Tagged: Tattoo Apprentice

Apprentice Love: Tammy Bestwick

We spotted the work of 22-year-old tattoo apprentice Tammy Bestwick on Instagram and instantly loved her traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Tammy to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Rose Tattoo, Barnstaple, Devon where she works…

IMG_2317

How long have you been tattooing? I worked at a tattoo shop in Exeter doing my apprenticeship for two years. I got to do a few small tattoos here and there but it’s only really since working at Black Rose that I’ve been able to tattoo regularly. I started working at Black Rose back in June so it’s just going into six months of tattooing now!

What did you do before? Do you have a background in art? My first job was selling tickets at a zoo. Straight after that I started my tattoo apprenticeship for two years, I did a couple temp jobs where I made some of the most wonderful friends who still come and get tattooed by me now! I studied art at GCSE and A-level but I didn’t find it overly enjoyable, it was more about looking deep into the meaning behind why a square could’ve possibly been painted green and writing essays than actually being artistically creative. It was only since leaving college that I started to draw what I enjoyed.

IMG_3465

How did you get your apprenticeship? As soon as I finished college, I took some of my drawings into a tattoo shop that was just over an hour away from where I lived. I didn’t really know anything about tattooing at this point but I’d been interested since I was 13. This shop was just opening and my mind was blown by the work of the tattooists there, I’d never seen anything like it before and so I just knew I had to try my luck. I wasn’t expecting much to come of it as it was the first shop I’d attempted to try work at and I was fully aware I had a lot to still educate myself on and so much more I could try do with my portfolio. A week later and they got back to me and they were willing to give me a trial run! Nothing could compare to that feeling when I found out I was being given a chance at something I’d wished to do for so long.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I started off being fascinated by all kinds of body modifications which then developed into tattoos. Anything a little different or controversial always drew me in. Being creative was the only thing that ever kept me interested so I knew I had to do something with it. I’m quite a quiet person and I love to have my own head space and be free with what’s on my mind, no rules or anyone to answer to. That’s what drawing was for me.

I used to draw a lot with my gramps. He painted beautiful acrylic landscapes and was a signwriter, so that’s definitely where I get my artistic flare from! The tattooists that inspired me to begin with are very different to the tattooists that inspire me now. My tastes and opinion of tattooing has developed a lot.

IMG_3951

How would you describe your style, what do you like to tattoo? I’m never really sure how to answer this. Before I tattooed I only ever attempted realism. Currently I do different styles according to the customer’s needs and I’d love to get to the stage where I could do anything anyone asked of me and really challenge myself. Having said that, I’d be perfectly happy if I could only ever tattoo traditional again. That’s what I enjoy tattooing the most, super bold and colourful or just a lot of black! I’d love to get to do more movie related tattoos too.

IMG_3807

What or who inspires you? Nature and books but Instagram is a god send for being able to closely follow my favourite tattooists and their daily work. Gem Carter (this is insanely cheesy because I now work with her) has inspired me from day one, before she was even tattooing herself I followed the work she was doing. Currently, I obsess over the work of Sammy Harding, Jack Peppiette and Bradley Tompkins to name a few. But I am completely fascinated about where traditional tattooing began – Ben Corday, Percy Waters, Amund Dietzel. There is just so much inspiration and so much more to be found that it’s overwhelming.

What is a typical day like for you? I very rarely will be tattooing 11-6 at this stage so I take my time with the customers I do have in and the rest is spent providing ultimate banter, replying to emails and drawing!

IMG_1537

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? None of my tattoos have any meaning. I get something from a tattooist because I love their style of work, so I’m happy for them to do whatever they’d like to do or choose something they already have drawn! If I get tattooed by someone I want it to be a piece that is distintive to their style. I currently have work done by Danielle Rose, Sammy Harding, a re-work by James Pool (I’m dying to get something of his own too), Sento and mega babe Gem Carter.

Shaded: Maidstone John

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 22-year-old Bournemouth-hailing music journalism student, writer and editor James Musker, which focuses on tattooists, the interesting people that wear their work and both the artist and canvas’s relationship to the craft.

Maidstone John is a 25-year-old Cantebury-based freelance illustrator and tattoo apprentice who conjures up gnarly magic from the comfort of Three Crows Tattoo. As part of Things and Ink’s ongoing interview series ‘Shaded’, the master of morbid etchings tells us of his past-life as a fruit picker, his current obsession with medical journals and how he’s working hard towards producing “bigger and busier” work.

12331882_1529935653983805_1636660156_n

Can you talk me through your relationship with tattoos? I got my first tattoo at The Brighton Tattoo Convention when I was 18. I got a portrait of my mum on my forearm, and it’s still one of my favourite tattoos to this day. My Uncle was a biker, and I’d always hang out with him and his friends who were all heavily tattooed at the time. Its always been my plan to be covered before I reach 30, and so far It’s going pretty well! I’ve always been lucky enough to have a lot of friends in the tattoo industry. I was over the moon when my buddy Chris got me a full-time job as a shop boy at a tattoo shop! At the time, it was never my intention to tattoo, but I would always draw and the boss would let me display my prints and drawings in the shop. I would often get asked if I was apprenticing, but I would always say no and tell people that it wasn’t for me. I left the shop on good terms after two years and moved on to Canterbury where I got an early morning job on a farm picking fruit and doing odd-jobs. Three Crows Tattoo in Canterbury was in the process of opening when I moved, and I would pop in whenever I could to help paint the walls and frame all of the flash. I told Adam, the owner, what I had been up to and that I planned to put a portfolio together over the next year or so to apply for an apprenticeship. There and then, he offered me an apprenticeship!

What’s the most valuable piece of knowledge that you’ve gained since the start of your apprenticeship? It’s kind of hard to explain, but I would personally have to say that gaining an understanding of the tools for the job at hand has been incredibly valuable. You have to take into consideration the area of skin you are working on, what needle grouping and voltage to have set-up and, of course, the high level of hygiene for the customer and everyone else in the studio.

11887022_1655675228052861_1445737302_n

What attracts you to black-work and etching? I have always worked in that style from day one. Craig Scott, Dan singer and Richard Sayer got me drawing in the first place and were always such strong influences, and it wasn’t until I discovered guys like DuncanX and Liam Sparks that I ever thought it would be possible to adapt that style to tattooing. I have always loved and appreciated every style of tattooing, but I personally think that black tattoos just look so strong, and as for the etching, I just want to be able to stand out and offer something a little different.

Can you tell me about your own tattoos? I wouldn’t say any of my tattoos have any particular meanings behind them. I’ve been tattooed by a fair few people now. My legs consist of a lot of apprentice tattoos by my friends when they were learning. I recently tattooed myself a few times too. My buddy Dan Frye has tattooed some of my favourite pieces of mine. He recently tattooed a solid, black spider caught in a traditional web right in the ditch of my knee. I’ve mainly been getting tattooed by Philip Yarnell recently though.  We are currently in the middle of finishing off my front, which includes a huge bat across my chest and shoulders.

14052677_1106660419409427_944092763_n

What is currently inspiring you? I am currently very inspired by old medical journals, as well as monster toys from the 80’s. I have a never-ending collection of books and curiosities. I’m pretty obsessed. Me and my pal Dan Carrington have some pretty gnarly collaborations in the works that involve murder and suicide victims, so keep your eyes peeled!

Have you tattooed anyone yet? I’m currently in the process of filling up my friends’ legs with as many small designs as we can possibly fit, including cover-up work and blast over’s, which I love to do. One of the first tattoos I did on him was this tripped out Mickey Mouse, the other being this devil moon. Both tattoos took me so long to do. I was in the shop by myself for one of them which was a struggle when it came to packing the black in. I was just so lucky and grateful for my trooper of a friend who let me do what I had to do.

Despite the struggle at the time, its all healed up better than I could ever have imagined. I was never nervous as such when tattooing, it was more excitement which was just as bad at the time because it still made me a little shaky, but that shortly disappeared. I am now up to tattoo number seven and I am happy to say I have defiantly gained a lot confidence and picked up a lot of speed in a pretty short gap. I still have such a long journey ahead of me but I am so determined to reach my goal and get to a point where I am clean and consistent enough to move on to bigger and busier designs.

12139665_1697625123812028_973603787_n

Who inspires you artistically? I would have to say Dan Santoro, Daniel Higgs and Duncan X predominately – as well as everybody else at In To You. At the moment, I am so inspired by Jack Ankersen and my buddy Lice4Life when it comes to tattooing and printmaking: out of the box and out of this world. They both produce very unique and exciting stuff!

How do you see your work evolving? I’m just forever going to strive to get my line-work, blackwork and shading to the point where it is as clean and consistent as possible. At that point, I would like to focus on bringing back some of my more detailed and complicated designs. I will always be putting out flash and illustrations for records. I enjoy that side of things so much! I equally want to keep pushing that too.

Apprentice Love: Rachel Welsby

We spotted the work of 29-year-old apprentice Rachel Welsby on Instagram and instantly loved her dark traditional style tattoos. We chatted to Rachel to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Golden Daggers in Los Angeles where she works… 

image4

 

How long have you been tattooing? Since January 2016

How did you start? I spent almost a year putting together a portfolio of my tattoo flash and when I felt I had enough work, I started researching shops in LA and began approaching the ones I liked the look of for an apprenticeship. I’d just moved to Los Angeles and knew hardly anything about the tattoo scene here – I’m glad I spent so much time researching shops because I was lucky enough to find Golden Daggers and my mentor Rocky. I’m currently 14 months into my apprenticeship.

image3

What did you do before? After I graduated in 2009, I worked in retail when I lived in Brighton and then buying when I lived in London. I had a lucky escape from all of that when I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in November 2013. I didn’t realise how soul destroying those environments were until I left. I’m glad I did do that kind of work though because it’s made my so grateful for the work I do now and the lifestyle I have here in California.

Do you have a background in art? Yes, drawing and making things was all I did when I was a kid. I took art, textile and graphic design classes in school. I went to art college, and then onto university in Bristol, England where I studied Fashion Illustration. Alongside working full time, I worked as a freelance illustrator doing editorial and commercial illustration work, as well as my own personal projects.

image5
What drew you to the world of tattooing? It was through music. I remember seeing bands like Rancid, AFI and The Distillers on MTV2 when I was a teenager and thinking how cool they were. I grew up in a small town in Wales and never ever saw people who looked like them. I fell in love with the music and the aesthetic and haven’t ever looked back.

It was on a long drive from San Francisco to Portland one day that the decision was made that I should pour all my energy into becoming a tattooer. By the time I’d come to this conclusion, I had already been getting tattooed for 10 years and was already quite heavily covered. I felt I had a good understanding of the industry and the hard work that I’d need to constantly put in to make it work. I’m very fortunate to have such incredible friends and family around me who encourage and support me through all of this.

image2
How would you describe your style, has it changed at all? I’d describe my work as black traditional with a dark feel. I’d say my subject matter and imagery has remained consistent, but the technicality of my designs has changed. Before I started tattooing, I was drawing flash that was WAY to complex for me to attempt to tattoo. As a result I have totally simplified my designs to match my ability as a tattooer. I’m only working in black too – I think that’s more to do with the aesthetic I like, but in time I would like to be able to tattoo confidently with colour too. It’s a progression that will continue to evolve as I grow and I improve technically.

image6
What inspires you? Becca was one of my very first inspirations. She’s an amazing tattooer and became a dear friend after the amount of hours we spent together whilst she tattooed me. She’s very humble, dedicated and a true artist. I think incredibly highly of all she’s achieved. Another one of my biggest early inspirations is Simon Erl. He used to work at Jayne Doe so I met him through getting tattooed with Becca. He was the first tattooer I was aware of who worked so heavily with black. I loved his really thick lines and whip-shading. His dark imagery was also something that captivated me. His work is so well designed and considered. He uses so much black, but it’s always balanced and works.

image8
What would you like to tattoo? I would love to do a back piece one day!

What is a typical day like for you? I get up kinda early and have a coffee, do yoga, walk my dog and work on my embroidery projects. Then I get to the shop at 1pm and take care of all of my apprentice duties before I do my own drawings or begin appointments. This involves things like cleaning the shop, scrubbing tubes, buying supplies, making sure bills get paid and handing the shop money. I then spend the rest of the day drawing or tattooing.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? The majority of my tattoos are from Becca and I also have a couple of pieces from Simon Erl, Bastien Jean and Ed Mosley.

Tattoo Apprenticeship: Another Education

Meet Leti Mortimer, she is a tattoo apprentice under Rose Harley at at Vagabond studios in east London. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…  

I came to tattooing pretty late on. None of my friends or family had tattoos and as I started to acquire my own small, mostly concealable collection, they were often met with disappointment or shock. The idea of being a tattoo artist never really crossed my mind. I took the expected path of doing a degree (English with Creative Writing) and when I graduated tried out a few things that could put my new qualification to use but nothing stuck.

Leti Mortimer

Leti with her portfolio…

I have always drawn. My dad put a sketch book and pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold them. I continued to draw through school, my degree and beyond but never thought I could make a career out of something so fun. Then it dawned on me. I started to put some sketches together thinking, I like this. My CV, rather than being the usual slog of boring notes about my education was a compilation of things I had made. I got myself a nice faux leather A3 folder, did a lot of cutting and sticking and set off.

After a bit of searching I was offered a tattoo apprenticeship at a street shop in South London. It did’t last long, and I was sacked after two months. I’d done nothing wrong and the guy invented a reason to get rid of me. There are no real rights for tattoo apprentices so people can take advantage quite easily- I found that out the hard way.

20160722_114223

I approached a few other places with more caution and after about six or so months I came across tattoo artist Rose Harley. In my interview she was very serious and professional, looking carefully through my portfolio. She told me that if I wanted to do the apprenticeship it would be hard work, like doing another degree. She offered me a three-month probation period – four days a week of cleaning, nothing to do with tattoos, for me to prove that I was serious about it, no apprenticeship guaranteed. I quit my job and found something part time, I had to work seven days a week to be able to support myself, it was going to be tough.

20160722_114950

Leti (right) with her mentor Rose.

Two and a half months later, she accepted me as her apprentice. I was over the moon, my life was about to change completely. We had a few drinks to celebrate and she told me we would be like family – that it would be hard work but she would look out for me. And so It began. I continued with cleaning and general apprentice duties and started learning.

Rose and I would go to a local pub one night a week, a sort of evening class, with a focus on a different topic every time – machines, skin, needles, important figures in tattooing, each week building up my knowledge. Her method of teaching suited me perfectly. I would observe her tattooing, she would talk me through each process, I would frantically scribble notes trying to memorise everything she told me. She set me homework each week –drawing, finger exercises, drawing, research, more drawing.

It was a few months before I did my first tattoo. (A little cactus on Rose’s leg) It was a scary moment. When you’re sat with a buzzing machine in one hand and human paper in the other, about to permanently mark them for life, it is a trying experience. And I didn’t take it lightly. It took me a long time and I had to go over some of the lines a bit but I got there. And that was it.

20160722_114514

The first tattoo Leti did on Rose

I continued observing, researching, drawing, cleaning, drawing, tattooing, gradually building up my skill set. I moved studios with Rose as she got a job at the beautiful Vagabond in Bethnal Green where owners Paul Hill (tattooist) and Rebecca Morris (manager and graphic designer) kindly agreed to let me join her. I’ve been lucky enough to continue my apprenticeship there since.

Vagabond sets the bar at a whole new level. Every aspect of the shop is so carefully considered. Each artist has such an extensive knowledge of tattooing and high standard of work. Every tattoo is so well thought out. They really care about tattoos and it’s so apparent in the work that each artist produces. It has proven to be a fantastic environment to be learning in and in addition to the continued support and advice from Rose, I’ve been lucky enough to have help from tattooists Paul, Harry Harvey and Andrew Hulbert. Things really couldn’t have worked out better.

It’s been a pretty mental year and I have loved every day. I am so grateful to Rose for taking me under her wing and being the best mentor. It has definitely been an education like no other. I am on my way to my dream job and I can’t wait to get started.

IMG_20160614_080616

A recent tattoo by Leti

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… 

_Z0A9380-Edit

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.

FullSizeRender-2

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.

FullSizeRender-4

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.

FullSizeRender-3

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.

FullSizeRender-6
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.

_Z0A9444-Edit

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.

Apprentice Love: Kathryn Kirk

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… 

katkirk

Inspired by Things&Ink Kathryn created this feathery babe just for us… 

illustrationforthingsandink

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.

katkirk3

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!

12953261_10154077887522812_1994881707_o (1)

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.

nightmare
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?’

katkirk5
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.

katkirk1
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!

Apprentice Love: Olivia Foxx

We spotted the work of apprentice Olivia Grace Foxx, 23 on Instagram and instantly loved her dotted Disney tattoos. We chatted to Olivia to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Skin Kitchen in Margate, Kent where she works.

IMG_0600

How did you get your apprenticeship? What were you doing before? I’d been trying to find an apprenticeship for around two years and had been for a few interviews but not found the right shop. A couple of my friends sent me a link to an advertisement for an apprenticeship at a local well renowned shop. I sent over examples of my work, had an interview and was asked to work a trial day. Everyone immediately made me feel welcome and I’ve been there full time since December 2014.
Before starting my apprenticeship I’d been working as a doctors receptionist for around three years, all the while building up a decent portfolio.

IMG_0598

What do you like about it, what do you dislike? There are so many things I love about being an apprentice. I love working in a creative environment and being surrounded by such talented artists who are also a lot of fun. Being given the opportunity to do something you love everyday is incomparable.
The only down side for me is that I get incredibly nervous and do doubt myself and my work a lot.

IMG_0590

Do you have a background in art? Ever since I can remember I’ve always drawn. I studied art at A-Level and went on to do a Foundation Diploma specialising in fashion and textiles (not too sure why) but I did learn a lot of useful skills and techniques that I still use now. I was a little unsure about what I wanted to do career wise until I got my first few tattoos and realised that was the job for me.

IMG_0597

How would you describe your style? I feel like I’m still trying to find my style but think this will come with time and tattooing more. I’m really enjoying dotwork with some elements of blackwork at the moment. I’ve also done quite a few mandalas which are fun, and also some dotwork Disney pieces!

What is a typical day like for you? A typical day at the shop includes setting up my boss’ station, cleaning the shop and making sure everything is nice and tidy. Speaking to and booking in clients and lots of drawing (if I’m not tattooing). There’s also quite a lot of tea and coffee making.

IMG_0596

How did you feel doing your first tattoo? My first tattoo was on myself, it was a little traditional rose on the inside of my calf. I was so nervous and it took me around four hours. Mainly due to the fact it was so painful. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of lovely volunteers (mainly my brother) who let me practice on them shortly after.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My tattoos are a bit of a mixture really. I love traditional/neo traditional work. My first was a traditional thigh piece done by Dan Frye, which I’m still completely in love with. I’ve also got a couple of really cool pieces done by the guys I work with including a stylised Daenerys on the back of my calf. I have a ridiculous amount of space, but I have a long list of artists that I want work done by so it’ll have to be gradual.

IMG_0591

Apprentice Love: Luke Oakman

We chatted to Luke Oakman a 24-year-old tattoo apprentice about his developing style, inspirations and how he started working at Edshead tattoo studio in Chelmsford, Essex… 

How did you start tattooing? Tattooing was something I’d always wanted to do towards the end of school and college, I just never really took the leap towards chasing an apprenticeship at that point as I was never confident enough to take chances. After being told enough times over the years following college I was ‘a wasted talent’ because I did nothing with my art, I decided to pull together a portfolio and just go for it. I’m now well into my apprenticeship at Edshead and looking forward to where tattooing takes me!

Luke1

How long have you been tattooing? Coming up to nine months now. Which is the first time I picked up a machine to use it, I did a little shark tooth on my leg.

What did you do before, do you have a background in art? The only background in art I have is college, I did my A Levels in art and photography, the only things I truly enjoyed at school. Right out of college I got a job in IT, which I did for too long! I got settled into that routine until the end of 2012 when I decided I needed a big change in my life, so I set myself a new target and began building up my first portfolio.

Luke2

How would you describe your style? I guess I would fall under neo-traditional. It’s hard not to label a style of tattooing, I just call it my work and hope people like it really.

How has your work evolved/developed since you started? I drew a hell of a lot during my apprenticeship, I was trying to develop a style ahead of tattooing in an attempt to make my work recognisable in some way. My work has slowly got more detailed through the months I added more linework as I began to feel more confident with lining my tattoos, which is a direction I knew I wanted to make from the start. I just had to hold off until I knew it was something I could execute properly I guess.

Luke5

What inspires you? Easily nature, I’ve always watched a lot of David Attenborough documentaries, my grandad started off that obsession long ago! So now when I don’t know what do draw the first thing is normally an animal of some kind.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I admire too many artists to list them all, mainly tattooists these days. I’ll list my top five in no order for anyone that somehow doesn’t know these names/lives under a rock:

Robert Borbas
Kate Gill
Antony Flemming
Natalie Gardiner
Antony Cole

They’re all well known artists and their work speaks for itself really. Their styles among others have definitely influenced my own work and I’d love my work to go in the same direction.

Luke4

What kinds of things do you like to tattoo? Birds, just putting it out there. I love birds. Anything nature based is right up my street, but I’ll enjoy most tattoos that I can use my own style with.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I don’t have a lot of tattoos when I think about it. One arm and stuff all over my legs. Only a couple have any meaning, it’s more art appreciation for me now. If I can give an idea (if any) to a tattooist I admire that I know they’ll enjoy doing, that’s when the best tattoos happen.

I got my first one at 22 by Ant Cole which was a kestrel perched on a compass. The arm isn’t far off a full sleeve now by him, I’m super fussy with who I get tattooed by and waited until I found an artist I knew was perfect for me, and Ant is beyond good. It’ll be finished when I can afford to fill the gaps!

Luke3
Will you be at any conventions or doing any guest spots? I just finished a guest spot at Rock’n’Roll in Dundee. I was doing a tattoo trade with Daryl Watson,  so it was just by chance I was lucky enough to work there for a few days as well. I don’t have any plans just yet as I’m still an apprentice. But one thing I know for sure is I want to travel, so when I’m able to I’ll be on the road seeing new things and meeting new people. With any luck!

Apprentice Love: Lady Bonsai

Lady Bonsai is a 27-year-old Italian apprentice working in Naples, we love her dark, simple and often naughty tattoos. We chatted to her about her classic style and what inspires her… 

11813503_748631548579550_3626019946931740842_n

When did you start tattooing? I started tattooing in 2015 and I am apprenticing at the moment at Napoli Ink in Naples. I sent my portfolio to lots of different studios and the guys at Napoli Ink asked me to work with them.

ladybonsai

What did you do before you were a tattooist? Before I started to tattoo I used to work as a manager in a street wear clothes store. I have always been fascinated by art. I changed my whole working life to follow my dream to become a tattoo artist.

ladybonsaw

 

What inspires you? I’m inspired by Art Nouveau, 1920s actresses, porn and bsdm (bondage, submission, dominance, sadomasochism) subjects.

bon

What kind of things do you like to tattoo? I love to tattoo women’s silhouettes in a romantic yet sexy way.

1538935_765092066933498_8145558819878343396_n

How would you describe your style? I would describe my style as a graphic and passionate blackwork.

12038468_771335622975809_8806102914375211549_n

We have recently released The Horror Issue, what is your favourite horror film? My favourite horror movie is Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932). A black and white movie, it is really amazing and a great inspiration to me.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are a mix of various styles, I really love tattoos to suit my body and it’s different parts. I have  a lot of different subjects from various artists including a moth by Alessandro Florio on my leg.

11817167_751792408263464_388713296824600958_n