Tagged: Glasgow

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!

Apprentice Love: Jay Rose

We spotted the work of 21-year-old apprentice Jay Rose on Instagram and instantly loved her dark dotwork and floral tattoos. We chatted to Little Jay to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Dot Tattoo Studio in Glasgow where she works… 

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Photo by Nik Antonio

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been an apprentice for just over a year, I did my first tattoo on May 18th 2015.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I’ve always had an interest in tattooing, I was exposed to tattoos my entire childhood. My granddad has some really old traditional style tattoos, I grew up looking at pop eye tattooed across his hand, with old school lettering in a heart for his mum and dad. I think being exposed to tattoos so frequently they drew my attention more towards them. I knew I was going to be heavily tattooed; I just didn’t think I’d be the one doing it!

When I started to properly get tattooed one of the people who tattooed me was Raph Cemo, when I went to get tattooed by him I was a little lost, things weren’t going to plan and I’d lost my vision of what I wanted to be doing. I came out of that tattoo session so empowered (and a little physically drained), knowing what I wanted to do and feeling silly for not realising how obvious it was that I should start tattooing. It wasn’t until a year later, when I had set up a clear path and done a lot of self-development that I met Tom and somehow convinced him to let me be his apprentice.

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Do you have a background in art? My parents brought me up drawing and letting me make creative messes in the house, my mum’s a wonderful artist but she’ll never admit that to anyone. My nan used to paint water colours and I’d draw the flowers in her garden when I was a little girl, I guess that’s where my love for flowers comes from as well. I’ve always been artistic due to the way I was brought up, I studied fine art and photography before starting my degree in painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of Art.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I get tattooed for lots of different reasons, but long story short tattooing is allowing me to create a vessel I feel comfortable in and am proud of. My journey with my body is a continuous one that I work on loving everyday but tattooing has allowed me to externalise the vision I hold for my body, watching that come to life and loving myself a little bit more each time is an emotional path. I have never been more myself than I am now due to tattooing, and that’s a really comforting feeling. This vessel is the only thing I will ever truly own, the only thing that will ever truly be mine and I am working on improving it and worshipping it every day.

I am so thankful for all of the artists that have allowed me to sit in their chair and help me with my journey, if I can even help someone half as much as these incredible beings have helped me I’d be overjoyed. Seeing how much of an impact you have had in someone’s life, be that from helping with self-improvement or to be a part of a creation of a memory is magical to see, that’s why I love tattooing.

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Describe your style, how has it changed? I guess the style I tattoo in would technically fall under dot work, my style itself however is constantly changing and developing as I meet new people and discover new things. Tibetan art has been a major influence throughout my life and was a really heavy part of my style and what I was tattooing at the beginning. The impact it has on me hasn’t changed however I’ve naturally moved towards more botanical tattoos as of late. I wish to never become ignorant of the origins and meanings of what I tattoo on others as well as what I put onto myself.

What inspires you? It sounds cliché but for me I gain inspiration from the little things, a lot of my inspiration comes from flowers, I find myself happiest when sitting in botanical gardens surrounded by life continuously blossoming around me.

I didn’t have the most stereotypical upbringing, my mum taught me about Buddhism and took me to galleries so that I was exposed to different cultures and their art. I take a lot from Tibetan Buddhist art and symbolism, their art is not only aesthetically beautiful but the meanings behind everything comes from love and understanding.

People and places are the most vital inspirations you can get as that’s what is continuously surrounding you, if you make a point of living a positive life, surrounded by the most inspiring people, in the most beautiful places you’re going to have such a love filled creative outlet and there’s something really blissful about that.

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What would you love to tattoo? At the moment I’m really enjoying more botanical pieces, I’ve recently grown a love for drawing plants with the bulbs attached. I’ve started to get really into anatomical drawings as well, so I’d really like to do a large botanical/anatomical thigh piece, I think that would be really stunning.

What is a typical day like for you? It normally involves a lot of reading, I get a lot of inspiration from books so am often reading a few things at once and often drawing from them as well. My work outside of tattooing is text based so a lot of that involves writing pieces and hammering them into large metal plates for hours on end. That’s also where I end up drawing up a lot of my tattoo designs, as it’s my creative space and outlet.

I work in a private studio, so it’s by appointment only which means I get to control the amount of tattoos I’m doing a day and I don’t have set hours. Tattooing is where I find my mind the most clear, when I’m tattooing, drawing or reading my mind is simply taking in what is in front of me. When I’m tattooing I am so engrossed in the experience, in what I’m tattooing, in why the person is getting it and who they are, that I often forget this is a job.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? A lot of the work I hold upon my own body is that of Tibetan and Buddhist symbolism along with some personal links with friends and family. Everything I hold on my person means something, which can be taken in the form of Buddhist myths to my own personal connections to the objects or imagery my vessel now features.
One of my favourite tattoos is an outlined heart with ‘JuSt’ written inside; ‘JuSt’ stands for Julie and Stephen which are both of my parents names, the font is from my typewriter and the non symmetrical heart is hand drawn by me and was kept imperfect to represent me along side them as a continuous link to one another when I’m far from home.

I also now posses The Three Graces upon my arm which is taken from Botticelli’s painting the ‘La Primavera’, after studying this painting for a year whilst studying history of art at the age of 18 I flew to Florence to view this painting in the flesh.  I sobbed staring at it for hours mesmerised by the impact it had not only on my body but on me as a person. I decided to get the Three Graces tattooed on me due to what they represented as goddesses of such things as charm, beauty, and creativity.

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Photo by Nik Antonio

I made a start of my full back piece earlier this year with Hannah Sykes which is not only the largest piece on me to date but arguably the most physically and mentally draining also. The whole process through the amount of time, continuous alterations, and adjustments to fit the vision that both Hannah and myself hold for my body is a long and exciting journey we hope to finish at the end of this year. The piece itself is an array of Tibetan flowers spread over my full back and wrapping around my bum. Getting my back tattooed was a huge decision for me, not only for the amount of space it spanned on my body but also to make sure it fitted and worked with my petite frame rather than over powering it. However any worry swiftly disappeared when I saw the vision Hannah had come up with and altered to fit my body perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with the way in which this continuation is turning out.

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.