Tagged: Handpoke

Interview with Tattooist Mike Love

26-year-old hand poke tattoo artist Mike Love works out of Black Market Tattoo Parlour in Leicester and Second City Tattoo Club in Birmingham, where he creates bold and solid blackwork tattoos. We chat to Mike about his process, how he started tattooing and his guest spot plans…

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How long have you been tattooing? I’m in my third year of tattooing. I am a self taught hand poke tattooer, before this I was body piecer for around four years, there I completed a more traditional style apprenticeship. I have pretty much spent my adult life being in a tattoo shop. 

What drew you to the tattoo world? The idea and practise of self expression. In my late teen years I became massively depressed, after seeking a lot of help I really started to find myself. The things that kept me going and made me happy were tattoos and piercing. I approached a local shop about a piercing apprenticeship and from then on my life was changed. From piercing my love eventually blossomed into tattooing. I discovered hand poke tattooing and was totally transfixed by it. The process mesmerised me. Creating a tattoo by hand from one dude to another was for me. 

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Has your style of tattooing changed? What do you love to tattoo? My style of tattooing has changed and still is changing. To be honest I think it changes slightly each day. I mean everyday I try to improve what I do and learn whatever I can. But that’s what I love about tattooing, it will never be perfect. It will always stay true to what it is, yet we evolve as tattooers everyday. 

When I started tattooing I did a lot more of the typical ‘hand poke’ and more ignorant styled work, but this wasn’t me. Traditional tattooing has always had my heart and that’s what I love to see and have tattooed.  I work real hard everyday to be inspired by what I love and create bold and solid pieces that will stand the test of time. For me I love to tattoo anything that’s bold and black. I am constantly creating a lot flash, which is typically inspired by classic traditional flash or pop culture. 

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Can you tell us about your set up and the process behind your tattoos? I tattoo by hand, my set up is very minimal. I like to keep it simple and disposable. No bullshit. I hand make each tool for every tattoo combining a chopstick and a tattoo needle. I only ever tattoo in black and I keep my process vegan. 

I am very much into the technical aspect of tattooing. I am all about learning and creating a solid well lined, bold, clean and nicely shaded tattoo. Tattooing by hand is typically a really calming and relaxing process, I gently push the ink into the skin by hand using the needle. There is a lot less trauma to the skin, which typically means the tattoo heals faster and for a lot of people this can be an easier process to sit for. It also doesn’t have to take a long time which some people think it can. Typically a palm size tattoo would roughly only take a couple of hours. 

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What inspires you? Are there any artists that influence your work? Man, I am inspired everyday. Whether it’s current events, or things happening in the city that I live in. But you know what, I have so many artists that inspire and influence me, and that I look up to, I wouldn’t be able to list them all. In both shops I work in, there are incredible people and talented artists, which inspire me daily. Tattooing is my life, so most of my close friends and my partner are tattooists, so we talk tattooing a lot and try to influence and  constructively help each other. 

Can you tell us a little about your own tattoos and your style? You know, I just love tattooing. So when I was young and dumb I would have pretty much had anything and everything. Which now has left me with limited space. I don’t regret what I got though, but when I do get tattooed now I really like to get tattooed by people I really look up to and really love what they are about. So normally I chose from their flash, or get a piece they really like, as that way I feel I get a tattoo that really represents that artist. 

Trading with another tattooer is probably my favourite way to get tattooed now. I find it a great way to learn and share a cool experience with another tattooist. 

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned? I normally guest in another shop every month, whether it be the UK or abroad, this is one of my absolute favourite things to do in tattooing. Traveling and meeting phenomenal artists drives me to be a technically better tattooer.  Currently for the rest of this year I do not have any conventions planned, but my next coming guest spots are at One For All Collective in Manchester late August and Seny Tatttoo in Barcelona late September. I am currently taking bookings for both of these via Instagram or email.

Collab: Convicts and Tati Compton

Tati Compton is an L.A based stick and poke tattoo artist with some serious adventure stories about her days travelling the world in a van and busking. New York based digital media brand Convicts collaborated with Tati to create a profile and original video exploring her art, outlook on life and love of cuddling…

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I really like tattooing naked ladies and kind of cultish things. But people know me for my delicate wrist work and stuff. Stick and poke is really organic feeling. You can tell that somebody has made it with their hand, it has a really personal feel to it. Once it’s on your skin it feels like it’s been there forever. So, my style is hand poked.

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Dude, I worked every job under the sun forever. I’ve painted houses. I’ve been a housekeeper. I’ve been a bartender. I’ve been like all that stuff. I was managing a vintage clothing store and I had a breakdown at lunch one day and was like ‘I can’t fucking do this anymore. I’m just going to go crazy. I have to do something else.’

When I quit, I saw that there was like a niche for tattooing small tattoos at a cheaper price. Mostly for girls who were too intimidated to go into a tattoo shop and ask for a tiny tattoo and pay a lot of money. I was like ‘I can do that.’

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Read Tati’s full interview here and watch the video below to find out more about her tattoos…

For more music, art, style and travel videos check out Convict’s Instagram and Facebook.

Handpoke Tattoos by Boo

31-year-old Boo Tattoo, is a handpoke tattoo artist who works out of  Embody Tattoo Studio in Derby UK. We chatted to Boo about how she became a tattooist, her handpoke style and her own tattoo collection… 

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist
 www.rugglez.com – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016

How long have you been tattooing? I started my apprenticeship at the end of 2009, so around seven years now.

How did you start? What did you do before? I had been asked to draw tattoo flash to sell and got a bit precious over my designs. I’ve always loved exploring different medias and decided I wanted to learn to tattoo my own designs. I couldn’t really leave it alone after that! I had one tattoo apprenticeship that fell through after a month so I then opened a fair-trade gift shop selling clothes I had revamped, jewellery I had made from vintage and broken pieces and much more. I shut it down after nearly two years to start a new apprenticeship at Tradition 180 Custom Tattoo studio.

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Do you have a background in art? I have always drawn! It was crazy as in my second primary school I was actually taken out of art lessons to do more spelling as I am really dyslexic. I did 3D Design for Sustainability Ba Hons, it was pretty strict and so it kept me focused and well one of my life ethos is to live by the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Hence I guess why I am trying to make Embody Tattoo studio one of the first inclusive and sustainable tattoo studios in the UK. I want to minimalise our negative impact on the planet.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I very much fell in to it, I honestly thought I would be designing chairs and spoons, but I burnt through so many forms of art and so far handpoke tattooing has stuck. Every day I feel like I learn something new and I’m always looking to be better than yesterday.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? I try not to draw tattoo art and instead draw whats in my heart! I love realism but I try to make it more abstract. I love lines and I was told off a lot in art lessons for putting lines where there were none, I also love realistic forms and colour.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? At the moment I am trying to push handpoking as far as I can take it, so I’m loving colour blends and smooth grey shading. I love to draw things inspired by nature and incorporating symbolism, and relish encoding stories and thought into my pieces.

What inspires you? I’m interested in ancient cultures and their forms of art and symbolism, I get a lot of inspiration from there. Also the beauty of nature and our surroundings. I guess that why I also love the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. I often bump into things whilst looking up at either the flourishes on the tops of buildings or just the forms of the trees and skies.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? It’s always amazing when someone asks for a piece of my art that I’ve just drawn. I love creating custom work for my clients, but its always pretty special to have someone see what comes from deep inside. I would love to do more free form and free hand work. I try not to refuse things, but to guide in a better direction, however I refuse to do anything with a hateful intent.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I do! After I have got Embody Tattoo studio running smoothly I hope to be back up in Aberdeen at Sailor Max Tattoo Parlour. I also have a few more guest spots to confirm with other studios such as Electric Lady Tattoo studio (Reading) and The Crow and Quill Tattoo studio (Southampton), so I’ll be up and around the country.
The next convention I am 100% working is the Goa Tattoo Festival and you will for sure be seeing me at next years Manchester’s Tattoo Tea Party and Doncaster’s Tattoo Jam. I’m still waiting to confirm a few more, but you’ll be certain to see me down in the south of England, across in Wales and up in Scotland.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? On my body I mostly have abstract pattern work and nature inspired pieces. My sleeve was done by the man who taught me, Adam “Starfish” Dutton and contains so much I swear seven years on I am still finding new things! My neck is by Touka Voodoo and it is based on sacred geometry and I can’t wait to get it finished! I am collecting a thigh of skulls from artists I admire and love. I have Hermes wings on my feet which I handpoked myself and I have hands with peacock feathers on my left side for Hera. I also had five of my chakra points tattooed in order of the most under active, I’m yet to have my third eye and crown chakra though as I believe I’m not at that level yet. I am also collecting Swastikas in respect of ManWoman and his work trying to bring back the original meaning of the symbol, which is actually luck and good fortune!

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist
www.rugglez.com – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016