Tagged: london

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!

Interview with Tattooist Laura Gascoyne

21-year-old Laura Gascoyne works out of Never Say Die in Croydon London where she creates black dot work and pattern tattoos. We chatted to Laura about what inspires her, how she started in the industry her own tattoo collection…

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Photo taken by Nick Evans

How long have you been tattooing? How did you start? In September 2014 I popped into Never Say Die on a friend’s recommendation. Originally I thought they may just offer me a receptionist position but after seeing my portfolio Kali (the shop owner) offered me an apprenticeship. I was over the moon! I did my first tattoo about six months later and have steadily progressed since then. I’m obviously still learning, as with art and tattooing I believe you never stop learning, but I have recently become more confident with my skills and am building up a decent client basis.

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What did you do before? Do you have a background in art? I’ve always been passionate about art since I was a little kid and always knew I wanted a career in art. After completing my GCSEs, I went on to study art at a college but dropped out after a term, as I felt like the things they were teaching me in college weren’t helping me to progress.

How would you describe your style? How has it developed? Where do you see it going? That’s a really hard one to answer! Before I started tattooing I specialised in drawing realistic portraits and then went on to start drawing lots of mandalas. However once I started my apprenticeship I began with tattooing quite simple mandalas which progressed to more pattern styled work. However as a custom artist I get asked to design and tattoo all sorts of things, which I love because it really helps expand my drawing skills and pushes me out of my comfort zone.  Generally everything I draw is quite pretty and lots of patterns and dot work.

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What inspires you? Everything! Whether it be a pattern on an old tile in a bathroom, or a tattoo made my someone else, we are constantly surrounded by art work and patterns and I really see the beauty in everything, especially nature. I’m very much inspired by Tibetan and oriental style patterns and I love tattooing Thai ornamental patterns. Although I haven’t tattooed that many, I do love tattooing beautiful woman, and a lot of my large scale drawings have a woman’s face as the main feauture.

Do you admire any artists? Do they influence your work? Even before I started my apprenticeship, rather than being inspired by painters and fine artists I was always just looking at tattoos for inspiration. On Instagram 90% of the pages I follow are tattoo artists, I won’t pick out any names in particular because there’s just so many who I admire so much! Of course everything I see has the ability to influence my work in some way, as my work is a combination of everything I’ve ever seen and felt, and everything that has inspired me.

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What kinds of things do you like to tattoo and draw? If I’m just let loose in my sketch book I find myself drawing very detailed and patterned orientated large scale pieces, with a very spiritual and symbolic feel about them. I am a very spiritual and positive person myself so that’s the sort of thing I would like to predominately tattoo on people, as for me tattooing is all about sharing my art work and spreading messages though art.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos?  So my right leg is basically a sticker book of random tattoos given as gifts and just spontaneous ones, and a fair amount of tattoos I’ve done on my self. My left arm is for tattoos I’ve put more thought into, all just black ink and quite dark, but all revolved around the beauty in nature and positivity. I have a few small random tattoos dotted about, included a handpocked unalome on my ear, a smiley face on one of my finger tips, and the seed of of life on the back of my neck. I have a full back piece in progress which so far has just been four sessions of solid black work.

Careers: Tattooed Retail Manager

We chat to 33-year-old Natasha Janzemin, Retail Manager for MAC Cosmetics based in London, about her love for cosmetics, the freedom she has at work to explore her creativity through her style and tattoos…

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo? I was 17 when I got my first tattoo at a shop in Fulham. I went on my lunch break from college and got a compass star, naturally on the lower spine!

What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you? For as long as I can remember I have loved alternative styling and the darker styles of fashion and lifestyle. I saw Cher in her ‘If I could turn back time’ video with her mesh body stocking and the tattoo on her behind and it definitely gave me food for thought! Also, my grandad had a few tattoos, I was so intrigued as a child by them. The twist is that he was Iranian so having them was very rare. He had his hands tattooed and his forearms and I just loved them. He had a heart with a serrated edge surrounding it on his hand which I always remember.

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Can you tell us about some your tattoos? I tend to have work done based on my mood like my Danielle Rose piece of a woman putting her red lipstick on. It’s a very feminine and dark, all rolled into one. Or when I researching and really immersing myself in John Willie imagery I had my bullet bra tattoo done and when I had green hair, I saw a flash piece for Halloween of a green haired witch on broomstick years ago by the lovely rose Whitaker which I had to have! This has cemented a firm friendship between us! Also my ornate dagger between my breasts on my sternum done by the insanely talented Clara Sinclair, combining again softness with an edge. Right now, I’m in to a lot of esoterica and also medieval oddities. I recently have a mace on my arm as well as creepy doorway, almost something you would see Nosforatu peeking out off! The next one I have planned is the hanging man tarot card. Adam ruff at parliament always gets it right!

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How did you get into your current role? Working for MAC has been and continues to be an amazing journey! I worked damn hard to get where I am coupled with respecting my colleagues and customers alike. I started as a supervisor and worked my up to my current role as retail manager of my Camden store. Working for a brand where you can be yourself, where actually, being yourself is celebrated is an amazing feeling to have! You do your best work when you’re being yourself!

Did you have to study or get any qualifications or have you worked your way up? I’ve worked in retail management for years. Since I was 17 I’ve been running stores and I’ve worked in a fair few brands for the past 16 years. I’ve always loved cosmetics, in fact been obsessed with them and creating and executing looks! I believe in hard work and that’s exactly what I’ve done to grow in my retail career. I’ve never trained in retail management but just got stuck in and learned from my mistakes and moved forward.

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What is a typical day like? A typical day for me is never the same twice! I have a great team of people I work with who all bring a lot of fun, creativity and personality to my everyday working life. I do the normal setting up of the store, organising and then see where I’m needed. I may be office based some days or on others, working the floor with my team, interacting and making customers happy through make up and having a good time with each other. It’s amazing to work with such a talented bunch of individuals and so great to be able to create looks and introduce products to our customers to make them feel amazing!

How do you dress for work? Do you show off your tattoos? How would you describe your style? For work we have an all black dress code which is great for me! I dress how I feel for the day. My tattoos are exposed depending on the weather really.  It’s great working for a company who don’t see tattoos as a barrier to executing your job successfully. I wear black all the time and I alternate between Doc Martens and Vans for my feet. Some would say slightly goth but I just dress in what I feel comfortable in!

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Do you find in retail people react more to your tattoos? I find that people are definitely drawn to me because of my tattoos. Where I work in Camden, a lot of tourists come in and ask about them. I think a lot of people are intrigued about body art if they haven’t got anything and working in retail makes it more accessible for them to ask questions rather than someone they may see on the street.

Do you have any advice to other people considering their careers when getting tattooed? The only advice I could give is maybe to start getting pieces in areas where you can cover them until you decide on a career. Unfortunately some career paths will be obstructed by visible work, although I do feel more and more leniency is being displayed in more traditional careers nowadays for visible work . Now I have a career with a great brand who accept and celebrate art and individuality, if I took the plunge and got something more visible it wouldn’t be a problem but just add to the diversity in image we have here!

Music Review: Seasick Steve at Wembley

Casual music lover Harry Casey-Woodward was lucky enough to see bearded bluesman Seasick Steve playing in our merry capital at Wembley Stadium…

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Apart from Elvis, there is perhaps no other musician who embodies the American dream than Seasick Steve. In particular, he embodies the mythical spirit of American freedom, that gets lost on highways and hitches on trains. In October, this big-bearded icon graced our shores with a one-off show.

After fruitlessly circling the wrong Wembley arena, me and my companion found the right venue. We were introduced by Steve himself on a giant screen to his support act, a two-man band named Black Dog Revelation. They sounded like a gnarly Black Keys with slow snarling songs powered by thunderous drums.

After they rocked the house, we were treated to a video of Steve driving up to the venue in a tractor before he walked on stage to deafening applause. He started off with some politics, voicing his disapproval of Trump before opening his set with a hushed Dylanesque solo song.

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Steve and his small handful of musicians then proceeded to turn the cavernous venue into a warm, cosy atmosphere. Steve was as relaxed as if he was playing in your front room. The lighting helped too. The stage was backlit by simple but pleasant fairy lights, draped as if over a tree. The most striking lighting was used when Steve played solo songs like ‘Treasures’. One spotlight would light him up in the middle of the dark venue, making him look dramatically humble.

Humble is something Steve is very good at. More than once, he asked for the spotlights to sweep his cheering audience and appeared constantly stunned at their adoration. He came close to tears when he expressed gratitude for his slot on the Jools Holland show that got him exposure.

He was also good at being kickass during his louder songs like ‘Thunderbird’. He and his giant bearded drummer lost themselves in colossal solos as they thrashed their instruments, even the homemade ones Steve expressed fondness for like his Diddley Bo.

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His most stunning performance was when he pulled a random woman from the crowd and played her a tender rendition of ‘Walkin’ Man’. The lucky lass looked as if she would melt from tearful gratitude.

Other ladies who joined Steve onstage included a singing guitarist from Glasgow who played a cover of a Steve song she had already done on YouTube, which Steve had admired. There was also a gifted filly on the fiddle and a talented square dancer who could tap along to Steve’s songs with her shoes.

The gig ended with Steve being given a cake, showing us a picture of his tractor and playing ‘Dog House Boogie’, which took a while to finish since he forced his drummer to repeat faster and faster endings.

So despite drunken calls of ‘Steeeeeeve-oooooh’ and one or two fights (one of which broke out in front of our seats) the gig was an evening of musical magic and thrilling musicianship. It was also a pleasure to be in the company of such a character like Seasick Steve.

Images from bluesmagazine.nl.

43T Clothing

The love child of a culture crazed couple, London based fashion brand 43T Clothing was created by Oli and Steph who pride themselves on their quirky and unconventional hand-printed apparel. We chatted to the pair to find out more about their eco-friendly fashion line, cool product illustrations and what inspired their collections

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What inspired you to set up the brand? The main reason we wanted to start our brand is because we both love fashion and always have growing up! We also like to think of ourselves as green people so we thought why not try and combine two of our passions?
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What inspires your designs? They tend to come from things that we love or just ideas that sprout out of our head. The characters are all based on friends of ours and now they feel immortalised by the sketches.

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We love your interesting sketch style product shots, what motivated you to create these? Right at the start we decided to combine our love of tattoos and art, that’s what inspired us to draw the doodles of our ’43T Characters’. We’ve chosen to use them instead of conventional models, as we both feel this aesthetically looks great and stands us out fro  the crowd! We will eventually plan to use real human models but for the moment we like what the ’43T Characters’ give us and how we can keep adding more to the site.

What are your plans for the future, any new products in the pipeline? We have lots of new products coming out over the next three months and we have already started our new range. We feel it’s important to give people more variety so every Friday we release a new item onto the website and have done this for the past four weeks. This is going to be continued right up until Christmas so there is plenty to get excited about if you’re a 43T Customer! Finally our aim moving forward is to grow and grow, but not in terms of owning a million shops but grow our idea that eco and fashion can mix! Also that we should all support small businesses, creativity, individuality, music and the arts.

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Why is being eco-friendly so important to you? Well being eco-friendly is important to us for a few reasons, the obvious being is we kinda frickin love this planet! Also we don’t see that many ecological brands out there so we wanted to show that it can still be fashionable to wear eco-friendly garments. Another big  reason we wanted to go eco was because we feel there is no reason, in this day and age, that everyone shouldn’t produce eco or fair-trade clothing. Everyone that has tried on one of our famous Bamboo T-shirts can’t believe how super soft they are and what amazing quality they are!

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Check out the website at 43tclothing.com

Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.

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Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”

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Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”

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Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”

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George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”

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Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”

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Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Film Review: The Conjuring 2

It’s not Halloween but there’s never a bad time to get scared in a cinema. Harry Casey-Woodward, casual film connoisseur, certainly did when he went to see The Conjuring 2.

The Conjuring 2, 2016, cert 15, dir James Wan, 3/5 

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Ghost movies are my least favourite sub-genre of horror. It’s not just the fact that recent examples like the Paranormal Activity series have over-used genre cliches to death. It’s more the fact that these movies demand to be taken so seriously. Most slasher movies are bad but at least they’re tounge in cheek about it.

Therefore I had low expectations of The Conjuring 2. If I’m honest, I haven’t seen the first film so I had no expectations. All I knew was that both films are based on a real-life American ghost-investigating married couple, Ed and Lorraine Warrren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). In the sequel they’re checking out a case in England 1977, where a family are suffering a nasty haunting. If you haven’t seen the first film either, you’ll be glad to know that the only thing connecting the sequel to it’s predecessor are the characters, so you can enjoy it as a stand-alone film.

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I was worried that this would be another horror milking the fact that it’s based on a true story. Thankfully, it makes small use of mockumentary techniques used by other recent horrors like The Quiet Ones and puts more effort into scaring the crap out of you. There is a laughable start, where this American movie does its best to transport you to 1970s Britain, from a London themed montage set to the Clash to schoolchildren pronouncing carefully selected swear words like ‘w****r’ with crisp accents.

After that it’s classy horror. There were a lot of stock scenes and techniques I recognised from other horrors, like CGI ghosts. The difference between Conjuring and other recent horrors though is that it does these cliches well, so much so that I felt dread throughout the entire movie. Through a reliance on simple but effective scares like the dark, creepy noises and things moving when they shouldn’t, a dinghy London house is transformed into a palace of terror.

MK1_5074.dngIt was also handy that we saw the film mostly through children’s eyes, who are naturally more scared when wandering around the house at night or even in the day. The icing on the cake, however, was that the ghost was genuinely horrible; perhaps because he was some old cockney geezer (no, not the hitcher from Mighty Boosh). Madison Woolfe (the actress playing the ghost’s favourite target) could also pull terrific faces when possessed.

I actually felt sorry for the characters, not just the single mum (Frances O’Connor) and her sweet kids being plagued by the ghost, but I even liked the husband and wife ghostbusters. In real life I’d probably find them annoying but they have a charm in the film. It might have been the scene where Mr. Warrren serenades the children with an Elvis song. The film was very sentimental at points, but it almost had the feel of classy 70s horrors like The Exorcist or The Omen. It looks good, it’s gripping and it’s scary so as far as I’m concerned it ticks most of the horror boxes. It’s not massively original or striking but it still makes you jump.

Images from comingsoon.net, geekculture.co and bloody-disgusting.com.

Oh Bones Illustration

25-year-old Brit is an illustrator, writer and musician from London. We chatted to Brit about her dark gothic archaeology inspired drawings and her tattoos…

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Inspired by Things&Ink Brit created this self portrait just for us…

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Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I don’t have a background in art at all, I began drawing at university when I was studying archaeology – In the labs we had to draw the artefacts and bones. It was there I noticed that my drawings were good and not going so badly.  I then graduated and moved to Amsterdam to do an MA in archaeology and I started drawing for an hour a day and thought, this is much better than being in a library studying. So I didn’t do the MA and continued drawing instead!

What inspires you? Being an archaeologist inspired me the most because I spent years researching the human psyche and behaviour throughout time. My speciality is death and burial, and I guess that often comes across in my art work. I also love poetry, which inspires my art quite a lot and along with every illustration, I write a poem.

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What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I use both digital and non-digital. I love using fine line pens and Indian ink to create my work. I like things to be imperfect because that way you seen the human in it.

What kinds of things do you draw? Usually I will draw people, disembodied limbs, plants – anything really. I almost always draw around a poem or song I’ve written, to give some visuals to my other artwork in my music and writing. I like it all to be one big art piece – audio, visual and written.

Describe your style? Tailored, black, kind of like an old fashioned 1920’s boy!

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Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I usually admire artists whose work is nothing like mine! It’s nice to clear my head of anything remotely like my work now and again, so I really like the work of Gordon Armstrong and Robert Saeheng they’re really great. But I also like old school artists like Patti Smith, her word work really inspires me in my own poetry and in-turn in the art I create around the words.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t have too many tattoos, definitely under 30 but most of them I love, even though some of them are definitely bad prison style ones. I have some plants, pinky promise hands, trouble making pigeons, dead fish, skulls, love letters, words. Everything! My first one was was just a small one on my foot in Hebrew, nothing too interesting!

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How do tattoos make you feel?
My tattoos mean a lot, I’m sure a lot of people say that. Because most of my work is visual, it’s a way that I express myself, so I really do try and add some depth to the things I get tattooed! But sometimes you have so many tattoos there’s only so much meaning behind all of them – some don’t mean a whole lot, but there’s always a good memory behind getting it tattooed.

Do you do commissions? I do commissions, I do ink originals and screen prints for sale on my shop, but I also do a lot of album cover work, tattoo designs and logo designs.

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Where can people buy your art? They can head over to ohbones.com and find my shop that way, I will be stocking up for the summer soon, so there’ll be some new T shirts and badges!

Gig Review: Big Ups

Our writer Harry Casey-Woodward reviews the New York punk band Big Ups, who he saw at the Lexington, London on the 30th March 2016…

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The Big Ups are a Brooklyn post-hardcore band who have just released their second album this year. Nearly a week after buying said album Before a Million Universes, I discovered that the band were voyaging across the Atlantic to play in our merry little capital on Wednesday 30th March so eagerly I grabbed a ticket.

The Lexington is a small venue on Pentonville Road, with a 200 max gig room above the bar. The bar was cool to sit in, the walls decked with various animal horns and antique rifles. Upstairs there were two support bands besides the Big Ups. The first band was a surprise, since they weren’t even mentioned on the gig poster. I didn’t catch their name but they certainly made an impression. Not only did they sound like some enraged pub rock band, but the raucous singer was channelling the spirit of Jonny Rotten, from glaring moodily at the crowd to chucking beer. The second band Crows made a hellish post-punk din you could dance to, while the bug-eyed singer jerked and writhed across the venue as if possessed by some demon.

11148625_898886620171437_2206268248904352797_n05/04/15 at Ottobar, Baltimore. Photo by Farrah Skeiky

The supports were energetic enough to get the packed room going. When the Big Ups took to the stage, I was surprised. I knew they met at college in New York, so I was expecting some moody art students. They all looked so young and fresh-faced, and their enthusiasm clearly shone. After the two rather assaultive performances from the supports, the Big Ups’ youthful energy was a refreshing blast.

Singer Joe Galarraga certainly knew how to entertain a crowd. Between songs he was a mild-mannered stand-up. When performing he took on a comic intensity, making faces and throwing himself recklessly around the stage. There was one moment when he slithered head first over the edge of the stage and sang to the floor with his skinny legs flailing in the air. I wondered if he was a fan of Jello Biafra, clownish singer from such satirical punk bands as Dead Kennedys.

11536101_933307360062696_1560970914775814508_n 21/05/15 at Palisades in Brooklyn, NYC. Photo by Max Berger.

So the band knew how to get a laugh out of their audience, but the intensity and quality of their performance was all too clear. The singer could certainly scream, and the crowd screamed along with him, a good amount knowing lyrics to nearly all the songs. It was great to see such enthusiasm. The songs that sounded so cool and loud on Before a Million Universes sounded even more exhilarating live. The quiet moments built up tension that was shattered by the explosive stabbing riffs.

The crowd were very energetic and there was some vigorous moshing. But overall the gig felt very good natured. For me, the Big Ups’ performance distilled everything I wanted in a punk show. There was a good balance of rage, energy and humour and they were rather pleasant people. They played an encore, mingled with the crowd afterwards and personally thanked everyone for turning up and supporting their music. I personally thank them for gracing us with their presence and such an awesome show.

Images from facebook.

Music Review: Adele

Our guest music blogger Verity Vincent had the pleasure of catching Adele at London’s O2 Arena last week, find out what really happens at an Adele concert right here…

As Adele rose from beneath her stage in the centre of London’s O2 Arena, the tingling introduction to Hello ensued and her voice filled the room. With the opening lyric, there was never going to be any other way for her to kick off a show. And what a show it was.

Skipping through her back catalogue with Hometown Glory, Rumour Has It and Skyfall, her newest offerings from the album 25 were cleverly placed amongst the old favourites. With the ribbon of light around the stage, it almost felt like you could’ve been at a 1950’s bandstand event.

It has been overly documented how Adele is one of few with the ability to make a venue of thousands feel like she’s performing for you in your living room, but it’s true. Her simultaneous vulnerability and utter control make you relaxed and excited all at once.

If you frequent social media channels then you may have seen a circulating meme asking “What actually happens at an Adele gig? Do people just stand around together and cry, then go home?” Well, 10% of that may be right. There were no elaborate stage sets, no costume changes or flashing lasers. What an Adele gig offers, is personality, insane vocals, a roller coaster of emotions (there is a high possibility of sporadic outbursts of tears) and pure class… minus the profanities, but that somehow adds to her vast charm.

As Adele returned to the second stage near the centre of the venue for Someone Like You, walls of iridescent fabric descended around her, creating an incredible backdrop for the video feed and if that wasn’t a show stopper, we were about to see one! As the fabric drifted away, raindrops cascaded from the ceiling as she launched into ‘Set Fire to the Rain’.

adele 4

After announcing that she was headlining Glastonbury, Adele addressed the subject that some feel her music is “too boring” for a festival atmosphere. Her answer to this? “I ain’t fucking boring!” No, she ain’t! I think many have a preconceived notion that Adele sings ballads and that’s all you get, but her shows are so much more. Talking to her fans about life, loves, her son, funny anecdotes, taking the time out for those all important selfies and bringing young fans onto her stage; it’s a whole package of entertainment, wrapped up in her infectious cackle.

 

Ending on an up-beat note with Rolling in the Deep confetti filled the air – which upon closer inspection had been personalised with song lyrics and notes of thanks. A nice touch and a perfect way to end such a personable evening with 20,000 people.