Valentine’s Day isn’t always the easiest holiday to tackle, and some people take it more seriously than others. Our guest writer and journalist 22-year-old Rachel Tucker shares her top five gift ideas to satisfy your beau this coming Sunday…
1. This collaboration from our long-time loves, tattooist Guen Douglas and homeware creators Red Temple Prayer, would be the perfect way to perk up your Valentine’s desk. Gwen’s traditional envelope design is available on a mug or on a card and is available on the Red Temple Prayer website. Red Temple Prayer have a rad collection of kitchenware and accessories, the Forever My Queen mug might even make a good gift to myself. Self love and all that, right?
2. Tattooist, designer for the Grit N Glory clothes line, model and all round bad-ass woman, Megan Massacre, has created these “not your school Valentines” cards for those of you who aren’t into all that lovey-dovey mushy stuff. Saying “you’re my homeslice” and “be my weirdo” might just be the way to win them over without wearing your heart on your sleeve.
3. Great gifts often involve days out, giving up your time and just hanging out, and what better way to celebrate being the rad couple you are than by treating yourselves to tickets for this year’s Brighton Tattoo Convention. This year the date’s been moved closer to summer meaning you might even be able to brave a romantic walk on the beach without being blown away!
4. London based artist Alex May Hughes creates amazing, one-of-a-kind gold and glass artwork. Using actual gold carat foil, pearl and mirrors, Alex creates these amazing pop culture inspired pieces. If you’re feeling lavish, why not commission your Valentine’s name, anniversary date, the place you met? Maybe even something from their favourite film or a quote. The possibilities are endless and the results are beautiful.
5. Last but not least, the idea that I’d like to think is most obvious to fall on. Get a fucking tattoo! Now I’m not saying go and get eachother’s names on your buttcheeks, just because there’s so many different ways you can appreciate eachother through tattoos now! Plenty of studios have flash days on Valentine’s Day so you’ll have loads of ideas to chose from, and lets face it, having something on you forever that reminds you of that person is pretty much the ultimate sign of love.
Tattoo by Ian Parkin
So there you have it! The perfect gift guide for this Valentine’s day. Eat, drink and get smushy.
We all love a cactus, perhaps because they are pretty hard to kill making them great for anyone who wants a colourful plant in their life without the responsibility! There is no better way to show others the things you love than in a tattoo so here is some of our favourite cactus inspired tattoos…
Editor Alice Snape recently got tattooed by Berlin-based Myra Brodsky, 27, aka spinsterette on Instagram, while she was guesting at Seven Doors in east London. Alice couldn’t resist asking Myra some questions while under the needle…Tattoo artist Myra Brodsky and editor Alice Snape at Seven Doors in east London
“Myra’s work is heavily influenced by art nouveau and the Victorian age – the periods of art that I am drawn to… so I couldn’t resist getting a tattoo by her while she was over in London. I picked a moon and hand from her flash, and conducted this interview while I was getting tattooed… just imaging the buzz of the needle as you read.”
Alice: “How long have been a tattoo artist for?”
Myra: “I started tattooing in late 2008, after studying visual communications at university. My parents were always very anti me going into tattooing, but my father has now passed away and my mother has moved to Spain, so they are not part of my life anymore and are not aware of what I do. My parents were very religious and this is probably where their attitude came from. I was born and raised in a very conservative, jewish family.”
Alice: “What do you think drew you to tattoos then?”
Myra: “It was really actually by accident that I came into tattooing. I never planned it, I never had the wish to become a tattoo artist. My best friend started to tattoo, and I thought that seemed kinda fun. So she immersed me into the tattoo world, she had all the gear at home, and I started tattooing too. At first, just for fun – it was never big business or starting something serious. I did shitty little tattoos on my own body, but never thought it was something I could make a living from… I thought my parents would hate me and turn against me.”
“What did you do for a job at this time?”
“I worked for an ad agency. I found it really boring.”
“When did you start tattooing properly, as a job?”
“I actually started tattooing when I was still at university too, I used to have to do 12-hour days. I was still working at that agency and attending university and I was already tattooing. It was a lot to do. I found it easy as I didn’t have the wish to meet up with friends in my spare time. I was dedicated to my work, being productive was great. Now I need tattooing for my living.”
“Do you think that is something that is hard being a tattoo artist? Would you want to change it or be something else?”
“Yeah. I mean being self employed is hard in general. I hate that. I hate doing my taxes, I am really bad at counting, I cannot count at all! If I had the choice I would be a magician. My father comes from the casino business and when my sister and I were still young we used to go to Las Vegas pretty often. My sister and I grew up watching shows like David Copperfield. I admire those magic shows, even if it is an illusion, I love it. I wish I could do that.”
“Do you think that has a big impact on your work?”
“Totally. I love all that imagery surrounding all those magic things. I also believe in magic powers. Whenever I have a problem I call my fortune teller instead of going to the doctor. They tell me different things, I can ask her anything. When I was planning my tour through Europe I asked her which shops would accept me. In London, she said there would be a chance that only one shop would accept me and now I am here at Seven Doors.”
“Do you plan to live in New York?”
“I want to move there and work Red Rocket tattoo in Midtown.”
“Do you think that is part of the beauty of being a tattoo artist being able to travel around?”
“I think it is a good thing. I know a lot of people who aren’t into travelling, but I am because I don’t really feel comfortable in just one place. I get bored so easily. I think it is a fun game to have to challenge yourself to act like a local in so many cities. I like that kind of game.”
“What is your favourite city you have been to so far?”
“New York. I like London too. You cannot really describe New York in words. It is just perfect.”
“How would you describe your style as a tattooist?”
“I would say I don’t really want to put a name on that. I can only say what inspires me and what I use as reference. These are actually images from all of the great eras from the past, in art history. I know a lot about art history. Most of the things I take are from art nouveau and the Victorian age and Edwardian age. Art Deco is also nice but it is too geometric for my kind of thing. I rather like organic decoration elements, because you can always take them and change them for every part of the body.”
“Do you like doing bigger pieces as well?”
“I prefer doing bigger pieces. But I don’t get to do many of them, I think because I’m not in one place all the time.”
“What would be your favourite thing to tattoo? If you could do anything on someone’s back what would you do?”
“I think it would be a scene out of a classic novel or play. Maybe a play by Shakespeare or a novel by Kafka. Anything that is already existing, that I could adapt. That is what I like, because I think it is timeless.”
“How would you like your style to progress in the future?”
“I am planning on starting more big pieces with more detail, more history behind them. More details and meaning in general.”
To view more of Myra’s work and to see where she will be working next, follow her on Instagram @spinsterette
We first interviewed Céline in 2014 (read the post here) since then she has had many more tattoos and is currently working on a body suit with Guy Le Tatooer. We caught up with Céline to find out more about her tattoo journey and what inspires the project…
What inspired you to work so closely with one tattooist to create your body suit? I’ve had different approaches since I started my journey. For a long time I collected tattoos from a lot of different artists: Jondix, Gotch, Cokney, Sway, Burton, Mikael de Poissy, Rodrigo Souto, to name a few. But I don’t see the point anymore. I think meeting Guy le Tatooer certainly changed my whole perspective on tattoos and on how I wanted to be tattooed. I never thought I would get that much work from Guy but after spending time with him my vision evolved and in the end it just made sense to give him full freedom with my body suit.
How did you decide to create such a huge project with Guy? Who approached who? Well, it just happened. Things were not supposed to be that way, I approached him in the first place to get a full back done. I guess he saw the potential of what we could do together and I think he pretty much knew right from the start the kind of direction he would take. But the project is in constant evolution. Every time we meet we discuss new ideas and ways of developing the project. We went from creating one piece to a full body project. Guy is now reorganising most of my existing work to create a cohesive look. It’s a neverending concept.
Do you let him have creative freedom or do you both generate ideas? We both generate ideas and discuss everything. We don’t need to talk that much though, we are on the same page. And he obviously has all the creative freedom he wants.
Do you worry that when it is complete you will lose a part of your life, that the journey will be over? Or will you be satisfied and feel a sense of achievement? There is no way I could get tattooed as much as I do on a permanent basis. It has to be temporary. Getting tattooed is not a hobby. And even though it should remain fun, it’s definitely not an insignificant process. Getting a body suit is a huge transformation for the body and mind.
I absolutely love the journey, I think it’s an incredible experience but I can’t wait for it to be over! I enjoy every minute of it but the more I do it, the more difficult it becomes. The pain is harder to take and I think harsher. Over all it’s mentally exhausting.
It’s a long process to see my final idea come to life. So I think I will definitely feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction the day I consider it’s finally over.
How did you make the decision to cover/change your existing front piece? I think the idea came up after Guy redesigned my chest piece. Like I said Guy is reworking every area of my body in order to create a cohesive look, which involves covering and/or blasting some old tattoos. We are basically creating a new look together. That’s the main idea. We don’t see tattoos as a permanent thing, even a tattoo can evolve. I think my chest piece is a great example. Phase two of my project with Guy is a full leg sleeves concept.
Do you worry about offending artist’s work that you are covering? A journey is a series of destinations. Nothing is final. So, no I don’t worry about offending anyone at all.
How often are you getting tattooed, how long is each session? I started getting tattooed seven years ago but the last three years have been the most intense. I get tattooed once or twice every month. To give you an example I had a total of 16 sessions in 2015.
What are your future tattoo plans? I suggest you follow my Instagram account to see what’s next…
Your style is very traditional but you have put your own stamp on the genre, did you choose to tattoo in this way or did it choose you? It’s nice to think that ‘he’ chose me, and it can be true, in some ways. I love to put my own sort on magic into the tattoos I do. I actually use symbols that are familiar to me, coming from art, my musical background, and everything I like. Then I recreate an image that conceptually can be interpreted in various ways.
I like to imagine an idea, but also its opposite, both in colours and shapes. The contrasts are what make the difference.
When did you fall in love with art and tattoos? Since I was very small, even in kindergarten, my grandfather used to take me to Staglieno (a monumental cemetery in Genova). I could stay there for hours, I was fascinated by those beautiful statues and bas-reliefs.
I started drawing when I was 12-years-old, and I went to see my first exhibition, well the first I chose to see, which was Dalí After that I fell even more in love with art. At art school, in addition to learning the techniques of drawing, I studied the history of art and I loved ancient and medieval art. My love for tattoos was born from a fascination with the mystery and the underground scene in the 80s. All my musical idols were tattooed, and it was also thanks to them that I wanted to be tattooed.
It seems like you have a sixth sense when you are about to create something for your clients, you always find the best way to draw any subject. What are your methods for researching and creating a tattoo? I try to get to know the client first and understand how I can translate their idea into a tattoo. I prepare a first drawing and then I simplify it, sometimes I also use photographs as references to edit my subjects. Often people are attracted to my imagination, and I think I accurately transform what a clients wants into a drawing.I like it when they trust my interpretation and my style of art.
Do tattoos leave a mark on your life, as much as on the client’s ?
Yes, of course! I put a lot of love into the creation of the subjects I tattoo. Often my customers and I reach a sort of harmony during the tattooing process and ritual which creates very positive vibrations that resurface when I happen to see them again.
There are many differences between your paintings and your tattoos. Can you tell us the main ones? The main differences are the canvas and the techniques. I have to consider that the skin changes and ages, and that my customers will have my tattoos forever on their skin. With regard to the tattoo, I try to make sure that the subject represents and fits the wearer. I play with the customer’s ideas until the concept becomes a workable tattoo. That’s why I love sharp lines and contrasts.
In painting, I am definitely more surreal and visionary. For instance, I love micro realistic details for my paintings, but you won’t see many of them in my tattoos. I am in constant evolution in both fields, and both have my dedication.
You have some really amazing pieces (by Rob Admiraal and Rudy Fritsch, just to name a few). Who else have you been tattooed by? Who do you plan to get tattooed by in the future?
I’m very proud of my tattoos and they make me happy, and these two guys you mentioned have been among the greatest inspiration I have had.
I also have pieces by Amanda Toy, Monga, Angelique Houtkamp and many others! I have a lot of talented friends from whom I would like to be tattooed by.
The list never ends!
I am still so in love with the artwork you created that was exhibited at Somerset House. Can you tell us more about the whole process? I was excited when I got asked to contribute to this great event! I gave it my all to create something worthy of a museum like Somerset House.
It took me a month to decide what to paint, but it came to me in a dream and I created Flora’s clock. It really exists and is composed of different species of flowers, from all around the world, that open or close at a given time, so the flowers can be used like a clock to tell the time. The painting represents time, seasons, beauty, inner growth and realization of what we are, in the here and in the now.
Now I am also focused on some new paintings that will be exhibited in March at my solo show in Rome.
Can you tell us why you decided to close your own studio in Genova? I let go a part of my life, yes. I closed my studio because I wanted to change, taking off a bit of bureaucracy, only dedicating myself to art and creation.
I will surely do some guest spots in London and in Milan, (Milano City Ink and Oink Farm) and now I’m living in Rome and guesting in some great studios.
And finally do you have any personal advice for our readers?
I highly recommend to people, and also to myself, to spread positive feelings, as much as possible! So that we can change and affect more and more the reality around us and to improve the world in which we all live. It’s hard work but we can do it!
Russian Lisa Smirnova creates beautiful hand embroidered pieces inspired by nature, tattoos and inspirational artists, including Frida Kahlo. Her embroideries look like they have been sketched rather than stitched and the muted and pastel tones add a dream like quality to her work.
Follow Lisa on Instagram for more art
Alexandra Langston is a creative copywriter, editor, and part-time blogger, living and working in Qatar. In this post Alex talks about being a tattooed Caucasian woman in a predominately Muslim country…
There are some parts of the Middle East that are almost indistinguishable from Europe. A huge Western ex-pat community, and the shops, bars, hotels, and events built to accommodate them, plus a booming tourism industry in many places, are a major reasons for this – with Dubai in particular fully embracing Western culture.
Qatar, however, is like Dubai’s little brother: playing catch-up with the economic, architectural, and cultural changes.
When my husband and I moved to Qatar one and a half years ago, we did it completely blind. After plans for a move to Asia fell through, and only a cursory Google of Middle Eastern countries, we applied for a few jobs and Qatar came up trumps. Neither of us had ever visited the region, and we had barely even heard of the tiny thumb-shaped peninsular that is Qatar. So we took a leap of faith, and just two weeks after getting married we had packed our bags, and were on our way to a new life in the desert.
I was terrified. An outspoken, tattooed woman, with a penchant for short skirts and sinking a drink or two; I strongly doubted I would be a good fit for this conservatively Muslim country. Of course I fully intended to respect their laws, religious and otherwise, but I worried about inadvertently offending someone or causing myself problems.
From the very beginning, there was a large amount of pretty uninhibited staring, which I initially put down to being blonde, Caucasian, and female. I quickly realised though that there is a large, mostly male, Indian ex-pat community here too, and that staring is a quite harmless part of their culture.
As it turned out, I really didn’t need to worry about having tattoos at all.
I found that curiosity, above all else, abounds here. It is completely fine to have them, and there is no need to conceal them beyond the expected standard levels of decency, but because tattooing is illegal, and there are no tattoo shops in the entire country, knowledge of tattoos is quite limited.
The most frequent reaction I get is one of surprise, followed quickly by the question: ‘is that permanent…forever?!’ I still get the usual questions about it hurting, even long after healing is complete, and I once had a lengthy discussion about ink entering the bloodstream, but I get the impression that these queries come from genuine interest, rather than judgement – and I have even been asked to model my tats for an amateur photographer!
I’m not sure if it’s the relative rarity of a woman with tattoos, the ever increasing Western influence on the country, or the prerequisite need to cover arms above the elbow and legs above the knee, but so far the consequences of being a tattooed woman in Qatar have been surprisingly minimal.
With more tattoos already planned, I can live with the questions, and I don’t even mind the staring…most of the time.
Amy Rose is a 29-year-old artist from the Cotswold, who creates soft pencilled botanical art in muted tones. We chat to Amy about what inspires her and her tattoos, and she created the piece Winter’s Hand just for us…
Do you have a background in art? The only art course I have done is a Btec national diploma in Fine art when I was 16 and I had no idea what I wanted from it. I have been drawing from a very young age and haven’t stopped ever since.
What inspires you? Mostly I am inspired by botany and the natural world. I am also a trained in florist, so my flower knowledge helps me when I am looking for botanical inspiration. I also get inspired by objects that I collect which can be anything from antique books, framed moths and bugs, bones and other curiosities like that.
What do you like to draw? Anything botanical, animals, insects and oddities. I usually spend hours reading up on certain plants, flowers or animals and finding out about natural habits and behaviours before I start a piece. I have a big collection of natural history books and botanical books that I have collected and inherited from my grandad that keep me inspired.
What medium do you use? I use coloured pencil on coloured paper, normally soft prismacolor. I also like to use black ink but find that with botanical work it looses certain elements when you don’t use colour.
Where can people buy your art? I have a shop on Etsy.
Do you have any tattoos? What do you think of tattoos in general? I only have five tattoos so would love to add to them in the future. I love tattoos, I love how diverse tattoo culture is and how it keeps evolving, there is so many different styles my favourite being botanical black work.
We chatted to AJ Taheri, Frederick, MD, writer and editor for Weeva, an online company that create personalised scrapbooks and family history books, about his new project; Does it Hurt? A Compilation of Tattoos and the People They Collect.
What is the Does it Hurt? A Compilation of Tattoos and the People They Collect project? Weeva makes memory books. A lot like scrapbooks, you add your stories and photos into as many sections as you like. You can send out invitations via Facebook or email, requesting friends and family to join in as well and expand your book. Typically we make them as anniversary gifts, birthday surprises, for family reunions, memorials, etc., but lately we’ve been making a lot of community projects. What that means is that everything is the same, except that there’s no invitation necessary. Anyone can participate and add their stories and photos, and that’s what this project is: a collection of stories and photos of tattoos that anyone can add to to share their art, their personal expression, and their passion for ink.
How did the project start? Starting the project took no time at all; once I decided I wanted to do it, all I needed was a title, and then boom, there it was. Having so many tattoos means people are always stopping me to compliment them, ask questions about them, and share their own stories, and I’ve heard so many interesting things that way. I figured it would be really cool to give people a place to share their own tattoos and the stories behind them in a place other than a blog or a Facebook status. This begins online, but eventually it’ll be a printed book, something more tangible and permanent than just posting something quick on a passing internet thread.
What inspired you? Tattoos are more common today than they have been in the past, but there’s still a bit of a stigma surrounding them. I just find it really fascinating hearing how many different reasons people have for getting tattooed, seeing what they chose to have on them forever, and knowing what their lives are like behind that. Yeah, some tattoos are on gangsters or prisoners, but some are on millionaires, rockstars, investment bankers, old men, young women, etc. The point is that there are people from every single walk of life who have tattoos, and they all have unique stories. Those are the ones I love to hear.
How can people get involved? Getting involved is literally as easy as clicking here and sharing your experience. It doesn’t cost anything, you can sign in via Facebook, and you aren’t obligated to purchase the book once it’s created. All you’re doing by getting involved is adding your thread to the tapestry, making the story better for everyone who wants to go there and read them or buy it when it’s done.
I put a story into each thread to give people an idea of the kinds of things I’m looking for with this project. My own tattoos are mostly video-game themed, most of them go back to my childhood in some way or another. My entire right arm down to my hands and fingers is a Pokemon-themed sleeve, with the exception of a couple of Legend of Zelda pieces on my knuckles and forearm. I grew up on those games and I think the artwork is just really beautiful, really colorful and engaging. I’ve got all three rows of my knuckles tattooed, and the last one says LEFTOVER, because I toured with a band a while back called the Leftovers with some of my good friends from high school.
Can you tell us about your tattoos? I’ve got a full chest piece of a bleeding winged heart, and it doesn’t mean anything at all, I just got it because I like the art; a lot of people seem to have trouble understanding why you’d get a tattoo without a meaning behind it, but it’s just art to me. I’ve got some World of Warcraft pieces on my chest as well, a salute to a few years back when I almost played the game professionally. I could go on and on, I’ve got too many tattoos to name them all, but that’s the gist of it. They’re mostly gaming pieces and nods to important things in my life, but a few are just there to look cool.