Tagged: tattoos

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…

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Interview with Melodie Perrault

26-year-old Melodie Perrault tattoos out of Tattoo Lounge MTL in Montreal, Canada and creates detailed line work tattoos inspired by the funny things that happen in her life. We chat to Melodie about her style and what drew her to the tattoo world…

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 Photo taken by Monsiieur

How did you start? What did you do before? I have been tattooing for four or five years professionally. I’ve always been in love with tattoos, I used to draw all over my body. I just bought a shitty machine on the internet and tried to learn by myself when I was 18. I was in art school back then, studying art and graphic design, and I worked in a sex shop, before that a Boardshop.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I just love it. I love the fact that people get an illustration they love so much they want to see it forever. It’s wild but it’s such a big commitment.

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How would you describe your style, has it changed in any way? I only use black ink, so dot work and line work with lots of details. I always drew the same way, kind of –the only thing that has changed is that I used to do a little bit of colour and I don’t anymore. I love tattooing the things I do, I only do tattoos that I want to do in my own style.

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What inspires your drawings and tattoos? I love to draw and tattoo animal, devils and naked ladies. With my illustrations I try to be a little bit funny, so I’ll think of funny things in life and draw that. My own body is covered in the things I love.

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Shaded: Rich Wells

‘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.

Rich Wells is a 29-year-old tattoo artist, clothing designer and co-owner of Dock Street Tattoos, who is currently living and working in Leeds. As part of Things & Ink’s ongoing interview series ‘Shaded’, the documentary enthusiast sheds light on his love of C-list celebrities, his relationship with simplicity and how he sees his Louis Theroux inspired clothing range, Jiggle Apparel, evolving.

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What is Jiggle ApparelJiggle Apparel is a Louis Theroux influenced clothing range that’s mainly centred around his infamous rap episode. I design the t-shirts and my friend John, who runs the operation with me, screen prints them and looks after all the online stuff. It’s a Louis Theroux obsession that’s gone a bit too far.

Can you speak about your relationship with Louis Theroux? I’m an old-school Louis Theroux fan. His ‘Weird Weekends’ series is definitely my favourite thing that he’s done. I’ve watched them hundreds of times and they never get old! It’s the only reason I have Netflix.

What influenced you to design and print the first t-shirt that eventually led Jiggle Jiggle Apparel to come together? The first Jiggle Apparel design was originally drawn up as a tattoo design for a flash sheet. I hadn’t thought about putting it on a t-shirt until I uploaded the design to my Instagram account. It got way more attention than I thought it would, so for a bit if fun I decided to print it. People were really into it and Jiggle Apparel was born!

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What do you do when you’re not thinking about Louis Theroux? A good 80% percent of my day is spent thinking about Louis. You know, working out how I could meet him, or maybe just brush past him at a UFO convention or a swingers party. The other 20% I spend tattooing at Dock Street Tattoos Leeds. I co-own the place.

What inspires you artistically? I’m really into documentaries and I draw a lot of inspiration from the strange side of human nature: cults, conspiracies – all that type of stuff. I also like to design things around words, like, quotes or songs. I find it’s a really good foundation for a solid idea.

What do you admire in other people’s work? Simplicity is one of the things I admire in other people’s work. I can appreciate tattoos with incredible detail, but I personally get more out of simplistic, bold, powerful designs. The ability to create something effective using only simple techniques really appeals to me.

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Can you tell me about your own tattoos? I have a photo-realistic black and grey portrait of Ross Kemp on the back of my calf. I got it done as a bit of a joke really. Rather than getting an A-list celebrity tattooed on body, I thought I’d go a little more C list with Kemp, as I was watching a lot of ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’ at the time. I ended up going to one of his book signings that he held at ASDA a few months after having it done. I told him I had a little something to show him, pulled down my jeans and presented him with the portrait. He was totally freaked out by it. I think he thought I was going to stick a potato sack over his head and stick him in the boot of my Corsa. I haven’t seen him since.

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? No one in my family really has any. The influence came from seeing the bands I was into at the time with them. I thought they were really cool! My first tattoo was done in a street shop that was next to my old school. I got the tiny sunflower that’s on that girl’s t-shirt on the cover of Green Day’s album Kerplunk. It’s really small, but I thought it was the best thing ever at the time.

Most tattoo artists have no space left on their body for additional work, but do you have any plans for more tattoos in the future? Yeah, I still have some space to get some more work. I’m not totally covered yet. I’d like to get some more single-hit traditional pieces. I guess a Louis Theroux tattoo is on the cards as well.

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Since you have now found yourself bridging clothing and tattoo art with Jiggle Apparel, can you speak about the relationship between the world of fashion and the world of body modification? I really like the crossover! The high end world of fashion collaborates with tattoo artists all the time. I think company’s like RSI Apparel who commission tattoo artists and illustrators to work on designs for them offer artists a whole new platform for their work to be seen which is really great. However, I could definitely live without Ed Hardy’s diamond studded jeans…

How do you see Jiggle Jiggle Apparel evolving? We’re looking at getting some more merchandise; hats, hoodies, patches. Maybe our own brand of red, red wine would be nice! The ultimate goal though would be for Louis to actually see what we do, stick one of our t-shirts on and possibly take us out to dinner. If he could be there when we open our first store that would also be pretty great.

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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Learning to Love my Body and my Stoma Bag

27-year-old Caz Caines, from Newbury, Berkshire is a make-up lover and compliance administrator. We chatted to Caz who is sharing her story about her stoma bag as a way of celebrating her body, spreading self love and helping others… 

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How did you feel when you first had the bag fitted? Can you tell us about why and how you came to have it? I have had my stoma [a pouch placed over the stomach to collect waste products that usually pass through the colon] for six years now. I was really poorly and admitted to hospital with a very swollen stomach, turns out my large intestine was so stretched and my organs were shutting down. When the surgeons opened me up my large intestine split. They had to operate and create a stoma, which I named Krang. I was so scared and upset but relieved. I woke up from surgery with the bag, totally unexpected and a big shock. After I got over the initial shock, I felt relieved because I knew that I’d feel better in myself, this could give me a new lease of life.

IMG_0705Did you always feel so confident? Nope, definitely not! I found that when I had surgery my body changed so much – I lost four stone while in hospital as I wasn’t allowed to eat for 10 days. I really started looking at it differently as I now had this ridiculously big scar with added poo bag on my stomach, not something you see everyday. So I felt a bit self conscious at first, that didn’t last long though. I started blogging soon after, speaking to other young people with stomas and really trying to encourage others to see themselves as the attractive, positive person they are or soon could be.

What advice would you give to others who struggle to feel good about themselves? You just gotta think this is the only life you’re gonna have so appreciate yourself and focus on the things you like. I love make-up and creating different looks with that, it really does make me feel better about myself. Get your nails done, put on your favourite music. Surround yourself with wonderful, hilarious people. My friends helped me out so much when I was poorly, they’re absolutely brilliant people. You always need that friend who will tell you to stop wallowing, I like people who are forward, you need people like that in your life.

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How do you try to celebrate your body? Is Instagram a way for you to do this? I just try and appreciate it the best I can, I’m not one to deny myself a pizza every week. Instagram can be a way, my recent bag picture did get a lot of positive comments and attention which is great, social media is crazy! I have spoken to more people who had bags, there is a big network of Ostomates on Instagram, more people are showing their bags off. I definitely have my down days and hangs up like everyone, I try not to let it get to me, I just need to remind myself that my bag saved my life so I should be bigging it up.

Why do you think sharing your story and spreading body positivity is important? Because there are so many people out there who probably feel a little lost after surgery, you really don’t feel 100% so I just want to show people, it’s cool, you’ll get back to feeling good again! You just gotta embrace what you have, even those without bags! You have one body, don’t listen to the magazines, you don’t have to be a certain way. I don’t want people who have bags to feel like they’re ugly, nor the people who don’t have them to think we are. I get messages from so many young people saying I’ve helped them feel more confident, it’s just so great, it’s nice knowing you’ve helped someone just by saying what you truly feel.

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How have tattoos helped? I had tattoos before surgery, I’ve always loved them. I do have a piece which I got last year by Jody Dawber – it is a lady with two sets of eyes, as if to say ‘don’t see yourself through other people’s eyes’. I wanted to get something that tied in with my message of body confidence and my bag as well as looking fabulous.
When I get a new tattoo it’s exciting, I get such a rush from seeing it go from paper to skin – I can’t stop looking at it once it’s been done and definitely can’t wait to show everyone this fantastic piece of art.

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What tattoo plans do you have? The plan has always been heavy coverage, I love the look. I was a stupid 18 year old and started on a sleeve which I now can’t stand and I’m working on blacking out. I want to get more work by Jody, she is definitely one of my favourite artists as her style is so cute and distinctive, it also helps that she’s so easy to talk to and would put anyone at ease. I would also love another Danielle Rose piece, her work is so stunning, it takes your breath away. I follow a few artists on IG, it is one of the easiest places to find new tattooers, so I have my eye on a few people currently – Craven Tattooer, Max Rathbone and Aimee Lou are a few I’m loving at the moment.

Interview with Katie Shocrylas

31-year-old tattoo artist Katie Shocrylas tattoos out of a private studio in Vancouver, BC, Canada and creates mesmerising and bright tattoos inspired by the beauty of nature. We chatted to Katie to find out more about her distinctive style and what drew her to the tattoo world…

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Photo taken by rolydee.com

How long have you been tattooing? I have been tattooing full-time for about four years.

How did you start? What did you do before? I became fascinated with tattooing about a year after finishing art school, while I was travelling and started getting tattooed myself. After my apprenticeship I ended up going back to school for art therapy; I took a bit of a roundabout route but ultimately found my way back to tattooing and haven’t stopped since. Now, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I did a lot of different things before I got into tattooing: I spent four years completing a Bachelor of Fine Art degree, a year travelling in New Zealand, and in the time between then and the beginning of my tattoo career had a variety of different jobs in the service industry. My apologies to anyone who got me as a server, I was always terrible at waiting tables and serving drinks!

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Do you have a background in art? I have always drawn and painted, and have an undergraduate degree in visual art specialising in mixed media figure drawing and painting. I also danced semi- professionally until I was 18.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I have always loved the fact that tattooing allows you to make one-on-one connections with other people through images. I think it’s a really unique way to make even just a small difference in someone else’s life, and being able to learn a little bit about their experiences by creating a piece of really personal artwork for them. I am drawn to the directness of drawing directly onto someone’s body; tattoos are aesthetic and I love that they’re a way for people to adorn their skin with images they find beautiful and/or significant – I see tattoos as a movement towards self love and often acceptance and healing. Also, it’s really, really fun and super rewarding to be able to make art for people every day!

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How would you describe your style, how has it changed? I always have a hard time describing my style but I suppose I would say I do illustrative, vibrant, somewhat neo-traditional and mostly animal-based tattoos. Over the past few years, I feel my work has become a little freer and more whimsical – my line work has definitely evolved to have a bit more of a sense of naturalism to it. Also, I find myself working with bright colour schemes in a way that combines black and neutral tones to contrast the hyper-vibrant rainbow palettes I love so much. I think my sense of colour is becoming more refined and I’m really enjoying the depth that results from that.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? Animals! Crystals! Anything that grows in nature. I love doing pet portraits, anything magical or whimsical, food tattoos are really fun (fruits and veggies and anything sweet), patterns, ornamentation, anything that combines the real world with an imagined world.

What inspires you? I am inspired by nature, pop culture (especially anything from the 80s), travel, and lots of other artists (tattoo and otherwise, both past and contemporary).

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What would you love to tattoo? I really want to do more pop culture tattoos – think X Files, drag queens, iconic musicians, 80s inspired imagery. I’d also love to do more insects, snakes, and exotic as well as mythological animals. I really want to tattoo a zebra, if anyone’s keen!

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I’ll be part of Art Basel again this December with my lovely sponsors Hush Anesthetics! Otherwise I am going to be primarily in Vancouver for the remainder of 2016 as I’ve been on the road a lot this past year and am looking forward to a few months at home. However, I am in the beginning stages of planning some North American and UK guest spots for 2017. I am also planning on heading back to Brighton for the convention in 2017, I was part of the convention this year and had a blast.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Half of the tattoos on my arms are cover ups, and my favourite tattoos rarely see the light of day – I’ve got a little collection of animals on my legs (a horse, toucan, squirrel, puppy, kittens – still lots of space on my one leg to fill with more creatures!) Steve Moore is doing a full backpiece for me, we’re two sessions in, I’m pretty excited about that as his work has inspired me since before I even started tattooing.

Interview with Iris Lys

30-year-old travelling tattoo artist Iris Lys is based in Liège Belgium, where she guets at a friend’s shop every month. We chat to Iris about her love for cats, how her tattoos have progressed since she began tattooing and how she wants to create larger pieces… 

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How long have you been tattooing? I started tattooing in 2005 and I made my first tattoo ever in 2003, when I was just 17. That was in an awful shop in France, so I don’t count it, I started a real apprenticeship in Helsinki Finland at the end of 2004.

How did you start? What did you do before? I have always loved body modifications and I have always drawn and somehow I just knew it was my thing. I moved to Finland (where my mum is from) a year after I finished school, with the goal of finding a place to start my tattoo apprenticeship. I remember I arrived in Helsinki and found this shop where I got tattooed and I had all of my drawings in my bag hoping I would get the balls to ask for an apprenticeship. I showed them my drawings and they took me on!

My drawings had nothing to do with tattoos when I began, I think my drawings were pretty bad, but I was young and nobody makes perfect drawings from a young age! I had a difficult apprenticeship, as I was a very shy girl who couldn’t speak Finnish very well. So sometimes the language barriers got a bit problematic! I consider myself to be self made, no one really showed me things or helped me understand things and how to get better that’s why I learnt very slowly.

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Do you have a background in art? Both my parents are artists, they always took us to exhibitions and made us draw or do anything artistic. My father was an art teacher for years until he stopped to have more time for his own art, he was a sculptor and amazing painter. My mom also paints, draws and makes traditional Finnish wall tapestry, they both made me love art. I went to an art school in Helsinki for a year too but I wasn’t really into it as I wanted to learn tattooing  and I thought learning how to paint wasn’t really my thing which I now regret since I  would have learn so much.

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Describe your style, has it changed? I guess I can call my style traditional with a girly/kitty touch.  I use a lot of traditional images as inspiration that I try to adapt in cat style like rock of ages “rock of kitties”, pharaoh’s horses “pharaoh’s kitties”, handshake “paw shake”, I like to add funny words to the drawings. I also like to create funny and naughty designs with asses and cats involved!

My style has changed in a way and so has my tattooing ability. I am only now after 11 years of tattooing kind of happy with what I do since I have been travelling so much, living in different countries, working in a lot of shops and learning things from others. I am so much happier and confident now, I always knew I wanted to tattoo and I want to until I am unable to keep a machine in a my hand.

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What do you like to tattoo and draw? I love to draw and tattoo flowers, hands, lady faces and of course cats!  I’m always happy to have people contacting me about their cat projects, especially when they have very funny ideas! I like doing other stuff too,  I don’t want people to think I’m not able to do anything else than cats or to think I only make palm size tattoos which isn’t right! I like bigger project too and when they have cats in it I am even happier.

What is it about cats that you love so much? I come from a tiny village in south of France where we always had cats and even more cats were coming to our garden, wild ones, I remember trying to catch them very silently to pet them, I have just always loved cats! I started tattooing my first cats a few years back and while I was in Montreal. I started to draw more and more and since people seem to like it I thought this is perfect, now I can make this my thing!

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What inspires you? My big inspiration is my own cat at the moment, I am completely crazy about her, she is my baby! Also sometimes I see funny cat pictures on my news feed that I use as reference.

What would you love to tattoo? I’d love to find someone who would get a full sleeve in a cat theme or a back piece, I want to make bigger pieces. I like doing palm size tattoos but sometimes I miss making bigger pieces, I feel like people think am not into that!

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I’ll be the last week of July at Salon Serpent, few days at Jolie Rouge London in August and will come back to London in November for a week but haven’t figured it out yet.  As for conventions, I’ll be at Tox Cit Ink Liège (Belgium), Montreux tattoo convention (Switzerland) both in September, at Nantes tattoo convention in October and should be at Lisbon tattoo convention in December.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My own tattoos are pretty much all about cats, I have many cat tattoos on myself. A few years back I said that the only thing I would get would be cat related and it has been like that since then, but as I have been running out of space this is header to do. I started getting tattooed when I was younger and some of then have been covered, blasted over and lasered, but some still remain unfortunately. The best tattoos I have are all hidden since I don’t show my legs that much anymore!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.