Film Review: The Conjuring 2

It’s not Halloween but there’s never a bad time to get scared in a cinema. Harry Casey-Woodward, casual film connoisseur, certainly did when he went to see The Conjuring 2.

The Conjuring 2, 2016, cert 15, dir James Wan, 3/5 

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Ghost movies are my least favourite sub-genre of horror. It’s not just the fact that recent examples like the Paranormal Activity series have over-used genre cliches to death. It’s more the fact that these movies demand to be taken so seriously. Most slasher movies are bad but at least they’re tounge in cheek about it.

Therefore I had low expectations of The Conjuring 2. If I’m honest, I haven’t seen the first film so I had no expectations. All I knew was that both films are based on a real-life American ghost-investigating married couple, Ed and Lorraine Warrren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). In the sequel they’re checking out a case in England 1977, where a family are suffering a nasty haunting. If you haven’t seen the first film either, you’ll be glad to know that the only thing connecting the sequel to it’s predecessor are the characters, so you can enjoy it as a stand-alone film.

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I was worried that this would be another horror milking the fact that it’s based on a true story. Thankfully, it makes small use of mockumentary techniques used by other recent horrors like The Quiet Ones and puts more effort into scaring the crap out of you. There is a laughable start, where this American movie does its best to transport you to 1970s Britain, from a London themed montage set to the Clash to schoolchildren pronouncing carefully selected swear words like ‘w****r’ with crisp accents.

After that it’s classy horror. There were a lot of stock scenes and techniques I recognised from other horrors, like CGI ghosts. The difference between Conjuring and other recent horrors though is that it does these cliches well, so much so that I felt dread throughout the entire movie. Through a reliance on simple but effective scares like the dark, creepy noises and things moving when they shouldn’t, a dinghy London house is transformed into a palace of terror.

MK1_5074.dngIt was also handy that we saw the film mostly through children’s eyes, who are naturally more scared when wandering around the house at night or even in the day. The icing on the cake, however, was that the ghost was genuinely horrible; perhaps because he was some old cockney geezer (no, not the hitcher from Mighty Boosh). Madison Woolfe (the actress playing the ghost’s favourite target) could also pull terrific faces when possessed.

I actually felt sorry for the characters, not just the single mum (Frances O’Connor) and her sweet kids being plagued by the ghost, but I even liked the husband and wife ghostbusters. In real life I’d probably find them annoying but they have a charm in the film. It might have been the scene where Mr. Warrren serenades the children with an Elvis song. The film was very sentimental at points, but it almost had the feel of classy 70s horrors like The Exorcist or The Omen. It looks good, it’s gripping and it’s scary so as far as I’m concerned it ticks most of the horror boxes. It’s not massively original or striking but it still makes you jump.

Images from comingsoon.net, geekculture.co and bloody-disgusting.com.

Women With Tattoos: Rosie

A few weeks ago our blog content manager Rosie was photographed and interviewed for the Women with Tattoos blog that explores the stories and art behind inked skin. In this post we share her photographs and interview where she talks about how tattoos have helped her to accept and celebrate her body…



What drew you into the world of tattoos? It all started when my boyfriend booked in to get his first tattoo. I was 18 at the time. If he was going to get one, so was I! I had always wanted one, but until then hadn’t really thought about it or had the guts to go through with it. My family have always been pretty against them. I remember one of my uncles getting a small football team badge when I was younger and everyone hating it.
I’ve always loved henna and mehndi-style patterns so I decided to start small with a floral design on my foot. I was totally unprepared for the pain that I never got it finished. I just couldn’t sit still so there are some wonky lines, but it is mine and reminds me of that time in my life.

It took me three years to pluck up the courage to get another tattoo. When I eventually did, I got a small fortune fish. I am obsessed with lucky symbols and talismans from different cultures and I’m secretly hoping these things will bestow on me some much needed luck! The lovely Sophie Adamson tattooed me and continued to tattoo me for most of my university years. She started my tattoo heyday; in the midst of it I was getting a new tattoo every week. I just loved spending time with Sophie and, of course, I adored everything she created for me.

Goddess sleeve by Lucy O’Connell

Lady Lamp by Sadee Glover

Left: moth by Sophie Adamson, Russian doll by Abbie Williams. Right: butterfly by Sonia Jade, hot air balloon by Sophie Adamson

What role do tattoos play in your life? Right now, they’re kind of a hobby and also a labour of love. Being involved in Things&Ink has opened a whole world of tattooing to me. I can interview, write about and research tattoos for hours! Without the magazine and blog I probably wouldn’t be as tattooed as I am and I wouldn’t have found so many awesome artists. Also my list of people I need work from wouldn’t be so long or frustrating. Tattoos have allowed me to meet some awesome people, make new friendships and travel the country. I’ll always be grateful to Alice (the editor) for the wonderful opportunity she has given me.

Why do you think that tattoos help people feel more confident? I’m not sure about everyone else, but with every new tattoo, I begin to love my body that little bit more. I see it as an empty canvas that I can fill. A tapestry that I alone can weave and create, a thing that I can change in a positive way rather than something that I feel negatively towards. I can make it my own and no one else can dictate what I decide to do with it. Now when I look at my body, I see the blank spaces that need filling, the possibilities and the gaps that have been mapped out for artists and ideas. Tattoos have become a way for me to celebrate myself and my body, a way for me to not only express and explore myself but find out what I find important in life.

Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.


Bird tattoo by Jessi James

If you had to explain what a tattoo is to a child, what would you say? Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.

How long does it usually take you to decide on a tattoo? Do you do lots of research beforehand? It depends whether an artist has drawn some flash that I love or whether I love their style and want them to create something. My left sleeve by Lucy O’Connell is two years in the making. I’ve always loved oriental styles, culture and objects. A trip to Vietnam last year to visit a friend really cemented my love for the Far East. I fell in love with the country that I saw from the back of my friend’s moped, from the beautiful pagodas to the street food. Being in a completely different country with some of my closest friends really helped me decide what direction I wanted my arm to go in. This sleeve is not just beautiful, it’s a tribute to the time we spent together and how important these people are to me.


Peacock quill by Sophie Adamson, bobby pin by Abbie Williams

Is a tattoo artist’s personality important to you? I know someone who makes sure she meets the artist before deciding to go ahead with them. I tend to get tattooed by mainly women, who I always feel more comfortable with anyway. I guess I just prefer the company of women. I also find that the styles of tattoo that I go for – bright, colourful and girly – tend to reflect those who create them. I have met a couple of tattooists at conventions that I didn’t click with or I got a bad vibe from and so I won’t be getting tattooed by them, no matter how much I like their work. If I get on with someone I definitely tend to get tattooed by them more, especially if they enjoy tattooing what I have commissioned. If I have fun – well, as much fun as you can have getting tattooed – I usually feel a lot better about the tattoo. I associate the person, jokes, music or the time in general with how I feel about the completed tattoo.


Tattoos by Lucy O’Connell

You work in digital media and I wondered how you feel Instagram has changed the tattoo scene? I’ve only known the tattoo scene since Instagram. Before then I didn’t know a lot about it, except just the local shop in our town. I think it’s amazing for the industry. There are so many amazing artists to discover and find all over the world. I spend way too much time on Instagram, finding new tattoo inspiration and generally wasting time! Everyone I have been tattooed by I found on Instagram and anyone I have chatted to for the magazine or blog I have found on the app. Instagram opens up tattoos to copycats and trends, but it also allows us to feel a wider sense of community and belonging.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about getting their first tattoo? Firstly, find a good artist whose style you love – there really is no excuse with social media now. Don’t just go to your local artist because they’re cheap or your friend went – tattoos are worth travelling for. They’re an investment, they’re worth waiting for. It’s great to draw inspiration from other people’s work, but get your artist to draw something custom for you – it’ll have more meaning and will age better with you in the long run. Saying that, not every tattoo has to have some grand meaning or story. With each new one I get I tend to notice them less. They just become a part of me that will always be there. Be true to yourself, don’t follow fashions, these are fleeting, it is your skin forever, adorn it with beautiful things and just do it!

Featured artists: Lucy O’Connell, Sadee Glover, Sophie Adamson, Jodie Dawber, Ashley Luka, Abbie Williams, Jessi James, Hanan Qattan, Sonia Jade.

Shaded: Martyna Wisniewska

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 21-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Martyna Wisniewska is a 21 year-old photojournalism graduate based in Southampton who is as much a talented live music photographer as she is an ethereal visual artist. Contributing to ‘Shaded’, the South-Western surrealist enlightens us as to what it is that influences her creatively, the importance of tone in her photography and her fascination with crows that’s soon to inspire her next tattoo…

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When did you start taking photographs? I moved to Southampton to study at university and started shooting at the beginning of 2014. I was reviewing gigs for three months prior, but I realised I hated writing more than anything so I picked up a camera instead. It hit me following a 65daysofstatic show that I was going to pursue this weird little path I found myself on. I remember running home from the venue with tears in my eyes – it felt like I finally found something I loved doing!

What influences your work? My work is very heavily influenced by people. I would be lying if I said the people I work with don’t influence the look or feel of certain frames. Other than that, I’m influence by the same things as to any other content creator: the internet, books, advertising – It’s all part of it! I look at images all the time. I was that weird kid in my art class, so I always had a wonky sense of what the things I make should look like. Dali was obviously a huge influence along with Eric Lacombe. It’s super tough to pin-point what exactly influences me, but I feel like it’s fair to say the way my work looks is environmental. I adapt my concepts to situations.

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Can you speak about the artists who inspire you? To be honest, it would be easier to speak of people who don’t inspire me. There’s naturally a bunch of artists who’s work I love. One of them being a German photographer based in Berlin, Gundula Blumi. She makes these dreamy, surrealistic images that I can’t get enough of. The tone of her work makes my brain tingle. It bugs me how one can be so creative. I also closely follow the work of other content creators like Joshua Halling, Sam Haines, Daniel Patlan, Liam Warton, Nona Limmen and Tamara Lichtenstein.

What do you use to create your images? In terms of cameras, anything from compact cameras to my ultimate baby, the Canon 6D. In terms of the look of my shots, I own a bag full of glass that I use to reflect my images and manipulate them. That’s it really. A bag full of glass is the key.

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What do you admire in other people’s work? I struggle with tone a lot – my colour palette is so odd! Sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s the most infuriating thing in the world. Months ago, I went through a phase of making everything look dirty and over saturated. I now strive to get the dreamiest frames I possibly can, so tones and the use of natural light are things I admire the most in other people’s work.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t really have that many. I’m pretty much covered in animals, bones and plants. When I was a kid, I owned a bunch of lovable creatures, so a lot of my tattoos are either of animal skulls or my pets. I got a stick and poke last October when on tour with Milk Teeth and Title Fight. My pal Daniel Liljedahl did it. Most of my tattoos have been done by a Southampton-based tattoo artist and illustrator called Gemma Piper who works at Ginger Toms Tattoo Studio. I love her style, hence why I essentially let her cover my right leg in her work.

She was an apprentice at Ginger Toms when I started getting tattooed by her. I’ve been pretty lucky to have been able to watch her progress so closely. Sucha Igla produced a pretty big piece of mine. He’s this insanely talented artist who’s based in Gdansk, Poland. The design is a rat skull contained within a wooden hexagram. It sounds pretty gnarly, but it’s actually kind of girly. The only tattoo on my body that can really be considered to have any existential meaning is this funny looking lizard I’ve got tattooed on my calf. He has the word ‘relaxo’ written above him, simply because I forget to slow down and be mindful of my surroundings a lot of the time.

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What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? I always liked the look of tattooed skin; my family never really approved. I got in trouble for getting my nose pierced when I was 16, so you can imagine my Mum’s reaction when I first started getting tattooed. She made me promise not to get any more after my first, but 22 tattoos later and I think she might finally be over it all.

Do you have any plans for future work? The only tattoo I have planned right now is a big black crow that’s gonna go on my arm. I recently developed this weird attraction to crows; they’re not only the most handsome of birds but also super interesting to watch. They’re like a bunch of bad boys hanging out, pissing each other off and protecting their turf. There are a lot of artists I’d love to get tattooed by, Hugo Tattooer being one of them. He tattoos the cutest little animals – it makes my heart hurt! I’d also love to get tattooed by this surrealist artist from Holland, Levi Jake. His portraiture is something that inspires my work and I would love one day to be able to get him to design me a dreamy piece to compliment my bag of glass.

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Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world your photography gravitates toward? There is definitely a link between tattoos and music. It’s all art in the end, isn’t it? I think the factor of self-expression is what makes band culture gravitate towards the world of tattoos. Both music and tattoos allow you to express yourself and your values.

Sarcoma and You photographic portrait series

A poll of the general public revealed that 53% of people have never heard of sarcoma and only 26% knew it was a cancer. Our editor Alice Snape has been working on a very special online photographic exhibition ‘Sarcoma and You’ to raise awareness about this rare cancer of the bone and soft tissue.

Each portrait in the Sarcoma and You series captures the effects of sarcoma cancer and body image, featuring some of the sarcoma community. #sarcomaandyou
Instagram : Sarcoma and you
Photos by Alison Romanczuk / Words by Alice Snape

Pippa pregnant

“Having cancer never made me hate my body, but having a baby has truly made me realise how amazing it is – it has fought my sarcoma and grown a mini human!”

Pippa Hatch, 21, Reading, Marketing Manager

 

Jordan scar

“People should be proud of the scars they wear – no one should ever feel ashamed”

Jordan Anderton, 22, fundraising manager, Plymouth

 

Alison photographer

“I think the project has been powerful in many ways, because I’m not just a photographer, I am a patient, there is total trust and understanding”

Alison Romanczuk, 53, photographer, London 

 

Alice Snape

“I would have loved to have met Katherine”

Alice Snape, 32, editor of Connect, London

 

View all the portraits in the series: sarcoma.org.uk/sarcoma-and-you

Want to know more about what sarcoma is? Watch this film, then share it…

 

Journey

Things&Ink was launched over three years ago, it has become a community, not just for tattoo lovers, but creatives of all kind. This photoshoot was created by our stylist Olivia Snape, who has brought together creative minds, models, make-up artists in this stunning series of images titled: Journey.

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“After an amazing three years being a part of Things&Ink, I reflected on how inspired I was by all the incredible people I had met along the way… this lead me to piece together this photoshoot, which illustrates a journey to whatever and wherever that may be,” says Things&Ink stylist, Olivia Snape

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When the mind allows you to flow into realms unknown
Floating on a moment
Do not allow the eye to trick the mind
Explore all beings of light
Express, be,
Journey…

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Art Director & Stylist – Olivia Snape
Models – Monaisse & Maxi More
Jewellery – Tessa Metcalfe  & Jayne Fowler
Clothing – Prangsta with special thanks to Amaya Dent

Interview with Katie Kelly

21-year-old Katie Kelly is a retail artist at MAC cosmetics in South East London, we chatted to Katie about her make-up looks and tattoo collection… 

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I’d say my style was alternative, glam and goth. I have a different style everyday, I like to mix things up. I draw my inspiration for my looks from new products I have, or other cosmetics that I see. I like to use these but in my own way, I change them so they suit my style more. I tend to make them more dramatic and theatrical.

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I’ve always loved and had a passion for makeup, and I guess practising a lot of different looks really helps me to progress. I furthered my skills when I went to makeup school in London for two years , I loved it! I’ve also just finished another course doing theatrical, media and SFX makeup. My dream job would be working on film and TV sets doing both beauty and SFX makeup. At the moment I am also working at MAC so I have a bit more extra training from that.

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My beauty must have is my Anastasia Beverly Hills dipbrow pomade! I can’t live without it, I even shaved half my eyebrow off so it makes me look less alien like. My go-to look is winged eyeliner with a dark crease and a light or shimmery lid. I like to change it up everyday but if I had to stick to one it would that.

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I got my first tattoo the day after my eighteenth birthday! It’s a skeleton my ribs and it was one of the worse pains I’ve ever felt, but I absolutely love it! I got it because I had a love of forensics and science but went into a more creative career path instead, so I wanted my first tattoo to commemorate that.

I’ve always had an interest in tattoos I think they look so pretty! I adore Kat Von D and just wanted to look like her. I don’t think a tattoo has to have a special meaning, I  think if you like a tattoo and you’ve thought hard about it. Just go for it! Some of mine have no meaning and I love them. The ones that do have a story behind them have a special place in your heart and they stand out more than the others.

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My second and third tattoos are the ones around my forearms. On the left I have a daisy chain, just because daisies are my favourite flower on the right arm I have the one ring quote from Lord of the Rings in Elvish, as I love the books so much.  My fourth was the Pentagram on my shin. This was an impulse tattoo, my friend was getting one and I wanted one too. I first wanted it on my stomach, however the tattoo artist refused as he feared it would stretch when I got pregnant (even though I was only 18 at the time).

My fifth tattoo is also on my forearm. It’s a pin up girls face wearing a Anaheim Ducks hat and scarf. They’re the NHL team I support and wanted to get a tattoo dedicated to them for so long. It was done in California so I also got some California poppies to tie into the flower theme My sixth tattoo is the one on my calf. It’s an original piece by my Californian friend Gus J. It’s a skull with a rose going through it.

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5 Best Tom Hanks Films

On the occasion of a new film starring the grand Tom Hanks, political comedy Hologram for a King, casual reviewer Harry Casey-Woodward has ranked his five greatest films (in his opinion). He always plays the dependable good guy in emotional dramas, yet he puts his sweat and soul into every role. Time to Hanks it up…

5. Philadelphia, 1993 

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Probably the saddest role Hanks has ever done and that’s saying a lot. It’s also his most topical: a gay lawyer who’s fired by his firm after they discover he has AIDS. Denzel Washington plays his defence in the resulting trial, who happens to be homophobic. To watch Denzel overcoming his prejudices and Hanks’s character succumb to AIDS while surrounded by his loved ones is truly touching. Better bring tissues.

4. Saving Private Ryan, 1998 

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Possibly one of his most reserved roles in one of his most intense films. Private Ryan somehow blended realistically brutal combat scenes with an unrealistic, patriotic plot, setting a template for hordes of WW2 films, shows and games. Hanks plays the squadron leader you’d want to be ordered around by, the strong and quiet Captain Miller who always keep his head under fire even while everyone else is literally losing theirs.

3. Road to Perdition, 2002 

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Based on a comic believe it or not, this may be one of the most original and gripping gangster epics you could see. Hanks plays a mobster whose son witnesses him killing someone. If that wasn’t traumatic enough, Hanks’s partner in the crime (a slimy pre-Bond Daniel Craig) attempts to tie up loose ends by slaughtering Hanks’s family. Hanks is forced to go on the run with his surviving son, teaching him how to drive cars and rob banks while being stalked by a creepy killer played by Jude Law, who has an unhealthy obsession with cameras and corpses. It’s a moving father/son relationship road movie, with guns.

2. The Green Mile, 1999 

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One of the jobs on Hank’s varied CV is prison guard on death row in the 1930s. In this adaptation of a Stephen King book directed by Frank Darabont (who also directed two other King adaptations, Shawshank Redemption and The Mist), a new prisoner is brought onto Hanks’s block, a huge black man in dungarees who’s scared of the dark but apparently murdered two girls. He’s also able to perform miracles of healing. The film is very black and white in its presentation of heroes and villains and it’s portrayal of race relations throws up interesting questions. But it never fails to be gripping and moving. This is definitely one of his most emotional roles.

1. Forrest Gump, 1994 

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French/American actress/director Julie Delpy says she hates this film and that it helped lead to the election of George Bush. While I can kind of see what she means, as this is one of those very sentimental and patriotic American films, the plot is still very varied and takes the audience through a maelstrom of emotions. Gump is celebrated as a simple Everyman who does a lot of great things, but he also experiences the dark side of America’s history in his Odyssey through the late twentieth century. It’s somehow still a naive but very grown-up movie. To me, this is Hanks’s most lovable role in one of the most lovable and inspiring films of all time.

Images from entertainmentfuse.com, baldmove.comrosiepowell2000.typepad.com, mentalfloss.com and forrestgump.com.

Judi Dench gets inked, at 81

Once, as a joke, Judi Dench had a fake tattoo of Harvey Weinstein’s name applied to her bum. Dench unveiled the faux ink at the Four Seasons over lunch with Weinstein and Charlie Rose. But now, at the age of 81, Dench has gone ahead and got a tattoo for real.

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She got the words “carpe diem” inscribed on her wrist as a gift from her daughter, Finty Williams. In an interview with Surrey Life, Dench explained the ink: “That’s my motto: seize the day. Finty gave it to me for my 81st birthday — she’s wonderful with surprises.”

Dench had previously told Good Housekeeping that she was toying with the idea of getting an actual tattoo, but had one hesitation.

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“There’s an Indian symbol that I like which supposedly represents life and love and everything,” Dench said, explaining what she would have inked onto her arm. “One of the cameramen who worked on The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel told me what it meant, but I’m a bit nervous in case I’m being set up. It might be unbelievably rude.”

Dench has been working her way up to the tattoo, between the Weinstein prank and a bejewelled design that she wore to the 2012 premiere of Skyfall. Having played the beloved character “M” since 1995, Dench pledged her allegiance to James Bond by arriving on the red carpet with jewels spelling out “007” on her neck.

_90167894_judidench_pa The tattoo can be seen on Dame Judi’s wrist as she greeted the Earl of Wessex at the Prince’s Trust gala at Stoke House in Buckinghamshire

Slam Dunk North Street Spotter

Our music writer Amber had an incredible time at music festival Slam Dunk North seeing a ton of bands and snapping this beautiful lot. She found out who they were there to see and who they’ve been tattooed by… 

Name: Fia Theobald 
Job: Model  
Tattoos: 
Tom Flanagan, Oddfellows Tattoo, Matt Cravan, Crooked Claw Tattoo. 
There to see: The Story So Far, Gnarwolves, Roam.

Name: Gareth Hatfield
Job: Accounts Manager
Tattoos:
Lee Withey, Ghost House Collective
There to see: Yellowcard, Panic! At The Disco, Set Your Goals.

Name: Jake Fogarty
Job: Drummer in Red Seas Fire  
Tattoos: 
Vicky Morgan, Ghost House Collective, Phatt German, No Regrets Tattoo, Lukasz Andrzejewski, Ultimate Skin Tattoo.
There to see: Memphis May Fire, Northlane, Blood Youth.

Name: Emily Cressey
Job: Web Designer 
Tattoos: 
Adam Cornish, Oddfellow Tattoo, Dave Bewick, Black Crown Tattoo, Vegan Dan, Fat Panda Tattoo.
There to see: Real Friends, Yellowcard, Moose Blood.


Name:  Alisha Bevan
Job: Payments Operation Associate
Tattoos:  Sam Ellis, Mr Personality Tattoo,   Bridie Maw, Forgiven Tattoo.
There to see: Yellowcard, The Story So Far, Mayday Parade.

Name: Charlotte Clutterbuck (left)
Job: Body Piercer and cover model of Creeper’s ‘The Stranger‘ EP 
Tattoos: 
Hannah Clark, Rain City, Adam Hudson, Fourleaf.
There to see: Creeper, Panic! At The Disco!

Name: Stephany Wilcox- Tobin (right)
Job: Merchandiser at Topman
Tattoos: 
Jody Dawber, Jayne Doe Tattoo, Keely Rutherford, Jolie Rouge Tattoo.
There to see: Moose Blood, Dead!

Name: Gemma Thorogood
Job: DJ for Facedown
Tattoos: 
Philip Yarnell, Skynyard Tattoo, Kolahari, The Circle London.
There to see: Every Time I Die

Did you go to Slam Dunk this year? Who was your favourite band? 

Thoughts on the 2016 Brighton Tattoo Convention by a Man with no Tattoos

Writer Harry Casey-Woodward has no tattoos, yet he found himself accompanying his tattoo-loving wife to the Brighton Tattoo Convention on 1st May. These are his impressions…

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Tattoos are a part of my life, but not directly. Both my sister and my wife are tattoo enthusiasts. My wife currently has eleven tattoos and she’s getting another one this summer. I’ve lost count of how many my sister has (and so has she!)

I don’t feel any burning desire to get tattoos for myself, but I can’t help sharing in the excitement my wife feels when she’s arranging a new tattoo or when we’re on our way to getting one. I have accompanied her for nearly all her tattoos and although the process looks uncomfortable and painful, the end result pleases her deeply and that’s enough for me.

Although I can’t decide on an image I’d like enough to have etched into my skin, I admire the sheer amount of images tattooists are able to imagine and illustrate on paper and skin. I especially respect the skill behind them after sitting through several sessions and watching art gradually blossom on my wife’s body.

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This year’s Brighton Tattoo Convention was a fine exhibition of such skills. Being the first big tattoo event I’ve attended, I felt a little alienated; like a bare-skinned astronaut amongst a strange multi-coloured race. Excessive similes aside, I mostly felt like I was at a living, breathing art gallery. But never did I feel the threat and suspicion that some people feel when confronted with tattoos. It certainly would have been my grandparents’ idea of hell!

On the other hand, I wonder if the event itself felt like a big inky cocoon for tattoo lovers, a haven where they could indulge in ink without being judged by outsiders. There was certainly a lack of shame in the human body, as people whipped out bare flesh to get tattooed in the cramped stalls while throngs of onlookers streamed past.

In fact, the closeness of the stalls heightened the impression of a close tattooed community within the spacious bosom of the Brighton Centre. Tattooists and tattoo lovers alike were mingling and chatting and generally appeared to be having a good time. Even a few people getting inked looked to be in some cat-like state of relaxation. The whole event oozed excited but chilled vibes.

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It was also amazing to see such a range of tattoos and yet everybody had their own style, from traditional fantasy-themed art to swearing cats. It was cool to see different methods of tattooing too, like the Ta Moko stall and one lady hand-poking an octopus on somene’s leg.

The event still hasn’t convinced me to get a tattoo, despite my wife’s nagging, and she was sad not to get one since booking lists that day had been eagerly filled. But we had a cool day out in the unbeatable joy land of Brighton. My wife also got fresh tattoo ideas and collected many cards from new tattooists she met and liked, which now make a nice collage on our notice board.

Photos by James Gilyead