Tagged: Blogger

GRLCLB: Roobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tiger Style: Tiggen

We chat to Tiggen, 19-year-old retail assistant manager and blogger, from London about her blog, fashion style and collection of blackwork tattoos…

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I first started blogging last March, however I’d been building up the confidence to start for about a year by that point. After following and admiring many other bloggers online, I wanted to try it out for myself. It was something I’d always thought about pursuing but initially I had to push myself into writing my first post.

What kind of things do you blog about? Typically, I enjoy blogging about personal style, as it’s something that is unique to everyone and so closely linked to self image. I find issues around body image, and how we view ourselves and others, to be very interesting and I plan on writing more about that in the future. Other topics I blog about are lifestyle, beauty and London.

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How would you describe your style? My style is very minimalist. I only wear black and white, with one exception of a brown jacket. As my colour plate is so simplistic I tend to focus on the quality of the material over anything else. I would say I dress quite casually on a day to day basis, I’m nearly always wearing my leather jacket.

What inspires you? I take inspiration from people watching, seeing the variation of street style and how people present themselves. London is such a diverse city and full of so many interesting people that I can’t help but feel inspired.

Do you have a favourite, artist, designer or musician, or someone else that you admire? I wouldn’t say there was just one person in particular that I admire, there are so many people that I look up to. Social media plays a part as it allows you to glimpse into people’s lives, to respect what they’re feeling and going through. To name a couple that I follow on Instagram:  @jayrosetattoo @acornandauger

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When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo the day after I turned 18, it was only small but I was extremely happy to finally have one. Sometimes I forget it’s even there now that I have many more, but I still like it.

Tell us about your tattoos? Do they help you to see you body differently, do they inspire confidence? Each time I get a tattoo it instills more confidence in me and makes me feel at home in my own skin. They don’t feel like an addition, more as though they were there all along just under the surface and now they’re revealed. To me getting a new one is not only a physical change but a mental one, they help me to see my body differently and to boost my self image. I find them empowering. Much like my personal style I only have blackwork pieces, they range from illustrative style to more mehndi buddhist pieces.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I have a habit of planning very far ahead in regard to tattoos. I’ve carefully thought about what I’m going to get and where, most of my body is already planned out. Next on my list is to get my other hand done.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? Without a doubt. I enjoy collecting tattoos and meeting new tattoo artists. I’m hoping to travel to get a lot of them done, it’s all part of the experience. The beautiful thing about collecting tattoos is having artwork on your own skin that you can admire everyday and carry with you.

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What kinds of reactions do your tattoos get? Luckily most of the reactions I receive are positive, whether from friends and family or strangers. However, there are occasions when people  make derogatory remarks or invade my personal space to try and touch my tattoos. In the end though they’re on my body, so the only thing that truly matters is how they make me feel.

Cold Girl Fever: Katie Thirks

We chat to 27-year-old Leeds based blogger and zine creator Katie Thirks about her blog www.coldgirlfever.com, her tattoo collection, and why she created her now sold-out Love/Hate zine…

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How would you describe your style? My day-to-day style is pretty laid-back. I don’t really follow fashion trends consciously – I buy clothes and style my outfits depending on my mood. I can never plan outfits in advance because of this, so packing for holidays is always a nightmare. My priorities comfort and versatility – clothing that I can mix up – and good denim. Shoes are my weakness, I have around 50 pairs – you’ll mainly find me in Salt-Water sandals, Vans or 70s Chuck Taylor’s.

My tattoos are, for the most part, pretty American/Western traditional. That’s the style of tattooing I am drawn to. I like the aesthetics, the colours and the boldness. I have a lot of older traditional flash tattooed, such as my backpiece which is based on a Bert Grimm original, Sundance (or Raindance, depending on who you ask!). It’s always interesting to see how a tattooer will put their spin on an old piece of flash and make it their own.

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What do you think of social media as a platform, how do you feel about sharing your life in such a public space? I only really use Instagram, which I love. I have a Twitter and a private Facebook, but they don’t get used as much. I don’t agree with the stance that social media is bad for us, or narcissistic. I dislike that negative spin, it’s a very bitter outlook. In saying that, there can most definitely be a darker side to social media. I think it can be hard for some people to separate reality from the online world. Although, given that we document so much of our lives these days, it can be easy for the lines to be blurred. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, technology has enabled us to do so much and connect in more ways than ever before.

I’ve dealt with negativity online (which I’ve blogged about) and I do think, in some cases, social media can perhaps encourage unhealthy behaviour. For me personally, social media has allowed me to fulfil creative pursuits and promote them – Love/Hate, for example. My Instagram is a really useful tool for interacting with like-minded people and it gives me a voice, in some ways.

I think it’s time to accept that social media is as much real-life as, err… real-life. That being said, it’s important to not get too sucked in and be sure to live life away from a camera lens, enjoying the moment. I don’t put my entire life online, but I generally post highlights and nice things I get to do, nice places, my cat and, of course, selfies! Big selfie advocate over here – I love seeing women feeling confident and beautiful enough to document it.

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How did you start your blog, what inspired you? Making the decision to start blogging was an extension from my Instagram account, I guess. I have always dabbled in blogging in some way or another – I’ve had a MySpace, Live Journal and a Tumblr. I like sharing stories and experiences, I like connecting with people and I like writing. Blogging is something that feels natural for me. As someone who seems to have gone through a fair few challenges in my life, sometimes it’s difficult for me to express what I’m feeling or going through vocally (I’m working on that!) and I’ve always found writing a cathartic process. It helps me get my thoughts in order and is very therapeutic.

What can people expect to see on your blog? What do you write about? I write about personal topics – health, self-care, travelling. Talking about mental health is something I think is especially important. It was never an agenda of mine to write about mental health, but it just happened. When I write, it tends to be from the heart and spontaneous, and I rarely plan or schedule posts so again, depending on my mood or situation, it dictates the direction of what I write.

My blog has opened up some really helpful dialogue and I’ve had great conversations off the back of some of my posts. Ironically, keeping to a regular blogging schedule is something that I struggle with, thanks to my mental health, which can be erratic. I go through phases of productivity and it can be hard to not feel pressure. I have to remind myself that my blog is for me and try to keep it easygoing, rather than beat myself up for not posting anything for two months.

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What was your first tattoo, do you still love it? My first tattoo was a lesson in how not to get your first tattoo. I was 17 and it was Bob Tyrell flash off of the wall in a scratcher shop. It was a gothic heart with wings and I had it on my stomach. It’s since been covered by a much bigger Japanese piece by Fil Wood. Please don’t get your first, or any, tattoo in this way.

What drew you to the world of tattoos? My favourite uncle is heavily tattooed and pierced. Growing up I was in awe of him, his leather jacket and his motorbikes. We would go to a biker festival called The Rock & Blues with my parents and him, and it was always so much fun. I would stare at everybody’s tattoos and ask questions about them. I also used to draw on my skin and have stick-on transfers. I just love how tattoos look and the history behind them fascinates me. I am so glad that I learned a lesson and waited longer before I started getting ‘seriously’ tattooed with more visible work.

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Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? I don’t think tattoos have to have a deep, profound meaning, but I appreciate the notion that they can have a meaning. I have tattoos that are ‘for’ something or to preserve memories – a place, a pet, my husband’s name. When people have larger scale work and ongoing projects, I absolutely understand how it can become more of a spiritual journey for them. Being tattooed, no matter the size of a tattoo or the duration of a session, requires so much physical and mental energy and it’s going to change your body permanently.

Has having tattoos changed how you feel about yourself and your body? With each tattoo, I feel like I come into my own a bit more. I’ve always struggled with body image for various reasons and, as glib as it sounds, I’m so much more confident in my own skin now. I have plenty of space left, but I’m in no rush to fill up – it isn’t a race. For me, being tattooed is a process. I don’t have a master plan where everything is mapped out. I seek out artists I love when I travel and choose pieces based on factors such as the size and shape of the space it’s going to fill and how it will complement other tattoos surrounding it.

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Why did you decide to create a zine around women, tattoos and the reactions they encounter? What do you hope to achieve? My inspiration for the zine was basically my own experiences of having people let me know what they think of my tattoos. All. The. Time. I never invite people to comment (or to touch me), yet their need to express their opinion baffles me every time it happens, which is on a daily basis. In turn, I found myself having frequent conversations with other women about dealing with the same unwanted attention – catcalling, sexist remarks and negative comments from family and strangers in the street regarding our tattoos and bodies.

With the zine I simply wanted to create a space for tattooed women/trans/non-binary folks to share their experiences. I knew I wanted to bring together a range of stories and for it to be a collective effort. One woman’s story about street-harassment may shock us, but over 30 stories is even more powerful. The finished product almost feels celebratory – whenever I received a new submission, I would be beaming from ear-to-ear upon opening the email because of the beautiful photos people sent with their writing. I love nothing more than seeing women proudly show off their bodies and the choices they have made. By creating this project, I hope it lets other tattooed women know that A) it’s unacceptable behaviour and we have the right to stand up for ourselves and B) make people think twice before they interrogate or shame a tattooed woman.

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Was this zine drawn from your own experience? Have you struggled with what to wear because of other people? As much as I love my tattoos and don’t feel the need to seek approval from anybody, I am definitely affected by other people’s reactions to them. Whether this is my auntie telling me that when she sees a pretty girl in a dress who happens to have tattoos that she “looks trashy and has ruined her looks”, or the stranger in the cafe whispering loudly that I look “like a thug”, or the customer at work who touched my arms, telling me, “I like your tattoos – I mean I like all of you, if you know what I mean…”, the charity worker shouting for “the lady with the tattoos” to come for a chat in the middle of a busy street… It goes on.

I, and other women, have to navigate this intrusive and embarrassing behaviour daily. It’s constant. How can we not consider what we’ll wear each day, and the responses it will evoke from the general public? I noticed a theme with the stories – people said that things got worse in the summer, which is something I absolutely relate to. It broke my heart that, on top of all the usual obstacles women face, our choices and ownership of our bodies is still being brought into question with each summer dress or vest top that we wear.

Interview with Mermaid Moon Child

19-year-old Hayley Sunter is a business student and blogger from Bradford. We chatted to Hayley about how she started her blog www.mermaidmoonchild.wordpress.com and her tattoo collection… 

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I started blogging September of this year, what got me into blogging was just a passion for writing, I also wanted to share and talk about things I love.

What kind of things do you blog about? I don’t like to see myself as a typical beauty blogger not that there is anything wrong with that, I just wanted my blog to be more. I blog about things such as mental health, my tattoos, life updates and if I do talk about beauty products I am always promoting cruelty free ones. I like to see my blog as a somewhat visual and online diary,  I am a very open about my life online as I hope some of my life struggles and achievements will either help or inspire people who come across my blog.

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How would you describe your style? Honestly I have people try to label my style as many things but for me personally I get fashion inspiration from alternative women, typically on Instagram so I would label myself as alternative.

What inspires you? I get inspiration from a lot of different things from compassion and kindness I see online, to people loving themselves and being truly happy the way they are in their body. I feel like the world wants us to dislike at least one thing about ourselves and seeing people overcome that inspires me to love myself and others.

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Do you have a favourite artist, designer or musician? Or someone you admire? The person I admire the most is a tattoo artist called Hannah Pixie Snowdon, I first came across her on Instagram when I saw some of her tattoos and that is one of the first times I fell in love with heavily tattooed women. I then went on to get more inspired by her outlook on life, she has so much compassion, she is so mindful and she has overcome some dark demons in her life. I plan on getting her portrait tattooed one day, because she has inspired me so much and pretty much changed how I see life.

When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo August 2015 just after my 18th birthday, its a little traditional style black cat sat on a moon on my ankle and honestly it was a painful little thing. I do still love it but where it is in terms of placement, it didn’t heal the best and the lines blew out a bit.

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Tell us about your tattoos? Do they help you to see your body differently, do they inspire confidence? I am not the most heavily tattooed person but I plan on being, I currently have four tattoos including my second tattoo – my thigh piece done by Lucy O’Connell at Red Tattoo Leeds. It’s a portrait of my beloved pet ferret Ed who sadly passed last year, he was literally like my fur child so I booked in with Lucy the month he died. My third tattoo is done by Danny at Cobra Club Leeds, it’s of Gizmo from the film Gremlins I just love everything about it!

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My last but not least was done by Tom Flanagan at Odd Fellows in Leeds. This tattoo has a lot of meaning behind it, as it features a love heart with a hand holding a panther paw its a little twist on the traditional style two people holding hands tattoos. I wanted it to represent that animals are here with us not for us. I recently turned vegetarian when I got this tattoo and never looked back.

In terms of do my tattoos make me see myself differently? Absolutely they do, about three years ago I never got my legs out without some fake tan, as I didn’t really like my legs. Now with my legs featuring some beautiful art I love it, I can’t wait for summer so I can get them out again! Each time I get a tattoo I feel more and more like myself.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I actually have a tattoo booked just after Christmas which I am looking forward to. As for future plans I plan on adding more and more to my legs first then I will work my way up my body. For years I have wanted my stomach tattooed so I might make plans for that sometime next year.

Do you consider yourself as a tattoo collector? I do, I plan on travelling around the country to different tattoo artists I have admired on Instagram. Luckily some really talented people are based right on my door step in Leeds. I’ll only really stick to one artist if we are working on a stomach or back piece, other than that I want to collect as many different tattoos from different artists that I really admire.

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What kinds of reactions do your tattoos get? Honestly I think I have only had one bad reaction to my tattoos and that has been online, where they were a bit old fashioned and thought that females don’t suit tattoos. Other than that I have had some lovely reactions in person and online. I remember in the Summer I was shopping and the shop assistant asked to look at my legs I was so confused for a second until she commented on how beautiful my tattoos are. Sometimes I forgot they are there I am so used to them now.

Growing Pains With Tracy Kiss

28-year-old Tracy Kiss, blogger, model and mother, from Buckingham talks about how having a tattoo to cover her stretch marks helped her to reclaim and love her body once again… 

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When did you start modelling and how did you get into the industry? At the age of 18. I was talent scouted by MTV to model in a documentary about relationships, I then went on to do page 3 for The Daily Sport newspaper.

What made you want to become a model? I was bullied terribly up until the age of 17 for being shy, geeky and insecure. When I was talent scouted I never imagined in a million years that I could ever be a model but they saw something in me and I’m so glad that they did because it brought me out of my shell.

What kind of work did you do? I was a glamour model before having my two children which involves lots of lingerie, bikinis and topless as well as the occasional catwalk and fashion.

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Did this change how you saw your body? Did modelling help with your confidence? Although modelling gave me bags of confidence that I never knew existed it also changed me as a person. I spent endless minutes on sunbeds to maintain a year round tan, dyed my hair peroxide blonde, wore fake nails, false eyelashes and dressed in skin tight revealing outfits. I literally changed everything about my appearance within a year and although I loved my ‘new’ body I realised deep down that I wasn’t being true to myself.

How has pregnancy and being a mother affected how you see your body? Becoming a single parent at the age of 19 was such a wake up call, it made me realise that there’s so much more to life than the shallowness of how we view others. Beauty doesn’t come from a packet, tube or needle it’s from natural confidence, being comfortable in your own skin and feeling happy. My body shape changed dramatically, I was incredibly thin and as my pregnancy developed I started to get stretch marks which were deep red lines that seemed to slash my skin. At that time my body was my career, and I felt that becoming a mother had ended the life I knew by scarring me so badly.

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Do you miss being pregnant? Despite all of that I loved being pregnant, it was difficult for me to adjust to the weight gain at first because I had always been so strict on myself. But once I embraced it I realised how much I love food, how happy I was to feel my daughter kick inside of me and despite knowing I had to bring her into the world alone I felt safe knowing that we were going through it together. There is nothing as precious as unconditional love and I’d happily have more children if I met the right man one day.

How has pregnancy affected your body physically? Physically pregnancy has had an horrendous affect on my body at such a young age, firstly from scarring up my stomach hips and thighs with stretch marks, weakening my stomach muscles and making my chest collapse. I had breast implants that became loose and leaked from the pressure of breast feeding, so I underwent reconstructive surgery. It has been the most joyful yet painful experience of my life but I’d do it a thousand times over for my children, they are my absolute world.

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Can you tell us about your stretch marks? Also how you tried to get rid of them? My stretch marks remained the same with my second pregnancy and didn’t get any worse, I think my skin was already so badly damaged that it couldn’t possibly stretch any further. I had fairly large babies with my daughter weighing 7lbs and my son 8lbs 8oz, but I blame my love of food for contributing to my weight gain as for once in my life I didn’t worry about what I ate!

I’ve tried everything to get rid of my stretch marks which I’ve covered in my beauty blogs from oils and creams to needling and lasering, all methods designed to stimulate the regrowth of natural collagen in the skin to help to repair it. Whilst stretch marks can be improved they can never be removed unless you cut the skin away which I didn’t want. Fortunately with my treatments I was able to lighten my stretch marks from a deep red colour to a pale white, instead of being deep they became a little more shallow and where the skin had become so loose and wrinkled it’s now firmer and flatter but still scarred, just a little less obviously.

Why did you choose to cover them with a tattoo? How did you pick the design? I chose to cover my stretchmarks with a tattoo because the pigment in my skin had disappeared from stomach, which left me with white lines.  At the age of 28 I was hiding my body, I never wanted anybody to look at or touch my stomach because I was embarrassed.

The only way left for me to try to remove my stretchmarks without surgery was to cover them with a tattoo and once my final laser treatment was complete to correct the texture of my skin I called my tattooist, James King, to talk about designs. I already have 10 tattoos including; feathers, wings and my children’s dates of birth.  I’m a nature loving vegan, I live for peace, love and happiness so we combined a lotus flower with the hamsa hand to signify strength, beauty and good fortune.

I wanted to turn a part of my body that I hated into something positive, and  my tattoo has done just that! Something that once hurt and upset me for so many years now makes me smile uncontrollably. I never thought I’d feel so happy in my skin again as I do now, it’s given me my youth back.

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What would you say to other mums feeling the same way as you did? I’d tell other mums to look into turning their scars into body art because you only have one life. To me a tattoo isn’t just a decoration, it’s a story, a reminder and inspiration for life. It’s capturing your essence as a person, expressing your individualism and in my case turning something negative into a positive. Everybody should be able to love their bodies no matter their age, size and ethnicity. For me tattoos have given me back my confidence, true confidence and shown me how I can love myself for who I am. I’m a woman reborn, my embarrassment and insecurities have vanished and I’m ecstatic to have a second chance with my body.

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What was your first tattoo? Do you still love it? Rather foolishly I got my first tattoo at the age of 14 which was a tribal swirl on my lower back that I covered over with angel wings, that mean so much more to me, as I believe feathers symbolise hope and freedom. My first tattoo was something that I rushed into simply because it was fashionable at the time, it had no meaning to me and was nothing more than a filled in stencil that I outgrew.

Can you tell us about your other tattoos? My favourite is ‘love is blind’ tattooed under my breasts, its a reminder of how life may change but true love is unconditional and that is very much what I have for my children. My babies taught me the most important lessons in life of patience, strength and natural beauty and although being a single parent is incredibly challenging at times it has made me the person I am today. Tattoos have given me back my fire, repaired my body and rebuilt my self esteem whilst capturing my heart for all to see and I will cherish them forever.

Rock n Roll Soul: Emma Inks

Emma Copland is a 28-year-old Scottish charity support manager and blogger living in London. We chatted to Emma about how she started her blog emmainks.com and her tattoo collection… 

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I had a secret blog that was a scrapbook of my life but it was October 2014 when I officially started Emma Inks. The combination of living in London and my passion for travel meant friends were always asking for recommendations so I started promoting my posts, hoping that other people might find my ramblings useful too.

What kinds of things do you blog about? My blog is a reflection of me so it is a bit all over the place with posts on: London life, travel, vegetarian food, style, beauty and any other random thoughts I have.

How would you describe your style? I am not one to follow trends; I just wear what makes me feel comfortable, which often includes lots of leather, ripped denim, vintage rock t-shirts, black, and leopard print. I often end up looking like I have just been thrown out of an American dive bar. My style is mainly influenced by rock music, movies, Cher and people I see on the street.

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What inspires you? I am inspired by many things, but mainly travel and people who are not afraid to be themselves. I love people who make their own path instead of following the crowd or doing what is expected of them.

Do you have a favourite designer or artist? There are so many talented artists; a few of my current favourite tattoo artists include Kirk Jones, Kelly Violence, Dani Queipo, Henbo, Rebecca Vincent, Cally-Jo, Hannah Pixie Sykes, and my gorgeous friend Nikki Nairns. They are all high on my list of people I would love to be tattooed by.

When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo just after turning 18. It was bought by my two best friends before I went on my first solo backpacking trip and was a meant to be a heart/thistle representing our friendship and my Scottish roots.

These days it looks more like a club stamp I have not washed off and has a scar right through the middle of it after I broke my wrist snowboarding. It is definitely not a piece of art, but it reminds me of an amazing time in my life, being young and reckless so I don’t think I will ever get it covered.

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Tell us about your tattoos? I started getting tattoos at 18 and went with the tribal style which was common at the time. I had my aforementioned club stamp on my wrist and a hand drawn sun on my back within the same year. The back tattoo was meant to represent my backpacking trip around South-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, though I still like it I am thinking about getting the Buddha in the centre covered up as I don’t want any religious symbolism in my tattoos.

When I was a poor student I couldn’t afford new tattoos but I did plenty of research and started to get into more traditional, colourful pieces. I got my anchor by Frank Paradiso in Tattoo Peter, Amsterdam’s oldest tattoo shop. I loved the style and vibrancy so much I got my second traditional tattoo by his colleague, Bill Loika, at Brighton Tattoo Convention. You could tell Bill has been a tattoo artist for years as my swallow inking was super speedy, yet beautifully executed.

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A year later I promised myself that I was just going to look at the artwork at the same convention but after seeing Adam Cornish’s flash I couldn’t resist and got the rose on my shoulder.

The most recent piece was done by Harry Harvey at Vagabond in East London, the arrow was my idea but Harry took it to the next level and I was so pleased with the final design.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I definitely want many more tattoos, I know that I want to continue with a few more traditional pieces on my right arm but I also want to start on some more detailed blackwork on my left leg. I would have more right now but unfortunately money is in the way of my grand plans.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? Yes, I would say so. I love having a range of art by different people on my body.

What reactions do your tattoos get?  I have had a mixture of positive and negative reactions to my tattoos. I think mainly people are just inquisitive so I really don’t mind answering their questions, even though they often get repetitive. The one which I get asked all the time that does get on my nerves is “What does your boyfriend  [who has no tattoos] think?”. It kind of implies that my body is not mine to do what I want with and also that tattoos make me unattractive. It is never meant with malice but usually has an undertone of disapproval. People’s reactions don’t really bother me as I love my tattoos, and that’s all that really matters.

At the box office with Sophie Elizabeth

Sophie Elizabeth is a 24-year-old social media/SEO executive and part-time blogger from London. We chatted to Sophie about her love for films, her fashion style and reactions to her ink at work… 

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I started blogging around three years ago and it was more just an outlet to improve my creative writing and share what I was interested in. It started out as a way for me to write film reviews and then I introduced the odd outfit post and it sort of just grew from there. The more I posted, the more people started to take notice and now here I am. I think at the time, I felt that there weren’t many bloggers out there (who I followed anyway) that really represented me and my style and so I figured I’d just create one myself.

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What kinds of things do you blog about? My blog is essentially film and personal style although over the last year or so it’s progressed more in to London lifestyle, events, food and a bit of beauty also. It’s pretty much all the stuff I’m interested in and the random things I get up to.

How would you describe your style? I think my style changes like the wind – I tend to combine vintage inspirations with modern trends and I love all things 80’s and 90’s. I wear a lot of black (perhaps too much) and I love to play around with textures and prints.

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What inspires you? For me, it’s totally film. Filmmakers, directors and other critics really inspire me to write and learn more. I love going to the cinema and, for me, it’s always been the experience and the nostalgic values that come with it. I think I’m also inspired by other tattooed women – I’m very much in awe of them a lot of the time. I have a major girl crush on Hannah Pixie Sykes.

Do you have a favourite designer/artist? My boyfriend is a designer and so I’m probably supposed to say him! I follow a lot of tattoo artists such as Claudia De Sabe, Matty Darienzo and Thomas Hooper – I think they’re probably among my favourites.

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When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo aged 16 and under age tattoos are never good tattoos. It was well done and by a good artist but it’s six stars on my stomach and very emo. I wouldn’t get rid of it though and I completely forget it’s even there now.

Tell us about your other tattoos? Most of my tattoos are traditional Navy inspired with thick, blown lines but I like to put a girly spin on it. Lots of flowers, animals and bright colours. I think my favourite is the Victorian lady on my thigh by artist Naomi Smith – I love the lines in her hair, the colours are amazing and how she’s got kind of a big nose. She’s perfectly imperfect.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I’d love to get more in the future as I haven’t had any in a while – I have some plans to get some dot work or menhdi and I find myself really drawn to bold, black tattoos lately. I’d like to add more to my legs and maybe get some more film inspired pieces too.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? I don’t think I ever set out to be but given the amount I now have, I imagine I am. I am running out of space now though so not sure how much longer the collection can go on for.

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How did you get your current job? I worked in retail for about seven years, from turning 16 to finishing university, before finally making the move in to an agency environment. I applied as an Office Administrator originally, to get a foot in the door, but luckily I was able to work my way up very quickly.

Did you study, did you do work experience? I did my degree in Film Theory and Major Production and I don’t think I’d even heard of SEO or anything at that stage. I wasn’t 100% sure of what I wanted to do and had lots of experience but not necessarily in the correct fields. Luckily, because of my blog, I was able to use that as a sort of portfolio. I’m surprised how many doors it’s opened for me. If you can show you’ve done work off your own back and followed through with it then that’s good experience to have.

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What reactions do your tattoos get at work? Do you cover them or show them off? When I first started I was terrified of having them on show in case someone said something or it upset the directors. Thankfully, after a few months I eased up and they didn’t care either way anyway although I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like me before. I have them out sometimes at work (especially when it’s unbearably hot in summer) and hide them for some clients but that’s my choice to do so. I think I’m very lucky to be in an agency that’s very laid back and embraces individuality. I know a lot of other corporate companies may not see it that way. I’ve always said that if they asked me to cover them, that’s fine – I’ll do that; but it also doesn’t affect my work performance.

Choose Happiness with Miss West End Girl

Lynsay Neil is a 30-year-old writer, podcaster and creator of Miss West End Girl blog, from Glasgow. We chatted to Lynsay to find out how she started her blog, her style tips and tricks and her colourful tattoo collection…  

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How did you get into blogging? I’ve always had a deep love for writing, ever since I was a kid – when all my classmates wanted Tamagotchis (remember them?!) I was asking my parents for a typewriter. It seemed like a natural progression for me to start a blog as a platform to share my life and stories. I used sites like Livejournal and MySpace when I was younger, like most people – but it was when I took the plunge and got my own domain space that I considered myself to be a blogger.

How did you start? I started blogging under the name Miss West End Girl about five or six years ago. It started off as a fashion blog, because I was reading a lot of fashion based blogs at the time and also because I love to have fun with my own personal style. But over the years, it’s evolved into what I consider to be a lifestyle site as I love to write about all manner of things that make me excited, so much so that I have to share the details with my readers.

What can people expect to see on your blog? My blog is essentially a guide to living life with joy and style, and embracing what makes you unique. You can expect to find guides to Glasgow (my home city), personal and  blogging advice, DIYs, interiors, personal style, beauty, food, travel…the list goes on! In a nutshell, it’s the things that make me smile and that I think will make other people smile or feel inspired.

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You have a lot of positive messages and upbeat posts, how have you cultivated this mind set?  Any important life lessons for our readers? That’s very kind, thank you! I think that happiness is a choice and it’s one that we make each day when we wake up. Negativity is pretty toxic stuff, and even though it’s easy to feel dragged down, I try to concentrate on the things that should be celebrated. We only get one shot at life, and I firmly believe we should make the most of it! Be adventurous, be kind, look after yourself and believe that you can do anything (because you can!).

Do you have any advice for people either thinking of starting a blog or who have one already? Think about what inspires you and go write about it. There is no right way or wrong way to blog – that’s the beauty of it! If you’re writing something that you don’t care about, or for the sake of it, it will show. Don’t put pressure on yourself either – some of my favourite blogs are only updated once in a while, and when a new article drops I get super excited! You’ll find a rhythm and routine that suits your writing style and your life.

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How would you describe your fashion style? Where do you shop? How has it evolved? Sometimes I feel like I’m permanently dressed to attend my own birthday party – I love to wear bright dresses and statement accessories. I’m rarely seen without something on my head – be it a flower crown, a glittery slice of pizza or a massive bow. My personal style has been described as ‘cartoon-like’ which I take as a compliment!
I shop in a variety of places because I don’t tend to stick to whatever is ‘on trend’. An average outfit could be a mixture of indie designers, vintage, thrifted, high-street and high-end. I love discovering local design talent and people who are thinking outside the box. I like to have fun with fashion and dress for myself!
When I was a teenager I was a bit of a sulky goth, all black jeans and kohl eyeliner. This has massively evolved – particularly as I studied film and media at university and feel very inspired by some of my favourite colourful characters.

Does your home/homewares reflect your style? Absolutely! After eight years of renting beige nightmare flats, my boyfriend and I bought our flat last year and have been having the BEST time decorating it. I love sharing home tour posts of the flat on my blog so I can document our little interiors journey! After I posted pictures of our living room, an interiors magazine wanted to run a story on our bright and cheerful home – we ended up getting a 12 page feature in a magazine and I still can’t quite believe it! I’m proud to have created a happy home that I can relax in. It’s somewhere I can write my blog and record podcasts, as well as hang out and entertain friends.

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What are your beauty secrets? Any tips or tricks for our readers? Finding products that work for you and make you feel amazing is my number one tip. I’d feel lost without my eyeliner flicks and a pop of bold lip colour! The best way to get comfortable with make up is to get in front of a mirror and practice – it’s also fun to experiment with products until you find what’s right for you.
Skincare wise, I am all about the classic advice. Look after your skin so you don’t end up looking like a second-hand handbag! Wear sun protection (minimum of SPF 50, especially on those tattoos!), drink water, moisturise plenty and always remove your make up before bed. Some advice never goes out of style!

What inspires you? I feel inspired by lots of things, but if I had to pick one thing it would be meeting other people that are passionate about what they do. That kind of feeling is infectious and you can really feed off of each others’ good vibes.

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have 14 tattoos, and have been getting tattooed for just over 10 years. My very first tattoo was my stocking seams, which run from my achilles heels right up to the top of my thighs – go big or go home, eh? They were inspired by my love of vintage glamour and pin-up culture. This was the only grey and black work that I have had done, every other tattoo is very bright!

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My tattoos don’t have too many meanings or tributes behind them – with the exception of two! I have two tattoos that are matching ones with my boyfriend. We got them on our fifth and ten year anniversaries.
I like to think that my tattoos are a reflection of my personality, as they are very feminine and colourful with a rock n’ roll twist. On one arm, I have an old fashioned perfume bottle, a Russian doll, a spider web (bright pink, of course!), a cupcake, a sugar skull, love heart candies and a lipstick. On my other arm, I have a swallow, a strip of pink leopard print and a lucky cat. My legs have identical stocking seams and I have a heart-shaped locket on my foot.
All of my pieces have been custom designed, via consultation and brainstorming with the artist so that we get it just right. I’ve never regretted a tattoo and put a lot of planning into each idea.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? Always! I think about getting tattooed all the time, and with so many amazing artists posting their work on Instagram the only question is, who to book with? I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Pastel Paradise: Lemon Freckles

Toni or Lemon Freckles is a 30-year-old illustrator and blogger from Sheffield who lives in a pastel paradise of pink hair, her pugs and girl gang inspired drawings. We chatted to Toni to find out more about her fashion and artistic style, how she became a blogger and her tattoo collection… 

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When did you start blogging? How did you get into it? I originally started blogging around 10 years ago under a different name but Lemon Freckles is around five years old I think. At the time I was working full-time in mental health and in need of a creative outlet, blogging seemed like something I was able to do while working full-time, I didn’t really think anyone would ever read it.

What things can people expect to see on your blogA mixture of things, I like being able to share what is happening in my world; from my latest cute find to things that inspire me. I want Lemon Freckles to be a positive place, full of colour and silliness.

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Do you have a background in art? No, my degree is in mental health but I have always been a doodler. After 10 years of working in the mental health industry, I decided to take a step back and reflect on what I enjoy doing and last year I enrolled in a year long course in design. A few months ago I went self-employed full-time and it has been one of the best decisions I have made.

What inspires you? Colour and my ever so slight obsessive collecting of cute toys from my childhood. I want to bring back a little bit of that magic I left at the school gates sometime between the late 80s and early 90s. I am a firm believer that just because you’re an adult, it doesn’t mean you have to act like a grown up.

What things to do you like to draw? The more colour the better in my eyes. I love doodling toys and making characters out of everyday objects.

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What medium do you use? Pen and paper, Illustrator, whatever is to hand.

How would you describe your style, both in art and fashion? I think they are both the same, eclectic. It’s all in the detail, from the Polly Pocket earrings to the denim jacket covered in patches, the more cute the better!

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Can you tell us a little bit about your tattoos? Of course! I actually only got my first tattoo last year, which was a pug (a forever reminder of my two furry pug babies, Doug and Lola) and since then I have got three more; a My Little Pony, a Lefton, Miss Priss Kitty tea pot and a sewing related one. Sam Whitehead of Blind Eye Tattoo Company in Leeds has done all of mine and also has the same love of cuteness that I do, which makes her wonderful to work with.

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Do you think they have to have meanings? Nothing deep and meaningful I’m afraid. I get tattoos of things I love, things that make me happy and of course, the more colour the better.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? I’ve got one later this month actually, a Roly-Poly doll, which will be going on my arm. I’m wanting to get my full arm covered in cuteness over the next year, much like my style, eclectic and cute.