Interview with Niki Sparkle, piercer and our online fitness muse

We caught up with Niki Sparkle, from Wrexham North Wales, she is owner/piercer aat Crystal Point Piercing. We chat about piercing, tattoos, health, fitness and her perfect day…

Check out her Instagram account @nikisparkle for daily health inspiration and piercing goodness.

We have been following your Instagram account and you often post fitness / motivational pictures, have you always tried to lead a healthy, active lifestyle? I was an elite basket ball player when I was a teen and very fit. Then life happened! Though I have never been seriously overweight my life style certainly hasn’t been always the healthiest by far. I have been going to the gym for years but doing it all wrong so didn’t see much benefit. I have only recently taken fitness serious over the past year. More intensively over the past six  months. I post on Instagram so that I actually do the workouts…

I post before and after pics regularly to encourage myself. Hearing that others are getting inspiration from my posts is amazing and a mega plus. I have gotten to the point now where I want to push it and I will be working towards my first bikini competition (May 2015), which is super eek and not something I thought I would ever consider even a few months ago.

How do you motivate yourself to exercise? It’s a great mood enhancer and I enjoy the structure the gym gives my morning/start of the day. I go because I feel great when I go and it’s “me -time” although I do work and answer emails on the treadmill. Now with the impending bikini comp I am under the watchful eye of my trainer so I get up and go.


What are your favourites forms of exercise? I love core workouts, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), a good sprint, jump squats… any form of jumping about and really getting a good sweat on, followed by long stretch/yoga/Pilates time

As a tattoo collector, how do you cope with not exercising when you have a healing tattoo? I usually find a way depending on how sore I am. Or I just have a break until I feel the area can handle it. I have started to take time away from the gym when I have extensive work done as my immune system works stronger when I am not asking my body to do too many things at once. Lesson learnt on that one.

Describe your perfect day. Hmm I try to make every day count as quality. A beautiful sunrise, good music to kickstart the day, a HIIT workout and good nutritious food to fuel the day. A busy day making people gorgeously shiny using beautiful high-end jewellery. Meeting up with friends. Unwinding/story sharing/general larking/dancing…

Niki with our modification issue cover star Grace Neutral


How did you get into piercing? Completely by chance. I wore a fake lip ring and this guy (Jack Rubini, Gorlubb Piercing) called me out and offered to pierce it properly in his new studio in Copenhagen. I became his first receptionist (I think it was in the late 90s) while I was at business college and have worked in piercing/tattoo studios ever since. It took me years to get the courage to learn how to pierce. I was a piercing counter person for many many years before finally picking up a needle.

What is your favourite thing about the job? I love it all so much, but mastering techniques is up there. Always learning new things. Of course the best feeling is seeing healed work look divine on someone.

Niki’s head by Deryn Twelve


Any advice for our readers thinking about getting tattooed and pierced? Ask many questions, get to know your piercer and above all be safe in your choices. I’m a big fan of the Association of Professional Piercers approach to piercing. There is great information out there for piercing clients who want to research what to look for in order to get the professional procedure they deserve.



Any advice for those thinking about taking up exercise? It’s one of the best things I have done for myself, and I can only speak from my own experience, but it’s cured so many rough old habits. And the fact my body is in better shape now than it was when I was 20 is mind blowing and really fun. Little is better than nothing and small progress is still progress, so be kind to yourself and one day you will notice the benefits! I highly encourage anyone thinking of it to start. The Internet is full of help and advice and things you can do at home so there is something for everyone.

Don’t know about you, but we feel pretty motivated. See you at the gym?

Tattoo advice for first timers

We’ve put our heads together here at Things&Ink to bring you a post filled with tattoo advice for those who are yet to go under the needle…

Get quality not quantity!


Jen Adamson our Music Writer says: “Get quality not quantity!” Jen has learnt from her own mistakes of being covered with awful tattoos when she was younger! You get what you pay for! (she is also going through a painful removal process, read more here)


Know your body and its limits. Don’t over push them.


Writer Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray has a multitude of great advice to impart, she really knows her stuff: Do your research before getting one. Know everything about the process of getting a tattoo, understand the equipment, have an idea of the health and safety standards, etc. If you walk into a shop and you see anything wrong, leave immediately.
Always look at a portfolio of both fresh and healed work. Wet, fresh, swollen tattoos often look so great, but it’s after the peeling and healing that you see if the lines are straight, or if the colours took, or if the drawing is good.
Be sure you fully hydrate and eat a good meal before sitting down. Bring drinks with you and don’t be afraid to ask for a pause to sip. Also, sometimes if you are getting a back piece done or something on a painful area it helps to bring along a sweatshirt or something from home that you can put your face on or into when it gets a bit tough.
The tattoo shop comfort is as important as the artist. Be sure when you’re looking around that you actually go to these places, don’t just look online. Go in and check the place out, does it feel right for you? (e.g., are there private rooms or are you out in the open, does the artist allow people to hang around him or her while working, are there comfortable chairs or tables). Talk to the artist and the staff and make sure you are comfortable with them. After all the artist is going to be touching you, and you have to be able to tell him/her if you are struggling, or might faint etc., The shop needs to be a place where you aren’t afraid if the worst happens – it needs to be a place that if something happened like fainting or puking you’d feel confident that you’d be taken care of properly and be okay. Know your body and its limits. Don’t over push them.


You don’t need to be able to draw, a good artist will do this for you


Our editorial assistant Rosalie Woodward says: You don’t need to be able to draw, a good artist will do this for you, but it helps to go with an idea of size and what you would like. I always try to give the artist as much free rein as I can, I think you come away with a better tattoo. I have a lot of tattoos that have no meaning, I simply liked the artwork and this is fine! You don’t need a story behind every one! While it heals it will itch! So infuriating but don’t give in and scratch it and don’t pick at your healing tattoo, this will peel off the ink and ruin it!


Keely Reichardt Stick to your guns and be confident in choice of sizing and design!


Make-up artist and homewares writer Keely Reichardt has this pearl of wisdon: If you really are not sure whether you want to go bigger or not, then do not be bullied into getting a tattoo much bigger than you first thought. Stick to your guns and be confident in choice of sizing and design!

Look beyond photographs of other tattoos that belong to other people in your search for inspiration.


Editor Alice Snape has this advice: Look beyond photographs of other tattoos that belong to other people in your search for inspiration. Think about the artists you love – the pictures that hang on your walls – favourite books, characters from films and just look around your home at the things that surround you. Then pick a tattooist whose style you are drawn to – whether its their colour palette, or bold lines. If you go with them with an abstract idea and some references, they will be able to create something just for you a custom, unique piece. Just don’t let them persuade you too go too big, or have it somewhere you are not happy with.


We hope this helps… good luck and remember to share your tattoo journeys with us,, @thingsandink,

Mobile tattoo parlour collects 200 pictures and stories

A mobile tattoo parlour has been touring Bristol, encouraging the public to document their tattoos with photographs and share their stories. The project “I Will Always Have You” will be featured in the city’s art and culture show and started in Knowle West in June 2014.

Arts producer Melissa Mean curated the exhibition in order to gather memories and stories behind tattoos to add to growing digital archives.

By exploring the power of personal narratives and the construction of character through body art, we hope to better understand the growing popularity of tattoos across the UK and the richness of Knowle West’s tattoo culture.

The exhibition will be on show at Knowle West Media Centre until Christmas. People can add their tattoos to the online archive.

Image and Melissa quoted from

The Art of Dan Baldwin

British artist Dan Baldwin works in ceramics and paints to create vivid abstract pieces that reflect reality, the power of imagination, as well as his inner self. His works change dramatically depending on the themes he is exploring and the emotions he is channelling.

His new exhibition End of Innocence will be hosted in New York City in association with PMM Art Projects and CCA Galleries starting 22nd October until 2nd November.



Feminist postcards by Carol Rossetti

Carol Rossetti is a Portuguese artist who has created a collection of empowering feminist postcards that have been translated into numerous different languages and shared around the world.  The illustrations highlight the difficulties and judgements that women face in today’s society.

I feel very disturbed by the world’s attempts to control women’s bodies. So I’ve started a series of illustrations in a friendly tone hoping to reach people about how absurd this really is.

Writes Carol on her website.

You can view Carol’s work on her website at, where you can also buy postcards and prints…

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.



Mark Leaver‘s photography project has been created to show the beauty of facial tattoos and dispel some of the myths surrounding them. We featured some of his photos in The Identity Issue, and have continually followed this stunning facial tattoo project on our blog. Check out previous posts here: MARK LEAVER’S FACIAL TATTOO PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT and EXCLUSIVE NEW IMAGES IN MARK LEAVER’S FACIAL TATTOO PROJECT.

He recently contacted us to share more unpublished images with us, and I am delighted to share them with you in this blog post.

Kirsty Wood – 23 – Tattoo artist 


Trevin Goodbush – 36 – Works at Lush!

Trevin Goodbush – 36 -Works at Lush!


Deefa De’ville – 43 – retired body piercer and healing specialist

Deefa De’ville – 43 - Work at a piecing shop


Michael Kench – 21 – Tattoo artist

Michael Kench – 21- Tattoo artist


Robert Williamson – 29 – tattoo artist

Robert Williamson – 29 - tattoo artist


Emma Gerrard – 27 – Tattoo artist and in a band 

Emma Gerrard – 27 - Tattoo artist (living art collective) and in a band


We also caught up with photographer Mark to find out how he feels about the project…


How you found your latest subjects? I recently graduated from Bournemouth and have now moved back to London. Before I left the south coast I wanted to make sure that I managed to take a few more portraits while I was still local. This particular group of people are all Dorset based, and are all people who I have either met over the course of my three years in the area or have been put in contact with through friends.

Dorset, has a massive and tight knit tattoo community. I’ve met and got to know most of the people in Dorset with facial tattooing through doing this project, there’s still a couple though I can think of though who I’d like to go back and photograph for the project.

How is the project progressing? The project’s coming on really nicely Thanks. It seems weird that it started off as a self-set university brief but now is something that I do in my spare time for leisure. I have a full time job at the moment, un-related to photography, so it’s nice on days off to be able to go and meet interesting new people and carry on with my own creative work. Just last week I met and photographed Grace Neutral, then a few days later Curly Moore!  (photographs have not been released yet) Both big well-known names in the industry, both of whom are really great additions to the project for their own reasons.     

Are you near finishing or is it a never-ending project? Because of the way that I’m photographing, the project doesn’t really have an obvious finish point. It’s not a traditionally shot documentary story but rather a typographic series showing people with facial tattooing. So the project finishes either when I’ve photographed every one with facial tattooing (not possible) or when I feel I’ve made a representative and differential sample of people with facial tattoos. This includes, people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. For the subject of facial tattooing you also look into the different types of facial tattoos, this includes cosmetic tattooing, aesthetic tattooing and many more which are explored through the project.

Saying that, the project has come a long way and is becoming a substantial body of work. There’s still a few more people I will be looking to photograph for this chapter. Then in the next few years I’ll be looking to make a book of the portraits with text on each sitter.


We look forward to the book, and applaud Mark for his positive contribution to the tattoo world. His work can be viewed at,



Hyper Japan Christmas Market

Here at Things&Ink we love everything kawaii and there is no better place to get your cute fix than at Hyper Japan!

Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese culture, cuisine and cool. It brings sellers, performers, entertainers, traders and exhibitors all under one roof! A perfect place to buy all of your Christmas gifts and to immerse yourself in everything Japanese. You can get everything from a make-over to traditional Japanese crockery to exotic teas.

The Hyper Japan Christmas Market takes place on 14-16 November at the National Hall Kensington Olympia, London. 

General Entry Tickets are £12 each for Friday and the Saturday Sessions, and General
Entry tickets for the longer Sunday session are £15 each. Click here to purchase tickets.

Charity Disney Flash Day at Bold As Brass

We caught up with tattooist (and love issue cover star) Rachel Baldwin to find out more about her Disney themed charity tattoo day, which was held back in September to raise money for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and celebrate her shop’s first birthday…

Rachel Baldwin and Alex Strangler Rachel Baldwin and Alex Strangler


What made you decide to do a Disney Flash charity day? I wanted to do something super special for our shops first birthday (Bold As Brass). I’m a bit of a Disney fanatic and I thought this would be the perfect excuse to do cute Disney themed tattoos, dress up in silly costumes and have a fun party with my friends.

Yana AKA Tinkerbell who helped out on the day Yana AKA Tinkerbell who helped out on the day


How did you pick the charity Alder Hey Children’s Hospital? I wanted to do something nice for the local community. I am so grateful that Liverpool has been a welcoming place for us to set up our shop, so this is just a little back from us. As my family are all from Liverpool I have always been aware of Alder Hey, I know a lot of children from all over the country go there for treatment.

Vicky Morgan, AKA Pocahontas Vicky Morgan, AKA Pocahontas



Did you enjoy the day? And will you do more charity flash days? I always try to keep my expectations low (so I’m not disappointed!) but I had no idea we would have such a great turn out and such a lovely time. It seriously felt like my birthday! It couldn’t have gone any better. I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who came and tattooed, got tattooed or bought something.

I want to say an even bigger thank you to all artists who joined us working on the day. I am super lucky to have such talented generous friends! Everyone worked super hard all day and into the night and partied hard afterwards! 

Rachel getting her nails did by the lovely Nancy Mc Rachel getting her nails did by the lovely Nancy Mc


Special thanks to Alex Strangler, Vicky Morgan, Matt Craven, James Kiley, Toni Moore, Anrijis Straume and Jody Dawber. As well as Nick (Baldwin) for his help and support and my super organised desk girlies Sandra, Yana and my sister Michelle.

Well done to Rachel and everyone involved in the day, who managed to raise an amazing £8,024 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Of course, Team Things&Ink showed up to show our support and some team members couldn’t resist the Disney flash…

Liz’s Pinocchio hand by Kiley Leila’s kewpie Princess Jasmine by Jody Dawber Keely’s Pudgey tattoo by Craven


Sin In Linen

Sin in Linen brings you soft goods with hardcore style.

Ten years ago Sandy Glaze founded the Seattle-based textiles company and, to this day, it is owned and run by women. Their textile and homeware collections are inspired by rock ‘n’ roll, pin-ups and, of course, tattoos!

Sandy collaborates with artists and manufacturers around the world to produce stylish home textiles on high-quality ethically produced cotton.

You won’t find homewares like this anywhere else, their out-of-the-ordinary style and eye-catching designs will transform any room into a sultry heaven. The designs are tough and bold while still being feminine and sexy, and their product lines include: bedding, bathroom and kitchen linen. Sin in Linen encourages women to express themselves through their home decor, igniting a passion in the home like no other.

Try Something New in Bed with Sin in Linen!

Follow Sin in Linen on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for new products and don’t miss the launch of their clothing line!

#sininlinen #trysomethingnewinbed

Take a peek on the website at, plus they ship internationally.