not another salon: Interview with Sophia Hilton

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Introducing the colourful Sophia Hilton, owner of the amazing Not Another Salon… here she tells us about salon life, her quirky style and how to achieve perfect blonde hair

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up owning your own salon…
“A year and a half ago, I sat on the sofa with my husband, throwing around the idea of a salon. We discussed that ‘If I was to do it, then it couldn’t just be yet ‘ANOTHER SALON’.’ I told him that I want to move the industry in some way, if the gateway to this is opening a successful salon, then screw it, that’s what I’ll have to do. I was fired up, so next day I got up at 6am to start working on it for a few hours before my ‘real’ work began. From that day on, I got up at 6am every morning for the next year. I didn’t take days off, I got frighteningly skinny and I don’t mind saying I worked harder than I have ever worked in my life. I was just 27, with no money. I had to put my flat up as security, my mum’s only life savings at risk and got loaned up to the hills. It was terrifying.”

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What is it that makes ‘Not Another Salon’ stand out from other salons?
“It’s our ‘no- judgment’ (anti-cool) concept. Everyone is included – nice people, having fun.”

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What is your favourite hair treatment/colour/technique?
“If a client wants a specific colour (usually white or grey) and we feel the hair is not in good enough condition to have it done we will recommend a series of three Innoluxe treatments (one a week) until we feel the hair is rebuilt enough to colour. Treatments are so often used after the service, but we use it before!”
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What advice would you give to those with dark hair who think they can’t go blonde?
“They can, but for the hair to be healthy you shouldn’t rush the process. We use Innoluxe and look after the hair every step of the way. Pureolagy shampoo and conditioner is a personal fave. if it’s healthy… I don’t care what colour it is!”

 

Where do you see your brand evolving in the future?
“It’s such an anything goes company  that it could be anything, I think we will do a range of colours eventually and god knows what else! But I don’t really want to run the world, I just want a lovely little salon where everyone smiles and no one is too concerned with being rich or cool or beautiful or anything else that makes us feel insecure. Just a safe heaven for my clients and staff where they can be themselves.”

Where do you buy your amazing outfits and how would you describe your style?
“I like charity shop shopping when I’m in the states visiting my mum. I go to Beyond Retro for my 70s numbers and Dolls Kill for my 90s spice girl vibe. My inspiration is just everything I like without much thought for what other people think. There is truly no greater feeling than being yourself. It took me years to believe in myself in that way. I really enjoy ageing and becoming less concerned with other people. It makes you so much happier.”

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Follow Sophia on Instagram for more life and style inspiration @hiltonsophia

Theatre Review: American Idiot

Check out what happened when we sent our guest music blogger Verity Vincent to watch American Idiot the musical at Northcott Theatre in Exeter…

I took a seat at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, and the set was truly intriguing consisting of a large fuzzy TV screen hung above the stage. When the lights dimmed, footage of George W Bush and the aftermath of 9-11 looped before launching into the title track American Idiot.

The musical, created by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Mayer and Racky Plews, follows the story of three dead beat friends. Doing nothing with their days but smoking weed, playing video games and cracking jokes about doing each other’s moms and wanking. Central character Johnny, played by Newton Faulkner, wants to embark on a new adventure, leaving the suburbs for a big city lifestyle. As one friend Will (played by Steve Rushton) has a knocked up girlfriend and the other; Tunny (played by Alexis Gerred) answers Uncle Sam’s call and joins the army, with disastrous consequences. Johnny departs alone and falls into a spiral of drink and drugs, creating some dark and convincing scenes.

Another familiar face in the cast is singer Amelia Lily who starred on The X Factor in 2011 and went on to release her debut album in 2013. Taking on the illusive role of Whastername, we see her emerge in the ‘city’ and after catching the eye of Johnny, they embark on a destructive and drug-induced relationship. It’s at this time we also meet St Jimmy, played by Lucas Rush. The Mohican-haired punk is a boulder of energy throughout the show, serving as a bad influence and heroin buddy to Johnny.

The musical talent displayed goes above and beyond your average twee musical. With two guitarists and a drummer positioned at the top of the set, the music you get is raw, real and emotional. Even if you’re not a die-hard Green Day fan, the music is undeniably epic. A real highlight from the first half was acoustic number ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Lead by Faulkner, you hear every word he sings in his most beautiful tone. The audience is completely drawn in and silent.

Moving into the second half, we get to experience Amelia Lily’s talents more and more. Her focus never falters and that huge voice is finally released when we hear her sing ’21 Guns’ and ‘Letterbomb’.

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The storyline you follow is simple enough, but powerful in its messages and as we see the gang of three friends come back together after experiencing lost love, fatherhood and military stints,
the uplifting closing track ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ sees the entire cast pick up their guitars for a company rendition. What you witness is a group of musicians, as well as talented actors and performers and it’s not something you often get from musicals.

You couldn’t praise Newton Faulkner enough for his portrayal. As a complex character it’s a tough role to get right and he totally nailed it. Throwing his voice out song after song, he is the perfect embodiment of what a Johnny should be.

The American Idiot tour concludes at Belfast’s Grand Opera House on July 2nd

Book a ticket. You’ll have the time of your life!

Images from: www.americanidiotthemusical.co.uk

Interview with Dr. Faisal Rehman

45-year-old Dr. Faisal Rehman is a nephrologist (kidney specialist) and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. He also takes care of patients with kidney disease and contributes heavily to the education of hundreds of medical students, residents, and subspecialty fellows.

Here, Dr. Faisal Rehman tells us about his inspirational weight-loss journey inspired by his love for his family as well as his boxing, charity work and of course tattoos… 

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Photo taken by April-Lea Hutchinson

Growing up, I was a very skinny kid and I remained thin in my early 20s.  When I started medical school I began eating more and exercising less. I didn’t start to pile on the pounds until I graduated from medical school and got married. I  started neglecting my health, working long hours and eating fast food.  Pretty soon, I became supersized! In 2002, while completing my training in Nephrology, I had ballooned up to 242 pounds.

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Around the time, this picture was taken, I bought a new home for my young family that I couldn’t afford. I wanted to protect them if anything should happen to me, and I applied for life insurance. Unfortunately, my life insurance application was turned down because it was clear that I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This was  embarrassing for me, that as a physician I had allowed my own health to deteriorate. Almost immediately after the results,  I started eating properly, cut out all of the fast food and began eating sensible meals. I also started exercising, lifting weights and running and within six months I transformed myself into the picture below.

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I lost 70 pounds in eight months. My blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol normalised and I was approved for life insurance.  It was at this point, I started to participate in boxing classes.

Life was great until 2006 when my second daughter Nadiyah was diagnosed with Leukaemia at three years old. This was one of the most heartbreaking times in my life. I put all my focus on her recovery and treatment, my training stopped. I lost more weight because of stress and fear for my daughter’s health. Her chemotherapy treatments lasted for three years, at the end of 2008, she was in remission and doing great. This experience changed my perception of what was important in life.

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In 2009, I took charge of raising money for the Kidney Clinical Research Unit at our hospital. I organised a black tie night featuring a boxing tournament between amateur athletes from the USA and Canada.  I decided to fight on the night, in the hope that we would raise more money. So at the age of 38 I began training for my first fight. In sparring over the next several months I suffered a broken nose, hand injuries and concussions, but I got myself in top shape and was one of the featured fights at our charity night event called “Showdown in the Downtown”. Although I lost my first fight, it was an amazing night of fights and we raised $107,000 for charity.

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In 2011, when I turned 40, I decided that instead of painting on tattoos for my charity fights, I was going to get real tattoos. I wanted the tattoos to symbolise my warrior spirit. Inspired by the fighting spirit of boxer Miguel Cotto, who had amazing tribal tattoos, I started getting inked. Rich Lambe, owner of Stay True Tattoo in St. Thomas, Ontario tattooed my tribal and the wings on my back that symbolise speed and agility.

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Photo taken by April-Lea Hutchinson

While organising charity events and working, I ventured into the world of kick boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) as I wanted to challenge myself. I absolutely love it!

Through my work with my charity Showdown in the Downtown, we have now held a number of professional combat sport events as well as music concerts with acts like Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo and Jann Arden. Our last four events raised over $250,000. Over the last seven years we have raised over $1.4 million for kidney disease research, solid organ transplant research, cancer research and to combat poverty and homelessness.

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This year, I turn 45. I have never been in better shape and I am now proud of my body and  tattoos. I had some pictures taken of myself showing off my tattoos and my fit physique, mainly for my own memories and also to remind myself that it is never too late to embrace your body and to embrace the art you have placed on your body, as it is a reflection of your spirit. I am not sure if it was my own health scare or the scare I had with my daughter’s health that motivated me to change myself, but I suspect both of these events changed my outlook on life for the better. I am grateful that I have been able to help myself, my family and others through combat sport and through my charitable work. I am blessed.

7 reasons you should date someone with tattoos

Swiping through Tinder gives you a rough breakdown of some of the stereotypical suitors out there looking for love – you’ve got the urban fishing fans, the lads who think they’ll catch the girls of their dreams by having a car as a profile picture, the lover of pictures with sedated tigers in Thailand and then, just when you’re getting RSS from swiping left, you stumble across the lad who’s had quite the love affair with tattoo needles.

People with ink are hot. That’s not up for debate. Here are all the reasons why you should date boys and girls covered in tattoos.

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1. They look good naked
You may be able to see a glimpse of their tattoos peeking through their shirt but you’ve got to witness them fully naked to truly appreciate the art inked across their body. Most people will agree that tattooed bodies are far more interesting naked than blank canvases and, if you date someone with tatts, you might be lucky enough to see why this is true.

2. They have good stories
“Oh this silly one? My mate was a bit drunk and had his tattoo needles around so we played noughts and crosses on my leg with it!” Yes, not all tattoos are carefully planned and amongst all the artistic creations and colourful sleeves, you’ll stumble across and a comical one and your date will have a hilarious story attached to it for you to enjoy.

3. They’re artistic
Whether they’ve expressed themselves through images, song lyrics or their own designs, having tattoos indicates having a creative and artistic nature which bodes well for potential romantic gestures and birthday gifts. Win!

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4. They’re committed
If someone has signed up to having a vintage pin-up girl plastered across their arm for the rest of their life, they’re not exactly riddled with commitment issues and may not go running after one date through to fear of ‘things moving too fast’.

5. They can handle pain
So hopefully you won’t have to hear hours of whining if they ever accidentally stand on a plug.

6. They’re likely to have an interesting job
Even though it’s 2016, many companies have strict rules on tattoos for their employees, so if you’re dating someone who’s inked, it’s quite likely that they will work in a cool industry. Which means your ‘How was your day at work?’ won’t be answered with a painfully boring tale of how Jill in Accounts has ordered the wrong printer paper again or something equally tedious.

7. They’re less judgemental
Having probably spent years of people having preconceived ideas about them purely based on the fact they’re inked, most people with tattoos will be very wary to be judgemental of others based on their appearance.

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The girls take a trip to Not Another Salon

Editor-in-chief Alice Snape and Managing Editor Keely Reichardt got treated to a revolution in haircare known as INNOluxe by the fabulously extravagant gang at Not Another Salon in east London.

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Based on Brick Lane in London, the aptly named Not Another Salon is owned by Sophia Hilton, whose background is in hair education, teaching in over seven countries and winning prestigious awards such as the L’Oréal Colour Trophy in 2013. (look out for an interview with Sophia on the blog very soon)

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The salon is like no other… stepping through the door is like entering into a psychedelic fantasy where people’s hair-colour dreams come true!  The attention to detail is next to none… from the multi-coloured plastic wine glasses and water bottles, to the pick ‘n’ mix sweetie style bowls at the reception desk for you to pick up an assortment of kitsch and kawaii hair accessories.

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Alice and Keely were there to experience a new deep-conditioning product, Innoluxe. (You may have heard of Olaplex, which gained vast media attention after Kim Kardashian went from dark to platinum blonde over night.) Innoluxe actually rebonds the hair follicles and saves the structure of our hair when bleaching and colouring by using advanced protein technology. (Read more here)

Keely gives us her experience of using Innoluxe and a little step by step of the treament…
“I have always dyed my hair a very dark brown – almost black – for most of my adult life (my natural hair colour is dark brown) but I always hankered towards being blonde. After a bleaching disaster a few years ago, I have avoided bleach at all costs… until the invention of these re-bonding hair products!

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“The Innoluxe ‘in salon’ treatment is done in two stages, the first stage is an oil and water combination that is applied all over the hair and then left for about 10 minutes.  The second stage is the actual Innoluxe, which restructures and re-bonds the follicles of the hair and this is then left on for about 20 minutes. For those who have severely damaged hair, the staff at Not Another Salon recommend the ‘in salon’ treatment every two weeks for up to six weeks.

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“I naturally have very dry hair so having it bleached is probably not the best thing for it, but after my Innouxe treatment my hair feels as if it has never even had a sniff of bleach! The texture and overall appearance is soft, shiny and bouncy (definitely helped by the fabulous blow dry) and it feels as if the Innoluxe has literally brought my hair back to life again.”

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Alice enjoyed the treatment too:
“It really is all in the name. Getting a treatment at Not Another Salon is like a girly sleepover on acid (the decor is like Pop Art come to life, a little like the staff too). It felt like Keely and I were in salon owner Sophia’s bedroom, and as we got our treatments, we all chatted away about hair (obvs), relationships and weddings – I recently got engaged so I loved hearing about Sophia’s south London wedding for inspiration!

IMG_6222 The staff at Not Another Salon

“It was stylist Hattie who worked the Innoluxe magic on my recently highlighted hair. I am naturally dark blonde (don’t dare call me mousey brown) and have just come out of a two-year break from the all-over bleach that used to be my go-to look. The bleach break was to allow my hair to grow – I have always dreamed of long, flowing, healthy-looking hair, and bleach never seemed conducive to that. However all that may be about to change…

IMG_6193It’s all in the detail… pink water bottles and wine glasses at Not Another Salon. And editor Alice’s bouncy blow dry

“Innoluxe is a dream invention for those who want colour, particularly bleach, without the damage. My hair felt baby soft after the treatment. So good, in fact, that I may be back to that bleach some day soon. And if I do, I know where I’ll be heading!”

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Alice in the colourful waiting room while the Innoluxe treatment takes effect

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Before

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After, Innoluxe rocks! 

Not Another Salon, 188 Brick Ln, London E1 6SA #antifactory 

Oh Bones Illustration

25-year-old Brit is an illustrator, writer and musician from London. We chatted to Brit about her dark gothic archaeology inspired drawings and her tattoos…

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Inspired by Things&Ink Brit created this self portrait just for us…

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Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I don’t have a background in art at all, I began drawing at university when I was studying archaeology – In the labs we had to draw the artefacts and bones. It was there I noticed that my drawings were good and not going so badly.  I then graduated and moved to Amsterdam to do an MA in archaeology and I started drawing for an hour a day and thought, this is much better than being in a library studying. So I didn’t do the MA and continued drawing instead!

What inspires you? Being an archaeologist inspired me the most because I spent years researching the human psyche and behaviour throughout time. My speciality is death and burial, and I guess that often comes across in my art work. I also love poetry, which inspires my art quite a lot and along with every illustration, I write a poem.

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What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I use both digital and non-digital. I love using fine line pens and Indian ink to create my work. I like things to be imperfect because that way you seen the human in it.

What kinds of things do you draw? Usually I will draw people, disembodied limbs, plants – anything really. I almost always draw around a poem or song I’ve written, to give some visuals to my other artwork in my music and writing. I like it all to be one big art piece – audio, visual and written.

Describe your style? Tailored, black, kind of like an old fashioned 1920’s boy!

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Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I usually admire artists whose work is nothing like mine! It’s nice to clear my head of anything remotely like my work now and again, so I really like the work of Gordon Armstrong and Robert Saeheng they’re really great. But I also like old school artists like Patti Smith, her word work really inspires me in my own poetry and in-turn in the art I create around the words.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t have too many tattoos, definitely under 30 but most of them I love, even though some of them are definitely bad prison style ones. I have some plants, pinky promise hands, trouble making pigeons, dead fish, skulls, love letters, words. Everything! My first one was was just a small one on my foot in Hebrew, nothing too interesting!

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How do tattoos make you feel?
My tattoos mean a lot, I’m sure a lot of people say that. Because most of my work is visual, it’s a way that I express myself, so I really do try and add some depth to the things I get tattooed! But sometimes you have so many tattoos there’s only so much meaning behind all of them – some don’t mean a whole lot, but there’s always a good memory behind getting it tattooed.

Do you do commissions? I do commissions, I do ink originals and screen prints for sale on my shop, but I also do a lot of album cover work, tattoo designs and logo designs.

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Where can people buy your art? They can head over to ohbones.com and find my shop that way, I will be stocking up for the summer soon, so there’ll be some new T shirts and badges!

Music Review: Brian Wilson 50th Anniversary of ‘Pet Sounds’

Check out what happened when our guest music blogger Verity Vincent had the pleasure of catching Brian Wilson for Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary world tour at Bristol’s Colston Hall . 

If you often frequent gigs you’ll be privy to the feeling of suspense before the band or artist takes to the stage. While waiting for Brian Wilson to appear at Bristol’s Colston Hall, questions started circulating inside my head, about what was in store for the evening. But before we knew it, Brian strolled on stage in the most nonchalant manner, receiving a wave of applause and nearly a standing ovation before he’d said a word.

The 11 piece band readied themselves for what would be a 2 ½ hour display of incredible musical ability. Standing alongside Wilson was fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine and son Matt Jardine, who performed as an honorary member of the band throughout the 1980s.

This worldwide tour comes in celebration of the 50th anniversary of ‘Pet Sounds’, one of the most influential albums ever made. Changing the face of pop music and beyond. In a 2001 all-star tribute to Brian Wilson, Elton John expressed how revolutionary it was for him to be one of the first artists to move the root note of the chord and play with the 3rd or the 5th on the bass. He pushed boundaries and created music that no one saw coming. It was an extraordinary thing, to be in a room of people that appreciated and respected Brian Wilson in the same way.

The first half of the show threw out hit after hit memory-inducing songs like California Girl, I Get Around, Little Deuce Coupe and Don’t Worry Baby – with Matt Jardine taking lead vocals. Matt has that falsetto Beach Boys tone down to a fine art and it’s a glorious thing to watch.

Wilson seemed relaxed and happy to offer his fans a slice of the music history that he’s built. At 73 years old he’s comfortable enough to sit on stage and do what he needs to do without filling the gaps. When the band takes over, they take over and Brian is only too happy to sit back and take it all in. He introduces each of his songs and thanks the audience every time.

Toward the end of the first set, music veteran Blondie Chaplin made an appearance to perform Wild Honey, Funky Pretty and Sail On, Sailor. Having previously toured with The Rolling Stones, Blondie added a sprinkling of rock n roll in the form of insane guitar riffs.

After the break, it was time for Pet Sounds. Opening track Wouldn’t It Be Nice saw Matt Jardine take lead vocals once again in a perfect rendition. Moving through the album, other highlights were Sloop John B (met with a roaring cheer) and God Only Knows. As Brian left the stage toward the end of the closing track Caroline, No we wondered whether that was it? Would there be an encore? Surely that won’t be his big send off, slinking off the stage while the band concluded the album?


As the stage went dark and the crowd continued to cheer, Brian and company returned for quite possibly the most epic encore I have ever witnessed. Good Vibrations would have been enough on its own but carrying on to play Help Me, Rhonda; Barbara Ann and Surfin’ USA, among others, spurred the crowd to cram forward in a final burst of energy that filled the venue.

Closing with Love & Mercy, Brian quite rightly feels proud of his movie title track. In 2014 the biopic was released, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack in a dual performance documenting Brian’s life from the 1960s – 80s. The film has helped to relay both the astounding musical ability and the personal struggles that he faced throughout his life and career. Judging by the age range in the audience this evening it has also helped to reach new audiences spanning 50 decades.

Leaving with an almost morbid thought, I only hope that when Wilson is no longer with us that he is remembered justly. It’s unlikely that the media would apply a Prince or Bowie sized furore to his passing, but as one of the greatest musical minds of our generation, I hope that this tour cements him as just that. I’d encourage anyone to experience the magic of Brian Wilson’s music live, it will truly be an experience you’ll keep with you forever.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Got Sleeves

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how getting her arms tattooed was a big deal…

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I never thought I’d get my arms tattooed. It had never been in my plan. But then again when I first started getting tattooed I never thought I’d be even close to heavily tattooed, even when I started to get large scale pieces I never foresaw the next. For me getting tattooed has been a process, my tattoos are something which evolve- a collaboration between my own ideas and those of the artists I work with. Even now I don’t have a final vision in mind, I still don’t know if I will end up with a full body suit or not. I have a very wait-and-see attitude I guess. I know I will get two half sleeves and my sides tattooed to connect my back piece into more of a traditional style Japanese half-body suit. But my legs are a random mix of different styles, do I keep them looking separate or do I sleeve them?  I’m going off the point; the point of having my arms tattooed being a big deal for me.

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I think it’s a huge deal as even though over half my body is tattooed I still don’t feel that I look that heavily tattooed, not from the front anyway. Clothed most people wouldn’t even know I was tattooed. The arms are so visible though, there is no hiding. I have over thought my arms a lot, possibly too much which is why it took me until the age of 34 to have them done. I had also decided that I wanted them to stop at the top of the arm and not go over onto the shoulder and certainly not the chest. So now I have the outline down of my first sleeve, it stops at the elbow and creeps over my shoulder onto my chest. Yeah about that, once my artist had drawn it on, we tried a few different ways of laying it out; it’s just what looked best. I didn’t give it a second thought. Now it’s done it just feels right and I’ve no idea why I was stressing out about it so much in the first place. When I first started to get large tattoos it would take me a while to get used to them, suddenly having something alien on my skin. Now with each tattoo I feel a little bit more like myself with each addition. My sleeve is only half done but it feels like it has always been there.

Apprentice Love: Ella Bell

We spotted the work of 25-year-old apprentice Ella Bell on Instagram and instantly loved her dark art and floral tattoos. We chatted to Ella to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Attica Tattoo Studio in Plymouth where she works… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I did my first tattoo 14 months ago.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I knew tattooing was what I wanted to do but I was never convinced it would actually happen. It took me a few years to build up the courage to take my portfolio anywhere; during those years I tried a lot of things that didn’t work out – menial jobs, I started an MA in art history but dropped out, more menial jobs – and throughout this time art was a constant thing that gave me a lot of joy, so I just focussed on that and it got me through each day. Once I’d decided to find a tattoo apprenticeship, that goal gave me a lot of motivation to really put the hours in and for about six months I spent most mornings drawing and painting, working on my portfolio. I booked in for a tattoo with my now tattoo mentor Steven McKenzie, and felt at ease enough to bring up the subject of an apprenticeship, and luckily he liked my work, and that’s where it all began!

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Do you have a background in art? Kind of. My family is very creative and I was lucky to grow up in an environment where making art was always encouraged and celebrated. Art was my favourite thing at school and college, but I chose to study English literature at university and never really pursued art at that level. Sometimes I wish I had, as having access to those kinds of art facilities and teachers is an amazing opportunity, but then again you are subject to exam criteria and all that stuff, and I could never get myself in that frame of mind. How can you mark a piece of art and say it’s right or wrong? It’s really weird.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Getting tattooed! For me, getting tattoos is just really exciting from start to finish, travelling to different studios and being in these different, liberating environments, meeting the artists, and then coming out of the experience with this new piece of art. The tattoo world allows you to be yourself and I just felt a bit like a kindred spirit as soon as I arrived. It’s hard not to be compelled by that. There’s a raw, rebellious, head strong nature about it too, which I love. I love that they are permanent and real, that you can’t buy and discard them like t-shirts. And tattoos are also so beautiful. It’s a celebration of the body and the mind and the spirit. Tattoos definitely offered me the possibility of truly loving and celebrating myself. 

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Describe your style, how has it changed? I think I have quite an illustrative style which is hopefully refining with practice. In terms of the tattoos I make, I mainly do blackwork but I have started to use a bit more colour as well, but my colour palette is still quite muted. Sometimes I want to do heavy blackwork, solid lines and dark shading, other times I want to do very fine linework, dotwork and greywash. I’m still finding my style really! Natural and botanical imagery is what I love to tattoo the most at the moment though, I could draw flowers forever. It’s so easy to stress about your ‘personal style’, about having something unique that will make you stand out, but I try not to worry because it usually makes me feel shit about everything. People say they can see my style, even if I struggle to, so you just have to trust that the work you do with your own hand will be in some way yours. It’s evolving, and hopefully it always will.

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What inspires you? Seeing other people’s creative output and success is very inspiring and it motivates me in my own work. There are countless tattooists who inspire me in terms of the practice of tattooing and where you can go with it. Maxime Buchi, Fidjit and Damien J Thorn are the first three that come to mind. They all have such distinct styles and their work is so strong. I love it and they definitely inspire me to work hard; I’ve had a few tattoos from all three of them and every time, the experience was incredibly inspiring too. I have a deep interest in art history which influences my work as well, particularly Europe’s Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance periods. And I love early Japanese ink painting – their depiction of flowers is just breathtaking. Nature inspires me every day, and so do my mum and dad.

What would you love to tattoo? I would love to do more large scale work. I don’t know if I’m ready for anything like a back piece yet, but I’d love to start creating bigger compositions that flow with the body. It would be amazing to challenge myself with that.

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What is a typical day like for you? Having woken up I usually check Instagram with a coffee, as predictable as that sounds, and then I’ll do some emails and drawing. In my dreams I do yoga and meditation in the mornings and eat organic flaxseeds and stuff. If it’s a work day, I’ll get to the studio at about 11am, clean, set up, hang out, ready to start tattooing at 12pm. I usually do about three tattoos a day. I like to chill in the evenings, it took me a while to realise you can’t work all hours of every day, and it’s really important to rest and recoup. Your work is better for it.

Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned?  I’m working at The Burton Tattoo Collective in Leicester in a few weeks (20th-22nd June), it’ll be my second guest spot there and I’m really excited. Apart from that I don’t have anything planned but I would really love to do some more travelling soon, around the UK and beyond.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? It’s a growing tapestry! I love blackwork, all of my tattoos (bar one) are just in black. I seem to be covered in flowers and birds. I’m quite a collector; there are so many incredible tattooists out there and I’m really greedy and I just want work from them all. That said, there is beauty in finding ‘your tattooist’ and creating ongoing pieces with them. So yeah I’m trying to slow down a bit; my arms are steadily filling up, and I’ve got some questionable pieces on my thighs that I’m in the process of covering, so now I’m just saving myself until I know which direction I want to go in. I’d like to focus on bigger pieces though, and the overall effect they have and the relationship each tattoo has with its neighbour. It’s exciting.

Film Review: The Danish Girl

Our resident film reviewer is writer Harry Casey-Woodward, who will be commenting on things he has watched.

The Danish Girl, 2016, cert 15, dir Tom Hooper, 3/5 

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Einer Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) are young painters living together in early 20th century Denmark, with their terrier Hvappe. Both are living in paint-soaked marital bliss, until one day Gerda asks Einer to pose as a woman for one of her portraits. The feel of women’s clothing on Einer’s body awakens something inside, something he has been repressing his whole life.

He indulges further in women’s fashion, at first as a joke between him and Gerda. But soon they both realise that another identity is struggling to break out of Einer: Lili, the woman he was meant to be. While Einer struggles with the conflict between his two personalities, Gerda is forced to watch the gradual fading of the man she loved, although this is tempered somewhat by her portraits of Lili winning her artistic success.

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I’m not in any doubt that I’ve seen a good film. How can it not be good, based on the true story of a transgender pioneer and the fact that its director and main star have each won Academy awards? It certainly reminded me of one of the director’s previous films, The King’s Speech. Both films are sensitive dramas based on true stories, focusing on characters struggling with issues that still affect our society. In the case of The King’s Speech, it was the physical handicap of his stammer while The Danish Girl is a woman trapped in a man’s body, wishing to live her true life in the face of social prejudice.

Yet I’m surprised to find I enjoyed The King’s Speech more than The Danish Girl. This feels weird since The Danish Girl is the more groundbreaking and emotional film. However The King’s Speech had certain aspects that gave it appeal, such as the Royal family being given a human treatment and Colin Firth being so suited for the humble but heroic character of George VI.

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In The Danish Girl, our main characters are beautiful, sexy artists who all seem to live surprisingly well despite just painting. So although they go through a great amount of emotional pain I just couldn’t find them relatable or realistic.

The fact that this film just used stock techniques and scenes I’ve seen in many serious dramas before also stunted its emotional impact. I think it’s important when analysing such an issue-driven film to step back from its subject and judge whether it’s good cinematically. Although this is an important film for depicting transgenderism, I wouldn’t say it offered anything revolutionary cinematically. It just felt like another over-dramatised, over-romanced true story film, or maybe I’m just biased against such films, not being a huge fan.

That aside, it’s the performances that make this film worth watching and its depiction of transgenderism so powerful and gut-wrenching. Vikander won an Academy award for her supporting role as Gerda, and she certainly gets our sympathies. However good she is at acting hurt and confused, Redmayne surely should have won something for fully throwing himself into the psychological torment of his character, so much so I worry if he doubts his own identity afterwards.

Images from the Telegraph.