Tagged: tattoo

Interview with tattoo artist: Natalie Gardiner

Natalie Petal Gardiner is a 25-year-old tattoo artist who works at Old Town Tattoo in Edinburgh Scotland. She is known for her beautiful animal tattoos filled with ornate detail and character. We chatted to her to find out more about how she started in the industry, what inspires her and why animals are her main subject matter… 

How did you get into the tattoo industry? Art has always been important to me. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a day that went by without me sketching or creating something.  When my older sisters began getting tattooed, my drawings quickly became more tattoo inspired. My walls started to fill up with traditional paintings and drawings. I would tag along when they were booked in and I couldn’t wait to get tattooed myself!

When I got to uni, I started getting tattooed regularly and taking my artwork more seriously. I knew that when I graduated, I was going to begin my search for an apprenticeship. When I moved back home, I got a job in retail and spent every night slaving away over my portfolio.

One morning before work, I plucked up the courage to approach some tattoo studios. I went into each one in Chelmsford, asking advice and showing them my portfolio. Finally I came across Eternal Art. After looking through my drawings and having some nerdy art chat, he offered me an apprenticeship.

How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing professionally now for three years. I had a short apprenticeship, with Prizeman at Eternal Art, which lasted around 6 months. He was very critical of my artwork, strict with my technique and boarder line OCD with hygiene. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that he gave me and for teaching me to push the boundaries.

Do you have a background in art? Academic subjects weren’t easy for me, I still can’t even tell the time! (Hooray for Casio watches). All of my subjects chosen at school, sixth form and university were creative. People sometimes assume that I studied art at university, I actually graduated in video and photography. You don’t need a degree or GCSE’s to get an apprenticeship. When you finally pluck up the courage to approach studios, all you bring is your portfolio and your brave face.

How would you describe your style? I would describe my style as detailed neo-traditional. My friend Josh tells me that I’m autistic, not artistic.
I enjoy building up lots of texture with line work, exploring movement within my subject matter and creating a piece which makes people look twice.

What influences you? What inspires you? The main things that inspire me are animals, plants, nature and jewellery. I have a huge collection of bird books and gardening books. If a stranger was to walk into my house, they would think a green-fingered old lady lived there.  I find wildlife and nature so fascinating. I regularly visit zoos, farms, garden centres and antique shops for inspiration. I’m always captivated by the silliest things, such as wild mushrooms growing in a field, a different bird siluette in the sky or hand painted pub signs.

Are there any artists you admire? Salvador Dali was the first artist to truly inspire me. His surrealist film, photography and artwork was unique and pushed boundaries. Although my designs are usually far from surreal, he is still a key influence in all of my work. There are also many tattoo artist that inspire me, such as Tiny Miss Becca, Antony Flemming and Sam Clark. The neo-traditional ‘scene’ has so many strong artists right now. I enjoy seeing their work on my news feed every day, it encourages me to push and better myself.

What draws you to animals? Are there any subjects you would like to tattoo? My family have always rescued small animals. When I was younger we pretty much had a zoo in the back garden. My weekends were always spent mucking out hutches and handling animals.  I find animals intriguing. They can be much more intelligent, beautiful and loyal than us boring humans. Which is why I have always been drawn to them.

I love that people contact me to book in for a variety of different animals. I also don’t mind taking on some of the more popular tattoo ideas; such as owls, rabbits and foxes. I enjoy the challenge of creating a new and unique design, even if I have drawn the animal many times before. I would like to take on more reptile pieces though. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the fluffy things!

Is there anything you won’t tattoo? I understand that everyone likes different things, so I try not to reject any ideas. Sometimes I help to guide them in a better direction if their ideas a bit naff though. It’s not exactly a design that I wouldn’t tattoo, more the placement. I get asked a lot if I’ve ever tattooed a willy before. The answer’s no and I intend to keep it that way!

Do you have any plans for guest spots or conventions? I have lots of plans for conventions and guesties! Conventions will kick off next year all around the UK, possibly creeping outside of the UK too. As for guest spots, I guest in Essex every month for a whole week! I also guest regularly at Timeless Tattoo, Llanelli, Wales.

Liverpool’s First Tattoo Bar Opens

We’ve always been told that tattoos and alcohol don’t mix – and for very good reason…

For one thing, it thins your blood and can make tattooing pretty difficult and messy. Also have you seen the TV shows following drunk people getting tattooed in places like Magaluf, then waking up with their friend’s name or some other random tattoo, and regretting it? However, a new “tattoo bar” called Ink has just opened its doors in Liverpool, meaning you can mix cocktails with a new tattoo…

Ink is a brand new bar that has just opened in Liverpool. It offers not only an extensive cocktail menu, but also a chance to get tattooed on your night out. The bar will host an array of local tattooists in the ‘Tatts n Trims’ section, which will also home celebrity barber Cutthroatpete who can cut your hair for you. This means you can get a new tattoo or a haircut while sipping on a cocktail, genius idea? Or a recipe for disaster…

Check out the Ink Bar Facebook page, for photos from their launch weekend.

Would you get tattooed on a night out? Or have you already done it? We’d love to hear your stories!


Tattoo inspired art: Alisha Murray

Alisha Murray is a 28-year-old freelance artist from Metro Detroit, Michigan. We chatted to Alisha to find out more about her tattoo inspired illustrations, her own tattoos and she has also created an original piece inspired by Things&Ink magazine.  

Do you have a background in art? Yes, I have been doing art since a very young age. It evolved as I got older and better, and even branched into crochet and the culinary arts. Ultimately, traditional artwork is the most rewarding to me. Most of the techniques I’ve learned over the years are from trial and error, but I also learned some of the fundamentals through elementary to high school, but I never went to college for it.

Where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration comes from all places. Lately tattoos both modern and traditional have been a great source of inspiration. I  get a lot of inspiration from the walls of tattoo shops. I have always been drawn to flash art since I was a kid. My grandfather had some ink from the Navy and it always fascinated me and made me want to create similar pieces. As I got old enough to get tattooed, I really paid attention to details of pieces whether American Traditional or Traditional Japanese pieces. They are both styles I admire very much.

How would you describe your style? Most of my newer pieces are a fusion of tattoo flash and hand gestures. I really enjoy making hand gestures that aren’t very politically correct, but still have beautiful tattoos. It’s amazing how much people accept and appreciate some of my more obscene pieces. It makes me happy to know people are just as weird as I am. There are many tattoo artists that create beautiful hand gestures on flesh and I hope I’m doing them right on paper.

Are there any artists that you admire and that influence your work? There are so many amazing artist out there that I admire, such as Bryn Parrot and Liz Clements. Others such as Garth Hixon, Daniel Cotte, Iris Lys, Drew Linden, Anna Sandberg, and Gareth Hawkins have inspired and impacted my work immensely. Every day I see new work from these amazing tattoo artists and I can’t help but be inspired. Their talents make me want to better my work and my knowledge of the tattoo culture.

What medium do you use? I use many different mediums, but I mostly use pen and ink mixed with digital for my hand gestures. I line everything out and finish the background on Photoshop to give it a clean solid colour. Once in a while I’ll use ink and nib with liquid acrylic and watercolour to practice my line work.

Do you have tattoos? Do they have a personal meaning to you? I have many tattoos. I can’t really count them any more. I’m completely solid from my neck to my knees with traditional Japanese pieces. From under my knees down I have some American traditional pieces that I have created or my artist has. I’ve always wanted a full body suit and I’ve been working on it since I turned 18. I always embraced my grandmothers Japanese heritage and was raised learning some of the traditions. Most of these pieces I have are based on Japanese folklore monsters. I always loved the stories behind the mythology of Yurei and how each Provence has different adaptations of them. I knew it was taboo to get ink and be completely covered in tattoos, but I can’t imagine anything more beautiful that someone could do to their own body. It’s definitely the only body enhancement I will partake in. I also have matching tattoos with my husband of our two dogs that I designed. Definitely the biggest matching tattoos I’ve seen. Garth Hixon of Village Tattoo in Romeo, Michigan is the artist behind 99% of my existing body suit.

Where can people buy your art? My art can be purchased at a couple of online stores such as society6.com/alishaannredbubble.com/people/aamurray, and my very own website, scoobtoobins.com. Society6 and Redbubble also carry my work on apparel, bedding, and more.

Interview with tattoo artist: Johnny Gloom

Johnny Gloom is a 23-year-old tattoo artist who works out of a private studio in Paris. Here at Things&Ink we are memorised by Johnny’s simple, yet elegant style and her sophisticatedly seductive women have captivated us. We chatted to Johnny to find out how she became a tattooist and what inspires her…

How long have you been tattooing? One year.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have a background in art? Not really, I was studying communication and advertising in Paris, but it was the wrong direction for me. One day I fell in love with tattoos. I now find myself here in the world of tattoos.

How would you describe your style? I don’t know actually. Minimalist and black.

What inspires you? Absolutely everything inspires me, but mostly emotions. I’m very sensitive to my own emotions. We are all humans and we have common emotions, if it’s about me, someone else too. Love, hate, violence, passion, sex.  Love is the burden of humanity, everyone recognizes it.

What is it about women that means you to chose them as a subject?
I love women, they are the most beautiful things I think. I particularly like Parisian girls, I find them very elegant. I love watching them, their positions, their hands, how they smoke cigarettes, and when they are sad.

Do you admire other artists? Are you influenced by any? I admire lot of artists and tattoos artists. But I try to be influenced by artists who don’t create or have tattoos,  for example photographers Helmut Newton, Steve Klein and Guy Bourdin. They make things that are different.

Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? Maybe, I have planned nothing. I salvage and I love my freedom.

You’re never too old to get your first tattoo

You’re never too old to get your first tattoo and this bad-ass grandma proves it… 

79-year-old Sadie Sellers skipped her care home to join her granddaughter, Samantha at a tattoo studio in Londonderry, Ireland. The grandmother and granddaughter got matching small heart tattoos on their arms. It was a way for both of them to complete an item on their bucket lists: Mrs Sellers said: “You know, when you get to my age, you just have to live life to the full every day.”

The Belfast Telegraph reported that:

Afterwards when asked what her family would think of the tattoo, the grandmother of 11 reportedly left customers at the parlour shocked by retorting: “I don’t f****** care.”

Interview with a tattoo artist: Holly Astral

We chatted to 31-year-old tattoo artist and jewellery maker Holly Astral from Hertfordshire about her painting style, her inspirations and the art shows she has been involved in. 

Do you have a background in art? I studied art at school and college before doing a degree in model making and special effects. With regards to painting and drawing I’m self taught, just figuring things out as I go along.

How did you get your apprenticeship? Why did you want to become a tattooist? I am trained as a model maker, and spent the first ten or so years of my working life prototyping toys and products for manufacture. To cut a long story short, I realised I wasn’t in love with what I was doing any more and decided to make a change. I love to paint and draw, and I had been thinking about expanding this. I wanted to learn to tattoo for years, but it was always a kind of distant far away dream. It occured to me that the only way to learn would be to make that dramatic change and immerse myself fully into learning to tattoo. I was working for myself at the time, so I stopped saying yes to model making jobs, closed my toy making company and got cracking with finding an apprenticeship!

How long have you been tattooing? Just over a year, but it’s gone so quickly! This year has flown by. I am loving every minute of it!

What kinds of things do you like to tattoo? I love tattooing animals and flowers the most so far! Flowers look so lovely flowing across the body. I am still just working on smaller, simple pieces right now.

How would you describe your tattoo style? I’m still just getting started, so my style is still very much in the developing stages. I’d say it’s pretty girly and some times cute but not too cutesy-poo. And more spacey, dreamy and magical when it comes to my art. In terms of painting I love to paint spacey pin up style ladies, and I hope my tattooing takes me in that kind of direction once I’ve built my skills up further to do larger pieces.

What mediums do you use? Oil paints mostly, sometimes acrylics. I always add some gold leaf to each painting, too. I like a bit of sparkle

Where do you get your inspiration from? Magic, nature, films – I love fantasy films and anything with ghosts or aliens in it. I am also really inspired by the vast loneliness of space, it kind of depends on how I’m feeling that day. Usually I start by sketching away in my sketchbook, I draw every single day, and then I see which ones start to flesh out and feel real to me on their own. My favourite part of any drawing is adding all the tattoos and long swishing hair.

Can you tell me about the gallery shows you have been involved in? I’ve exhibited at galleries in Europe and the USA, including The Sho Gallery Wales, Forbidden Planet London and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.  A lot of the shows in the states I sent my work over, but I always prefer to go to the show and getting to meet all the other artists involved. My art has taken me all over the place, all around England and Wales, and LA. I used to run my own line of collectible plush toys called Cavey, I produced a small numbered run of them each month in a different design, a bit like beanie babies. For Cavey’s birthday each year I would put on an art show where other artists and toy designers would contribute their own interpretation of the Cavey platform. The show was held at a pop up location each year in London, but one year I put the show on in LA. That was a lot of fun!

In April I put on my first solo show at Toycon in the UK and I’ve also curated shows at pop-up locations in London and LA.

Were the pieces you created for the galleries based around themes? Often the show will have a running theme that the artists are encouraged to work to, and I really like to work this way. Having a little bit of direction as to what to produce really gets the creative juices flowing!

A favourite show of mine was ‘Dragons’ which took place in Wales. Each artist was given a blank plastic dragon toy to customise, and everyone made their own interpretation of he platform. I made mine in the image of Falcor from The Never Ending Story. It was such a fun night!

Where can people buy your art?  I have a small online shop where I sell my silver jewellery. My artwork is available to purchase privately by emailing me at hollyastral@gmail.com

Holly is currently doing guest spots in Hertfordshire, if you’d like to get tattooed by her email: hollyastral@gmail.com

Follow Holly on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr for more artwork and tattoos.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: My Life In Tattoos

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the first of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which she’ll be telling us about her life in tattoos… 

I got my first tattoo aged around 16, three four-leaf-clovers circling my outer wrist. A badly executed inking of a pretty little doodle I’d drawn. Aged 32 I decided after living longer with it than without it, the time was right to have it covered up with something that didn’t scream ‘crap teenage tattoo’. The ink was faded and it covered easily with a thick black traditional snake. That was the last of six teenage tattoos to be covered up. From the ages of 16 to 20 I had acquired the odd small tattoo over the years, growing up in the 90s I had earned my tribal and inaccurate Chinese kanji. I couldn’t tell you now what had prompted me to get tattooed back then, to be honest I probably couldn’t give you a reason as to why I get tattooed now. Perhaps it was some kind of rebellion, an attempt at carving out my own identity, a desire to be ‘tough’ and ‘cool’. Neither can I remember anything about the pain, I remember getting all of the tattoos, the shops, the designs chosen but nothing about the pain.

My second tattoo was a tribal-style design in black, green and purple on my lower back, they call them trap-stamps these days, I don’t think they did at the time, if so unbeknownst to me. I got it on holiday in Gran Canaria because a girl in the next hotel room really wanted to get a tattoo but was too scared to go alone. She got something similar on her foot and screamed the place down whilst holding my hand so tight I thought the bones would shatter. I remember leaving a wet bum print on the stool I sat on from my still wet bikini. The design was just a flash off the wall, I wonder how many others got that same tattoo? Do they still have it? Do they still love it? The tattoo ended up raised in scars as I disregarded the tattooist’s advice and went swimming in the pool right after having it done.

My third tattoo was another holiday venture, this time in Aiya Napa, Cyprus. The studio was called Alien Nation and I had walked past it every day for two weeks.  On the last day of my holiday the artist was sitting outside sketching tribal designs, I stopped and chatted to him. He altered the design he was working on to fit the curve of my foot. It was beautifully done, sharp and bold. He made me walk home barefoot warning of the damage the strappy wedges I had on would do to my new tattoo

My final tattoos of that time were three clumped together on my right thigh, a string of bad Japanese possibly Chinese, ignorant as I was symbols, a red and orange butterfly and a floral vine. I know that the butterfly and vine were the last but can’t remember where the other came in now. Done by the tattooist who had done my first tattoo, a guy called Buzzard, who I think I had a bit of a crush on due to his tattooed and long haired rough cut image. Nice guy that he was, draw he could not and the tattoos were really only scratcher standard. Patchy, wobbly lined and badly coloured. Did I mention the inaccuracy of the characters? I found that out thanks to the guy down the local take-away. It was meant to spell out my name, but in fact said nothing of any sense – I later would tell people it said ‘Won Ton Soup’.

Roses on foot by Kelly Smith

Anyway the butterfly and vine was another sketch I had drawn myself, again I was disappointed at the badly tattooed result. Yet I lacked the knowledge of how and where to get better tattoos from. As I entered my twenties the tattoos stayed with me, but my desire to seek out more faded. Tattoos were expensive and as a student clothes became my only luxury purchase. I never really thought about my tattoos, every now and again I might get asked about them but that was that. They didn’t bother me, they were just there.

A good while after university I found myself living in Sheffield, to me there seemed to be a new tattoo culture emerging, one where tattoos were pieces of art not small marks collected here and there. I came across some old books on Japanese tattooing and the historical tattooed ladies which captured my imagination and were the first prompt in me deciding to go and get tattooed once more. At first my sole desire was to have the bad Chinese (as it turned out) writing covered up, being surrounded by a lot more international students had made me slightly paranoid about it. The artist I had in mind was booked solid for a whole year, so I left my deposit and embarked on a series of laser removal to fade the tattoos on my thigh before the cover-up started.

Cover up by Paul Goss

I wonder now had I not had to wait for this tattoo would I still have ended up with 50% of my body covered in ink. If I could have had that tattoo right away would that have quashed my desire? Or would I still have been compelled to gain more – most likely. Either way during this time I scoured books, magazines and compiled online searched. Researching styles of tattooing, different artists and the history and meaning behind tattoo symbology. During my waiting time I decided to treat myself to just one more tattoo – at this stage I was still in the mind-set that I would only ever have discrete tattoos. I ended up with a huge Sailor Jerry style wolf head and rose on the back of my left thigh. This was the start of me getting four traditional tattoos by the same artist around that thigh. I can’t tell you when or how exactly my attitude to tattooing and tattooed women changed during that time, but my next stage was to embark on a full Japanese style back piece. I fell in love with the idea of having this vast amount of work invisible to everyone but those I chose to reveal it to.


The printer replaces the tattooist

Would you get a tattoo from a 3D printer?

The printer has been combined with a tattoo needle to create any design onto skin. The needle punctures the skin at up to 150 times per second.

Perhaps it would be more accurate than a tattoo artist, but would it be able to cope with twitching skin or wriggly customers? It would also feel like much more of a mechanical and sterile process, losing part of the heart that goes into every tattoo. You couldn’t have a chat with the printer, it wouldn’t make you a nice cup of tea or put you at ease.

The machine could possibly work for logos and graphic designs that are not hand drawn by tattooists. Or for designs that customers have drawn themselves.

The short video below shows a printer tattooing fake limbs.


What do you think? Would you get a tattoo from a 3D printer?

Trainers and tats…who can resist?

In honour of Nike’s #airmaxday last week, we got a few of our readers to send in photos of themselves rocking their favourite pair of Air Max alongside some cheeky leg tattoos. Who doesn’t love rocking a subtle slice of tattooed skin above a pair of Nikes?

Photo by @floraamalie

Ophelia by Tracy D from Kings Cross Tattoo in London and lady head by Matty D’Arienzo from Into You London

Pussy toad by Dan Sinnes from Luxembourg Electric Avenue and snake by Emerson Ventura from LTW in Barcelona

 Rose tattoo by Bunk Ink

The rose of no man’s land

‘The rose of no man’s land’ was used to describe tattoo imagery of a nurse typically with a rose motif next to her. This became a popular tattoo for soldiers to get as a memory of either the nurse who saved them or for a nurse they may have been dating.  Below is our pick of the most recent nurse tattoos circulating on social media…

Andrea Giulimondi

Jean Le Roux

Lewis Parkin 




Hugh Sheldon

Jamie Greaves


Bert Krak

Marcos Attwood