Tagged: Apprentice

Apprentice Love: Tammy Bestwick

We spotted the work of 22-year-old tattoo apprentice Tammy Bestwick on Instagram and instantly loved her traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Tammy to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Rose Tattoo, Barnstaple, Devon where she works…

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How long have you been tattooing? I worked at a tattoo shop in Exeter doing my apprenticeship for two years. I got to do a few small tattoos here and there but it’s only really since working at Black Rose that I’ve been able to tattoo regularly. I started working at Black Rose back in June so it’s just going into six months of tattooing now!

What did you do before? Do you have a background in art? My first job was selling tickets at a zoo. Straight after that I started my tattoo apprenticeship for two years, I did a couple temp jobs where I made some of the most wonderful friends who still come and get tattooed by me now! I studied art at GCSE and A-level but I didn’t find it overly enjoyable, it was more about looking deep into the meaning behind why a square could’ve possibly been painted green and writing essays than actually being artistically creative. It was only since leaving college that I started to draw what I enjoyed.

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How did you get your apprenticeship? As soon as I finished college, I took some of my drawings into a tattoo shop that was just over an hour away from where I lived. I didn’t really know anything about tattooing at this point but I’d been interested since I was 13. This shop was just opening and my mind was blown by the work of the tattooists there, I’d never seen anything like it before and so I just knew I had to try my luck. I wasn’t expecting much to come of it as it was the first shop I’d attempted to try work at and I was fully aware I had a lot to still educate myself on and so much more I could try do with my portfolio. A week later and they got back to me and they were willing to give me a trial run! Nothing could compare to that feeling when I found out I was being given a chance at something I’d wished to do for so long.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I started off being fascinated by all kinds of body modifications which then developed into tattoos. Anything a little different or controversial always drew me in. Being creative was the only thing that ever kept me interested so I knew I had to do something with it. I’m quite a quiet person and I love to have my own head space and be free with what’s on my mind, no rules or anyone to answer to. That’s what drawing was for me.

I used to draw a lot with my gramps. He painted beautiful acrylic landscapes and was a signwriter, so that’s definitely where I get my artistic flare from! The tattooists that inspired me to begin with are very different to the tattooists that inspire me now. My tastes and opinion of tattooing has developed a lot.

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How would you describe your style, what do you like to tattoo? I’m never really sure how to answer this. Before I tattooed I only ever attempted realism. Currently I do different styles according to the customer’s needs and I’d love to get to the stage where I could do anything anyone asked of me and really challenge myself. Having said that, I’d be perfectly happy if I could only ever tattoo traditional again. That’s what I enjoy tattooing the most, super bold and colourful or just a lot of black! I’d love to get to do more movie related tattoos too.

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What or who inspires you? Nature and books but Instagram is a god send for being able to closely follow my favourite tattooists and their daily work. Gem Carter (this is insanely cheesy because I now work with her) has inspired me from day one, before she was even tattooing herself I followed the work she was doing. Currently, I obsess over the work of Sammy Harding, Jack Peppiette and Bradley Tompkins to name a few. But I am completely fascinated about where traditional tattooing began – Ben Corday, Percy Waters, Amund Dietzel. There is just so much inspiration and so much more to be found that it’s overwhelming.

What is a typical day like for you? I very rarely will be tattooing 11-6 at this stage so I take my time with the customers I do have in and the rest is spent providing ultimate banter, replying to emails and drawing!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? None of my tattoos have any meaning. I get something from a tattooist because I love their style of work, so I’m happy for them to do whatever they’d like to do or choose something they already have drawn! If I get tattooed by someone I want it to be a piece that is distintive to their style. I currently have work done by Danielle Rose, Sammy Harding, a re-work by James Pool (I’m dying to get something of his own too), Sento and mega babe Gem Carter.

Apprentice Love: Rachel Welsby

We spotted the work of 29-year-old apprentice Rachel Welsby on Instagram and instantly loved her dark traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Rachel to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Golden Daggers in Los Angeles where she works… 

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How long have you been tattooing? Since January 2016

How did you start? I spent almost a year putting together a portfolio of my tattoo flash and when I felt I had enough work, I started researching shops in LA and began approaching the ones I liked the look of for an apprenticeship. I’d just moved to Los Angeles and knew hardly anything about the tattoo scene here – I’m glad I spent so much time researching shops because I was lucky enough to find Golden Daggers and my mentor Rocky. I’m currently 14 months into my apprenticeship.

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What did you do before? After I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail when I lived in Brighton and then buying when I lived in London. I had a lucky escape from all of that when I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in November 2013. I didn’t realise how soul destroying those environments were until I left. I’m glad I did do that kind of work though because it’s made my so grateful for the work I do now and the lifestyle I have here in California.

Do you have a background in art? Yes, drawing and making things was all I did when I was a kid. I took art, textile and graphic design classes in school. I went to art college, and then onto university in Bristol, England where I studied Fashion Illustration. Alongside working full time, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing editorial and commercial illustration work, as well as my own personal projects.

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What drew you to the world of tattooing? It was through music. I remember seeing bands like Rancid, AFI and The Distillers on MTV2 when I was a teenager and thinking how cool they were. I grew up in a small town in Wales and never ever saw people who looked like them. I fell in love with the music and the aesthetic and haven’t ever looked back.

It was on a long drive from San Francisco to Portland one day that the decision was made that I should pour all my energy into becoming a tattooer. By the time I’d come to this conclusion, I had already been getting tattooed for 10 years and was already quite heavily covered. I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and the hard work that I’d need to constantly put in to make it work. I’m very fortunate to have such incredible friends and family around me who encourage and support me through all of this.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed at all? I’d describe my work as black traditional with a dark feel. I’d say my subject matter and imagery has remained consistent, but the technicality of my designs has changed. Before I started tattooing, I was drawing flash that was WAY to complex for me to attempt to tattoo. As a result I have totally simplified my designs to match my ability as a tattooer. I’m only working in black too – I think that’s more to do with the aesthetic I like, but in time I would like to be able to tattoo confidently with colour too. It’s a progression that will continue to evolve as I grow and I improve technically.

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What inspires you? Becca was one of my very first inspirations. She’s an amazing tattooer and became a dear friend after the amount of hours we spent together whilst she tattooed me. She’s very humble, dedicated and a true artist. I think incredibly highly of all she’s achieved. Another one of my biggest early inspirations is Simon Erl. He used to work at Jayne Doe so I met him through getting tattooed with Becca. He was the first tattooer I was aware of who worked so heavily with black. I loved his really thick lines and whip-shading. His dark imagery was also something that captivated me. His work is so well designed and considered. He uses so much black, but it’s always balanced and works.

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What would you like to tattoo? I would love to do a back piece one day!

What is a typical day like for you? I get up kinda early and have a coffee, do yoga, walk my dog and work on my embroidery projects. Then I get to the shop at 1pm and take care of all of my apprentice duties before I do my own drawings or begin appointments. This involves things like cleaning the shop, scrubbing tubes, buying supplies, making sure bills get paid and handing the shop money. I then spend the rest of the day drawing or tattooing.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? The majority of my tattoos are from Becca and I also have a couple of pieces from Simon Erl, Bastien Jean and Ed Mosley.

Apprentice Love: Jessica Ashby

Meet Jessica Ashby, she is a tattoo apprentice under Mike Stockings at Legacy Ink in Haverhill. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…

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How long have you been tattooing? Looking back through my diary, I’ve been tattooing on a regular basis for about 7-8 weeks now. I started my apprenticeship in October of 2015 and my mentor let me tattoo myself after about four months so I could get a glimpse of the world I was stepping into. I tattooed myself again a couple of months later and then a handful of my wonderful friends volunteered to let me tattoo them, and then all of a sudden I’m tattooing every day alongside all the other artists at the shop. This is something I’ve wanted for so long and sometimes I still wake up and think ‘is this really my life now?!’

How did you start? What did you do before? I remember telling my tutor at college that I wanted to be a tattoo artist and she looked at me blankly with no advice to give. I then went to university for a year, worked in bars and restaurants, went travelling for a bit, all the while knowing I still just wanted to tattoo.

It got to the point where I couldn’t stand my job any longer and I plucked up the courage to email Mike Stockings (my mentor) and asked if he would be willing to see me to discuss the possibility of an apprenticeship at his studio. I had been avidly following his work for years and I had my heart set on learning from him. He agreed to see me, went through my work, picked it apart, gave me some advice and then told me to go away and draw some more. I don’t think he expected that I’d ever come back, but I continued to take more work to show him for about six months until he offered me the apprenticeship.

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Do you have a background in art? Drawing was always ‘my thing,’ when I was younger. I remember going round to other kids’ houses to play and being shocked that they didn’t put the lids back on their colouring pens, or that they only had scrap paper to draw on. Looking back, I’m so grateful to my mum for nurturing my interest in art. Even at a young age she would take me to exhibitions and buy me good quality drawing materials.

I studied art at college and even went on to university to start an illustration degree. I probably thought my art classes were boring at the time but I realise now that they really did teach me some valuable things about composition, light and shadow, complementary colours etc.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember seeing some of Guy Aitchison’s luminous bi-mech work when I was about 16 and I was instantly blown away. It was like at that moment, my eyes were opened to a whole world of tattooing beyond the high street flash that I was familiar with. I then went on to discover Emily Rose Murray, Tiny Miss Becca, and (dare I say) Kat Von D who were all women starting to make waves in a male dominated industry at the time. I was so inspired and excited that you could make a living out of drawing wonderful pictures on people. I was desperate to get tattooed when I was a teenager and now I’m starting to build up a nice collection of my own I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever.

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Are there any artist that influence your work? I really like all the bold, bright work that is coming out of Germany at the moment. Lars Uwe Lus lips, is one of my absolute favourites. His use of colours, line weights and style in general is pretty mind-blowing. I love the illustrative quality of Kate Selkie’s work and I am always reminded that good drawing skills are the foundation of a good tattoo. And of course, watching Mike work is probably my biggest influence. His work has so much character and he’s always trying to push boundaries and put out fresh new ideas. It’s impossible not to be inspired.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I’d say my style changes a little bit with every tattoo I do. I think my work is leaning towards neo-traditional, working with bright colours and bold line. The guys where I work taught me early on to follow the fundamentals of traditional tattooing, emphasising the importance of clean lines and getting a good amount of black into any tattoo to create contrast and a tattoo that will age well.

What inspires you? Everything really. I guess that’s a pretty terrible answer but it’s true. I’ll often find myself sneaking into people’s front gardens to take photos of their flowers to use as reference, or stuffing a leaflet in my bag because I like the colour palette that’s been used. I feel like my eyes now scan everything to see if it’s a possible reference or inspiration in some way.

I love Japanese art and culture, art nouveau, pop art, film photography, and really enjoy going to museums and galleries. Even if the work doesn’t influence mine directly, I always feel so creatively energised after seeing another artist’s vision come to life.

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What would you love to tattoo? I consider myself incredibly lucky that Mike gives me the freedom to tattoo what I want already. He has always really emphasised that if you do work you enjoy then that will be evident, and people will come to you.

Eventually I’d like to be tattooing larger scale animal designs and faces (tattoos of faces, not tattooing on faces!) I love the idea of working on a project and can’t wait to be piecing together ideas for a sleeve or back piece. For now though, I am happy doing my little designs, trying to make each one cleaner and better than the last. I think there’s a fine line between continually pushing yourself to improve, and trying to run before you can walk. The guys at work will often tell me that I’m not ready to tattoo a certain part of the body yet, or that a design is too complex and then I just have to take a step back and remember that it’s still really early days for me.

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What is a typical day like for you? I usually get to the studio at around 9 am, mop the floor, clean the grips, set up Mike’s station and try to make sure everything stays tidy during the day. I’m trying to do one tattoo a day at the moment and truthfully I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in the shop during that time!

Apprentice Love: Lady Bonsai

Lady Bonsai is a 27-year-old Italian apprentice working in Naples, we love her dark, simple and often naughty tattoos. We chatted to her about her classic style and what inspires her… 

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When did you start tattooing? I started tattooing in 2015 and I am apprenticing at the moment at Napoli Ink in Naples. I sent my portfolio to lots of different studios and the guys at Napoli Ink asked me to work with them.

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What did you do before you were a tattooist? Before I started to tattoo I used to work as a manager in a street wear clothes store. I have always been fascinated by art. I changed my whole working life to follow my dream to become a tattoo artist.

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What inspires you? I’m inspired by Art Nouveau, 1920s actresses, porn and bsdm (bondage, submission, dominance, sadomasochism) subjects.

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What kind of things do you like to tattoo? I love to tattoo women’s silhouettes in a romantic yet sexy way.

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How would you describe your style? I would describe my style as a graphic and passionate blackwork.

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We have recently released The Horror Issue, what is your favourite horror film? My favourite horror movie is Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932). A black and white movie, it is really amazing and a great inspiration to me.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are a mix of various styles, I really love tattoos to suit my body and it’s different parts. I have  a lot of different subjects from various artists including a moth by Alessandro Florio on my leg.

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Apprentice Love: Roxy Ryder

We spotted the work of apprentice Roxy Ryder, 24 on Instagram and instantly loved her colourful, bright and cartoon-like tattoos. We chatted to Roxy to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Alchemy Tattoo Studio in Wigan, Manchester where she works.

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How did you get your apprenticeship? What were you doing before? I asked in the studio I was getting tattooed in at the time around three years ago and started by handing out flyers. I started my apprenticeship at Alchemy Tattoo Studio in Wigan, a friend of mine recommended me and it went from there. I’ve been tattooing as an apprentice for little under a year. The artists have made me feel right at home. Even if it is an all guy studio and I get a little bullied now and then!
Before working in the tattoo industry I worked in retail, I did this whilst building up a portfolio. Spending most nights drawing and painting.

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What do you like about it what do you dislike? I love that I get to do something I love everyday and stay creative. The guys I work with are awesome and getting to meet lovely people on a daily basis is great. The only thing I dislike about tattooing is feeling nervous before a tattoo and self doubt.

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Do you have a background in art? I have always been into art and crafts from a young age. I spent a lot of my childhood doing different crafts which followed through into school. I then studied a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design at college as I always had my heart set on doing something with art. I then found my favourite medium to work with. I have been spitshading with watercolour inks for a couple of years now, trying to get better!

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How would you describe your style? I’m not too sure how to describe my style but I love to do bright bold designs. The majority of my designs are usually pretty cute and girly. Very colourful for someone who wears all black everyday!

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What is a typical day like for you? A typical day for me is coming into work and doing my little jobs around the studio. I usually prepare most of my designs a couple of days before so I have time to study a colour scheme and change any bits. That way I can make sure I am fully prepared and myself and the customer are happy with the design. I spend the rest of the time watching and learning from the other artists I work with and making brews! If it’s a quiet day I will spend my time drawing new designs and painting. I love to do commissioned paintings in my spare time but if I’m not doing those I love to watch a good B-Movie or a Horror!

How did you feel doing your first tattoo? I did my first tattoo on myself, it was a little moth on my lower leg. I was so nervous and it took me ages but because it was on myself it wasn’t too bad.

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What inspires you? So many artists and tattoo artists inspire me. Seeing how hard people work and how much talent they have makes me strive to be better and paint and draw more.

What things do you like to tattoo and draw? Everything I draw is always pretty bold and bright. I love drawing and painting cartoons. Most of the time people commission me for cartoon pieces, which is always fun to do! It all depends on the mood I’m in but I have lots of things I love to draw and tattoo! My faves are anything bright, cute and girly! I love doing spacey stuff, aliens, UFOS and rockets are super fun! Robots, little bloody weapons, kewpies, tropical, nautical designs and kawaii pieces. I love horror so I would love to start doing little horror pieces too.

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Can you tell us a bit about your own tattoos? I still have so much free space for tattoos. I currently have my lower legs and arms tattooed with a few others dotted about. My most painful tattoo has to be my palm. I decided to have a brain tattooed on it! My first tattoo was a ship on my foot. Most of my tattoos are pretty traditional. I have so many artists I want to get tattooed by so I’m saving my space at the moment!

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