Tagged: tattoos

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… 

lys

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 a awful shop in France, so I don’t count it, I started a real apprentice ship 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.

Irislys3

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.

Irislys6

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.

Irislys5
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!

Irislys
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.

Irislys2
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.

photo3
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.

photo1

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.

photo2
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.

image2

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.

-1

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.

Apprentice Love: Jay Rose

We spotted the work of 21-year-old apprentice Jay Rose on Instagram and instantly loved her dark dotwork and floral tattoos. We chatted to Little Jay to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Black Dot Tattoo Studio in Glasgow where she works… 

_Z0A9380-Edit

Photo by Nik Antonio

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been an apprentice for just over a year, I did my first tattoo on May 18th 2015.

How did you start? What did you do before?  I’ve always had an interest in tattooing, I was exposed to tattoos my entire childhood. My granddad has some really old traditional style tattoos, I grew up looking at pop eye tattooed across his hand, with old school lettering in a heart for his mum and dad. I think being exposed to tattoos so frequently they drew my attention more towards them. I knew I was going to be heavily tattooed; I just didn’t think I’d be the one doing it!

When I started to properly get tattooed one of the people who tattooed me was Raph Cemo, when I went to get tattooed by him I was a little lost, things weren’t going to plan and I’d lost my vision of what I wanted to be doing. I came out of that tattoo session so empowered (and a little physically drained), knowing what I wanted to do and feeling silly for not realising how obvious it was that I should start tattooing. It wasn’t until a year later, when I had set up a clear path and done a lot of self-development that I met Tom and somehow convinced him to let me be his apprentice.

FullSizeRender-2

Do you have a background in art? My parents brought me up drawing and letting me make creative messes in the house, my mum’s a wonderful artist but she’ll never admit that to anyone. My nan used to paint water colours and I’d draw the flowers in her garden when I was a little girl, I guess that’s where my love for flowers comes from as well. I’ve always been artistic due to the way I was brought up, I studied fine art and photography before starting my degree in painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of Art.

What drew you to the tattoo world? I get tattooed for lots of different reasons, but long story short tattooing is allowing me to create a vessel I feel comfortable in and am proud of. My journey with my body is a continuous one that I work on loving everyday but tattooing has allowed me to externalise the vision I hold for my body, watching that come to life and loving myself a little bit more each time is an emotional path. I have never been more myself than I am now due to tattooing, and that’s a really comforting feeling. This vessel is the only thing I will ever truly own, the only thing that will ever truly be mine and I am working on improving it and worshipping it every day.

I am so thankful for all of the artists that have allowed me to sit in their chair and help me with my journey, if I can even help someone half as much as these incredible beings have helped me I’d be overjoyed. Seeing how much of an impact you have had in someone’s life, be that from helping with self-improvement or to be a part of a creation of a memory is magical to see, that’s why I love tattooing.

FullSizeRender-4

Describe your style, how has it changed? I guess the style I tattoo in would technically fall under dot work, my style itself however is constantly changing and developing as I meet new people and discover new things. Tibetan art has been a major influence throughout my life and was a really heavy part of my style and what I was tattooing at the beginning. The impact it has on me hasn’t changed however I’ve naturally moved towards more botanical tattoos as of late. I wish to never become ignorant of the origins and meanings of what I tattoo on others as well as what I put onto myself.

What inspires you? It sounds cliché but for me I gain inspiration from the little things, a lot of my inspiration comes from flowers, I find myself happiest when sitting in botanical gardens surrounded by life continuously blossoming around me.

I didn’t have the most stereotypical upbringing, my mum taught me about Buddhism and took me to galleries so that I was exposed to different cultures and their art. I take a lot from Tibetan Buddhist art and symbolism, their art is not only aesthetically beautiful but the meanings behind everything comes from love and understanding.

People and places are the most vital inspirations you can get as that’s what is continuously surrounding you, if you make a point of living a positive life, surrounded by the most inspiring people, in the most beautiful places you’re going to have such a love filled creative outlet and there’s something really blissful about that.

FullSizeRender-3

What would you love to tattoo? At the moment I’m really enjoying more botanical pieces, I’ve recently grown a love for drawing plants with the bulbs attached. I’ve started to get really into anatomical drawings as well, so I’d really like to do a large botanical/anatomical thigh piece, I think that would be really stunning.

What is a typical day like for you? It normally involves a lot of reading, I get a lot of inspiration from books so am often reading a few things at once and often drawing from them as well. My work outside of tattooing is text based so a lot of that involves writing pieces and hammering them into large metal plates for hours on end. That’s also where I end up drawing up a lot of my tattoo designs, as it’s my creative space and outlet.

I work in a private studio, so it’s by appointment only which means I get to control the amount of tattoos I’m doing a day and I don’t have set hours. Tattooing is where I find my mind the most clear, when I’m tattooing, drawing or reading my mind is simply taking in what is in front of me. When I’m tattooing I am so engrossed in the experience, in what I’m tattooing, in why the person is getting it and who they are, that I often forget this is a job.

FullSizeRender-6
Can you tell us about your own tattoos? A lot of the work I hold upon my own body is that of Tibetan and Buddhist symbolism along with some personal links with friends and family. Everything I hold on my person means something, which can be taken in the form of Buddhist myths to my own personal connections to the objects or imagery my vessel now features.
One of my favourite tattoos is an outlined heart with ‘JuSt’ written inside; ‘JuSt’ stands for Julie and Stephen which are both of my parents names, the font is from my typewriter and the non symmetrical heart is hand drawn by me and was kept imperfect to represent me along side them as a continuous link to one another when I’m far from home.

I also now posses The Three Graces upon my arm which is taken from Botticelli’s painting the ‘La Primavera’, after studying this painting for a year whilst studying history of art at the age of 18 I flew to Florence to view this painting in the flesh.  I sobbed staring at it for hours mesmerised by the impact it had not only on my body but on me as a person. I decided to get the Three Graces tattooed on me due to what they represented as goddesses of such things as charm, beauty, and creativity.

_Z0A9444-Edit

Photo by Nik Antonio

I made a start of my full back piece earlier this year with Hannah Sykes which is not only the largest piece on me to date but arguably the most physically and mentally draining also. The whole process through the amount of time, continuous alterations, and adjustments to fit the vision that both Hannah and myself hold for my body is a long and exciting journey we hope to finish at the end of this year. The piece itself is an array of Tibetan flowers spread over my full back and wrapping around my bum. Getting my back tattooed was a huge decision for me, not only for the amount of space it spanned on my body but also to make sure it fitted and worked with my petite frame rather than over powering it. However any worry swiftly disappeared when I saw the vision Hannah had come up with and altered to fit my body perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with the way in which this continuation is turning out.

Women With Tattoos: Rosie

A few weeks ago our blog content manager Rosie was photographed and interviewed for the Women with Tattoos blog that explores the stories and art behind inked skin. In this post we share her photographs and interview where she talks about how tattoos have helped her to accept and celebrate her body…



What drew you into the world of tattoos? It all started when my boyfriend booked in to get his first tattoo. I was 18 at the time. If he was going to get one, so was I! I had always wanted one, but until then hadn’t really thought about it or had the guts to go through with it. My family have always been pretty against them. I remember one of my uncles getting a small football team badge when I was younger and everyone hating it.
I’ve always loved henna and mehndi-style patterns so I decided to start small with a floral design on my foot. I was totally unprepared for the pain that I never got it finished. I just couldn’t sit still so there are some wonky lines, but it is mine and reminds me of that time in my life.

It took me three years to pluck up the courage to get another tattoo. When I eventually did, I got a small fortune fish. I am obsessed with lucky symbols and talismans from different cultures and I’m secretly hoping these things will bestow on me some much needed luck! The lovely Sophie Adamson tattooed me and continued to tattoo me for most of my university years. She started my tattoo heyday; in the midst of it I was getting a new tattoo every week. I just loved spending time with Sophie and, of course, I adored everything she created for me.

Goddess sleeve by Lucy O’Connell

Lady Lamp by Sadee Glover

Left: moth by Sophie Adamson, Russian doll by Abbie Williams. Right: butterfly by Sonia Jade, hot air balloon by Sophie Adamson

What role do tattoos play in your life? Right now, they’re kind of a hobby and also a labour of love. Being involved in Things&Ink has opened a whole world of tattooing to me. I can interview, write about and research tattoos for hours! Without the magazine and blog I probably wouldn’t be as tattooed as I am and I wouldn’t have found so many awesome artists. Also my list of people I need work from wouldn’t be so long or frustrating. Tattoos have allowed me to meet some awesome people, make new friendships and travel the country. I’ll always be grateful to Alice (the editor) for the wonderful opportunity she has given me.

Why do you think that tattoos help people feel more confident? I’m not sure about everyone else, but with every new tattoo, I begin to love my body that little bit more. I see it as an empty canvas that I can fill. A tapestry that I alone can weave and create, a thing that I can change in a positive way rather than something that I feel negatively towards. I can make it my own and no one else can dictate what I decide to do with it. Now when I look at my body, I see the blank spaces that need filling, the possibilities and the gaps that have been mapped out for artists and ideas. Tattoos have become a way for me to celebrate myself and my body, a way for me to not only express and explore myself but find out what I find important in life.

Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.


Bird tattoo by Jessi James

If you had to explain what a tattoo is to a child, what would you say? Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.

How long does it usually take you to decide on a tattoo? Do you do lots of research beforehand? It depends whether an artist has drawn some flash that I love or whether I love their style and want them to create something. My left sleeve by Lucy O’Connell is two years in the making. I’ve always loved oriental styles, culture and objects. A trip to Vietnam last year to visit a friend really cemented my love for the Far East. I fell in love with the country that I saw from the back of my friend’s moped, from the beautiful pagodas to the street food. Being in a completely different country with some of my closest friends really helped me decide what direction I wanted my arm to go in. This sleeve is not just beautiful, it’s a tribute to the time we spent together and how important these people are to me.


Peacock quill by Sophie Adamson, bobby pin by Abbie Williams

Is a tattoo artist’s personality important to you? I know someone who makes sure she meets the artist before deciding to go ahead with them. I tend to get tattooed by mainly women, who I always feel more comfortable with anyway. I guess I just prefer the company of women. I also find that the styles of tattoo that I go for – bright, colourful and girly – tend to reflect those who create them. I have met a couple of tattooists at conventions that I didn’t click with or I got a bad vibe from and so I won’t be getting tattooed by them, no matter how much I like their work. If I get on with someone I definitely tend to get tattooed by them more, especially if they enjoy tattooing what I have commissioned. If I have fun – well, as much fun as you can have getting tattooed – I usually feel a lot better about the tattoo. I associate the person, jokes, music or the time in general with how I feel about the completed tattoo.


Tattoos by Lucy O’Connell

You work in digital media and I wondered how you feel Instagram has changed the tattoo scene? I’ve only known the tattoo scene since Instagram. Before then I didn’t know a lot about it, except just the local shop in our town. I think it’s amazing for the industry. There are so many amazing artists to discover and find all over the world. I spend way too much time on Instagram, finding new tattoo inspiration and generally wasting time! Everyone I have been tattooed by I found on Instagram and anyone I have chatted to for the magazine or blog I have found on the app. Instagram opens up tattoos to copycats and trends, but it also allows us to feel a wider sense of community and belonging.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about getting their first tattoo? Firstly, find a good artist whose style you love – there really is no excuse with social media now. Don’t just go to your local artist because they’re cheap or your friend went – tattoos are worth travelling for. They’re an investment, they’re worth waiting for. It’s great to draw inspiration from other people’s work, but get your artist to draw something custom for you – it’ll have more meaning and will age better with you in the long run. Saying that, not every tattoo has to have some grand meaning or story. With each new one I get I tend to notice them less. They just become a part of me that will always be there. Be true to yourself, don’t follow fashions, these are fleeting, it is your skin forever, adorn it with beautiful things and just do it!

Featured artists: Lucy O’Connell, Sadee Glover, Sophie Adamson, Jodie Dawber, Ashley Luka, Abbie Williams, Jessi James, Hanan Qattan, Sonia Jade.

Shaded: Martyna Wisniewska

‘Shaded’ is an on-going interview series created by 21-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.

Martyna Wisniewska is a 21 year-old photojournalism graduate based in Southampton who is as much a talented live music photographer as she is an ethereal visual artist. Contributing to ‘Shaded’, the South-Western surrealist enlightens us as to what it is that influences her creatively, the importance of tone in her photography and her fascination with crows that’s soon to inspire her next tattoo…

13511536_1704193683175499_1623918067_n

When did you start taking photographs? I moved to Southampton to study at university and started shooting at the beginning of 2014. I was reviewing gigs for three months prior, but I realised I hated writing more than anything so I picked up a camera instead. It hit me following a 65daysofstatic show that I was going to pursue this weird little path I found myself on. I remember running home from the venue with tears in my eyes – it felt like I finally found something I loved doing!

What influences your work? My work is very heavily influenced by people. I would be lying if I said the people I work with don’t influence the look or feel of certain frames. Other than that, I’m influence by the same things as to any other content creator: the internet, books, advertising – It’s all part of it! I look at images all the time. I was that weird kid in my art class, so I always had a wonky sense of what the things I make should look like. Dali was obviously a huge influence along with Eric Lacombe. It’s super tough to pin-point what exactly influences me, but I feel like it’s fair to say the way my work looks is environmental. I adapt my concepts to situations.

13523870_1704193686508832_65509960_o

Can you speak about the artists who inspire you? To be honest, it would be easier to speak of people who don’t inspire me. There’s naturally a bunch of artists who’s work I love. One of them being a German photographer based in Berlin, Gundula Blumi. She makes these dreamy, surrealistic images that I can’t get enough of. The tone of her work makes my brain tingle. It bugs me how one can be so creative. I also closely follow the work of other content creators like Joshua Halling, Sam Haines, Daniel Patlan, Liam Warton, Nona Limmen and Tamara Lichtenstein.

What do you use to create your images? In terms of cameras, anything from compact cameras to my ultimate baby, the Canon 6D. In terms of the look of my shots, I own a bag full of glass that I use to reflect my images and manipulate them. That’s it really. A bag full of glass is the key.

13514484_1704193583175509_2002431569_n

What do you admire in other people’s work? I struggle with tone a lot – my colour palette is so odd! Sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s the most infuriating thing in the world. Months ago, I went through a phase of making everything look dirty and over saturated. I now strive to get the dreamiest frames I possibly can, so tones and the use of natural light are things I admire the most in other people’s work.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t really have that many. I’m pretty much covered in animals, bones and plants. When I was a kid, I owned a bunch of lovable creatures, so a lot of my tattoos are either of animal skulls or my pets. I got a stick and poke last October when on tour with Milk Teeth and Title Fight. My pal Daniel Liljedahl did it. Most of my tattoos have been done by a Southampton-based tattoo artist and illustrator called Gemma Piper who works at Ginger Toms Tattoo Studio. I love her style, hence why I essentially let her cover my right leg in her work.

She was an apprentice at Ginger Toms when I started getting tattooed by her. I’ve been pretty lucky to have been able to watch her progress so closely. Sucha Igla produced a pretty big piece of mine. He’s this insanely talented artist who’s based in Gdansk, Poland. The design is a rat skull contained within a wooden hexagram. It sounds pretty gnarly, but it’s actually kind of girly. The only tattoo on my body that can really be considered to have any existential meaning is this funny looking lizard I’ve got tattooed on my calf. He has the word ‘relaxo’ written above him, simply because I forget to slow down and be mindful of my surroundings a lot of the time.

13518194_1704193569842177_1534605099_o

What attracted you to tattoos in the first place? I always liked the look of tattooed skin; my family never really approved. I got in trouble for getting my nose pierced when I was 16, so you can imagine my Mum’s reaction when I first started getting tattooed. She made me promise not to get any more after my first, but 22 tattoos later and I think she might finally be over it all.

Do you have any plans for future work? The only tattoo I have planned right now is a big black crow that’s gonna go on my arm. I recently developed this weird attraction to crows; they’re not only the most handsome of birds but also super interesting to watch. They’re like a bunch of bad boys hanging out, pissing each other off and protecting their turf. There are a lot of artists I’d love to get tattooed by, Hugo Tattooer being one of them. He tattoos the cutest little animals – it makes my heart hurt! I’d also love to get tattooed by this surrealist artist from Holland, Levi Jake. His portraiture is something that inspires my work and I would love one day to be able to get him to design me a dreamy piece to compliment my bag of glass.

13517858_1704193543175513_1976614625_o

Do you find that there’s a relationship between tattoo culture and the world your photography gravitates toward? There is definitely a link between tattoos and music. It’s all art in the end, isn’t it? I think the factor of self-expression is what makes band culture gravitate towards the world of tattoos. Both music and tattoos allow you to express yourself and your values.

Interview with Katie Kelly

21-year-old Katie Kelly is a retail artist at MAC cosmetics in South East London, we chatted to Katie about her make-up looks and tattoo collection… 

katie

I’d say my style was alternative, glam and goth. I have a different style everyday, I like to mix things up. I draw my inspiration for my looks from new products I have, or other cosmetics that I see. I like to use these but in my own way, I change them so they suit my style more. I tend to make them more dramatic and theatrical.

kkke

I’ve always loved and had a passion for makeup, and I guess practising a lot of different looks really helps me to progress. I furthered my skills when I went to makeup school in London for two years , I loved it! I’ve also just finished another course doing theatrical, media and SFX makeup. My dream job would be working on film and TV sets doing both beauty and SFX makeup. At the moment I am also working at MAC so I have a bit more extra training from that.

kkeell

My beauty must have is my Anastasia Beverly Hills dipbrow pomade! I can’t live without it, I even shaved half my eyebrow off so it makes me look less alien like. My go-to look is winged eyeliner with a dark crease and a light or shimmery lid. I like to change it up everyday but if I had to stick to one it would that.

kakakakak

I got my first tattoo the day after my eighteenth birthday! It’s a skeleton my ribs and it was one of the worse pains I’ve ever felt, but I absolutely love it! I got it because I had a love of forensics and science but went into a more creative career path instead, so I wanted my first tattoo to commemorate that.

I’ve always had an interest in tattoos I think they look so pretty! I adore Kat Von D and just wanted to look like her. I don’t think a tattoo has to have a special meaning, I  think if you like a tattoo and you’ve thought hard about it. Just go for it! Some of mine have no meaning and I love them. The ones that do have a story behind them have a special place in your heart and they stand out more than the others.

kaaa

My second and third tattoos are the ones around my forearms. On the left I have a daisy chain, just because daisies are my favourite flower on the right arm I have the one ring quote from Lord of the Rings in Elvish, as I love the books so much.  My fourth was the Pentagram on my shin. This was an impulse tattoo, my friend was getting one and I wanted one too. I first wanted it on my stomach, however the tattoo artist refused as he feared it would stretch when I got pregnant (even though I was only 18 at the time).

My fifth tattoo is also on my forearm. It’s a pin up girls face wearing a Anaheim Ducks hat and scarf. They’re the NHL team I support and wanted to get a tattoo dedicated to them for so long. It was done in California so I also got some California poppies to tie into the flower theme My sixth tattoo is the one on my calf. It’s an original piece by my Californian friend Gus J. It’s a skull with a rose going through it.

kkk

Thoughts on the 2016 Brighton Tattoo Convention by a Man with no Tattoos

Writer Harry Casey-Woodward has no tattoos, yet he found himself accompanying his tattoo-loving wife to the Brighton Tattoo Convention on 1st May. These are his impressions…

bbbb

Tattoos are a part of my life, but not directly. Both my sister and my wife are tattoo enthusiasts. My wife currently has eleven tattoos and she’s getting another one this summer. I’ve lost count of how many my sister has (and so has she!)

I don’t feel any burning desire to get tattoos for myself, but I can’t help sharing in the excitement my wife feels when she’s arranging a new tattoo or when we’re on our way to getting one. I have accompanied her for nearly all her tattoos and although the process looks uncomfortable and painful, the end result pleases her deeply and that’s enough for me.

Although I can’t decide on an image I’d like enough to have etched into my skin, I admire the sheer amount of images tattooists are able to imagine and illustrate on paper and skin. I especially respect the skill behind them after sitting through several sessions and watching art gradually blossom on my wife’s body.

bbbbt

This year’s Brighton Tattoo Convention was a fine exhibition of such skills. Being the first big tattoo event I’ve attended, I felt a little alienated; like a bare-skinned astronaut amongst a strange multi-coloured race. Excessive similes aside, I mostly felt like I was at a living, breathing art gallery. But never did I feel the threat and suspicion that some people feel when confronted with tattoos. It certainly would have been my grandparents’ idea of hell!

On the other hand, I wonder if the event itself felt like a big inky cocoon for tattoo lovers, a haven where they could indulge in ink without being judged by outsiders. There was certainly a lack of shame in the human body, as people whipped out bare flesh to get tattooed in the cramped stalls while throngs of onlookers streamed past.

In fact, the closeness of the stalls heightened the impression of a close tattooed community within the spacious bosom of the Brighton Centre. Tattooists and tattoo lovers alike were mingling and chatting and generally appeared to be having a good time. Even a few people getting inked looked to be in some cat-like state of relaxation. The whole event oozed excited but chilled vibes.

bbbbbh

It was also amazing to see such a range of tattoos and yet everybody had their own style, from traditional fantasy-themed art to swearing cats. It was cool to see different methods of tattooing too, like the Ta Moko stall and one lady hand-poking an octopus on somene’s leg.

The event still hasn’t convinced me to get a tattoo, despite my wife’s nagging, and she was sad not to get one since booking lists that day had been eagerly filled. But we had a cool day out in the unbeatable joy land of Brighton. My wife also got fresh tattoo ideas and collected many cards from new tattooists she met and liked, which now make a nice collage on our notice board.

Photos by James Gilyead

Growing Pains With Tracy Kiss

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

tracy

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

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

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

tttttaaa

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

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

ttttttggg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh Bones Illustration

25-year-old Brit is an illustrator, writer and musician from London. We chatted to Brit about her dark gothic archaeology inspired drawings and her tattoos…

brit

Inspired by Things&Ink Brit created this self portrait just for us…

Drink things and ink
Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? I don’t have a background in art at all, I began drawing at university when I was studying archaeology – In the labs we had to draw the artefacts and bones. It was there I noticed that my drawings were good and not going so badly.  I then graduated and moved to Amsterdam to do an MA in archaeology and I started drawing for an hour a day and thought, this is much better than being in a library studying. So I didn’t do the MA and continued drawing instead!

What inspires you? Being an archaeologist inspired me the most because I spent years researching the human psyche and behaviour throughout time. My speciality is death and burial, and I guess that often comes across in my art work. I also love poetry, which inspires my art quite a lot and along with every illustration, I write a poem.

you drained me 2

What medium do you use? How do you create each piece? I use both digital and non-digital. I love using fine line pens and Indian ink to create my work. I like things to be imperfect because that way you seen the human in it.

What kinds of things do you draw? Usually I will draw people, disembodied limbs, plants – anything really. I almost always draw around a poem or song I’ve written, to give some visuals to my other artwork in my music and writing. I like it all to be one big art piece – audio, visual and written.

Describe your style? Tailored, black, kind of like an old fashioned 1920’s boy!

i did so much for you

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I usually admire artists whose work is nothing like mine! It’s nice to clear my head of anything remotely like my work now and again, so I really like the work of Gordon Armstrong and Robert Saeheng they’re really great. But I also like old school artists like Patti Smith, her word work really inspires me in my own poetry and in-turn in the art I create around the words.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I don’t have too many tattoos, definitely under 30 but most of them I love, even though some of them are definitely bad prison style ones. I have some plants, pinky promise hands, trouble making pigeons, dead fish, skulls, love letters, words. Everything! My first one was was just a small one on my foot in Hebrew, nothing too interesting!

britgg

How do tattoos make you feel?
My tattoos mean a lot, I’m sure a lot of people say that. Because most of my work is visual, it’s a way that I express myself, so I really do try and add some depth to the things I get tattooed! But sometimes you have so many tattoos there’s only so much meaning behind all of them – some don’t mean a whole lot, but there’s always a good memory behind getting it tattooed.

Do you do commissions? I do commissions, I do ink originals and screen prints for sale on my shop, but I also do a lot of album cover work, tattoo designs and logo designs.

i need space

Where can people buy your art? They can head over to ohbones.com and find my shop that way, I will be stocking up for the summer soon, so there’ll be some new T shirts and badges!