taking but I actually have to do something about it. Darryl from Irezumi tattoo studio in Glasgow drew me up a hand with a dagger and an open oyster shell, and I’m as obsessed with it today as I was the day I got it.

Can you tell us about your other tattoos? Some have meaning, some don’t. I have a thistle and a cornflower (the flowers of Scotland and Germany respectively) and a banner saying ‘Give Em Hell’ in tribute to my ancestors and the struggles they faced – also by Darryl at Irezumi. Mel at Black Dot gave me some of my favourites: a badass woman’s torso, a pair of hands sewing out the words ‘Girl Boss’ to remind me to keep at it, and the simplest GRL PWR across my Achilles.

Do tattoos have to tell a story or have a meaning behind them? Not at all. I think that, for me anyway, it’s nice to be able to recount the stories behind them, but of course, sometimes the stories behind them are just the people you were with or the shop you were sat in or the laughs you had while getting it done. I don’t think that the art itself has to have a meaning – tattoos are a way to remember people and places and context, and I reckon that’s more important than trying to make them visually significant. 

What plans do you have for GRLCLB in the future? I’m trying to make it less labour intensive for me on my own. Whether that means getting other people involved – or not – I’m not sure yet. I just feel like so much of my time is taken up with sewing that I can’t let the brand grow into something that can reach more people. I want to start engaging more with ‘real life’ people – the goal of it was to create a safe place for people, so how wonderful would it be if that could be translated into a physical one? I want to concentrate less on the actual physical act of stitching, and more on the ways that GRLCLB can really make a difference. This year will see the introduction of more printed products, still with the signature GRLCLB style/sass, but that will hopefully just mean the start of bigger and better things to come!

Support the Cause: STAPAW

We chat to non-profit organisation STAPAW, who work to help companies change hiring and dress code policies to allow tattoos, piercings and body mods, to find out more about what they’re fighting for and how you can get involved…

Photog -DeForest Photography - Model - Sheila Shawndell

What is STAPAW, when was it founded? We’re a non-profit that started from a social media flash gathering to help save a girl’s job who had tattoos and piercings. Today we’re an international merit-based employment advocacy group. The name STAPAW stands for Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work. Since then, it’s evolved into a movement that works to get companies to change their hiring and dress code policies to allow tattoos and piercings at work, as well as other things like coloured hair, unusual hair styles, stretched ears and beards. The goal isn’t to get companies to hire staff with tattoos or piercings, because people with tattoos and piercings don’t necessarily make great workers. What makes someone a great worker is their experience, education, skills, work ethic and qualifications, and our goal is to make the employment process based on this instead of looks.

What inspired you to create it? After STAPAW saved a close friend’s managerial job over the holidays, people started popping up all over with similar stories asking for help. STAPAW continued to have a social media presence, but didn’t become an actual organisation until a few months later. A few months after the initial Facebook page was made, PetSmart made a public announcement that they changed their hiring and dress code to allow visible tattoos and piercings because of consumer feedback. It was then that STAPAW realised the tangible impact that could be made by helping employers see they have the public support to have the freedom to base the hiring process off of qualifications instead of looks.

Model -Talon Tastrophe

What message do you want to share, what do you hope to achieve? You don’t need to have tattoos or piercings to support the piercing and tattoo acceptance in the workplace movement. We’re a movement of consumers stating that we don’t mind purchasing products or services from businesses that hire staff based on merit – in fact we support it! Our petitions go to companies on an individual basis, and we petition companies to have the freedom to hire based on qualifications instead of looks. Legislative change tramples on the rights of the business owner. We believe change through education is the answer. Change hearts not laws. If you have tattoos or piercings, whether you make a conscious effort to or not, you represent people with tattoos and piercings every day by your actions. Do not be a good worker, be the best worker. Demand respect by your actions, not your words.

How can people get involved? People can visit www.stapaw.com and sign up to become a volunteer and join to help promote the cause. Local businesses and tattoo shops can also carry STAPAW petitions.

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What things/stories/news can people expect to see from you? We constantly have interactive content where we ask followers to call or email cities, employers, universities or city councils that pass restrictive bans on tattoos or piercings. We have new petitions, new statistics and breaking stories on our social media and our website. Recently we ran the shocking story on Iran imprisoning and beating tattoo artists and putting a Sharia Law ban on all tattooing. We also broke the touching story about the boy with cancer whose dad got the son’s cancer scar tattooed to boost his son’s self-esteem. It always varies.

What would you say to an employer who doesn’t allow tattoos or piercings? This is a link answering the top 10 reasons employers don’t allow tattoos or piercings at work www.stapaw.com/tattoos-and-piercings-in-the-workplace . Whether you own a business, or you’re an employee, this is a must read!

Have your tattoos and piercings affected how you’ve been treated in the work place? Let us know on Instagram @thingsandink!