Tagged: Lucy O’Connell

Interview with Lucy O’Connell

Lucy O’Connell creates stunning tattoos filled with colour and personality at Red Tattoo and Piercing in Leeds, UK. We chat to  Lucy about her evolving style and inspirations…

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What made you want to become a tattoo artist? I started drawing tattoo designs for friends who were older than me when I was around 14. And through doing doodles for them, which I now realise is the most irritating thing to receive as a tattooer, because I knew nothing about the fundamentals of tattoo design, I realised I could do this for a living when I started to do more research. Fortunately tattoos were more accessible in terms of media. I would buy all the magazines available from my area and then go and look up the artists.

What do you love most about your job? I love so many aspects of my job. I love developing my practice, the ability to share ideas and discuss with people I admire, working on a moving canvas is forever a challenge. I just feel like I’m learning all the time, but I also like talking to new people about their experiences in life. And currently I’m really trying to give myself a shove to develop myself more, I give myself a hard time a lot.

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What inspires your work and drawings? Everything. Recently I’m trying to look more into myths and old stories to inspire me, but I’ll probably sit on them for a while as they’re such epic tales I need a while to ponder it before I know how to combat it. Nature has a lot to play. Whatever I’m watching can have an impact, or just my mood in general. I find if I’m struggling I’ll watch Attenborough or go to a gallery. Just kind of soak something new in.

What would you love to tattoo? Like I said before I’d like to sink my teeth into some myths and legends. Maybe some religious stuff too from all faiths. Norse gods are really interesting. I think subject matter that’s way bigger than me so I can try break out of my comfort zone. And always birds.

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Do you have any designs that you really want to do? I’ve got loads of designs I wanna tattoo, I keep a majority in a little book and take them everywhere with me, and the big ones don’t often get a home so they end up getting painted. I’m struggling more than ever to get rid of stuff I draw, which I can’t decide if that’s me, social media or brexit. I’ll keep trying.

How would you describe your style? It’s a clash of a lot of things. I can’t quite put a definition on it, I’m usually categorised as neo-traditional but I wouldn’t put myself there. I think neo-traditional lines have been blurred. I kind of think I’m a pop culture, neo-trad, art nouveau clash.

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Is it fair to say that it has been evolving lately? I hope so, I’m trying to evolve all the time but I’m very aware of it, currently. Since the first convention of the year I’ve had a fire lit under me that makes me want to push myself somewhere that’s not so comfortable. But I hope everyone likes it or can see I’m trying.

What kind of direction would you like to take your work in? I’d like to go into a more layered version of my work. And making everything more animated. I’m also trying to take in light sources. We’ll see what happens.

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned? I do! No mor plans other than these:

Newcastle – Big North Tattoo ConventionApril 28th & 29th

Essex – Jayne DoeJune 14thth, 15th & 16th

Leeds Tattoo ExpoJuly 7th & 8th

Berlin – Sticks and StonesAugust 9th, 10th & 11th

Tattooed on the Job – the Perks of being a Things&Ink Intern

Our intern Rosalie interviews tattoo artist Lucy O’Connell while getting her tattoo sleeve started… 

I took the train to visit Lucy O’Connell and Ruth Rollin, both from Red Tattoo and Piercing in Leeds who were doing a guest spot at Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour in Northfield, Birmingham.

The studio is absolutely beautiful, like no other I have ever been in. Forget sterile white and tiled floors Painted Lady is like stepping into your much loved eccentric Auntie’s house. Instead imagine ornate frames, muted green walls and bare wooden floor in what was once a living room. The collection of art and taxidermy is incredible and the homey feel is so relaxing, this is how I want my house to be like! There was so much to look at while Lucy tattooed my forearm for three hours with her practically silent tattoo machine.

Owner of the Painted Lady, Dawnii Fantana, one of Lucy’s inspirations, was so welcoming with cups of peach tea and cake! What more could you want? Other inspirations of Lucy’s include; Xam (who she’s planning to get tattooed by when he guests in Leeds), Emily Rose Murray, Valerie Vargas, Jason Minauro and Claudia de Sabe (who is tattooing Lucy’s hands very soon) – Lucky thing!

Lucy had drawn the Chinese lantern design with a cute bird a while ago and I had to snap it up for the start of my sleeve, I love everything she does! I’m a real Instagram stalker, even recognising the fruit fillers that Amy Savage had tattooed as belonging to Lucy. We chatted and laughed the whole way through the tattoo swapping stories about not crying at films, university courses, her love for Robert Downey Jr, (we were watching the new Sherlock Holmes) and other nonsensical things!

Lucy has been tattooing for only two years, yet her style is so distinctive; with women and flowers featuring heavily, as she could tattoo these all day. ‘I do try to turn everything into a woman! I try to get away with as much as I can!’ Fine by me, I especially love her flowers with women faces, perfect.

At first when she started out in the industry Lucy thought she’d specialise in realism but her imagination ran away with her, although ‘it is nice to be given some direction’, creating your own art is more enjoyable.

I can’t wait to get stuck into my sleeve, having already spied on Lucy’s Instagram a gorgeous Indian inspired lady face, which I hope she can recreate for my own collection. My arm will be filled with Indian goddesses, tigers and fans at The Femaletattoo Show, in Leamington Spa where Lucy is working at on 14th September.

Lucy also has numerous guest spots planned:
One Day Gallery, Manchester 28th-29th May
Loaded Forty Four, Manchester 10th-12th July
As well as exhibiting originals of her work at The Old Bones Emporium in Edinburgh 6th-12th  June

I also got my first ever hand-poked tattoo by Ruth Rollins. I picked a little wishbone from her sheet of cute small dot work flash, to bring me luck. I found being tattooed in this way so relaxing and part from a few points it was pretty painless. I could have lain on the table for hours… I asked Ruth which method of tattooing she preferred: ‘it’s too hard to say which I prefer, they are too different and you’re not comparing like for like’. While tattooing with a machine allows Ruth to create larger tattoos, she, like the person being tattooed, finds hand-poking therapeutic. Ruth is also working at the Femaletattoo Show in September and I’ll be popping down to have another little relaxing hand-poked piece of art!

Having these lovely northern lasses tattoo me yesterday was only made possible by Dawnii Fantana (have a look at her beautiful gypsies), Ruth explains that ‘as relative newbies to the tattooing industry it is brilliant having people like Dawnii who help and encourage you’, Hurrah! To Dawnii, her gorgeous shop and supportive nature! Definitely on my growing to-be-tattooed-by list! I hope I don’t run out of space first!