Tagged: tattoo

Interview With Igor Puente

We chat to 25-year-old travelling tattoo artist Igor Puente, about his style, how he got started and his future guest spot plans…

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When did you start tattooing? How did you begin? I started tattooing  six years ago  in my home, as I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to have me as apprentice in Madrid. In the beginning it was quite difficult, but I worked hard and studied art the first three years, which turned out to be the perfect combination to become a professional tattooer.

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What inspired you to become a tattooist? I wanted to be creative in my work, and I thought that tattooing was the best way to do that. Sometimes my clients come to me for one piece of my art and they give me lots of creative freedom, to me this is like the paintings or sculptures in the Renaissance period. People back then had art on their walls and now people have it on their skin.

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How would you describe your style of work? Has it changed over time? Right now I’m into creating mutated animals with lot of eyes and heads, and if the customer lets me do it, then I like to use red .I really love animals, so for me it’s amazing that I get to create lots of animals. When I started out I loved horror stuff and black and grey, but this changed when I saw the work of tattooer Eckel. I couldn’t shake the beautiful drawings out of my mind and that was when I decided to work in a more neo-traditional style.

You tattoo a lot of animals, do you enjoy making these? What would you love to tattoo? I really love animals! My first career choice was to become a vet, but I decided to choose something much more creative. Animals are my favourite thing to tattoo. If the animal is also red and has lots of eyes than I am in heaven!

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What influences your art? Are there any artists you love? I am influenced by everything, from nature to films, TV series and books. I love a lot of other artists and they influence my everyday life. Eckel, of course is for me the master, but I also admire Alex Dörfler, Antony Flemming, Adrian Machete and many many more.

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Do you have any guestspots or conventions planned? Yes lots of them and I am every excited!
23 November – 22 December  10 Thousand Foxes Tattoo, New York
5-9 December Mystic Owl in Marietta, Georgia
16-20 January Tattoo Addicts, Bilbao Spain
24-25 February Brighton Tattoo Convention

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Interview With Lauren, The Ghost With The Most

We chatted to Lauren about her love of all things Hallows Eve, her tattoo collection and her home which we are desperate to visit…

Firstly, a little bit about yourself, where are you based? I’m based in Liverpool. Born and raised here!

What do you do for a living? I have a very mundane job working in a bank, but it funds a lovely social life and many a (regular) tattoo trip!

[Luke Jinks]

Where did your love of Halloween come from? I think I’ve always had an obsession with quite morbid and macabre things. One of my earliest memories is of playing different characters with friends, and I’d always want to play a girl who died, very tragically, and returned as a ghost to haunt them.

Do you have favourite Halloween horror films or book? Some of my favourite films now are ones I obsessed over as a kid. I loved Hocus Pocus and Return to Oz. I would read Goosebumps and Point Horror books at every available opportunity, and my favourite TV show was Are You Afraid of the Dark? I read Roald Dahl’s The Witches religiously (at least seven times!) as I loved his twisted humour and obsession with creepy individuals.

[Mark Cross]

Halloween seems to reflect in every part of you, tell us more about your personal style and accessories, how do your tattoos fit in with this? I don’t think I have a set style any more as I’ve never wanted to be pigeon-holed as looking a certain way, or fitting into a specific trend. I guess my tattoos are a permanent reflection of my likes, or things that I’ve always/will always love, whilst the way I look and dress changes.

I’m quite open to experimenting when it comes to clothing, but there’s usually a little nod to my love of all things spooky. I have found though, that the more tattoos I acquire, and the more patterned my skin becomes, the less patterned clothing I wear!

Does this creativity spill into your home? Your IG is full of fantastic treasures you’ve collected – do these influence you at all? It doesn’t so much these days. I studied Fine Art at uni and my final project was based on hoarding, collecting and taxidermy in art, but I rarely make anything these days. My boyfriend is an artist, though! He goes by the alias Daggers For Teeth and a lot of what he creates stems from his love of horror-punk and retro Halloween ephemera, so I feel like I live vicariously through his work!

How do people react to your tattoos Very positively, which is often a surprise! I tend to expect comments along the lines of, ‘but what will you do when you’re older?’ or ‘what about when you get married?’ – they’re things people have said to my tattooed, female friends! I’m lucky that I’ve not had anything negative said about mine, the majority of people tend to ask if they’re real, or if I’m wearing patterned tights. The nicest comments I tend to get are from tattoo artists who are happy to add to my ‘collection’, or people asking for recommendations.

Do your tattoos help you feel more confident, or help you to see your body differently? I’m not too sure. I’m quite shy, which people tend to be surprised by as they think that if you look ever so slightly outlandish, it’s for attention or that you’re an extrovert. I definitely love the idea that I’m decorating my body in pieces by artists who’s work I adore, and I’m honoured and so lucky that they agree to do it! So I’m happy with how I look with tattoos as opposed to not! But sometimes it does warrant unwanted attention which makes me feel a tad uncomfortable!

[Jemma Jones]

Do you have a favourite tattoo artist That’s a tough question! I have so many favourites! I’d love to get tattooed by Toothtaker, Daniel Octoriver, Diana Leets and Jon Larson! Also, all of the guys at Smith Street!

I consider myself so lucky to have been tattooed by a lot of my favourite artists within the UK already.

[Jemma Jones]

Do you have any favourite halloween tattoos / or can you take us through some of them? Yeah! I have a pumpkin lady by Harriet Heath where her boobs are where the ‘eye-holes’ should be! I also have an old witch and moon in some crazy-bright colours, that I got from Mark Cross whilst on holiday in New York last year. I love to find out what tattooers are working in cities I’m planning to visit.

I have a ghost with the word ‘spooky’ across it, so that the OOs make up the eyes, by Louie Rivers. Also, a little devil baby in pram with ‘Rosemary’s’ across it, by Jemma Jones, my mum’s name is Rosemary!

[Harriet Heath]

Have you got a favourite costume you’ve dressed up as for Halloweeen? I do! I dressed up as Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, in full wedding garb, the year before last. I’d planned it for a good while and made parts of the outfit. She’s one of my movie heroines! My boyfriend, Craig, and I also dressed up as the Grady twins from The Shining this year. He looked pretty hysterical with a wig, moustache and dress!

Any future tattoo plans? Always! Craig and I are off to Barcelona next week so we’re going to try and book something whilst we’re there. There are some incredible artists there! We love all of the artists at LTW and have been tattooed there twice before.

Other than that, I tend to book tattoos on a whim.

Halloween Tattoos

Boo! We love this time of year what with pumpkin carving, lighting candles and filling our home with even more skulls! It appears we’re not the only ones who can’t wait for October 31st to come around, as we share a coven of Halloween inspired tattoos…

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@audeladureeltattoobysandry

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@debrartist

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@shannan_meow

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@markfordtattoos

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@kellymcgrathart

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@maidstonejohn

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@isaverri

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@kerste_tattoos

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@honeybasiltattoos

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@goldlagrimas

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@ryanmrray

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Young Saigon: Ans Pham

We chat to creative developer Nick Jones about his role at Rice, the Young Saigon film series and tattooing in Vietnam…

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Rice was founded in late 2014 by a group of filmmakers who wanted to promote other young, talented filmmakers and give them the freedom to produce films. Since then, we’ve produced over 100 videos on subjects in and around South East Asia. As creative development I get involved and guide everything to do with the creative process, like concepting, shooting, editing etc.

The above film is part of a series called Young Saigon, which is about young artists working out of Saigon (musicians, dancers and artists), though this one is the only tattoo-related film in the series. The artist in this film 29-year-old Ans Pham, who works at Saigon Ink, which is probably the most well-known tattoo studio in Vietnam.

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A tattoo by Ans

We decided to make the film after a friend of mine had a tattoo done by him. Tattooing is something quite alien to me (I’ve been mulling over my first tattoo for a while) so I really wanted to explore a couple of things. Firstly what makes a tattoo artist tick, and to try and understand what goes on in Ans’ head when he’s working, and secondly, the perception of tattooing in Vietnam. Here tattooing is often seen as a taboo by older generations, but in contrast, tattooing among the younger generation has exploded. So I wanted to ask a working artist what his feelings were about the changing tattoo culture in Vietnam and his place in the middle of this change.

Like what you see? View the rest of the films here.

Tattoos in the workplace: A guide to your rights and discrimination awareness

Hands up if you’ve ever been advised not to get a tattoo in an overtly visible area in case it affects employment opportunities?
Chances are that’s a fair few of you.

But despite the forewarnings from our elders, tattoos are very much an integral fabric of society today, particularly amongst young people. In fact, it’s suggested that nearly a fifth of UK adults have had tattoos, with those under the age of 40 more likely to have them.

Tattoos in the workplace is not a new topic of discussion. However, it’s important that those with tattoos are familiar with their rights in the workplace and the discrimination that can arise during the recruitment process.

Here’s everything you need to know about body art at work.

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Recruitment

The UK Equality Act 2010 protects job hunters from a large range of diversity prejudice, from age and gender, to nationality and disability.

However, body art is not a characteristic that is protected by workplace equality law. As a result, prospective employers can make their hiring decisions based on tattoos if they wish.

However, job opportunities are improving for those with body art.

While once upon a time many customer-facing organisations were not open to hiring those with tattoos, many have now adopted a no-visible-inking policy. Some of these organisations include airlines, the police and even McDonalds.

This means that it’s now possible for those with easily concealed tattoos to apply for a greater range of roles, although if a no-visible-inking policy is in place, candidates are likely to be asked to provide photographs of all inkings with a visible measure for scale.

In the workplace

Businesses are within their rights to have rules in place around appearances in the workplace. This is because dress codes can help maintain professionalism, company branding, and even company atmosphere.

However, it’s important that the standards are appropriate for the business, staff and company culture and are not solely based on personal preference.

We’ve all seen the headlines about heels at work…

If your tattoos go against company policy, then your employer can dismiss you and you are not protected by the law. Therefore, make sure you are aware of the dress code in your place of work so you know where you stand.

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How to make tattoos work for you

Despite the statistics, policies and general perception of tattoos, they don’t necessarily have to be a hindrance for you at work.

Here’s what you need to bear in mind.

Show your dedication to the industry

While many employers are missing out on the top talent for jobs due to tattoo policies, body art could make you more employable in some instances. You may be more employable within the creative industries if your skin exudes your artistry and innovation.

What’s more, if your tattoo pays homage to your favourite brand or company you want to join, like these inkings, you might increase your chances of securing an interview since your dedication game is strong.

Go with your gut

If you’re looking for work and are not sure how well your tattoos will be perceived in an interview or in the company’s culture, it’s important to trust your instincts.

Try and make a fair evaluation based on the organisation’s environment and industry before you show off your tattoos.

For example, if you’re applying for a client-facing finance role in a corporate firm, revealing your creative sleeve may not go down so well. However, if you’re applying for a position in a tech startup, where suits are a rarity, your tattoos may not be an issue at all.

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Be aware of stereotypes

We’re all familiar with the stereotypes surrounding heavily tattooed people. But no matter what your opinion on tattoos is, you must try to keep an open mind and remain aware of how others may perceive you in the workplace.

Ultimately, you may want be known for your professional ability, you may not want to be known as “the one with the giant Batman tattoo”. While it’s great to be unique, try not to let your artwork define you or upstage your professionalism or it may do more harm than good.

Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

Interview With Prof. Nicholas York

Our guest writer, digital marketing executive and traditional tattoo fan 21-year-old Poppy Ingham, talks to Nicholas York about his humble beginnings and the work he does out of Dark Age Tattoo in Denton, Texas…

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21-year-old Nicholas York is customarily cited as Professor York, in a nod to the likes of Samuel O’Reilly, the dubbed King of the Bowery tattooers, who adopted the “professor” epithet. He has been tattooing since he was 15 and although this might not be the licit way of entering the tattoo world, Nick received his first tattoo machines two months before starting high school. Coupled with a power supply purchased with his earnings from a part-time job, Nick began tattooing classmates and anyone who was willing. 

Fast forward five years, give or take, Nick is now embodying the definition of “world class electric tattooing”, producing nostalgic tattoos and paintings that ring true to the early 1900s. 

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What first inspired you to take on tattooing, especially at such a young age? I was in eighth grade at a school for kids with behavioural problems, and I started seeing some of the kids in my class get small tattoos. After I saw that you could get tattooed underage, I got my first tattoo at 14. The tattooist who did it was different from the guy who was tattooing the other kids, he approached me at the public library and asked if I wanted to get tattooed. Just a of couple days later I was in his apartment after school getting a tribal design that I had drawn.

I started tattooing a couple months after my first tattoo. In between the time of my first tattoo and the first tattoo I did, I had gotten my neck and my chest tattooed and started working on my arms. I was 15 when I got my throat tattooed. The throat tattoo was what made me start thinking about pursuing a career in tattooing. I knew I had found the job for me, when I found out that all you had to do was buy a kit online and do it out of your house. I started getting good and I was starting to feel hopeful about my choice.

My mom always knew about my tattooing and watched me do my first couple the day I got my kit. She was always supportive, because my dad was a tattooist, although I didn’t grow up with him (he went to prison when I was two). Over the years, he’d send drawings and paintings, but at the time, I was too young to realise they were tattoo designs that he had tattooed on people in prison.

My dad tattooed before he went to prison in the 1990s in downtown Dallas. He painted cars before he was a tattooist so it was a natural transition. Then he met my mom and stopped tattooing for a bit. He picked it back up when he went to prison a couple years later. I’ve seen a lot of his work and I hold onto all the paintings he sends me now. He is, in my honest opinion, one of the best black and grey tattooers out there. He does extremely smooth tattooing with a 90s twist. He really hasn’t gotten to see just how much tattooing has evolved since he has been locked away, except for the tattoos that he sees on me when I visit him.

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Have you always wanted to tattoo in the traditional style, or did you experiment with a number of styles before settling on it? When I first started tattooing, I was doing a very new school style and everything was extremely colourful and cartoony. I was hanging around with an old tattooist named Sneaker and he had a big influence on my style and technical application. Over the years, my tattooing evolved into a more neo-traditional style thanks to a guy I worked with named Rene. He did some of the best neo-traditional tattoos I had ever seen up until that point. Rene told me I needed to simplify my designs and stop using so many colours. He told me I couldn’t do traditional tattoos because I always complicated my tattoos so much, so to challenge him, I did a traditional tattoo. From that one tattoo I realised that I was missing out on what I was meant to be doing.

Thinking along the lines of Rock Of Ages, Belle Of The Plains etc, what are some iconic pieces of art that you never get tired of recreating? Easily one of my favourite iconic images is the Rose of No Man’s Land. I always love seeing renditions of it. I also really enjoy dragons; they’re always big and impressive. And, of course, the Rock of Ages is always a classic.

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Do you find that younger people (our age) are aware and appreciative of traditional tattooing, or do you feel like there is more demand for other styles? I think young people really dig the designs of classic traditional tattooing, but I don’t think they care for the history. The history posts I make [on Instagram] never get as many likes as the flash posts. I understand, though – not everyone has the attention span or appreciation for history.

Who, in particular from the past, do you admire and why? I’m a big fan of George Burchett. He encompasses everything I love about turn-of-the-century tattooing and has some of the best paintings I’ve ever seen! When I started tattooing in the style I do now, George Burchett was a big influence. My stuff doesn’t look like his that much, but if you know your stuff you can see small hints of it. I’m also interested in the early Bowery tattooers of New York. Samuel O’Reilly and his contemporaries have a certain mystery about them. We only understand a small fraction of their life, while we have a decent amount of George Burchett’s history.

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Where do you gather information and history on the tattooists of the past? I get all my knowledge of tattoo history from books I buy, websites like http://www.buzzworthytattoo.com and just speaking to and being friends with as many tattoo historians as I can. I am no historian myself, and I don’t add any unknown insight and I have not made any new discoveries, like some of the other historians that I look up to, I’m just a big fan of history and love to learn as much as I can about my craft. I do happen to have a good eye and have found many great bits of history in photographs that have been looked over before.

For people wanting to explore authentic traditional tattoos in 2017 and beyond, can you recommend any modern-day tattooers who you applaud? There are too many to name but those are just a few that come to my mind and I think they each are very true to the essence of traditional tattooing. I’m extremely proud I can call all of these tattooers my friends and contemporaries:

Six Snake Tattoos We Love

Our guest writer Katie Houghton shares a nest of snake tattoos…

Some may be ferocious. Some may be poisonous. Some may be the stuff of nightmares. And some may be a two-headed force of freaky nature. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that snakes look great as tattoos. I never thought I ever wanted one before, but the fluidity of the lines and the eccentric patterns have made me go full circle this year, and I’m hoping I can get a little bit of blue blood before 2017. With that in mind, I went on the hunt for six of my favourite snake tattoos, from the delicate to the deep.

Illegal Bodies, Germany

This guy might be the smallest on the list, but he’s ultimately the cutest. Brought to you by Germany’s Illegal Bodies (a handpoke and henna artist), I love how delicate and plotted the design is alongside the dainty star additions.

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Jess Brown, Salem MA

This is the most colourful addition to the list, but it’s one with the most depth. Hailing from Massachusetts, Jess Brown uses deep tones and rich shading to add an almost cutesy appeal to this sword creeper.

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Matilde Masi, Italy

Snakes are intricate animals, and not just because of their ability to trick you into biting through the apples of Eden. Brought to you by Italy’s Matilde Masi, I not only love the position of this piece, but the attention to lines and spacing are second to none.

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Martín Funcasta, Barcelona

If you didn’t know you needed a tattoo of a smoking snake before, you do now. Courtesy of Barcelona’s Martín Funcasta, the cutthroat lines, harsh edges and thick shading add a stark originality to the design.

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Mirkosata, Milan

One of the biggest names on this list, Mirkosata is no stranger to snake designs, as they’re practically all he tattoos. Clearly detailed to the extreme, his work is clean, it’s elegant, and it’s putting these blue blooded babes at the forefront of everything.

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Cheyenne Gauthier, Montreal

The final tattoo on this scaly list- Cheyenne has blackwork that will have you scrolling his Instagram for hours. With depth and almost a sad tone to the work, this snake piece is elevated by the shading and the coffee branch.

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Interview With Chris Green

We chat to 24-year-old Chris Green, who tattoos out of Redwood Tattoo Studio in Manchester about his love for anything out of the ordinary, his guest spot plans and his own impressive tattoo collection…

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When did you begin tattooing? I’ve been tattooing full time for three years since finishing my apprenticeship, so I still feel very new to everything!

What inspired you and what drew you to the tattoo world? I grew up playing in bands, drawing and writing music. I came to realise that there wasn’t much chance of  me making a living in the music industry and what little money I did have I spent on getting tattooed. I think I needed a career that was still creative, but one where I could be my own boss and work for myself. Tattooing was perfect, I just wish I had thought of it sooner.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed? My favourite style of tattooing is traditional and that’s what I started with. I love tattoos that actually look like tattoos so I try to keep the traditional structures of tattooing in my work whilst showing my love for classical art in my designs.

What would you love to tattoo? What do you particularly love doing? I feel as though I’m quite lucky, as people ask me to do some amazing pieces already, but my favourite things to draw are probably ladies, animals and anything out of the ordinary or a bit weird. I’ve also been enjoying working on big projects like backs and fronts recently, I’d love to start more!

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What inspires your work, do any other artist influence you? I’ve always been mostly inspired by classic art – the Renaissance and baroque periods in particular. I spent some time in Italy and Greece last year and I was fascinated by the architecture and sculptures. I came back to England with tons of amazing references and spent the rest of that year trying to include stories and mythologies into my work. I’m always looking for new inspiration and often find it in the most basic everyday things. Of course, a bunch of tattoo artists also inspire me too!

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Do you have any conventions or guest spots planned? Conventions and guest spots aren’t my strongest points (and by that I mean I don’t really do them), but I would love to start travelling more. I did my first guest spot a couple of months ago at Jayne Doe in Essex to see how much I’d freak out, and I did majorly (mouth full of ulcers, ate half a slice of toast over three days). Everybody was nice there and I became good friends with Becca who owns the shop so I think that helped. I’ll be making regular(ish) trips back there, next being in October. I’ll be at Salon Serpent in Amsterdam in September and hopefully working the next Brighton convention. Also I’m in the middle of figuring some dates out for a few spots in America next year.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your own tattoo collection? I’ve been lucky enough to get tattooed by some great artists (probably forgot a few) such as Eckel, Mitch Allenden, Dan Molloy, Cassandra Frances, Ashley Love, Alex Bage, Lars Uwe and Lauren Sutton and Dale Sarok who I work with. I’ve pretty much always given each artist complete freedom so I have all kinds of subject matter. Lars has tattooed probably the majority of my body and I imagine he’ll probably tattoo what’s left, which scarily isn’t as much space as I thought.

Interview With Charline Bataille

25-year-old tattoo artist Charline Bataille, works at Minuit Dix in Montreal, where she creates bright, freaky, fluorescent, sometimes even ugly tattoos. We chat to Charline about her love for colour, her oversharing nature and the space she takes up in the tattoo industry…

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How long have you been tattooing, how did you start? I’ve been tattooing for less than two years! I’m a newbie! I started learning by myself and met with other queer tattooers to exchange knowledge and tattoos.

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Can you describe your tattoo style? What sorts of things do you create? I think my style is very tender, vulnerable and emulates spontaneous drawings. I love to use colours! I love it everywhere – in my paintings, in my house, my make up, my clothes. I create weird impossible flowers, creepy cute animals and angry fat babes looking unapologetically hairy and hot! I love to tattoo a mix of cute and freaky! I like wonky lines and weird freaky colours, and I even like when my tattoos are ugly and disproportionate. I want to queer what tattoos look like. I know there isn’t only one way to tattoo and I want to break down the good/bad dichotomy! When I draw my tattoos, I always collaborate with my client. To me, their agency is very important.

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How do you feel as a queer woman working in the tattoo industry? Have you been faced with obstacles or criticism? You mention on your Instagram that you try to create a safe space for your clients, how do you do this and why is it important? It’s strange to me that I have taken this role as outspoken feminist tattooer because I don’t feel I am any good at putting my ideas into words, I much prefer to use images! I mentioned in an interview that a lot of people couldn’t have access to the tattoo industry, because of systemic oppression, and therefore, will find ways to learn and create in safe spaces. In response to this interview, I got a lot of messages, a lot of them calling me a stupid cunt but also a lot of them respectfully disagreeing and pointing out the danger of tattooing at home without proper knowledge. I don’t think I need to explain how apprenticeships and traditions are considered sacred and are needed. So I made a lot of people angry suggesting that it is possible to break tradition safely and that, in a general way, misogyny, fatphobia, cissexism and racism were too present in tattoo shops and made those spaces at best unpleasant and at worst unsafe for a lot of people.

First, there is way too little conversation about cultural appropriation in western tattooing. White tattooers still tattoo colonial imagery and sexual caricature of indigenous women on other white people. They don’t understand how important it is that tattooing didn’t originate in the western world. Consent forms in tattoo shops still force people to disclose their HIV statuses and even refuse services on that basis. It is illegal, intrusive, discriminatory and potentially dangerous to force HIV disclosure. If tattooers would take the time to reach out to their local organisation for and by people with HIV, they could offer a much fairer and safer service.

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I tattoo almost only queer and trans people and a lot of them are women. Every one of my clients has a horror story to tell; from a tattooer telling a fat woman that he didn’t understand why she would want a tattoo on her hip, to tattooers telling brown people their skin is too dark, to blatant racism or sexual harassment. I have often been horrified and heart broken hearing their experience. Being queer and tattooing mostly queer and trans people, I know that there is a really complicated relationship with the body that makes those obstacles even more meaningful. Our body is a place where it is hard to claim ownership, it’s also a place that is described as “wrong” or “bad” by science and cissexist society. It takes constant work to take back control over your body and I know tattooing is one medium to achieve that. It’s really important to respect people’s pronoun, to discuss boundaries and to respect their bodily autonomy and to be tender and present when they trust you with their body.

I think there is room for the tattoo practice and community to be tender, vulnerable and sensitive. I’ve never been in a tattoo shop where I felt comfortable until Minuit Dix! A queer owned tattoo shop that supports queer / women/ trans / poc owned companies and individuals. That is conscious of safe practices, reducing waste, uses vegan ink, gender neutral consent forms that do not force or shame HIV disclosure, in a WHEEL CHAIR ACCESSIBLE space. Working there has really made it possible for me to offer a nice and cosy space for my clients to get tattooed. It is also a space where I can be a queer femme with mental illness and have my workspace respect my limitations and honour my identity. I am working next to @katakankabin and @cammy06 and I have learned so much from @murieldemai_tattoo. I am so lucky.

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It says on your Instagram that you are an oversharer, what do you mean by this? I describe myself as a “over sharing queer femme” on my profile because I don’t draw a line between my professional life and my personal life or my activism. I don’t draw a line between my tattoo practice and my overall art practice, to me, all of this is one! On my Instagram (my only platform to share my tattoos and art) I often talk about my mental illness, my medication, my body image, my sexual trauma, my asexuality, my love life, what makes me sad and what makes me proud.

I do it because it helps me, because I love people to be able to relate and be reminded that I am far from alone, but I also love to see that it helps people working through their own trauma and experiences and feel like the stigma is possible to overcome. I am very sensitive and I have no filter! I think this part of me also makes me a better tattooer. It’s my way of telling people that they can also be themselves and I will be real with them at any moment.

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