Tagged: tattoos

Interview with Katie McGowan

29-year-old Katie McGowan, works at Black Cobra Tattoos in Little Rock, Arkansas and creates insanely bright neo-traditional tattoos. We chatted to Katie about how she got started in the industry and how she loves those who express themselves through tattoos… 

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How long have you been tattooing? It’ll be six years this month!

How did you start in the industry? What did you do before?  I grew up drawing and having in interest in art. When I was little, I used to draw cartoons that I watched on TV. Mostly characters from Rugrats and the Simpsons. I would try to make the characters look exactly like how I saw them on TV. Then once I was in high school and college, I would draw portraits of my friends and try to study the details of their faces and bodies. Art had always been my hobby in a way. I drew a lot outside of school, but hadn’t taken any art classes until college. My freshman year of college was when I started hanging out at my local tattoo shop. I loved studying foreign languages as much as I loved art, so my major at the time was Spanish. After begging for a job at the tattoo shop, I started working there as an apprentice hopeful at the age of 19. I stayed in college for three years, but eventually dropped out to pursue a tattoo apprenticeship. My first year of tattooing was in 2010.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? The energy that you find in a tattoo shop and at a tattoo convention can be quite magical. It’s this unapologetic environment where people can embrace their bodies, express themselves through art, and say “fuck you” to society’s expectations. I love this. I love the concept of a person having control of their body and life in such a way that if they want to pay to have it altered permanently, they can. To me, that’s empowering. Also, I love having a job where I can cuss. A lot!

Describe your style, how has it changed? What do you like to tattoo and draw?
I have respect for all genres of tattooing, but I’ve always had a particular fascination with traditional and neo-tradtional tattoos. I love tattoos that look like tattoos. I find them to be charming and eye-catching. I also love a tattoo that will age nicely and look rad from now until you’re playing bingo in the retirement home. Traditional style tattoos stand the test of time. I would describe my style as traditional-ish, somewhere between traditional and neo-traditional. I try to use interesting colour palettes, and I feel like my colour choices often times make my tattoos identifiable as being done by me. I tattoo lots of mandalas, lady faces, and other imagery with bold line work and fun colours. I’ve also been tattooing lots of geo-animals which is really fun!

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What inspires you? I’m inspired by confident people. People that come in and get large, visible tattoos and don’t care how they’re perceived by others, that’s impressive to me. I’m also inspired by hard working tattooers that crank out killer work on the daily. Matt O’Baugh, who owns the shop that I work at (and was my partner on season six of Ink Master), is a good example of a hard working tattooer that inspires me. I’m also inspired by the young tattooers that are coming into the industry hungry to prove themselves. Females tattooers are a huge inspiration to me too. I love all of the female tattooers that are doing lots of feminine, coloruful, traditional-ish tattoos and making that style of tattooing more relevant and accessible. That is incredibly inspiring to me. I was so honoured to get to meet and hang out with Shanghai Kate at her shop in Austin, Texas. Talk about an inspiring female tattooer! She’s a trailblazer and a bad ass for sure.

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What would you love to tattoo? I would love to tattoo anything that represents my style. Mandalas, roses, lady faces, any sort of traditional inspired imagery. Anything I can incorporate bold lines and fun colour palettes into, I’m down!

Do you have any guest spot or conventions planned? I’m working the Evian convention in France in October this year (I’m so excited!), and I’m working on locking down dates for guest spots and other conventions before then. I always post on my Instagram when I travel, so if you follow me on there, you’ll definitely know where I’ll be at!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have a mixture of meaningful tattoos, silly tattoos, and stuff I wanted just because I thought it was cool at the time. I got my first tattoo ten years ago, which is crazy to think about because it doesn’t seem like it could have been so long ago! I don’t have a favourite tattoo on me, but I especially like my traditional rose with “don’t call me Shirley” in a banner on my forearm.

Inkluded Launch New Online Store

Here at Things&Ink we are big fans of the Inkluded blog founded by freelance journalist Beccy Rimmer. So when we heard Inkluded launched a brand-new online store, we had to share it!

We’ve teamed up with Inkluded to give you the chance to win a T-shirt! Check out our Instagram for more details.

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Inkluded have created a clothing range in which every design has been drawn by tattoo artists. Inkluded has worked with five UK tattoo artists, Hannya Jayne, Dan Metcalfe, Mike Love, Clare Lambert and Kat Winifred, who have all designed something from scratch for the launch range.

Founder of Inkluded, Beccy Rimmer, said: “At Inkluded, we’re passionate about showcasing and sharing amazing tattoo art. This country’s creative tattoo scene is fast-growing and flourishing with talented artists, remarkable artwork and innovative styles – we thought it was time tattoo enthusiasts had one online place from which they could buy tattoo products and fashion.”

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Inkluded was set up with a strong mission, to raise awareness of exceptional tattoo art through blog posts, art exhibitions and by creating an artistic community that people can feel included in. As well as browsing the new products, readers can meet the artists through a series of interviews published on the blog.

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A selection of limited edition T-shirts and vests (prices from £15) are available from www.inkluded.co.uk/store.

Photographs by JustJodie Photography

Jessica Gutteridge Illustration

 22-year-old Jessica Gutteridge is a student and illustrator from York, UK. We chatted to Jessica about her dark gothic film inspired drawings and her tattoos…

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Inspired by Things&Ink Jessica created a tattooed Tiger Lily just for us… 

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Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I’ve been drawing all of my life, but up until I was seventeen I wasn’t very good at it. I took graphic design, illustration, fine art and photography at college, where I was able to develop my drawings to a stage where I could draw a realistic figure. I applied for a fine art course at university because I knew there would be no boundaries to artwork I made. I’ve found with fine art they really push you to not do illustration, so I keep my university work very separate to the illustrated prints I put out into the world. Weirdly I never though I wanted to be a full time artist even with taking all those creative subjects, only until I created my online store Jgdrawings in 2014.

What inspires you? I absolutely love everything gothic, mythical and mystical, especially in films! I’d say film culture is my biggest inspiration, along with the tattoo world. I’ve always loved films and especially the old ones like Beetle Juice, Lost Boys, monster squad…anything before 1999. When I started illustrating my family and friends always said my designs would make great tattoos, I guess that was what made me realise my style of drawing and where I find inspiration from. I tend to always be attracted to colourful pieces of art and tattoos but always draw black and white pieces and get black and white tattoos!.

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What medium do you use? How do you create each piece?  I always use pen or black ink to draw my illustrations, but as of this year I’ve started to branch out and create art using other mediums I love, such as acrylic paint, watercolour and embroidery. When creating a piece I start making shapes using pencil to get a composition/scale going, then I use pen for all the finer details. A fine marker for lines and then usually a 0.2-0.5 ink pen tip for the detail and dots. I love crossing dotwork with watercolour, you get the fine cluster of detail from the dots with the wash of colour poking out! Everything I do is hand drawn and then I edit it on photoshop. I’ve started also doing needlepoint and sewing little characters, it’s a medium I touched on at university and really enjoyed.

What kinds of things do you draw? I draw whatever I’m inspired by, whether that be a character from a film, to flowers, animals, mandalas, palmistry bits. I follow popular culture and if anything pops up that speaks to me, I go with it. Yesterday I sat on a plane watching Peter Pan and needed to draw a Tiger Lily character, that same day I read through the Love copy of Things & Ink and needled to draw myself some lovey dovey bits! I am always open to anything so custom projects are perfect, I’ve drawn logos, website bits, present prints, cards and family portraits for customers and its great!

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Describe your style, has it changed? In drawing I’ve always used pen. My style is still quite gothic with the characters I draw, the black and white print but just of late I’ve wanted to branch out with new content that I’m getting into. I want to make more pieces with colour, I love the shades of acrylic paint I have so really positive, bright illustrations would definitely be a huge change.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work?  The artists I get inspiration from are feminists such as Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Lucas, but when it comes to me physically drawing I get my inspiration from tattooists. Instagram is a great platform to view art constantly, keep up to date with my biggest inspirations in the tattoo world such as Alex Bage, Cassandra Frances Arianna Fusini, James Armstrong, Thomas Bates, Mister Paterson. Obviously there are so many more, but every time I see a new upload I just want to grab my pens and doodle all day. Definitely yes, I’d say they influence my work in the sense I want to also get to their level of mastering a craft, or more so style.

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? What was your first, do you still love it? How do they make you feel?  I have three in total, a big leg piece right on the shin, a cobweb on my shoulder and a pair of plastic Halloween fangs on my arm! The fangs were my first tattoo and I absolutely love it, it reminds me constantly of my favourite time of the year. I got it when I was 19 and it’s still in great condition, it was the perfect time for me to get a tattoo and I love to show it off. My tattoos make me feel great, like I have a style of art which I am passionate about forever on my skin.

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? I certainly do! My art is all available on my big cartel Jgdrawings, where I sell pre-made art prints, custom one off prints, t-shirts, tote bags, embroidery pieces and stitched dolls. For commissions and any other enquiries I am always reachable at jessicalgutteridge@gmail.

Careers: Tattooed Visual Merchandiser

We chat to 23-year-old Stefaine who works as a visual merchandiser at Tiger UK  in Canterbury, Kent about her beautiful traditional tattoo collection and her love for all things interior design… 

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I begged for my first tattoo for about a year. I was the youngest in my group of friends outside of school, they all had tattoos and at sixteen I was desperate to get my first one.
I went into a shop in Margate,my dad was childhood friends with the owner. I remember walking in, it had wall to wall tradition old school designs. I picked a classic swallow. I think as I aged and I became more aware of the tattoo industry, especially through Instagram. I’ve since had it blasted over by the incredible Philip Yarnell, With a sombre looking cowgirl and I love it!

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My mother was the first person to really open my eyes to tattoos, I distinctively remember her coming to my year six sports day with a fresh tattoo and thinking ‘this strong, beautiful woman is my mum and she has tattoos, what a badass’.
I feel tattoos have enhanced the love I have for my body. Every time I get tattooed I’m able to make a lifetime connection with an incredible person and artist. I started getting tattooed at a stage where your mind can very easily be warped by not always positive influences. Allowing outside negativity about my body is something I’ve always struggled with but as I’ve aged, with each new tattoo I’ve found an acceptance.

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I have a real eclectic collection of work on me by some truly amazing people. Almost all of my tattoos are traditional/neo-traditional and mainly all in colour. Although I wouldn’t change that, I am always quite envious of people with all black work, it’s definitely a style I want more of going forward.
My good friend, Amy has done a majority of my work, we started as soon as I turned 18 and it’s been a pleasure seeing her grow in popularity and really push her distinct style. We recently put my beloved pooches portraits on my skin, I feel like it really helped me heal the grief I had in losing them.

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I met Harriet Heath last year, I loved her style from day one. The last pieces she did for me was a kewpie Frida kahlo on me and a lucky black cat with a good luck swastika on the inner of my leg. She’s an amazing person and I really want more from her this summer!

Right now I’m between having day sessions to complete my woodland leg sleeve by Becca and finishing my knee by Aaroné Realmao. I feel very fortunate to be tattooed by these people. I’m always in awe when I see Aaroné free hand on designs. I think you have to put a lot of trust in someone to do that and it always pay off. I’m already thinking of what I want him to do once we finish my knee, his lady faces are stunning!

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I started working at Tiger in 2014. Tiger is a Danish variety design store, it’s been dubbed the poshest, brightest, happiest pound shop in the land but it’s so much more than that. Tiger is a name play on ‘tier’, which is Danish slang for 10 kroner, the equivalent to £1.10. I was a Christmas temp for two of the company’s busiest months before being given a part time weekend job. I then began working my way up to a full time position as a visual merchandiser. I really do love my job and the team I work with are like a slightly dysfunctional second family to me.

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I didn’t have any previous experience in retail or merchandising, I had worked in the nightclub industry for three years prior, although I loved that social scene at the time I knew I wanted something more creative. I’ve always had an eye for interior design. Visual merchandising at Tiger is like no other, the foundation of what you’re working with is very minimalistic, so the products speak for themselves.
Visual merchandising has given me the confidence boost I needed to pursue bigger goals, so I’m looking to do a silver smith course during the summer. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while so I’m excited for things to come.

At Tiger, merchandising involves the constant rotation of stock around the store to keep it ‘fresh’, in order to do this we group products by relevance and by use. In the summer we focus of children, so kids arts and crafts and toys will dominate the front of the shop. The development of planograms for tables and window displays are a critical part of being head VM, it’s really exciting to see the new products coming in for the monthly kamp! It’s definitely my favourite part of the job. We try to keep in mind what’s current right now, moustaches were a really big deal last year so our designs were focused on that. We use emotional attachment and retro music to build a positive shopping experience. To us customer experience is key.

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Right now I’m responsible for stationary, adult/kids hobby and professional art. I’m a DIY fanatic, I thrive off creative ideas on how to use products not always how they’ve been intended for. We have such a high turn over of products, that displays need re-merching weekly. I find if i have a product that’s a slow seller, it often is down to placement, which is my job to recognise and change.

There’s no real dress code for work, we’re given a black t-shirt with our logo on it. Clothing has to be practical as there are some very manual aspects of my job. My go to outfit is a long sleeve black midi dress, with tights and boots. I’m quite reserved about all of my tattoos being on show, Canterbury is diverse but is still predominately middle class and being a young woman with a lot of visible tattoos I sometimes, rarely though, encounter sour opinions. I’m lucky though, Tiger embraces individuality and is probably the most laid back retail chain you’ll find on the high street. I’ve always said if I need to cover my tattoos, I’m happy to do that but I’ve never been asked to.

The end of last year I took the plunge and had my chin tattooed by my lovely friend, Kamila. It was a huge decision for me which I definitely didn’t take lightly. Its completely dotwork and it’s just so beautiful. I’ve had super positive feedback from customers, I get ‘that must of really hurt’ a lot and they’re always surprised when I tell them it didn’t, a little pinchy around the jaw but nothing too bad!

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The most important thing to consider when getting tattooed is will this burden my pursuit for my dream job. I’ve always tried to live by if it makes you happy, do it. Sadly happiness doesn’t pay the bills every month! I think if you’re driven and passionate, I’d like to think your employer will look beyond being tattooed and see it doesn’t change your values or your work ethic. Society is changing, a lot of companies are realising there is a wide demographic they can appeal too by having (I hate to say it) ‘alternative’ looking employees. For a lot of high street retail , Topshop, Lush etc it’s ‘cool’ to be quirky and you’re more likely to get an interview if you have that edge about you.
That being said I feel there is still a bit of a shock factor when you see face tattoos, it won’t always be that way I’m sure but until you’re 100% certain of you career pathway I’d say hold off on anything that could hold you back. I don’t want to be defined by my tattoos, I want to defined by being a good person and a hard worker.

Careers: Tattooed Wholesale Manager

We chatted to 28-year-old Jenna Needham who is wholesale manager for Motelrocks.com about her beautifully dark tattoo collection and her role within the fashion company… 

How old were you got your first tattoo, what was it? Do you still love it?Shamefully I was 13 when I got my first tattoo. I bunked off school to go at get it at a local place called ‘Dodgy Kevs’. Of course that wasn’t the actual shop name but its how we all locally knew it and since me and my friends all got tattooed there so young I’m pretty sure you can guess why!

I went in and picked my favourite Chinese symbol off the wall (that was big in 2000) and had it put on my butt!  I had to have it there to hide it from my mum, he just sketched it free hand with a biro and away we went! I can’t say I’m a massive fan of it now but for comedy reasons (and the fact no one ever sees it) it doesn’t bother me too much. It means tiger in case you were interested!

What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you?
From a young age I was into a more alternative scene and so naturally from that point I saw more people with them. Not that I think tattoos are bound only to the alternative scene but I was definitely more exposed to them in that environment at that time.
I can’t really remember what it was that first attracted me to tattoos though to be honest, no one in my family has them but I was always drawn to them and the way the art looked on skin.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I can tell you there’s not enough of them!
My tattoos are just a random collection of my likes and memories really. I have a few that I’ve had done that mean something to me and people close to me, some while travelling to remember a time or a place and then some which are just a memory of me getting tattooed by someone I admire and perhaps a point in my life.

When I got tattoos when I was younger I didn’t really think about what I wanted and getting a tattoo was just walking into a shop and picking something off the wall. Now it’s like having an artwork collection on my skin that I can see everyday. I remember when I first started to find peoples whose work I loved like Thomas Hooper and just being so excited to be able to put their designs onto me and finally finding people’s work that was in the style I like. My favourite thing to do on Instagram is find new tattoo artists, I think its amazing that now it’s so much easier to find so many amazing artists across the globe.

Are there any artists you admire?
Too many! I pretty much admire all tattoo artists. Being a person who is unable to draw I appreciate all their amazing skills.
Of course everyone I have been tattooed by I have the utmost admiration and appreciation for which is why I want their art on my skin and that includes, Raph Cemo, Grace Neutral, Rebecca Vincent, Jack Ede, Tiny Miss Becca, Aaron Anthony and Jemma Jones just to name a few!

What are your future tattoo plans?
I really want to get my back done and my arm completed in the near future but I don’t actually have anything booked in right now.
I never really focus on an area I just seem to know where something is going to go when I have it and so my pieces are generally just scattered around.
A few of my current dream people to get tattooed by are Guy Le tattooer, Sway, Thomas Bates, Kelly Violence, Thomas Hooper and Ryan Jessiman.

How did you get your current job? What did you do before? Did you study for it, did you work your way up?
I was living in Wales at the time, I’d moved there for my boyfriend  and although I absolutely loved my time there and the people I’d met, when we broke up I felt I needed a fresh start. My friend at the time had just moved to Bristol and we were obsessed with shopping on Park street it was full of independent shops, vintage and clothes you definitely couldn’t buy in Newport! We were shopping in the Motel store and I noticed they were advertising for an assistant manager position in that store and I just thought why not! Got the interview a week later (which I actually don’t think I performed that well in) and just got on so well with the two girls who were interviewing, they called me back a few days later and said they wanted to offer me the job. At the time everyone thought I was mad because I was moving to a flat with rent three times more than what I was paying and a salary that was half of what I was currently earning but something just felt right and I guess it was the universe telling me I was making the right move.

When I started with Motel in 2007 it wasn’t that well know or big and one of the girls from the shop used to model for the website which only had a handful or products on it then we started to get more PR activity around our clothes including celebrities wearing the brand and everyone just started to notice Motel more and more. No one was doing printed dresses like Motel were at that point and so we were way ahead of the game!

From assistant manager I became store manager, then the website started to boom so they moved me over to work on that, managing the in-house buying, promotions etc. I was also already helping them with the wholesale trade shows in Berlin, Las Vegas and New York during that time so then when they eventually decided to open a London showroom and offered me the chance to work on the wholesale team I jumped at the chance.

What is a typical day like for you?
So I basically sell the collections that Motel creates to other boutiques and stores that buy third party brands. At Motel we sell 12 collections a year which pretty much means I am selling product all year round (as well as an additional swimwear line we now do!).
I deal with all our international agents/distributors, all of our UK key accounts and any boutique smaller accounts where we don’t have an agent servicing that area.

The best thing about my job is the variety of things I do really. I might have the wholesale manager title but I’ve been with the company so long I can’t help but get involved with other areas of the business and share my ideas! I’ve helped create a promotional street team family for Motel, I organised the recent Grace Neutral collaboration we did, ran the clothes show, designed a print, helped organise events and held sample sales as a few examples!
Mainly though on the run up to the ranges I spend time with design and production and we all discuss requirements and needs for future seasons, we go over any upcoming collections in sample form and will go through pricing and design to make sure the range is completely as we feel it should be.
Selling the range I am speaking with customers, maintaining relationship and meeting their Motel needs while also trying to source new relationship with potential new customers.
I work on exclusive designs with some of my customers and bridge the gap between all the agents and Motel helping them meet their customer needs to.
Its definitely not a 9-5 role but I’m fortunate that I love my job and that’s why I’m so passionate about it.

How do you dress for work, do you show off your tattoos? I’m pretty lucky that fashion is possibly one of the easiest sectors to work in and wear whatever you like.
I of course wear a lot of Motel anyway and I try and do this for meetings especially. Generally anything black, grey and a shade of in-between!
I don’t purposely get my tattoos out but I don’t hide them either. So long as it’s not a cold day I will happily have my tattoos on display for meetings, the office or any trade show we do!

What kinds of reactions do you get? From work colleagues, family and the general public. 
I think my mum has the typical parent reaction and worries about how many I have and if I will still like them in the future, like I say no one else in my family has them so I’m slightly different, but that said she often tells me she’s proud of me for being vegetarian and having tattoos. She’s happy that I express myself and stay true to me.
I generally get a really good reaction to my tattoos from the general public, work colleagues and anyone I might have in for a meeting. My hand is the most commented on, I guess because its the first people see a lot but I’ve never had any negative comments said to my face. I of course have had to challenge a few “what about when you’re older” comments like most!

What advice would you give other people considering their careers when getting tattooed?
I personally think that you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do to your body. That’s the skin you have to live in and if you want to decorate your home, your body then you should. A tattoo doesn’t define who a person is or change their skill set or mind and therefore it shouldn’t change the jobs that you can to do. That being said there are still jobs/companies/careers out there which feel tattoos which can be seen in the working environment are not professional, so I guess at that point you have to make a choice on what’s more important to you and perhaps think more carefully about placement of what you want done. It still shouldn’t stop you though, there are plenty of ways to keep expressing yourself but just maybe avoid the hand, neck and face area.

Eric Ceballos: The Rebel With A Cause

23-year-old Eric Ceballos is an actor, print model, TV personality, activist and tattoo enthusiast from Fresno California, who currently works at Hot Topic. We chatted to Eric about what drives him and what he fights for… 

 

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I’ve been acting for about 10 years now. But despite what a lot of people think, I can be quite shy. I have my moments. I have acted in everything from movies, major music videos to independent films and everything in between. The first major role I ever auditioned for was Freddie Benson on Nickelodeon’s Icarly. I’ve done a movie called Family Of a Four which is a film that appears on Lifetime here in the U.S as well as films titled Jimmy Hansens Heaven and I recently wrapped production of a sci-fi horror film called Life Of The Flesh.

As for music videos I’ve done a handful of high profile music videos including the band Yellowcard, Artist Jeffree Star, and most recently Disney Channel star Sofia Carson’s music video for her song “Goosebumps”. I haven’t done a ton of modeling compared to my acting career but I love it. Growing up I was really heavy and a little awkward at times so becoming a model of any sort had never once crossed my mind. But I have modeled for Hot Topic, Craze Watches which is an organization who’s funds support cancer foundations and research. It’s founded by my friend Jay G from MTV’s “The Real World”.
It is very hard to pick which one I like the most.  But I’d probably say acting because it was my first love and I find it to be very therapeutic. I fun to leave your world and your worries behind and step into another persons shoes for awhile.

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There are so many people I look up to in this industry, but currently, I’d love to work with actor and musician Jared Leto. I’ve had that pleasure of seeing him in person and his energy is contagious. I’d loved to have worked with Heath Ledger, James Dean, River Phoenix. The talent they had was immeasurable. I have a fascination with old Hollywood. I’m a very old soul and feel that’s where I would’ve fit in most.

The wheels in my head are always turning and I always have something going for me. I’ve done some reality TV as well. I have friends on MTV’s “The Real World” and keep in contact with them, attend all the after shows and reunions. Friends from “Bad Girls Club” on Oxygen and last year I had a cameo in the farewell special of professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek’s show “Fantasy Factory” on MTV. I also have a couple of personal appearances coming up. I have the annual NEDA walk in April in L.A! That’s a part of my activist work and I’m really excited to go out and support and meet people.

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In terms of activism, I speak and I write, make public appearances. I’m extremely passionate about it. I support organizations such as The Jed Foundation, NEDA, Love is Louder, My Life My Power, NAMED, Proud2BMe.
I’d like to think I stand for young men and men’s empowerment. I don’t believe we have enough of that in today’s society. Everyone has this illusion that men have to be macho, a alpha male who has to seem strong and bullet proof. I personally have struggled with an eating disorder, body image issues and self harm. A lot of these things are looked at as “girl issues” or “female problems” but men feel the same amount of pressure as everyone else. We aren’t exempt to pressure or negativity.

Growing up, I had no one to look up to when I was battling all of this which contributed to my self harm. I felt like I was the only boy dealing with these issues. I try to be a voice for the voiceless, raise awareness, break these stereotypes and stigmas. It hasn’t been easy but I believe society is starting to realize what I’m talking about. I like living life on the edge and I kinda play by my own rules. I’ve always been looked at as the rebel with a cause. I believe everyone has a voice, use it. Speak up even if your voice shakes. You never know who’s listening or who needed to hear exactly what your preaching.

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I love getting tattooed.  My skin is like my journal. Every piece on my body represents something personal whether it’s a person, a phase I went through, a trial I overcame, an idol of mine, mantras and mottos I live by, lyrics from my favorite songs and quotes from my favorite authors. I’m lucky to have worked with good artists in the past and my current one, Christian, is one of the best young artists in Fresno. As an artist I like to surround myself with people who are equally creative and there are no artists like tattoo artists, I mean they literally bring pictures, people’s idea’s and visions to life.

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My Family, faith and my supporters all equally done so much for me and been so supportive that I feel like I owe them. I have so much I want to do in my life, so many dreams and ambitions and I have no intention of stopping until I get there. My parents are amazing, they’ve believed in me from the beginning. I grew up the black sheep, I wasn’t the best looking kid and I grew up being extremely hard on myself. Letting go of all of that, being confident in my skin and liking who I am today has gotten me here.

Also, I owe a lot to my brother Adrian. He passed away three years ago. In addition to being my older brother, he was one of my best friends. Every time I’d go out of town for a gig, he’d be the first to call to see how everything went. He cared. He was very supportive of my work and he made me feel like the dream I was chasing mattered. We always looked at tattoo magazines as kids and always said “look how cool these tattoos are! One day we’ll be in a tattoo magazine to show off all the cool work we’re going to get done when we’re older”. My motivation is him. I love you brother.

I like to say that I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time. Life is short and the goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will!

Eric would like to dedicate this post to his brother who passed away Adrian “Boy” Ceballos

Tattoo Artist Credit: Christian De Anda from Black Inc in Fresno, Ca

Photographer Credit: Virginia Maciel

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Completion

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about her tattooed body being complete… 

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‘It’s the end of an era!’ My artist exclaimed as we completed the final session on my back piece. Over 18 months we had put in 30 hours to completely cover my back and thighs in ink. That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears – literally and on numerous occasions. It didn’t feel like the end of anything though, months of eagerly awaiting to be finished and… And well nothing really.

I don’t feel any different. I don’t know if I expected to really? Perhaps I expected to feel more complete in some way. I am extremely happy it’s finished, it looks beautiful and I can’t wait for summer to show it off. The thing is it’s not really finished-finished. Next we will add sleeves, after that extend around my ribs. Will it be finished then? Is there ever a finite finishing point when we begin to get tattooed?

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For me I don’t think there will be. There may come a time when I no longer feel like getting tattooed any more but I expect that to be because I’ve found something else to become obsessed with rather than ever feeling ‘finished’. I don’t have an idealised image of my tattooed body that I am on a mission to achieve. I do have a small list of artists I would like to tattoo me and an idea of what and where the tattoos would be.

I think the biggest question I have for myself is whether I want to achieve a full body suit or just continue with some more large pieces and keep those empty spaces. If I get one leg finished into a sleeve then I’ve really got to do the other, one Japanese style and one traditional, would that work? I feel a body suit, for myself at least, would need to have a coherent design – but then I look at where my two different styles meet and for some reason it just works. Perhaps it’s like fashion, how we string together old jeans and beaten up trainers, those well worn and much loved items that when combined are ‘just us’. For no other reason that that simply we like them and choose to live our lives in them.

Interview with Paul Davies

We chatted to geometric tattoo artists 28-year-old Paul Davies who works out of Artium Ink in Kingsbridge, Devon about what inspired him to become a tattooist and how he recently found out that he is autistic… 

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Photo taken by Matthew Partington

I’ve been tattooing for roughly six years. I moved from Cardiff seven years ago to study fine art at Plymouth university. It was a really last minute decision so there was no available student housing. I moved in with some guys that worked in a tattoo studio, so hanging out with them everyday I started to think this was the path for me, rather than being a painter/illustrator which had been my original goal when moving. I’ve never been interested in doing anything other than being an artist. From the age of around five I really wanted to be an architect, but by the time I was old enough to do some work experience at an architectural practice, I realised it wasn’t as creative as I hoped it would be.

Once I started tattooing I was immediately drawn to patterns and geometry. But the style wasn’t really as popular then, so I just did anything to keep busy. Dabbled in all styles of tattooing and slowly convinced people instead of idea had, maybe it would look good to add some patterning to their tattoo. As time progressed the patterning took over. But I still really enjoyed all the other styles I used to do so I merged them to create something of my own.

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I enjoy all the drawing I do but given the chance to design unrequested designs I tend to draw things that I have an almost obsessive interest in, like people with super human abilities, whether that’s a comic book character, Jedi knight or action hero that inexplicably can’t be killed.

I have a few guest spots and conventions around the UK lined up for this year but the one I’m most looking forward to is a guest spot I was invited to in Toronto. One of my favourite artists from Japan has been invited at the same time as me so looking forward to meeting him.

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I hate most of my own tattoos as I did the majority that I can see myself to practice when I first started. I’m ambidextrous so I’ve done both of my forearms which as they are always on show, get most attention. I get embarrassed when I’m asked the artist that did them as its not a reflection of the work I do.
Recently I found out I’m autistic. On the spectrum it’s Aspergers but I’ve been told that’s not used anymore and it’s ASD (autism spectrum disorder). For my job it’s a massive benefit, I’m completely focused, never want to stop working and able to think about things a little differently to other people. Behind the scenes it really impacts my personal life. I’m currently writing this from a bar in Cheltenham as I’m heading back from Tattoo Tea Party in Manchester and I’ve freaked out that too many people got on the train in Birmingham and I can’t get back on until I’m drunk.

My wife would liken me to the character Spock from Star Trek, I’m not without emotion, I just don’t understand to show it properly. I think only logically about things and have little time struggle to include other people’s feelings in my actions. A few people over the years have mentioned I maybe autistic but I naively dismissed it as I thought only of the extreme form of the disorder.
Recently I posted a status about this and I’ve had a couple of artists message me saying they often feel a similar way, I wasn’t surprised to see they also specialise in patterns and geometry.

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Being a social job I do struggle with it, it would be great if I could just be given an arm to take away and work on alone. Since finding this out I’ve realised I have a script that I say to each customer and that helps me feel in control. I have almost the same conversation every day and I really like it that way. Routine helps me function well, and sometimes I think I couldn’t have got to where I am without autism. However I am stuck in Cheltenham until I get over my anxiety attack and I’m drunk enough to get back on public transport so, swings and roundabouts.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Tea Party

Last weekend saw Tattoo Tea Party return to Manchester for its fifth season and our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom popped along to see what this year’s convention had to offer… 

An action packed convention with an all the fun of the fair theme- dodgems, waltzer and side shows galore. Hosting over 350 artists over the sprawling Event City we wandered the maze catching up with old friends and discovering new. Tattoo styles were diverse with many artists choosing to offer walk-ups all weekend what better place to get your latest tattoo fix.

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We chatted to Bex Lowe who was offering the most kawaii flash think smiley pizza, grinning tea cups with some old school gamer influences too, Hadoooooken anyone? Tacho Franch came armed with bold traditional Japanese flash peonies, neko, Noh masks and fat toads. Whilst we and many others gathered around to watch in fascination the hand tapped tattooing by Lawrence Ah Ching.
Tea Party is a vibrant, family friendly show which return next year 4th-5th March 2017

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@fleckystattoo

tach

@tachofranch 

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@bexlowetattoos

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@goldiloxtattooer

ttt@tileproductions

Apprentice Love: Olivia Foxx

We spotted the work of apprentice Olivia Grace Foxx, 23 on Instagram and instantly loved her dotted Disney tattoos. We chatted to Olivia to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Skin Kitchen in Margate, Kent where she works.

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How did you get your apprenticeship? What were you doing before? I’d been trying to find an apprenticeship for around two years and had been for a few interviews but not found the right shop. A couple of my friends sent me a link to an advertisement for an apprenticeship at a local well renowned shop. I sent over examples of my work, had an interview and was asked to work a trial day. Everyone immediately made me feel welcome and I’ve been there full time since December 2014.
Before starting my apprenticeship I’d been working as a doctors receptionist for around three years, all the while building up a decent portfolio.

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What do you like about it, what do you dislike? There are so many things I love about being an apprentice. I love working in a creative environment and being surrounded by such talented artists who are also a lot of fun. Being given the opportunity to do something you love everyday is incomparable.
The only down side for me is that I get incredibly nervous and do doubt myself and my work a lot.

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Do you have a background in art? Ever since I can remember I’ve always drawn. I studied art at A-Level and went on to do a Foundation Diploma specialising in fashion and textiles (not too sure why) but I did learn a lot of useful skills and techniques that I still use now. I was a little unsure about what I wanted to do career wise until I got my first few tattoos and realised that was the job for me.

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How would you describe your style? I feel like I’m still trying to find my style but think this will come with time and tattooing more. I’m really enjoying dotwork with some elements of blackwork at the moment. I’ve also done quite a few mandalas which are fun, and also some dotwork Disney pieces!

What is a typical day like for you? A typical day at the shop includes setting up my boss’ station, cleaning the shop and making sure everything is nice and tidy. Speaking to and booking in clients and lots of drawing (if I’m not tattooing). There’s also quite a lot of tea and coffee making.

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How did you feel doing your first tattoo? My first tattoo was on myself, it was a little traditional rose on the inside of my calf. I was so nervous and it took me around four hours. Mainly due to the fact it was so painful. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of lovely volunteers (mainly my brother) who let me practice on them shortly after.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My tattoos are a bit of a mixture really. I love traditional/neo traditional work. My first was a traditional thigh piece done by Dan Frye, which I’m still completely in love with. I’ve also got a couple of really cool pieces done by the guys I work with including a stylised Daenerys on the back of my calf. I have a ridiculous amount of space, but I have a long list of artists that I want work done by so it’ll have to be gradual.

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