Tagged: tattoos

Handpoke Tattoos by Boo

31-year-old Boo Tattoo, is a handpoke tattoo artist who works out of  Embody Tattoo Studio in Derby UK. We chatted to Boo about how she became a tattooist, her handpoke style and her own tattoo collection… 

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist
 www.rugglez.com – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016

How long have you been tattooing? I started my apprenticeship at the end of 2009, so around seven years now.

How did you start? What did you do before? I had been asked to draw tattoo flash to sell and got a bit precious over my designs. I’ve always loved exploring different medias and decided I wanted to learn to tattoo my own designs. I couldn’t really leave it alone after that! I had one tattoo apprenticeship that fell through after a month so I then opened a fair-trade gift shop selling clothes I had revamped, jewellery I had made from vintage and broken pieces and much more. I shut it down after nearly two years to start a new apprenticeship at Tradition 180 Custom Tattoo studio.

Do you have a background in art? I have always drawn! It was crazy as in my second primary school I was actually taken out of art lessons to do more spelling as I am really dyslexic. I did 3D Design for Sustainability Ba Hons, it was pretty strict and so it kept me focused and well one of my life ethos is to live by the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Hence I guess why I am trying to make Embody Tattoo studio one of the first inclusive and sustainable tattoo studios in the UK. I want to minimalise our negative impact on the planet.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I very much fell in to it, I honestly thought I would be designing chairs and spoons, but I burnt through so many forms of art and so far handpoke tattooing has stuck. Every day I feel like I learn something new and I’m always looking to be better than yesterday.

How would you describe your style, has it changed? I try not to draw tattoo art and instead draw whats in my heart! I love realism but I try to make it more abstract. I love lines and I was told off a lot in art lessons for putting lines where there were none, I also love realistic forms and colour.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? At the moment I am trying to push handpoking as far as I can take it, so I’m loving colour blends and smooth grey shading. I love to draw things inspired by nature and incorporating symbolism, and relish encoding stories and thought into my pieces.

What inspires you? I’m interested in ancient cultures and their forms of art and symbolism, I get a lot of inspiration from there. Also the beauty of nature and our surroundings. I guess that why I also love the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. I often bump into things whilst looking up at either the flourishes on the tops of buildings or just the forms of the trees and skies.


What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? It’s always amazing when someone asks for a piece of my art that I’ve just drawn. I love creating custom work for my clients, but its always pretty special to have someone see what comes from deep inside. I would love to do more free form and free hand work. I try not to refuse things, but to guide in a better direction, however I refuse to do anything with a hateful intent.

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I do! After I have got Embody Tattoo studio running smoothly I hope to be back up in Aberdeen at Sailor Max Tattoo Parlour. I also have a few more guest spots to confirm with other studios such as Electric Lady Tattoo studio (Reading) and The Crow and Quill Tattoo studio (Southampton), so I’ll be up and around the country.
The next convention I am 100% working is the Goa Tattoo Festival and you will for sure be seeing me at next years Manchester’s Tattoo Tea Party and Doncaster’s Tattoo Jam. I’m still waiting to confirm a few more, but you’ll be certain to see me down in the south of England, across in Wales and up in Scotland.


Can you tell us about your own tattoos? On my body I mostly have abstract pattern work and nature inspired pieces. My sleeve was done by the man who taught me, Adam “Starfish” Dutton and contains so much I swear seven years on I am still finding new things! My neck is by Touka Voodoo and it is based on sacred geometry and I can’t wait to get it finished! I am collecting a thigh of skulls from artists I admire and love. I have Hermes wings on my feet which I handpoked myself and I have hands with peacock feathers on my left side for Hera. I also had five of my chakra points tattooed in order of the most under active, I’m yet to have my third eye and crown chakra though as I believe I’m not at that level yet. I am also collecting Swastikas in respect of ManWoman and his work trying to bring back the original meaning of the symbol, which is actually luck and good fortune!

Modelling, make-up and hair by: TheBodyArtist
www.rugglez.com – (c) Matthew Craig (Rugglez) 2016

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: It’s Not Always Regret

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about covering old tattoos and the idea of tattoo regret…

‘You’ll regret that when you’re older’ the charming phrase often uttered to those of us having decided to ink our skin. No longer in my reckless youth I am still choosing to cover my skin in tattoos and still being asked if I will regret that when I am older. Is there a defining age when you are considered old enough to be able to judge what your future self will and will not regret?


After laser and finished cover up by Paul Goss

Having laser removal and tattoo cover ups are often used as ammunition to back up warnings of regret, however removal and regret are not mutually exclusive. I have chosen to have both laser removal and cover ups. All of the six tattoos I gained in my teens and twenties have now been concealed underneath tattoos I have had in my thirties. When I am in my forties, fifties, sixties, hell even my nineties will I have covered up any of those I have now? Who can say, I certainly don’t claim to know what my future holds. The thing that most people presume is that I regret having the tattoos I now have covered up, this couldn’t be further from the truth. At the time I got the tattoos I could afford, I got the tattoos available to me at that time, I got the tattoos that I wanted. At seventeen I marched down to the local tattoo shop with a shaky sketch I had drawn and had it tattooed around my wrist. The drawing was crap and the tattoo was worse, but none of that mattered I had finally gotten the tattoo I had wanted for as long I could remember.

Cover up in progress by Kelly Smith

I’ve always known I would become tattooed from early on and it was just a case of waiting until I could pass for old enough. Whilst that was the tattoo for me then, it wasn’t the tattoo for me now. I’m not especially sentimental, the memories will always be with me, and so I didn’t think too much about having that tattoo covered over with a bold, black snake. My tattoos have changed as I have changed. I am no longer the teenage version of myself, I have grown and changed as a person. My clothes, hair style and body shape have all changed so why not my tattoos?


Given the choice I’d still rather have all my old tattoos than have no tattoos at all. Tattoos are so much more than pretty pictures on our skin, they are the experience, memories and emotions attached.

Interview with artist Anna Volpi

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to Italian-American artist Anna Volpi about her photographic series Skin… 

When did the Skin project come about and what is the idea behind these shots? Skin was created for a competition that I didn’t win, but that doesn’t matter now. I met so many wonderful people through the project which is more important that any prize.  The title of the competition was simply ‘Skin’. I began to think of the various interpretations of skin, what you can do with it, the way we can see and feel it. The skin is the largest organ of our body and we can not live without it. One thing all human beings have in common is their skin and how it can cause a variety of relationships and reactions among people. Love, hate, contempt, worship and much more. ‘Skin’ is more than just aesthetics it explores how we live in it and how people really are inside their own body.


How did you select the personal stories of each one of the subjects? To select the people I searched the internet and I spread the word among my acquaintances. I only chose people who had interesting experiences or felt connected to their skin in some way.  I listened to the story of each of them and the ones I chose were those that struck me the most. In each photo there is a summarising sentence, that encapsulates them as a person.


What did you like the most about this experience, both personally and professionally? What I liked the most was meeting extraordinary people that I would like to keep in my life. From a more professional side, this is the most methodical project I’ve done so far. From the start I already had an idea of how the aesthetics would be. However when photographing people I didn’t ask for them to pose, I took every picture naturally during our long talks. But I knew that I wanted clean, balanced and strong images. I usually get dragged a little more by improvisation and variety, but here I had to work within certain limits, and it was a great experience.


What are your thoughts about tattoo art?  I have two tattoos, but I’ve never studied the history of tattooing. I don’t like how stereotyped people with tattoo are, and I don’t like them as a fashion trend. Saying that, not every tattoo should have a deep moral significance. My tattoos act as reminders for me. The words ‘here now’ remind me not to be anxious about the future, or decay in the past. ‘Write’, instead, reminds me to finish my novel. I chose Evelyn Hays, the tattooed girl in the Skin project, because she totally believes in this form of artistic expression. And I would have chosen her even if she hadn’t had tattoos, because she believes deeply in this art form.


Evelyn Hays

Can you see a relationship between tattoos and photography? In a photographic portrait a tattoo can be a point of interest or it can be seen as a disturbance. I really like to photograph the naked body, and for some shots I look for women without tattoos, because the tattoo is somehow distracting. Tattoos attract the eye, and can disturb the lines of the body that I want to create. Other times, they accentuate the body.

Interview with Aimee Lou

31-year-old Aimee Lou is a tattoo artist at Bespoke Tattoo Company in Guildford Surrey who creates wonderfully bright tattoos. We chatted to Aimee about what inspires her work and how she started in the industry… 

How long have you been tattooing? I started my apprenticeship in 2005, so 11 years.

How did you start? What did you do before? I started getting tattooed at Bespoke Tattoo in 2003 when I was 18, by Ade Stacey (now at Axios, Hove). I was taking in my own designs which I had been working on for a few years. I was a regular customer and I was eventually offered a Saturday job answering the phone and making stencils, which soon turned into an apprenticeship. I had quit university and was working in retail. I had spent some time writing to other local studios in the hopes of getting my foot in the door, but never imagined I would be given a shot at Bespoke Tattoo with Jon Nott. I was very, very lucky!

Do you have a background in art? I have always been artistic, from a very early age as my dad was an artist. I won awards at school and had paintings featured in magazines. I studied art and photography at college, and began a fine art degree at university. University wasn’t for me though, so I didn’t complete my degree. By that point tattooing was the only thing I wanted to do so I preferred to spend my time getting tattooed and drawing tattoo art, rather than studying.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I first became interested in tattoos when I was about 15, idolising tattooed female musicians such as Tairrie B of My Ruin and Brody Dalle of The Distillers. I knew then that I wanted to have tattoos, and started putting my love of art and tattoos together by doodling my own designs based on traditional tattoos that I was drawn to. It soon occurred to me that I could do this for a living!

How would you describe your style, has it changed? I suppose my work would fall under ‘neo-traditional’. I have always loved traditional tattoos; the bold lines, the bright colours. I don’t know if my style has changed much over the years, more that it has developed and refined, and continues to do so. I still like to experiment with colours and detail.

What do you like to tattoo and draw? I have a love of lady faces, which goes back to when I was a kid and all I drew were faces and people. I particularly remember my dad sketching lady faces to show me how to draw lips and eyes etc. I also love to draw flowers and animals, and ideas based on my favourite music and movies, such as Prince and Harry Potter.

What inspires you? Other artists inspire me a lot, some of my favourites are Rose Hardy, Amanda Toy, Angelique Houtkamp, Cassandra Frances, Ashley Love, Clare Hampshire, Tiny Miss Becca… to name just a handful! I am greatly inspired by music, whether it’s a mood or a lyric. Nature inspires me, particularly flowers and cute animals. Also, beautiful faces and photography, vintage advertising and greetings cards and botanical illustrations, fantasy movies and post apocalyptic visions.

What would you love to tattoo? And what would you refuse to do? I love to tattoo anything that suits my style, with bold lines, lots of colour and little bits of details. I am very fortunate that most of my customers just give me an idea and let me go wild! And I’m also lucky that people love the ideas that pop into my head which I post on social media. It really is cool that I can draw these visions and people want me to put them permanently on their bodies. I love my job! There isn’t much that I’ll refuse, so long as I am confident I can do a good job. I don’t really do realism or portraits, so I will steer people in the direction of colleagues and friends.


Do you have any guest spots or conventions planned? I am working with Amy Savage at her private studio The Warren, Canterbury in November. We are tattooing for charity on Monday 7th November, all proceeds going to Hunt Sabs and F.R.I.E.N.D Farm Sanctuary. And I am guesting with her for the following two days. I haven’t got any conventions lined up, I haven’t worked a convention since 2013, but I would like to start working them again, maybe just one or two a year. I get pretty nervous about conventions as I can be very shy!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are all in colour and are mostly of a neo-traditional style, with a few Japanese pieces here and there. My favourite tattoos are probably my peonies on my chest by my boss Jon Nott. I also have some awesome pieces by Tiny Miss Becca, Nick Horn, Jody Dawber, Andrew May and Diego Azaldegui. The spaces I have left are thighs, knees, ribs and neck- all the best spots!

Tattoo Journeys – Portraits from London Tattoo Convention

Portraits from London Tattoo Convention 2015 byHeather Shuker Photography

A snapshot of people who attended the infamous London Tattoo Convention 2016 including artists, the general public, organisers, performers and more. As they posed, they were interviewed by Alice Snape and Keely Reichardt.


Sonja Punktum, 38, tattoo artist, Hamburg
“I’m not an angry person, but people who aren’t tattooed see rebellion, so are sometimes scared. People often comment on my tattoos, even if I don’t ask for it. Tattoos make people react, but I think that is because they are intense, they are created through pain and last forever, there is nothing else like it.”


Arrienette Ashman, 26, tattoo artist, Bournemouth
“I was 19 when I got my first tattoo, I went big straight away, as I always knew wanted to be heavily tattooed. My mum picked me up after the appointment and was shocked, but she has learnt to love them over the years. I love the thought of having art on me always. It is not just physical – it is a spiritual process.”


Ashley Green, 27, sports coach, Harrow
“I was drunk when I got my first tattoo at 16, it was a Chinese symbol. All my other tattoos are now family related, including a portrait of my mum.”


George Crew, 21, tattoo artist, Leicester
“I was 16 when I got my first tattoos, it was a rose on my stomach. I got it because everyone around me was getting tattooed. If I could go back, I would think about it more and get something of better quality. I am saving my back, though, as a backpiece is the most important tattoo you will ever get, as it is the biggest canvas.”


Monami Frost, 21, model/blogger/social media, Liverpool
“I cannot imagine my life without tattoos. Getting tattooed, for me, is a never-ending process. They are part of who I am. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel more full.”


Ermine Hunte, 37, buyer for an airline, Luton
“Tattoos and piercings are so empowering and can change who you are as a person. I have gained more confidence as they have covered scars from a kidney transplant. I am constantly evolving and gaining control over my body.”

Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…


When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.


What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.


You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.


You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.


What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.


All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

Shaded: Dean Robinson

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

Dean Robinson is a 25 year-old Brighton-based musician and visual artist who creates violent and visceral sonic landscapes under the pseudonym Knifedoutofexistence, as well as contributing fuzzed clouds of texture and depth when it comes to his collective noise project Swallowing. In conversation with ‘Shaded’, the purveyor of seaside distortion demystifies the influences behind his work, the story behind his Bonnie Tyler tattoo and speaks about the relationship between the worlds of extreme music and body modification.


Can you talk about what it is you do as a musician? Firstly, I would say that calling myself a musician is a stretch, and probably does real musicians and myself a disservice. I currently work with two main projects: Knifedoutofexistence, which is a solo project in which I make noise and sounds with a range of objects, gear and vocals. I am also a member of the band Swallowing, where I add noise in the form of guitar feedback to the grinding dirge created by my band mates.

When did you start exploring musical performance? I have been playing in bands since I was roughly 16 years old, but I performed as Knifedoutofexistence for the first time in February 2013.


Skulls by Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull

What initially influenced you musically? Knifedoutofexistence was inspired by a range of conspiring factors. I wanted to take the challenging and questioning ideals of punk and apply that to the actual sound itself. Why should it be that the only structure that punk doesn’t challenge is musical rules themselves? The band Column Of Heaven were a massive influence on both the sonic element of the project and the gravity I gave to the subject matter I work with.

Knifedoutofexistence is actually a reference to a sample at the end of the first Column Of Heaven release, ‘Ecstatically Embracing All That We Habitually Suppress’. Swans also opened my mind to the power of loops and repetitiveness – to the ability to create the same kind of aggression that’s stereotypical of extreme genres of music as Hardcore Punk, but in this polar opposite way. Instead of a quick blast of emotion, Swans create something that slowly drags you into it. ‘Filth’ taught me how to be covert with aggression.

Can you speak to what is currently inspiring you as a musician? The desire to make something constructive and creative out of the negative aspects of my personality and life is a constant inspiration. My motive for making noise has always been catharsis.


Boar by Scott Move

Can you tell me about your tattoos? I think, like most people who’ve been tattooed a decent amount, I’ve stopped counting them. Most of my tattoos are music related, as that’s always been the biggest part of my life. I have tattoos in tribute to a long list of bands and artists: Man Is The Bastard, The Doors, Iron Monkey, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Closure, Black Sabbath, Carrion Sunflower, Dystopia. I suppose Bonnie Tyler can be added to that list as well!

When I was out in Canada playing a few shows recently, I was in this bar that had a juke box. There was a group of us who thought we’d annoy everyone in the place by pouring all of our money into this machine and repeatedly requesting ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. It kind of backfired though, as the more we listened to it, the more we started to dig into the song and the lyrics and it ended up hitting us hard. We all got ‘love in the dark’ tattooed on us in honour of the experience. All of my tattoos have been done by a range of talented tattoo artists. My friends Sam Layzell and Rosie Evans who work out of their own private studio MVL in Leeds have done a decent amount of my work between them. Slim at Bournemouth’s Electric Skull did my knees. Scott Move, who is one of my favourite artists, produced this rad boar on my arm.

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? They’re just something I’ve always been drawn to. I guess they go hand in hand with the subcultures and aesthetics I’ve always found appealing. The permanency of them is definitely a massive attraction for me. It’s something that, once finished, is forever a part of your person. My first tattoo was the logo of this band Reuben. I waited outside of the tattoo shop on my 18th birthday and got it done at 9 in the morning!


Do you have any plans for future work? There’s a lot of work I’ve got planned. I’d like to get “No Doves Fly Here” across my chest in reference to The Mob’s Post-Punk classic, as well as a portrait of the legendary futurist painter, composer and writer Lugi Russolo on my ribs. There’s a lot of incredible artists I’d like to get tattooed by.

Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world that you gravitate towards creatively? Absolutely! Both tattoo culture and the world of extreme music have an outsider mentality to them and are not often given credit as “valid” or “real” art forms, although an approval that many involved do not seek to gain or actively work against. Noise is for the punks. Tattoos are for the punks.

Lea Katz Illustration

19-year-old Lea Katz is a resident artist based in Melbourne, Australia, soon to be living in Bavaria, Germany. We chatted to Lea about the beautiful women she draws and how tattoos make her feel about her body…


Inspired by Things&Ink Lea created this illustration just for us…

tatt mag

What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I work digitally and traditionally. For my digital paintings, I use a graphic tablet and Photoshop. When I work traditionally, I usually rely on pencils, ink and sometimes watercolour. I also love mixing my drawings with other elements to create a collage-like look. I have some gold paper for example, that I combine with my drawings, sometimes I use photos from magazines for that and on other days, I just take whatever I can find and glue it to my sketches.
When I get to work, my usual process is to start out with a very messy sketch that I refine until I’m happy with it. Once that’s done, I begin to work on details to achieve a semi-realist look on certain parts of the artwork (like the face, when I draw a portrait), when I’m finished with that, I start bringing in flat shapes and lines and in the end, I combine it with different scans (in digital paintings), older drawings and photos.

witch ebenen

What kinds of things do you draw? I love drawing portraits, but I also enjoy drawing flowers, nature and birds. Every now and then I also do some typography, but I really need

What is it about women that makes you want to draw them? I guess it’s something that I do since I’m a kid, so it’s almost like a habit now. I love women, I love being a woman (most of the time, at least) and women get so much shit so often, that I just want to celebrate women and femininity in my paintings. I draw them as queens, strong, proud and independent, cover them in gold and all things fabulous.

What inspires you? Huge inspirations for me are art history and music. I’ve always been a little art nerd and a huge fan of art nouveau and surrealism, which are two big influences on my work. Music is a big part of my life, I always listen to music, I love singing (even if I’m a horrible singer. Doesn’t stop me though) and there are always songs that just make me want to catch the vibe of it and put it in a painting.


How would you describe your style? I’d say my style is a mixture of semi-realism, art nouveau, graphic design and sometimes surrealism. It’s basically a huge collage of styles that I love and try to combine into one piece of work.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? Definitely! Frida Kahlo, Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Cindy Sherman, Man Ray and Hannah Höch are people that never stop inspiring me. I love Frida’s self-portraits, Mucha’s girls and Klimt’s golden paintings. Cindy Sherman’s photography is simply fascinating to see, as well as Man Ray’s and Hannah Höch’s dadaist collages.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I just got my first tattoo in March this year when I visited Amsterdam so I don’t have too many yet. My first tattoo was a beautiful little heart by Angelique Houtkamp, as a souvenir that reminds me of one of my favourite cities. Next, I got a flower on my wrist and after that Frida Kahlo from her “Wounded Deer” painting, which is a piece of art that has a lot of personal meaning to me. And since this Frida was tattooed in a more traditional style, I decided to get another one. This time, full on classic Frida as we know her. It was also my first tattoo in Australia, done by the amazing Marian Machismo.


How do tattoos make you feel? Have they made you feel differently about your body? Tattoos make me feel great, they make me feel like a badass and I’m happy that they give me the ability to carry things that I love with me wherever I go. They definitely changed a lot about how I view myself and my body. I, like probably every person who had to go through puberty, have a lot of insecurities, I’m unhappy with that part of my body, this could be thinner, this patch of skin has too many freckles, blah blah blah. You probably know what I mean. Covering myself in art that I love changed the way I look at myself. I don’t look at my arm and worry about it being too fat or too whatever anymore, I look at it and see my beautiful tattoos and feel incredible. In fact, I’m happy for every inch of skin that I have because it’s potential tattoo-space.
Do you have any future tattoo plans? Definitely. My next appointment is in September, with Clare Hampshire from Hot Copper Studio here in Melbourne. And I have a lot of Australian artists on my list that I need to get a tattoo from before I move back to Germany in January.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? I do! I love doing commissions. I sell prints, shirts and a ton of products with my drawings on it via redbubble and I’m always open to sell my original, traditional drawings.

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!

Megan Massacre Colouring Book

We chat to the infamous Megan Massacre, 30, tattoo artist and co-founder @GritNGlory, about her new colouring book, reality TV and her tattoo style

Megan, we love your work! How would you describe your style?
Thanks! My tattooing style is mostly known for my very bright, colourful palettes and I usually mix a few tattooing styles together such as realism, traditional, neo-traditional and new school.

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Tattoo by MeganWe loved you in America’s Worst Tattoos and NY Ink… Did you enjoy doing reality TV, what were the highlights?
Yes very much! The highlight for me was getting to share my work with such a large audience of people.

If you could tattoo anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Probably Gwen Stefani, I’ve loved her since I was a kid listening to No Doubt!

What made you decide to venture into colouring books?
I’ve always wanted to make a book of my tattoo drawings, tattoo flash is what we call it in the industry. When I realised it could double as a colouring book I thought it was such a cool, fun idea that even more people could enjoy.

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What do you hope people will get from it?
I like to think of it as a book for both tattoo artists and fans, as well as colouring fanatics. I hope that tattoo artists and fans find the book useful for tattoo ideas and flash, as well as fun and therapeutic for colouring as well.

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It is aimed at adults and children?
Yes I think it’s great for both!

Do you think colouring books are important for wellbeing?
I think colouring is a great way to relieve stress and relax your mind while also working in a creative outlet and creating something awesome you can feel proud of.

Is it important for you to be involved in lots of different creative projects?
For me personally yes. I always have a few different projects going on, I like to stay overly busy. I also like to be involved in as many different creative industries as possible, it allows me to keep learning through art.

What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to make more colouring and art books for fans to enjoy, and to continually keep breaking into new, creative industries.

When will you next be in the UK?
I don’t have any plans at the moment but I try to go once a year, I’ll definitely be posting on my social media when I’ll be heading there next!

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You can order a copy of Marked in Ink, the colouring book by Megan Massacre from Book Depository