Tagged: tattoos

Interview with Gem Carter

20-year-old Gem Carter works at Stay True Tattoo in Ashburton Devon and creates beautiful lady faces and tattoos inspired by nature. We chatted to Gem about her developing style and love for traditional tattooing… 

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When did you start tattooing? March 2014

What did you do before, do you have a background in art? I went to art college and I worked in graphic design for a clothing company for a little while. I tried commission drawing for a bit, but I was never sure about any of it. I had a strong art influence from my family too. I always wanted to do something artistic, but for a while I just wasn’t sure what. Tattooing is the only thing that’s really kept me interested!

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How did you get your apprenticeship? It was luck really. I was sort of looking for a while but was in no rush as I was quite happy to do the uni thing. On the off-chance I sent an email to a shop who had an artist leaving and wanted an extra pair of hands to help out. He liked my work so took me on as an apprentice, I quit my foundation course and started my apprenticeship a few weeks later.

How would you describe your style? People ask me all the time and I never know what to say! I started in a small shop in a small town where I literally couldn’t afford to turn down any of the work that came in so I quickly had to pick up a lot of different styles. That’s stuck with me and I still do a bit of everything. So style wise I’m not sure, but subject matter wise, I love anything floral, animals, anything vintage, lady heads, all the good stuff. Oh and disney! Lots of disney.

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Lately you have been tattooing mainly black and grey, is this what you want to focus on? It’s just what people seem to want. I love the etching type stuff and it’s a style I’m really comfortable with, I love working in black but I wouldn’t want to limit myself. So many artists have such distinctive styles and I just think how do they do it?! If I focused on one thing I would never have any work! Hopefully one day I’ll find something I can easily do forever, and that people recognise and specifically come to me for. (Watch this space!) If people come to me because they like my black work then that’s really awesome, but at the moment I’m happy to do everything, and try to improve in all areas.

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How would you say your work has developed? I started off pretty timid and scared of challenging myself. I’m so thankful that I was able to move to my current studio, it’s a great environment and I feel more inclined to just give everything a go. I’ve learnt a lot. I think my work is more grown up because of it. I hope so anyway. I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m properly happy with everything I do but it’s nice to be slowly getting there!

What inspires you? Nature, plants and animals mostly. I’m so lucky to live where I do and be surrounded by these things every day! I love old books and vintage illustrations. I take huge inspiration from all the artists I follow too. It’s this constant stream of awesome tattoos and artwork, it’s amazing if you’re having a down day and need some motivation.

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What would you like to tattoo or do more of? I always enjoy traditional, I don’t get to do enough, so it would be fun to do a bit more. I’ve also only ever done one full back piece which is still a work in progress, and only a small handful of sleeves, so I’d love to do some more large scale work. If that fails, just girl faces and animals please!

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have a few from local artists, a couple of ropey self-made ones, and a few from artists I’ve travelled to see. I wouldn’t say I really regret any but it’s definitely a weird mix match of stuff. I started off just getting tattooed for the sake of it, it’s only been in the past year or so I’ve actually travelled around the country to go and collect pieces from artists I love. I got tattooed by Guen Douglas this year and it’s honestly my favourite thing I own! I don’t get tattooed that often, it’s so difficult to find the time, but I’m in no rush to get covered, if it takes me 20 years then that’s okay.

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Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Look

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 how others perceive her as a heavily tattooed woman… 

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I’ve lived with tattoos longer than I have without, however I have only considered myself ‘tattooed’ more recently. There is a difference I think in having a tattoo and being tattooed. When you make the decision to become more heavily or more visibly tattooed, how people view you will change. You may or may not be aware of this at the time but it will happen. I first began to notice this after getting my knee tattooed, joining the other tattoos on my leg into a front-sleeve from ankle to thigh. Up until this point, though still fairly heavily tattooed the majority were in areas you wouldn’t see on a daily basis, back, thighs, feet. In passing you might only notice the large rooster on my shin. It seems there is a skin coverage ratio as to when you start to offend old ladies with your very presence.

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I call it ‘the look’. There are three main stages to the look: shock, repulsion and judging. It’s not the sole prerogative of old ladies either, they are simply the most reliable audience. Being the kind of person to walk around with their head in the clouds it wasn’t me who noticed this first but my boyfriend who takes a lot of enjoyment in my new found super power. Since he pointed it out though I can’t stop noticing it, especially in the summer when I took to wearing very short shorts (from M&S just to add insult to grandma injury). Having a laugh about it when you are with your friends is one thing, having it happen when you are on your own can be quite another and I’m not afraid to admit it’s upset me at times. When you’ve had a bad day, got a plate full of worries the last thing you need is a group of strangers being rude to your face when your only crime was walking past them. More often than not I will stick my headphones in and sunglasses on, blocking out he world as I walk along. Other days I’ll ‘have it on me’ as my mother would say and crack out the biggest Cheshire Cat smile to the nay sayers, ten points if you can get a forced smile in return.

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With tabloids reporting on Sam-Cam’s tiny ankle dolphin like she’s the first middle class woman to ever get tattooed it only broadens the gap between those of us who are more heavily tattooed rather than help shrink it. Having a tattoo is trendy, so long as it’s small and preferably cute, whilst being tattooed is still very much taboo. I’m not sure why anyone would particularly feel the need to have such a strong opinion on how I or anyone else choose to look. Perhaps I look like a criminal, or fallen woman in their eyes? Perhaps I’m just something to talk about in an otherwise boring day? Whatever the case I’m glad I stand out in a crowd, I’m glad I challenge the photoshopped beauty ideals pushed by glossy magazines. As for the old ladies, we’ll just have to wait until our generation are collecting pensions. Perhaps we’ll have something the youth of the day are doing to be shocked at, perhaps our wrinkled tattoos will be uncool to future younger generations. But at least we will have some stories to tell.

The Art of Ruth Knapp

Ruth Knapp, 38 is an artist, blogger and mother from Norwich, we chatted to her to find more about the kitschy colourful work she creates…

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Do you have a background in art? I studied art at an adult education centre a few years ago, up to foundation level, I felt the need to do something artistic, and as my children were growing up I wanted to give them something to aspire to. I’m a single parent and I didn’t want to just be mum any more. They’re really proud of what I’ve achieved and love seeing my art about, that for me makes all the hard work worth it. deer What inspires you? I’m inspired by urban art, pop art, graffiti and anything kitsch. I have a collection of 60s animal ornaments and every bit of wall space in my kitchen is covered in kitsch pictures, mirrors and brass plates, some of them are tasteful but mostly they’re very tacky. I love it, I call it my Kitschen! kewpie Are there any artists you admire, do they influence your work? I love Andy Warhol, I know he’s an obvious one but I think he just got it so right, I recently saw his collection of cookie jars in the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition and it was clear we have the same taste in pottery! I also adore Pure Evil, his work is simple but powerful, you can tell his work instantly, his portraits are stunning. Most of my work is pretty happy, I like to make pictures that make people smile, but on the streets I’m going to start to be a bit darker. triple pineapple How do you create your pieces? I use stencils to create my work, I use spray paint on the streets and at home I use acrylic and stipple through the stencils to create smaller works which I can then scan and play about with on Photoshop. I love that they can look quite graphic but also still have a painterly style. I’ve recently worked on some large scale murals which were really fun and I enjoy painting live at events. halloweenkittyHow did you start making art? I started making art in 2013 I totally blagged my way onto a Btec I just turned up to an open day without being interviewed and they were like “see you Monday” I was pretty scared they’d see I had no idea what I was doing, but the first lesson happened to be pop art stencil cutting and I thought, hang on I can do this! I’m not sure if my skill comes from thinking that that day or if it’s just a coincidence, maybe if that first lesson had been oil painting it would all be very different. I passed the Btec with distinction and went on to do the Foundation. The pineapples were my final piece for my Foundation, people seemed to love them so I made more, they are where it all started so they’ll always be my signature. They have been nicknamed ‘Knapples’.

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have loads of tattoos, I’ve pretty much run out of space now which is a shame as there’s so many great artists I’d love to have work by, I get envious of people who have loads of free skin! I do have some really nice work though, I’m really happy with my hands I left them until last and I’m glad I did, I’ve got two great pieces by Wink Evans and I can see them all the time so it’s good that I love them.
milkshakes Follow Ruth on Instagram for more art work and kitsch.

Interview with Tattoo Artist: Betty Latusek

London based photographer Marta Hawrylow interviewed Betty Beata Latusek who along with her partner Kamil work at Betty Tattoo in Wroclaw, Poland. On the day Betty organised a few of her clients, with healed tattoos, to come into the studio to talk about their tattoos and allow Marta to photograph them… 

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How long do you know each other? Gosh, ages, we’ve met when we were only kids,  14 years old. We have been inseparable since.

Was tattooing important to you back then? Our love for art and tattoo flourished few years after we met.  Kamil was my first skin, he trusted me enough when I was training, now he laughs that one day I’ll have to cover up my first tattoos.

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How long have you been collaborating? How is it working out for you guys? We do everything together, always have been. This isn’t our first job under one roof. Our roles are very clear, I draw and tattoo, Kamil focuses on customer service, the clients are very important to him and he is the CEO.

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How do you work with clients in order to design a project for them? This is Kamil’s part. He meets every client during the first consultation, he discusses what they want- the colours, size and placement. He also does the first draft, most clients bring in photos and other materials  to show what they want in their design. During the session, I chat with the client before we start, over a cuppa.

Does your work depict your personality? I don’t think so. I try to get to know the client and their wishes, I try to portray them, not myself in my work.

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What do you like to tattoo most? What is your favourite theme? I love portrait, realism, always have. Even in art school I loved painting faces.

Is there something you wouldn’t tattoo or a part of the body? I’d always said I will never tattoo faces. But broke that rule, and with pleasure I now say to never say never. I love a challenge and nothing surprises or scares me.

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What or who inspires you? Do you have any favourite artists? Everything what surrounds me inspires me, from changing seasons to people who come to the studio. There are many ultra talented polish artists whose art I admire like Marcin Surowiec or Giena Todryk. However, I might surprise you here, my favourite artist is our eight year old daughter Nadia, who is so gifted. She became a little star and I tattooed a few of her art work onto people already.

When was the first time you knew you wanted to be a tattoo artist? I knew in high school, when I was studying art and got my first tattoo. After that I was drawing projects for friends and their friends and that is how the love started.

And how did you get into tattoo world? Well, it was a bet with my nephew. And as very stubborn being, I did (and still would do) anything to achieve what I set my mind to.

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How long have you been tattooing it? Only seven years, five of which as Betty Tattoo.

How does your own tattoos make you feel? I always wait for super special moments in my life to get them on my skin. Few are a spur of the moment, but most are done by person who helped to change my life, Damian Kowal, my dear friend and my teacher.

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If you weren’t a tattooist, what would you be? I probably would still paint or draw, just using different tools. I am a jeweller by profession. Surely I would be doing something creative and interesting.

Careers: Tattooed Veterinary Receptionist

We chatted to 24-year-old Bristolian Sadie Oliver a senior veterinary receptionist at Higcroft veterinary group in Bath about her beautiful tattoo collection and her animal filled days… 

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My very first tattoo at the tender impressionable age of 17 ( I knew a studio that wouldn’t question my age) was a traditional large red rose of my left foot which I showed off to all my friends but hid from my mum! It truly felt like I had opened the floodgates almost immediately after, I basked in the compliments I received. I still do to this day, I love how they are a starting point of conversation between strangers. The genuine intrigue people have about them that have no work themselves. Flash forward three years I got that same piece brightened up by a different artist, and had a snake added to it weaving in and out of the petals. I’m glad I added to it, it pops out at you a lot more now. I don’t regret the tattoo I chose for one minute.

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Rose on Sadie’s foot 

It sky rocketed from there and from the age of 18 onwards I’d get a piece a year up until my 23rd birthday when I discovered the amazing Jody Dawber (Our Fruity Issue cover star), then I went nuts and got six large pieces one after another. In between each piece, the empty skin would become more prevalent and I’d want to brighten them up mainly with more animals as I’ve always been passionate about them. I’ve got big plans to start a rabbit back piece based on my bunnies with her next year, which I know she’ll totally nail!

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Butterfly by Jody

Leading on from my love of animals I’m very lucky to say I’ve finally found my dream career working with small furries every day at a veterinary surgery where I’ve been since January this year, working my way up to a senior receptionist position.
I’ve had lots of different jobs back in the day, rushing straight into full time work  in retail after college. I’ve found through all my jobs that my tattoos have never caused me a problem. I’ve always been asked about them respectfully and complimented, I guess none of them are offensive just bright and beautiful. I’ve always been upfront at interviews and dressed smart but made a point of mentioning them/showing them to the prospective employer if I thought it might have been relevant.

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When I was hired at the vets, I won’t lie, I was apprehensive for once that my tattoos would effect my chance of getting the job. It would be the first job I would apply for since getting my neck and hands tattooed. Something I do not regret for one minute and would continue to cover in a heartbeat. At the interview I dressed smartly and covered my tattoos.  I remember wanting the chance to walk in there and blow them away without them getting a chance to judge me straight off.
The interview went well, nearing the end I felt confident enough to take my blazer off revealing my arms, which are fairly covered. The lady interviewing me stopped mid question, had a little gasp and asked me straight away about my work. She seemed genuinely interested and asked me to give her a twirl, which I did embarrassingly! She did however go on to tell me that she would have to check with those above her that if I was to be hired the company wouldn’t have a problem with my hands and neck tattoos, as she was aware that tattoos aren’t to everyone’s taste.

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I just wanted a chance to show I’m no different to anybody else waiting in the hallway to be interviewed, and that I had more than the necessary experience for the position.
A week later I was invited for a trial shift, which was a ton of fun. I was told later that day the good news that they couldn’t wait to have me on board, and that some of the older ladies working on reception found me to be very friendly and helpful, it felt like a victory that I could be myself and prove wrong shitty stereotyping older generations seem to find it difficult to shake off.

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Almost 10 months on, I’m super settled in my own branch in Bath, a small practice where I work alongside one vet manning reception and taking complete control of the practice. I get to cuddle puppies and kittens practically every day which is awesome! In particular I enjoy watching routine operations like spays and castrations, and have expressed my interest to go into veterinary nursing school sometime next year.

I’ve only ever had one older chap be a total stick in the mud and try to make a show of me,  questioning me why I felt the need to “litter my skin with monstrosities!” I think if I wouldn’t have been professional and at work I would have told him what of it! He asked me “how I got this job looking like I sold the big issue” which particularly upset me. I squared up to him and sweetly explained I got the job for being more than competent at what I do, and that my appearance had absolutely nothing to do with it.

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I won’t lie I sometimes receive negative comments from people under their breath, say for example on the bus stop. I think it’s sad when typically older people move away from me as if I’m infectious, but I don’t dwell on it. They’re missing out on a good person so it’s totally they’re loss to be close minded! I’ve always found tattoos beautiful and interesting, I love the idea that we can jazz ourselves up and stand out from the crowd, show everyone this is who we are. Take us or leave us.

I’ve found my home and future career now at the vets, they’re more than acceptable of me and others in the industry who are heavily tattooed, just recently they took on a vet who’s head to toe covered. We do our jobs to the highest of standards, our appearances don’t change our values or work ethics tattoos or no tattoos.

Illustrations by Ree

We spotted Ree’s cute tattooed babes on Instagram and had to talk to her about her pastel palette and love of tattoos. Ree has created a tattooed out of this world girl just for Things&Ink

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Tell us a little about yourself?  Everyone calls me Ree, I am a 25 years old freelance illustrator and I’m from Venezuela, but my current location is Miami, Florida. My location changes a lot! I’m a lucky girl. I’ve lived in Madrid, Spain for a couple of years too. I will be moving soon to Dominican Republic for work, and then who knows!

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How would you describe your style? My style is always changing, but right now I feel more comfortable with it than ever. I’m bad at describing these sort of things but I would say it is a mixture between cute, girly, surreal with a pinch of girl power.

What inspires you? Most days I get inspiration from what I am feeling at the moment or what I am thinking. Sometimes I watch a TV show and get really into it and won’t necessarily draw fan-art but something that inspired me from it.

What do you like to draw? Girls and powerful girls, sometimes in a surreal way. I would love to draw boys and plants better and post them more often too, but I have to practice a lot first!

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Do you have a background in art? Yes, I’ve been drawing since I was little. I studied Art History in Spain but decided to pursue the career I really wanted and now I am studying animation at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (online division). It’s alright but I think the real way to become a good artist is practicing everyday!

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? I have four tattoos, and I love them. My first tattoo is the biggest one that I have and it is on my thigh, it means a lot to me. All of them do, but I don’t mind getting something that hasn’t a deep meaning necessarily. I want to get a lot more just because I love tattoos, but I need to save up! I’m loving the blackwork style tattoos especially.

Can people buy your illustrations? Yes, I don’t have a proper online store open yet (I am working on it) but you can contact me personally through a private message on Instagram or send me a quick email at ree.rv31@gmail.com

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Charlotte Clark: Tattoo Inspired Ceramics

Charlotte Clark is a designer maker from Stourbridge, West Midlands who creates tattoo inspired ceramics. We chatted to Charlotte about what inspires her and how she makes each piece…

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How did you set up your business? I fell into it really, after graduating from university with a degree in glass art, I was making and doing craft fairs to get some money whilst I was looking for a ‘real job’ and it ended up being rather more successful than I had imagined! I have now gone from dreams of just making a living to thinking the sky is the limit!

What inspired you to do so? I have always been creative, and wanted to go into arts management after uni, but found it really competitive in the current economic climate, so having worked unhappily in many retail jobs whilst searching for the dream job I was inspired to create my own job!

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Do you have a background in art? Yes, I did three A Levels in art and design in college, before going on to study glass art at university in Wolverhampton.

How do you make your ceramics? What is the process? All pieces begin with an idea, whether that is when I see the perfect unusual piece of china to use, sparking a ‘I know what I’m going to do with that’ moment, or an idea which takes me a while to think around! My pieces are designed digitally, then the transfers are printed using my decal printer and applied by hand to the ceramic piece, before being fired in the kiln to melt the surface glaze and allow the ink of the decal to imbed onto the china. As my pieces are kiln fired they are all dishwasher proof.

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What inspires your designs? How do you create them? Designs are all inspired by anything that grabs me! Sometimes the concept will be born first and I will look for something for it to go on, and other times it will be led by finding a piece and knowing what it should have on it!

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Where do you source things from? All over the place! I am always on the look out for unusual pieces to use!

Where can people buy them from? Do you do commissions? People can buy online or at one of my outlets (currently mostly Midlands based) or at one of the shows I go to – all details are on my website!

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoos are for Sailors

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 tattoos and relationships…

I couldn’t have told you whether my grandfather had a tattoo. No matter the weather he would always wear long trousers and a sleeved shirt, occasionally folding up his cuffs an inch in summer. He passed away when I was 12 years old taking any secrets with him. As I write this there is a gentleman sat across from me on the train, dressed in a manor my grandfather would have seen fit; blue striped shirt, grey slacks, polished Oxfords. His snow white hair putting him at around my grandfather’s generation. As he sat down he slipped off his damp over coat, revealing shirt sleeves rolled up to just below the elbow. Scattering his pale freckled skin a series of small blue tinged tattoos. Now smudged with age it is difficult to make out the designs, a swallow perhaps and an anchor. With a nudge and a disapproving tut from the lady beside him he pushes down the sleeves, with it a knowing eyebrow raise and a quick grin to me. His look said it all, this wasn’t the first time nor would it be the last his wife would plead with him to cover up those tattoos.

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This exchange got me thinking about tattoos in relationships. When I was still dating I had a few odd comments, a general consensus that guys didn’t like tattoos on girls – even guys who were tattooed themselves. I had one guy tell me on a first date he wasn’t really bothered about my tattoos so long as I didn’t get any more, needless to say I never did call him again. I’ve also spoken to people both male and female who have admitted they’d rather their partner not be tattooed, or in contrast wish that they were.

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After meeting my boyfriend for the first time my mum had said to me ‘you’d best keep this one you might not find another who likes your tattoos’ I’m still not entirely sure if she was joking or not. My mum likes my tattoos, although she thinks I’ve got enough now – not sure how to break the news to her when I get my sleeves done but that’s another story. But she is from a generation filled with tattoo stigma. Before I met my boyfriend’s parents she said I might want to wear something pretty and on the sensible side, hiding the tattoos and toning down the extreme fashion. My boyfriend said the opposite, don’t cover up your tattoos because otherwise they will wonder what on earth we have in common – a university lecturer and a builder (he’s the builder). In the end I wore something in between, just what is normal to wear to go for dinner and didn’t worry about it. Getting a tattoo is a permanent body modification, it’s not like a dodgy jumper you can eventually talk your partner out of wearing – or shrink in the wash. After all they do say love is about compromise, but, for me, someone not loving my tattoos would be deal breaker.

Never too old to show some love

85-year-old Cyril Cooper honoured his love for his late wife by getting his first tattoo. The traditional design is a tribute to his wife and simply shows his unwavering love for her.

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Cyril told Wales Online:

I lost my wife of 40-odd years in May. She was the love of my life and I wanted to get a tattoo in remembrance of her. I’ve always wanted a tattoo and I knew I simply wanted a heart with an arrow going through it with Sheila’s name inside.

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Photos and quote from Wales Online 

Apprentice Love: Luke Oakman

We chatted to Luke Oakman a 24-year-old tattoo apprentice about his developing style, inspirations and how he started working at Edshead tattoo studio in Chelmsford, Essex… 

How did you start tattooing? Tattooing was something I’d always wanted to do towards the end of school and college, I just never really took the leap towards chasing an apprenticeship at that point as I was never confident enough to take chances. After being told enough times over the years following college I was ‘a wasted talent’ because I did nothing with my art, I decided to pull together a portfolio and just go for it. I’m now well into my apprenticeship at Edshead and looking forward to where tattooing takes me!

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How long have you been tattooing? Coming up to nine months now. Which is the first time I picked up a machine to use it, I did a little shark tooth on my leg.

What did you do before, do you have a background in art? The only background in art I have is college, I did my A Levels in art and photography, the only things I truly enjoyed at school. Right out of college I got a job in IT, which I did for too long! I got settled into that routine until the end of 2012 when I decided I needed a big change in my life, so I set myself a new target and began building up my first portfolio.

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How would you describe your style? I guess I would fall under neo-traditional. It’s hard not to label a style of tattooing, I just call it my work and hope people like it really.

How has your work evolved/developed since you started? I drew a hell of a lot during my apprenticeship, I was trying to develop a style ahead of tattooing in an attempt to make my work recognisable in some way. My work has slowly got more detailed through the months I added more linework as I began to feel more confident with lining my tattoos, which is a direction I knew I wanted to make from the start. I just had to hold off until I knew it was something I could execute properly I guess.

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What inspires you? Easily nature, I’ve always watched a lot of David Attenborough documentaries, my grandad started off that obsession long ago! So now when I don’t know what do draw the first thing is normally an animal of some kind.

Do you admire any other artists, do they influence your work? I admire too many artists to list them all, mainly tattooists these days. I’ll list my top five in no order for anyone that somehow doesn’t know these names/lives under a rock:

Robert Borbas
Kate Gill
Antony Flemming
Natalie Gardiner
Antony Cole

They’re all well known artists and their work speaks for itself really. Their styles among others have definitely influenced my own work and I’d love my work to go in the same direction.

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What kinds of things do you like to tattoo? Birds, just putting it out there. I love birds. Anything nature based is right up my street, but I’ll enjoy most tattoos that I can use my own style with.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I don’t have a lot of tattoos when I think about it. One arm and stuff all over my legs. Only a couple have any meaning, it’s more art appreciation for me now. If I can give an idea (if any) to a tattooist I admire that I know they’ll enjoy doing, that’s when the best tattoos happen.

I got my first one at 22 by Ant Cole which was a kestrel perched on a compass. The arm isn’t far off a full sleeve now by him, I’m super fussy with who I get tattooed by and waited until I found an artist I knew was perfect for me, and Ant is beyond good. It’ll be finished when I can afford to fill the gaps!

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Will you be at any conventions or doing any guest spots? I just finished a guest spot at Rock’n’Roll in Dundee. I was doing a tattoo trade with Daryl Watson,  so it was just by chance I was lucky enough to work there for a few days as well. I don’t have any plans just yet as I’m still an apprentice. But one thing I know for sure is I want to travel, so when I’m able to I’ll be on the road seeing new things and meeting new people. With any luck!