Tagged: tattoo

Interview with Nicole Draeger

30-year-old Nicole Draeger tattoos at Lygon St Tattoo Co in Melbourne Australia, and creates wonderfully bright neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Nicole about her style and what inspires her work…


How did you start tattooing and what did you do before? I’ve been tattooing for eight years now. I was studying graphic design and working part time as a receptionist. I had been designing tattoos for my friends and they were all going to the same shop to get them tattooed. Then one day I went with my friend to watch her get tattooed and they offered me an apprenticeship because they had seen so much of artwork already.

Do you have a background in art? I have always been into art and drawing, all I wanted to do when I was a kid was to become a cartoonist so I could draw my favourite cartoon characters all day. But as I got older I got more into graphic design and illustration and then eventually tattooing.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I always liked tattoos but I was put off getting one for a long time because of my parents. I had never really thought of becoming a tattooist until I was offered an apprenticeship and then I just dived right in and never looked back.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? It’s always hard to describe your style but, the best way to describe it would be neo-traditional. My style is always changing, I don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing all the time. Some days I enjoy doing simpler cute designs and other days I love doing more detailed pieces.


What do you like to tattoo and draw?  Mostly animals and flowers. I draw a lot of cats, insects and mammals.

What inspires you? I love watching David Attenborough documentaries, I also watch a lot of anime and cartoons. I also find a lot of inspiration from some of my favourite tattoo artists.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love tattooing animals and stylised pet portraits but I also really enjoy the occasional pop culture related tattoo so movies, cartoons and anime.  I refuse to tattoo anything racist or ignorant.


Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned?  This year I have been pretty quiet with the guest spots, but I’m looking forward to the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival in November this year.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos?  Most of the tattoos I have are from my friends or artists I look up to. They are all colour and pretty much all of them are some kind of animal or flower. Some of my favourite pieces include a winged rabbit on my forearm from Rachi Brains, a big blue peony on my shoulder from Jamie August and a portrait on my dog from Clare Clarity on my leg.


Interview with Georgina Liliane

23-year-old Georgina Liliane is a tattoo artist based at Intense Colours in Southampton, who is now currently working and travelling across Canada. We chatted to Georgina about what inspires her and the guest spots she has planned while travelling… 

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How long have you been tattooing? Including my apprenticeship four years and still constantly learning.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I drew designs for friends and my close friends got tattooed by my mentor and he was about to open a studio and was looking for an apprentice. My friends recommended me to the studio and they had a look at my work and I was offered an apprenticeship. At the time I was just about to finish my foundation in illustration so it was perfect timing as I didn’t want to go to university at all!

Do you have a background in art? I have always been drawing since I can remember, I studied fine art at college and illustration at uni.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember being at school and loved flicking through tattoo magazines and pictures online (instead of doing work I needed to do of course). I loved the bright colours and bold style of traditional tattoos.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? In my very early years of tattooing I drew in more of a traditional style, it wasn’t very distinct at first but through practise and patience I started to draw delicate, illustrative and more feminine designs, mostly animal and nature related.

Verity Peacock

What do you like to tattoo and draw? My favourite tattoos to do are cats, any animal, gothic/halloween related and pop culture related designs such as Studio Ghibli, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, all of which I’m a huge fan of!

What inspires you? Classical art and vintage postcards are something I frequently look at. I went to the Robert Bateman gallery on Vancouver Island and his paintings were beautiful. Although incredibly detailed he focuses mainly on creating a certain mood to be felt when viewing his paintings, and adding other details that wouldn’t necessarily be seen at first glance, which I found interesting and something I could take inspiration from.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I would love to do larger scale pieces in the future, I wouldn’t want to do anything that could be offensive. I often turn away certain cover up tattoos if the old tattoo is difficult or too dark to cover, I always suggest to laser the tattoo to lighten it. This means less limitation on what could be tattooed over it.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? So far I’ve worked on Vancouver Island at Painted Lotus, Vancouver at Gastown Parlour, I’m about to start working at Scythe and Spade in Calgary, followed by the Montreal Convention in September. Then I’ll be working at Deathless tattoo in Montreal, and in Ottawa I’ll be at Ink Spot. That’s all I’ve planned so far! I’m nervous for the convention as it’ll be the first one I’ve done by myself and in another country can be quite daunting. But everyone in Canada has been so friendly and helpful and I’ve settled in quickly.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Both of my sleeves have been done by the very talented Antony Flemming, I love them as everyday there’s a new detail I didn’t see before. I’ve done a couple of tattoo trades with my friends Ashley Luka and Charlotte Timmons both stupidly lovely and talented artists in Birmingham. I still have a lot of space and ideas for future tattoos for myself, I’d love it if I can get a tattoo from Sam Smith who I’ll be working with in Calgary, but if not I’ll be more than happy to sit and watch her work and hopefully learn a thing or two!

Apprentice Love: Jessica Ashby

Meet Jessica Ashby, she is a tattoo apprentice under Mike Stockings at Legacy Ink in Haverhill. This is her story of how she came to be a tattoo apprentice and the hard graft involved…


How long have you been tattooing? Looking back through my diary, I’ve been tattooing on a regular basis for about 7-8 weeks now. I started my apprenticeship in October of 2015 and my mentor let me tattoo myself after about four months so I could get a glimpse of the world I was stepping into. I tattooed myself again a couple of months later and then a handful of my wonderful friends volunteered to let me tattoo them, and then all of a sudden I’m tattooing every day alongside all the other artists at the shop. This is something I’ve wanted for so long and sometimes I still wake up and think ‘is this really my life now?!’

How did you start? What did you do before? I remember telling my tutor at college that I wanted to be a tattoo artist and she looked at me blankly with no advice to give. I then went to university for a year, worked in bars and restaurants, went travelling for a bit, all the while knowing I still just wanted to tattoo.

It got to the point where I couldn’t stand my job any longer and I plucked up the courage to email Mike Stockings (my mentor) and asked if he would be willing to see me to discuss the possibility of an apprenticeship at his studio. I had been avidly following his work for years and I had my heart set on learning from him. He agreed to see me, went through my work, picked it apart, gave me some advice and then told me to go away and draw some more. I don’t think he expected that I’d ever come back, but I continued to take more work to show him for about six months until he offered me the apprenticeship.


Do you have a background in art? Drawing was always ‘my thing,’ when I was younger. I remember going round to other kids’ houses to play and being shocked that they didn’t put the lids back on their colouring pens, or that they only had scrap paper to draw on. Looking back, I’m so grateful to my mum for nurturing my interest in art. Even at a young age she would take me to exhibitions and buy me good quality drawing materials.

I studied art at college and even went on to university to start an illustration degree. I probably thought my art classes were boring at the time but I realise now that they really did teach me some valuable things about composition, light and shadow, complementary colours etc.


What drew you to the tattoo world? I remember seeing some of Guy Aitchison’s luminous bi-mech work when I was about 16 and I was instantly blown away. It was like at that moment, my eyes were opened to a whole world of tattooing beyond the high street flash that I was familiar with. I then went on to discover Emily Rose Murray, Tiny Miss Becca, and (dare I say) Kat Von D who were all women starting to make waves in a male dominated industry at the time. I was so inspired and excited that you could make a living out of drawing wonderful pictures on people. I was desperate to get tattooed when I was a teenager and now I’m starting to build up a nice collection of my own I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever.

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Are there any artist that influence your work? I really like all the bold, bright work that is coming out of Germany at the moment. Lars Uwe Lus lips, is one of my absolute favourites. His use of colours, line weights and style in general is pretty mind-blowing. I love the illustrative quality of Kate Selkie’s work and I am always reminded that good drawing skills are the foundation of a good tattoo. And of course, watching Mike work is probably my biggest influence. His work has so much character and he’s always trying to push boundaries and put out fresh new ideas. It’s impossible not to be inspired.


Describe your style, has it changed? I’d say my style changes a little bit with every tattoo I do. I think my work is leaning towards neo-traditional, working with bright colours and bold line. The guys where I work taught me early on to follow the fundamentals of traditional tattooing, emphasising the importance of clean lines and getting a good amount of black into any tattoo to create contrast and a tattoo that will age well.

What inspires you? Everything really. I guess that’s a pretty terrible answer but it’s true. I’ll often find myself sneaking into people’s front gardens to take photos of their flowers to use as reference, or stuffing a leaflet in my bag because I like the colour palette that’s been used. I feel like my eyes now scan everything to see if it’s a possible reference or inspiration in some way.

I love Japanese art and culture, art nouveau, pop art, film photography, and really enjoy going to museums and galleries. Even if the work doesn’t influence mine directly, I always feel so creatively energised after seeing another artist’s vision come to life.


What would you love to tattoo? I consider myself incredibly lucky that Mike gives me the freedom to tattoo what I want already. He has always really emphasised that if you do work you enjoy then that will be evident, and people will come to you.

Eventually I’d like to be tattooing larger scale animal designs and faces (tattoos of faces, not tattooing on faces!) I love the idea of working on a project and can’t wait to be piecing together ideas for a sleeve or back piece. For now though, I am happy doing my little designs, trying to make each one cleaner and better than the last. I think there’s a fine line between continually pushing yourself to improve, and trying to run before you can walk. The guys at work will often tell me that I’m not ready to tattoo a certain part of the body yet, or that a design is too complex and then I just have to take a step back and remember that it’s still really early days for me.

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What is a typical day like for you? I usually get to the studio at around 9 am, mop the floor, clean the grips, set up Mike’s station and try to make sure everything stays tidy during the day. I’m trying to do one tattoo a day at the moment and truthfully I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in the shop during that time!

Interview with Olivia Olivier

24-year-old Olivia Olivier works out of Everlasting Tattoo in San Francisco, California and creates wonderfully traditional tattoos. We chatted to Olivia about her inspirational mother and what drew her to the tattoo world…


How long have you been tattooing? Four and a half years now.

How did you start? What did you do before? My mom’s boyfriend owns a shop that I started working at doing miscellaneous jobs and counter work at 15, then started full time at 17. And at 18 started my apprenticeship. I haven’t had any other job!

Do you have a background in art? I have always had drawing going on around me, my mom is a phenomenal artist. She encouraged me to draw ever since I can remember. I have learned a lot from her, especially about figure drawing. She teaches at San Francisco’s City College and I have taken her class along with others multiple times.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Definitely the idea of being able to make art for a living, somewhat on your own terms. I love being able to make people happy by tattooing them. Also the ability to travel, and essentially work anywhere in the world.

Describe your style, has it changed? I would say I pretty much stick to traditional tattooing, bold lines are very important. Although I do use fine lines as well, and a wider range of colour, it’s too much fun to stay away from. I don’t think I’ve been tattooing long enough to have changed styles, I’m still learning what works for me and developing one.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I love to tattoo women, whether it be full body pin up or just a bust. Happy, sad, sassy or lusty! Also flowers, plants, animals, insects, creatures in general. Fancy things like jewellery, religious imagery. Anything organic or decorative.

What inspires you? Like I mentioned before, figure drawing has been a big inspiration. I like going to the library and look at art books, from Greece’s marble sculptures to renaissance paintings, baroque jewellery and decoration, up to modern pop art. I also take a lot of inspiration from my surroundings, growing up in San Francisco being around really creative and unique people.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I would love to tattoo lady faces on a larger scale, and more black and grey. Things I usually decline are tattoos with no outline, watercolour style tattoos, and tattoos on the finger because I think they generally age poorly. And definitely no hate symbols.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? Currently, I only have one guest spot set, at Icon Tattoo in Portland, OR. August 11th-13th. I hope to be travelling more often, and will post dates on Instagram. I have worked the Star of Texas convention in Austin the past three years, and Salt Lake City the past two and will hopefully be back to both this coming year.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My legs are where I stared, one shot, just for fun stuff. Arms are a bit more planned, I stick to black and grey and still have real estate open that I am saving for certain things. I also kept the black and grey theme on my chest and stomach.

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Interview with Karolina Skulska

25-year-old Karolina Skulska tattoos out of Kult Tattoo Fest in Krakow, Poland and creates wonderful floral tattoos. We chatted to Karolina about the natural world that inspires her and how she started tattooing…


How long have you been tattooing? It’s been two years since I took hold of a machine for the first time. But I’m not sure if my first steps could even have been called tattooing!

How did you start? What did you do before?  Before I was studying journalism but after a short time I realised that the work didn’t suit me. During that time I was a customer of Kult Tattoo Fest and was getting tattooed by Edek. One day I noticed that guys from TF Mag (magazine about tattoos which is released by people who are a part of Kult team) were looking for another editor. As a journalism student and tattoo fanatic I was a good candidate. I worked there for few years and was drawing a lot of the time, I was tottally absorbed in the tattoo industry.


Do you have a background in art? I didn’t graduate from art school or academy, but I was always drawing a lot and also taking some drawing lessons. I was doing it for no real reason, but I felt that it might be useful in the future.

What drew you to the tattoo world? Since I remember I’ve felt that there’s something in tattoos that attracts me more than other people. When I was under the legal age I was begging my parents to let me get my first tattoo. Then work in TF Mag showed me this tattoo world from the inside. Doing interviews with tattoo artists was helping me to become more more interested in the craft. I wanted to try the things they were talking about and understand them. Now it’s my greatest passion and job all in one.


Describe your style, has it changed? I don’t think it has changed, my career is too short for big changes. I call myself a tattoo florist, because I love to put lots of flowers into my works, lots of leaves and other botanical aspects. It looks great on all body types as it’s easy to fit the anatomy lines of the body. I use strong outlines but in the same time add small details, I love pastel colours and dotwork.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? What inspires you? As I mentioned, nature is the most inspiring thing for me. In my camera roll I have more photos of botanical elements than food and selfies combined. I love drawing these things, I find a great sense of pleasure from the dots, lines and floral designs.


What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do?  I don’t have a  list of stuff I want to do, I simply love all tattoos. Colouring people and using machines is great fun and pure happiness for me,  so I just want to do it! I will refuse to do motives that are harmful for other people like racist symbols etc. and I’m also not into religious stuff. I also refuse to make designs that I know will look really bad after a  few years, like very small and detailed stuff or super fashionable white ink tattoos.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? This summer I will go to Trondheim for a few guest spot for sure, but as I was travelling a lot last month I’ll probably take a break. Then I’ll start guest spotting with renewed energy next year.


Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Most of them are made by Edek, but you can also find on me works of Piotr Bemben, Bartek Kos, Marie Kraus, Davee, Mazak, Kay Lee. Most of my tattoos were spontaneous and creates in the happy moments of my life.

Veganism and Ink

In this post our guest blogger Amber Bryce discusses how she thinks veganism and tattoos go perfectly together and she talks to two tattoo artists who also share her point of view…  

In many ways, I think that veganism and tattoos make a perfect pair. They’re  decisions that hold a lot of weight and impact, they can change your entire outlook on life and help to narrate a new kind of future for either yourself, or the world. To discuss the subject further I spoke with two lovely women in the tattoo industry: Avalon, a tattoo artist who works at The Grand Illusion Studio in Melbourne, Australia, and Dina, who owns Gristle Tattoo in Brooklyn, USA.

Here’s what they had to say…

Avalon Westcott, 24, Melbourne

How long have you been tattooing for? I started apprenticing at The Grand Illusion (Melbourne) at the start of 2013 and did my first tattoo ever on myself by the end of 2013. Before tattooing I had been painting for a few years, doing custom pet portraits for people, which was so much fun.

When did you become vegan? I went vegan five years ago when my fiancé Josh and I moved to the states for a few months. A month into my veganism I realised how amazing I felt, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. At that point I knew there was no turning back and that nothing, no peer pressure, no craving, no situation would ever make me eat animals again.

Is your veganism something that has always inspired your tattoo designs? I can’t count the amount of vegan inspired tattoos that I’ve done. Animals have become my speciality! I usually tattoo a combination of animals together, cows, lambs, chickens (lots of chickens) and piggies. Meeting like-minded people, chatting food, chatting animals and sharing a mutual lifestyle really brings me closer to the clients.


How do you think tattoos can help veganism? It’s no surprise that people with tattoos are often asked about why they have particular tattoos. My clients get tattooed for themselves, often to celebrate a milestone in their veganism or to commemorate animals, however, if anyone were to ask about why they have a love heart with animals in it tattooed on them I’m sure they’re proud to explain why. I believe that having a vegan tattoo is a very courageous and inspiring thing. To welcome people to question your lifestyle or even comment on it takes strength.

Do you have any personal vegan tattoos? If so, who are they by? I do have a few animal tattoos myself! My most recent is a girl dressed up as a chicken referenced from some vintage flash painted by Earl Brown, circa 1950, on the side of my thigh by the brilliant Becca Gené-Bacon from Hand of Glory in Brooklyn, NY.

What’s your favourite vegan tattoo that you’ve done? Every vegan tattoo that I have done holds its own meaning and its own memories. Really, they’re all as special as each other for the client, and myself.

Dina DiCenso, Brooklyn

When did you become vegan? I’ve been 100% vegan for six years and the two years prior to that I was 90% vegan (I ate cheese once every four months) and then I was vegetarian for about 15 years prior to that. So when I opened my own business it seemed natural for it to be vegan.

How has veganism informed your business? I use the shop to do a lot of fundraisers for animal rescues. We work with small, local rescues that are in desperate need of funds. We tailor each fundraiser flash to fit the organisation. For example, we do wolves when we work with Wolf Conservation Center, we do farm animals when we work with Skylands or Woodstock Farm Sanctuaries and we have a TnR event coming up so we’ll design cat related flash.


How do you think tattoos can help the cause of veganism? I think tattoos can inspire veganism in a few ways. First, if people encounter enough people with vegan tattoos, they may stop and think about how many people are vegan and that it’s possible for them to change and be vegan too. And second, they may also see an image that inspires them to change their own lifestyle and habits.

Tell us about your tattoos? For me, it’s important to have my tattoos have meaning so I don’t get sick of them. Few things have more importance to me than the animals I’ve rescued, and animals in general, so I’ve tried to get a few of my favourites as tattoos.


You convinced Reprofax to make the first vegan stencil paper! Tell me more about that. I had read online about the stencil paper possibly not being vegan. Rather than take the postings at face value, I tried to contact the company directly. After several contact attempts and no response I had my geneticist friend test it. He came back with lanolin as the offending ingredient and then about the same time I got his results, the company responded confirming it was indeed lanolin — it holds the ink onto the plastic sheet.

I then began harassing them until they agreed to make a vegan stencil paper. Their chemist had retired ten years prior, which is why they were reluctant to create any new versions of the paper. We helped test their early versions and when they had a solid final version, I was the first one to buy it. Many artists are unaware products in the tattoo process are not vegan – they think it’s limited to the ink and aftercare. But it’s the ointment, the soap and even the moisture strip on razors.

Interview with Tatiana Sandberg

27-year old tattoo artist Tatiana Sandberg works out of her own little place in Montevideo, Uruguay. We chatted to Tatiana about how she started tattooing and her neotraditional style…


How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been tattooing for something like three years now. It was a bit slow at the beginning, just doing one or two small tattoos a week, so I’ve just been tattooing seriously for a bit less than that.

How did you start? What did you do before? It all started quite randomly. I always drew and someone that saw potential in me offered to teach me how to put a tattoo machine together. I didn’t trust myself that much at the beginning, so I was just doing it for fun. At that moment I was studying architecture in college and that was taking most of my time. I slowly, and without noticing, became more and more interested in tattooing than my actual career, so I gradually started changing my priorities. Until one day I found myself tattooing every day! By that time I was getting tattooed a lot by a guy I admire a lot and took a great part in my growing enthusiasm for tattooing. So I can say I got all my basics from seeing him tattoo me.


Do you have a background in art? Since I was a little girl my parents encouraged me to go to painting, drawing and ceramic classes, probably they needed a break from having two energetic kids, but it turned out pretty well for me in the end. I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember, and always brings me a lot of joy. Also, my father is a very artistic person, I used to see his drawings from when he was young and the first thing that came to mind was “Wow, I want to be able to do this”. That’s why in a way I took architecture as a career path, I wanted to do something related to designing and being creative, but in the end it didn’t turn out as I expected and ended dropping out after many years of studying. I also studied graphic design and did some digital drawing things some time ago, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.


What drew you to the tattoo world? I guess it was my taste for tattoos and how you can let out so many things by getting tattooed. I started to realise how happy I became every time I got tattooed and that probably helped me get more involved in the tattoo world. I really love the happy faces on people when they see their tattoos done, after all the pain. All the stories behind every design and even if it sounds dumb, how they are still there when people come back to you for a new piece. It still amazes me!

Describe your style, has it changed? I guess my style has changed a bit over time. It became more complex in lines and colours. I used to draw really basic figures when I started so I could do them properly, without taking much time because I used to be really slow at tattooing. Also, my drawing has evolved a lot but I try to keep it simple and clean, so it can be understood at a glance. I guess I would categorise my stuff as neotraditional, but with a quite caricaturist twist, a bit more playful, less serious. I get a lot of inspiration from anime and comics, like how I use colours and really thick lines.


What do you like to tattoo and draw? I like drawing and tattooing mostly everything I can find a way to fit into my drawing style, it is hard to explain, but I really try to make all my tattoos have something in common, so they can be easily recognisable. I do have a strong preference for drawing and tattooing girls, birds and cats, but I enjoy almost everything.

What inspires you? I would say mostly music and observing. I’ve done a bunch of drawings based on songs, taking the name, the lyrics, or just the music to create something out to if. Looking at other artists work is also very inspiring to me, I admire a lot of people and it’s incredible to be able to see their progress as artists and encourage myself to work harder. Also vintage magazines and drawings, where I take most of my ideas from when I’m drawing.

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What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I’d love to tattoo more girls actually. I’ve been drawing a lot of that lately and I really enjoy it. And there’s never enough cats !
I would refuse to tattoo anything that defers from my style of drawing. But it’s not a definite no to those who ask, I like to offer an alternative to those things as long as the other person likes my stuff and is willing to take a suggestion.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? For now I only know that I’ll be tattooing in Buenos Aires, at the begging of August, Stockholm in September and October, and Panama city during January.


Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Well, my own tattoos are a mix of really different things, as I really like a lot of tattooers and styles. I have anime characters, really girly designs, blackwork, churches on fire and a lot of cats! I’m actually quite near to finishing my cat sleeve, that’s my right arm. I really want to have at least one piece of all my favourite tattooers, so, as long as I still have space left, I’m planning to get new things.

Growing Pains With Tracy Kiss

28-year-old Tracy Kiss, blogger, model and mother, from Buckingham talks about how having a tattoo to cover her stretch marks helped her to reclaim and love her body once again… 


When did you start modelling and how did you get into the industry? At the age of 18. I was talent scouted by MTV to model in a documentary about relationships, I then went on to do page 3 for The Daily Sport newspaper.

What made you want to become a model? I was bullied terribly up until the age of 17 for being shy, geeky and insecure. When I was talent scouted I never imagined in a million years that I could ever be a model but they saw something in me and I’m so glad that they did because it brought me out of my shell.

What kind of work did you do? I was a glamour model before having my two children which involves lots of lingerie, bikinis and topless as well as the occasional catwalk and fashion.


Did this change how you saw your body? Did modelling help with your confidence? Although modelling gave me bags of confidence that I never knew existed it also changed me as a person. I spent endless minutes on sunbeds to maintain a year round tan, dyed my hair peroxide blonde, wore fake nails, false eyelashes and dressed in skin tight revealing outfits. I literally changed everything about my appearance within a year and although I loved my ‘new’ body I realised deep down that I wasn’t being true to myself.

How has pregnancy and being a mother affected how you see your body? Becoming a single parent at the age of 19 was such a wake up call, it made me realise that there’s so much more to life than the shallowness of how we view others. Beauty doesn’t come from a packet, tube or needle it’s from natural confidence, being comfortable in your own skin and feeling happy. My body shape changed dramatically, I was incredibly thin and as my pregnancy developed I started to get stretch marks which were deep red lines that seemed to slash my skin. At that time my body was my career, and I felt that becoming a mother had ended the life I knew by scarring me so badly.


Do you miss being pregnant? Despite all of that I loved being pregnant, it was difficult for me to adjust to the weight gain at first because I had always been so strict on myself. But once I embraced it I realised how much I love food, how happy I was to feel my daughter kick inside of me and despite knowing I had to bring her into the world alone I felt safe knowing that we were going through it together. There is nothing as precious as unconditional love and I’d happily have more children if I met the right man one day.

How has pregnancy affected your body physically? Physically pregnancy has had an horrendous affect on my body at such a young age, firstly from scarring up my stomach hips and thighs with stretch marks, weakening my stomach muscles and making my chest collapse. I had breast implants that became loose and leaked from the pressure of breast feeding, so I underwent reconstructive surgery. It has been the most joyful yet painful experience of my life but I’d do it a thousand times over for my children, they are my absolute world.

Can you tell us about your stretch marks? Also how you tried to get rid of them? My stretch marks remained the same with my second pregnancy and didn’t get any worse, I think my skin was already so badly damaged that it couldn’t possibly stretch any further. I had fairly large babies with my daughter weighing 7lbs and my son 8lbs 8oz, but I blame my love of food for contributing to my weight gain as for once in my life I didn’t worry about what I ate!

I’ve tried everything to get rid of my stretch marks which I’ve covered in my beauty blogs from oils and creams to needling and lasering, all methods designed to stimulate the regrowth of natural collagen in the skin to help to repair it. Whilst stretch marks can be improved they can never be removed unless you cut the skin away which I didn’t want. Fortunately with my treatments I was able to lighten my stretch marks from a deep red colour to a pale white, instead of being deep they became a little more shallow and where the skin had become so loose and wrinkled it’s now firmer and flatter but still scarred, just a little less obviously.

Why did you choose to cover them with a tattoo? How did you pick the design? I chose to cover my stretchmarks with a tattoo because the pigment in my skin had disappeared from stomach, which left me with white lines.  At the age of 28 I was hiding my body, I never wanted anybody to look at or touch my stomach because I was embarrassed.

The only way left for me to try to remove my stretchmarks without surgery was to cover them with a tattoo and once my final laser treatment was complete to correct the texture of my skin I called my tattooist, James King, to talk about designs. I already have 10 tattoos including; feathers, wings and my children’s dates of birth.  I’m a nature loving vegan, I live for peace, love and happiness so we combined a lotus flower with the hamsa hand to signify strength, beauty and good fortune.

I wanted to turn a part of my body that I hated into something positive, and  my tattoo has done just that! Something that once hurt and upset me for so many years now makes me smile uncontrollably. I never thought I’d feel so happy in my skin again as I do now, it’s given me my youth back.

What would you say to other mums feeling the same way as you did? I’d tell other mums to look into turning their scars into body art because you only have one life. To me a tattoo isn’t just a decoration, it’s a story, a reminder and inspiration for life. It’s capturing your essence as a person, expressing your individualism and in my case turning something negative into a positive. Everybody should be able to love their bodies no matter their age, size and ethnicity. For me tattoos have given me back my confidence, true confidence and shown me how I can love myself for who I am. I’m a woman reborn, my embarrassment and insecurities have vanished and I’m ecstatic to have a second chance with my body.

What was your first tattoo? Do you still love it? Rather foolishly I got my first tattoo at the age of 14 which was a tribal swirl on my lower back that I covered over with angel wings, that mean so much more to me, as I believe feathers symbolise hope and freedom. My first tattoo was something that I rushed into simply because it was fashionable at the time, it had no meaning to me and was nothing more than a filled in stencil that I outgrew.

Can you tell us about your other tattoos? My favourite is ‘love is blind’ tattooed under my breasts, its a reminder of how life may change but true love is unconditional and that is very much what I have for my children. My babies taught me the most important lessons in life of patience, strength and natural beauty and although being a single parent is incredibly challenging at times it has made me the person I am today. Tattoos have given me back my fire, repaired my body and rebuilt my self esteem whilst capturing my heart for all to see and I will cherish them forever.

Interview with Lucrezia

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to tattooist Lucrezia about her beautiful tattoos and recognisable style… 

Lucrezia is a Sardinian girl with a colourful heart and sea waves in her hair. Her Sarditional style is getting more and more renowned and here she explains the perfect mix for a tattoo made with love. Among coricheddos (little heart shaped sweets), delicate feminine figures and amulets, she is bewitching the web! You can find her in Milan, at Toy Tattoo Parlour.

You are a complete artist- a graphic designer, illustrator and tattoo artist! Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic career? It was a quite natural process, you know, I grew up with colors in my hands and I used to leave my marks on every surface. My path as an illustrator and tattoo artist were parallel to each other, they reflected a way more rebellious and emotional side of my studies in architecture and graphic design. My degree surely gave me the basics useful to search the composition and balance in each drawing I make.

What is your first memory connected to tattoos? My first memory is a feeling, I see the tattoo as a very important gesture that helps to fix an emotion and one that is on your skin for you to wear forever. As a tattoo artist,I find that the tattoo is a rite, that binds deeply the tattooer and tattooed during the creation of the piece.

The transformation of a story into a picture and the subsequent transposition of the skin, the pain, the amount of tension and excitement, and an indelible bond that is created with all my clients. These are the things I love the most about this work and I’d never imagined they could become so essential and vital for me.


How would you define your Sardinian style? Is it a declaration of love for your homeland and the coricheddos (typical Sardinian sweets mostly made of almond and honey)? The sarditional was originally born as a hashtag game on Instagram. Initially, before I started tattooing, I filled my illustrations with little women tattooed with Sardinian buttons and motifs derived from the Sardinian tradition. Beginning my career as tattoo artist, they became my main subjects, executed using the technique of traditional style. The designs were simplified, with thick lines and black shadows, from there I put that Sar-ditional touch. Now it has become a real characteristic of my style, which is to bring to the world the Sardinian tradition, from ‘pavoncelle’, kokkoi, to buttons and coricheddos. And all those jewels that the Sardinian tradition considers to be protective amulets and charms. That’s how the design of a sarditional becomes a real ritual to put on the skin: for Sardinians and beyond!


What are your daily inspirations, both personally and professionally speaking? Every day, the inspirations are the most varied, most of the time I get influenced by my moods, from the weather and especially by music. This last is crucial because it helps me to channel myself in mental states that may not belong to me and, for example, when I prepare a drawing for a client I can get closer and better identify himself using music.

From Alghero to Milan: how are you living this experience and what are your expectations? Milan is basically adopting and taking very good care of me, I am very good and I also managed to do a lot of experience, getting to know many people and growing especially from the professional point of view. Alghero will forever remain the seat of my roots and going home to do some guest spots is a must for my creativity. Sardinia is a land that offers so much inspiration, and especially its silence and its mystery stimulate creativity in me.


Corals, beads, women faces filled with love. What are the subjects you prefer to tattoo? My favourite subjects are without doubt the little women, I find them super expressive and I am able to communicate anything through their eyes and hands.
I try to draw every little woman to resemble as closely as possible the client who will wear them forever.  In fact, I generally choose the colours together with the client, also to see what kind of colours and feelings that person sends me, and most of the time I guess right!

Who have you been tattooed by and who is on your wishlist? I have two beautiful surreal pieces made by the great Gabri Pais. Others by my boss Amanda Toy, who has spoiled my skin with bright colours. A piece signed with perfect lines by Paul Colli. A wonderful little woman by Viola Ceina. Another woman who remembers the old pieces of George Burchett, masterfully executed by Marco Sergiampietri. And a super old school tattoo by Alessio Errante.
In my wishlist you will find; Chiara Pina, Nicholas Rinaldi, Giampiero Cavaliere, Carlotta Cawa, Luca Font and internationally Bouits, Danielle Rose, Kirk Jones, Emily Rose and many others!

rosette, leccetattofest

Do you have any side projects you would like to tell us about?
I carry on various projects and collaborations, where I leave my mark with my illustrations. I have a newborn project this year, where my illustrations are combined with stories of “Appunti sparsi di una trentenne a Milano”; I often work approaching the magnificent letters of Gabriele Cecere. I always carry forward my graffiti under the name of La*tete, it was all born one evening, many moons ago, out of curiosity and in Milan, thanks to my good friend Nacho. When I have some time left, I also collaborate with the great artist and friend La fille Bertha.

Do you have any future guest spots and conventions planned?
My future guest spot will be in August for Cagliari Tattoo Convention. And then I will be in Rome and Florence within the year. The next dates and locations will be surely posted on my Instagram!

Alana Macleod

22-year-old Alana Macleod, who creates beautifully coloured and patterned clothing is currently studying textiles in Bournemouth. We chatted to Alana about the process behind her designs, her tattoos and how, by sharing her own story, she hopes to help others struggling with eating disorders… 

How would you describe your style, both how you dress and what you create? My style is very colour focussed, and is an exploration of variety of textures and shapes. In terms of my dress sense, I like to wear structural, interesting shapes, and with my textiles work I like to create these shapes with a combination of materials and embellishments. I feel as though my work and my style can often be very connected, as for me it is important that both express an element of fun, with the outcome never being too serious. I think fashion should be fun.
What influences your work and who inspires you? It sounds cliché but I really am inspired by things that I see around me, whether that’s an interesting place or a person. I think when you have been around textiles for so long, you automatically take inspiration from things and it’s hard to escape, so my influences can come from anything. I think Instagram is also such an amazing, inspiring platform; we can use it to discover people who interest us and are doing really cool things, and I think it’s so great to have that at our fingertips.


Can you tell us about the process behind your designs? All my outcomes start with mass amounts of drawings and paintings, then there is a lot of cutting, sticking, photocopying, until I start to develop some ideas for prints or surfaces. I use a combination of screen print, digital print, embroidery, and hand embellishment; there isn’t really an order to doing this within my practice, things just kind of develop naturally and I just follow what I feel is working at the time. I always start with a plan when I am designing, but the creative process always changes.

Do you sell any of your designs? I’m currently not selling my work anywhere online, however I’m in the process of starting up an online store! I also take commissions if anybody is interested.


When did you get your first tattoo? What was it and do you still love it? Well technically my first tattoo was a horrific hand poked diamond on my  which I had done at the age of 13! And I absolutely do not love it, neither did my mother at the time, ha. I waited to get my first professional tattoo at the age of 18, which were some bows on the back of my legs. I was going through quite a rockabilly phase at the time; looking back, they are definitely something I would not get now, but they also remind me of a certain time, and that’s why I will always like all of my tattoos regardless of whether my style has changed since.

What inspired you to start getting tattooed? Throughout school I had always experimented with a lot of styles and subcultures, all of which were quite alternative. I always wanted to stand out with my appearance as a teenager, and was always getting in trouble at school for it. I think my love of tattooing definitely developed from my urge to be different. I listened to a lot of punk music from a young age, and I always admired the musicians and the whole aesthetic. I also think that my creativity has had a big part in my interest within tattoos- art class was the only that I engaged in fully within school and college, and when I grew up and realised that I could display this creativity on my own body, it just made sense to me.


Do tattoos influence or alter how you feel about your body? Have they helped you with feelings of self confidence? Yes definitely- when I have experienced difficult times with my body and my confidence, having my tattoos makes me still feel comfortable within my skin regardless. I’m much happier to show my body, or even look at my body, knowing that I have this collection of beautiful art, whereas previously I may have struggled to see any positives about myself.

On Instagram you’re quite open about your struggles with an eating disorder, why do you think it’s important to share your own experience? I think it’s really important because of how alone you can feel when you are caught up in an eating disorder, and I really want to remind people that they’re not alone. I remember when I was at a really awful point in my life, and I felt that nobody would understand and that my behaviour was so alien. I was seeking help from eating disorder ‘help’ forums, as I had nowhere to turn, but these websites are bad news and an awful trap that is even more difficult to get out of. I hope that speaking about my issues openly on Instagram will not only keep people away from these sites to seek reassurance, but will also let them know that the people that they follow and admire also have their own struggles and that it is a lot more common that they may have realised. I think the word bulimia has such a stigma and a misunderstanding around it, and there are a lot of misconceptions. I didn’t actually realise that I was bulimic for quite some time, I’d convinced myself that my over-exercise, restrictive diet and purging ‘bad’ foods was just me being healthy and normal. I’d love to help people realise that obsessive behaviours aren’t actually normal, and to help them become aware before they’re in too deep.


Do you think social media has helped you or hindered you in your progress and self love journey? I have mixed feelings about social media and it’s impact on my eating disorder. In the early days, I think Instagram was definitely a contributor towards my obsession with my weight- I was feeling a lot of pressure to keep up my ‘healthy lifestyle’, which essentially was making me much more ill. However, when I eventually publicly opened up about my disorder, the amount of positive feedback and genuine kindness I received from everybody was so warming and lovely, and I think it’s amazing to have that kind of support network. I’ve been open about my struggles online for just under a year now, and it definitely has helped with my self-love since I started therapy. Some days I will be having a bad day with my body image, but to receive such lovely praise from people who have known my struggles is really special.

Have tattoos played a part in your recovery? I  say they have helped my recovery, but they have definitely made me still feel like ‘me’, when I’ve had low times where I’ve been unsure of who I am. During recovery I have gained some weight again, and my tattoos have helped me with loving myself still too. I can’t imagine to have not had them throughout this journey, they’re the one thing that have always given me another layer of confidence, and I’ve always been able to express myself through my tattoos.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? I’m continuing with working on my legs next, I have some exciting plans to try and make them feel much more completed, ankle cuffs, some blacking out and some ornamental work within the things that I have already!