We spotted the work of apprentice Kathryn Kirk, 27 on Instagram and instantly loved her dark art and black tattoos. We chatted to Kathryn to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Addiction Tattoo & Piercing Bangor, Northern Ireland where she works…
Inspired by Things&Ink Kathryn created this feathery babe just for us…
How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing just under a year now.
How did you start? What did you do before? Before tattooing I had just graduated from Queens university Belfast, working for a music venue and in retail part time. I was drawing and painting but it took until I was 25 to work up the courage to put together a portfolio and publicly seek an apprenticeship. I was very lucky to have spent time working reception and apprentice duties in one of Belfast’s most reputable studios. Since then I have been keeping my head down, learning my craft and working very hard.
Do you have a background in art? From a very young age I was always making or painting something. After leaving school I studied performing arts and drama for six years with a focus on design work – costume, sets, installation pieces, film, etc. I enjoy the process of planning, making and completing something with a hands-on approach.
What drew you to the tattoo world? I grew up listening to punk and metal music with a lot of tattooed musicians so it always felt hand in hand to me. As far as I can remember, Uncle Allan was the first tattooist I paid attention to because he was mentioned in a band interview I read in a magazine. I was such a big Brody Dalle fan so seeing a woman in a punk band being a badass with tattoos was just everything to a 14 year old me! I had older friends that had tattoos and that along with reading music and tattoo magazines and seeing the array of artists and styles made me want to get into the industry. The more I saw and learned about the tattoo world the more I wanted to be a part of it.
Describe your style, how has it changed? I wouldn’t say I have a style, being so early in my career I’m trying my hand at everything. At present I’m flirting with traditional and geometric tattooing, but ask me in a few years!
What medium do you use for your illustrations? I use fine liner pens and technical pencils for drawing and tattoo ink to shade- mostly black. I like to use my illustrations to create hand printed candles and various homewares, which I think are a nice change to flat tattoo prints.
What inspires you? Inspiration comes from anything, I to follow so many amazing artists through social media and I’m exposed to so many different styles of work, textiles, old photographs, movies and music, books, the list goes on! My family and my boyfriend are a massive inspiration to me. They give me the motivation, inspiration and confidence to tackle every challenge. My father has owned his business for 26 years and to this day still works on developing his skills and progressing with fresh ideas. He works incredibly hard with little recognition but he always makes sure the standard and quality of his work speaks for itself. That’s something I aspire to and his work ethic inspires me to keep going. Hopefully I haven’t embarrassed him – sorry dad!
What would you love to tattoo? There’s so much I would love to tattoo, and that’s what I work towards everyday. I can’t wait to be creating pieces that make people go ‘wow, how did you do that?’
What is a typical day like for you? Because I tattoo part time and have a job on the side, every day is different but I guess a typical tattoo day for me is up early, in for cleaning, any drawing and prep for the tattoo, station set up and making sure I have snacks and a good playlist. I spend a lot of time drawing and researching, my main objective at this early stage is putting the best work out there that I can and constantly improving. I have a high expectation of myself and what I want to achieve so that’s what I work towards.
Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Not at this point but I definitely want to meet more artists and studios so would love any opportunities as soon as I’d feel confident enough. Through selling my work online I have been very lucky in being able to send my art all over the world, and I hope someday I’ll be in the position to tattoo in these places too, but all in good time.
Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I like collecting pieces from different artists so I’ve picked up some lovely work from both local and travelling artists, or when I have been away somewhere. My right arm is all traditional but my favourite pieces are a reaper from Joseph Deegan (Shamrock Classic Ink Dublin) and a switch blade my boyfriend and I both got by Tanya De Souza-Meally in AKA Berlin. I have a Tibetan half sleeve on my left leg by Chris Crooks (White Dragon Tattoo) which was done about seven years ago. My most recent is a rose on my right hand by Danielle Rose.
I’ve been mindful of the scale of work I want to get over the next few years so I have left a lot of big areas blank. I’d love work from Laura Yahna, Guy Le Tattooer, Scott Move, Gakkin, Jondix and Rafel Delalande… so lots and lots of black work!