Tagged: tattoos

Blackpool Tattoo Convention

Our editorial assistant Rosie attended the second ever Blackpool Tatcon  held at Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool last weekend. After entering a competition on tattoo blog Inkluded’s Facebook page, Rosie won free Sunday passes. Here’s what she got up to on the day…

The convention ran for three days beginning on Friday 14th- Sunday 16th August. I travelled to Blackpool, somewhere I have never been before, on Sunday the last day of the convention. The venue was a castle shaped hotel right on the sea front and was home, for the weekend to over 100 tattooists and traders. The convention hall was made into corridors from the tattoo booths and there was a stage at the front to showcase the entertainment.

Rosie getting tattooed by Emily Dawson

I didn’t plan to get tattooed at Blackpool as I was there to blog Things&Ink and see the sea. But at conventions it is so hard to resist with everyone around you getting tattooed! The lovely Emily Dawson, owner of Holy Ghost Tattoo in Rotherham, created a cute cactus for me inspired by the art of Anne Knispel.

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The convention was packed full of tattoo artists demonstrating a wide variety of styles from traditional hand poked to realism, to watercolour and neo-traditional. There were artists from all over the country and many that I had not seen before. I love going to conventions and discovering new artists, styles and ways of doing things. As I am from the Midlands it was great to see so many artists from the North of England that I admire and follow on Instagram.

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Similar to many conventions the entertainment focused on burlesque performances, live bands and acts such as sword swallowing. Many tattooists commented that the music was far too loud, I had to agree as I was shouting when introducing myself to artists.

There were also awards at the end of each day for categories such as best apprentice, best small colour and best of day. These are a great way for artists to showcase their creations and be praised for their work.

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Jakub Hendrix won Best Large Piece on Sunday

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Ashley Luka won second place for Best of Sunday

There was also the Banana Ink stand, who were also at Liverpool convention, where convention goers could have a go at banana skins. The aim being that people will see how hard tattooing really is and the skill needed to do it, but I wonder if it will encourage people to buy a machine and have a go at creating tattoos at home?

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The organisers held a charity auction which not only had items gifted from the traders, including a taxidermy chick on a skateboard but also one of a kind art pieces. The conventions organisers prior to the event had sent artists skulls in the hope that they would decorate them in their own style. The most popular being an bio mechanical skull with a working camera in one of its eyes. All the proceeds went to haematology and Leukaemia charities.

chaThis is only the second year of Blackpool Tatcon, it is a really young and new convention, so I’m really excited to see what the convention has in store for next year… 

Focus Group: Tattoo Spotting

Last night we had a focus group in London to find out what our readers love and don’t love about Things&Ink magazine. We met these three lovely ladies who shared their opinions about our articles, layout and, of course, tattoos! There are lots of exciting changes ahead for Things&Ink

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Above from left: Columnist ReeRee Rockette, editor Alice Snape, editorial assistant Rosalie Woodward and our three panel members… 

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to street spot and chat tattoos to our panel members…

Name: Emma Age: 27 Lives: London  Job: Photograph researcher for Merlin
Tattoo: Skull by Ray Hunt at Diablo Tattoo in Kent

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Name: Laura Age: 40 Lives: Maidstone, Kent  Job: Dinner lady/ toddler rugby coach
Tattoo: Abi Cornell at Inkfish in Maidstone
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Name: Silvia Age: 24 Lives: London Job: Digital marketing executive
Tattoo: Lady by Angelique Houtkamp at Salon Serpent Tattoo in Amsterdam
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If you have any suggestions or comments about the magazine get in touch, email us at hello@thingsandink.com

Alopecia, body confidence and tattoos, by Drew Beckett

Embrace the change, don’t deny it.

We chat to 31-year-old civil servant Drew Beckett (@drewjbeckett) who lives in London about alopecia, body confidence and tattoos…

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Can you tell us a little about your background, and what first attracted you to getting tattooed? I grew up in Hertfordshire in a very middle-class environment and enjoyed an extremely happy childhood. I went to an all-boys private school and had very little exposure to anything alternative beyond what I might see in films such as Bound and Run Lola Run.  Once I was old enough to establish a bit of independence, I began to commute to London a lot and fell madly, hopelessly in love with a city of infinite variety. I saw tattooed punks in Camden and realised that there was another world to explore, and more than one way to look and live your life. I also hit puberty about the time Angelina Jolie was emerging as an alternative figure in Hollywood, which certainly didn’t hurt my perception of tattoos! As soon as I was 18 I went with my best friend to a tattoo parlour in the basement of a Camden nail salon. As luck would have it, tattoo artists Thomas Hooper and Nica LeHead worked there. Forcing Thomas Hooper to tattoo a rubbish tribal dragon on my stomach remains a source of perverse pride. But even though the dragon is terribly dated, it began a fascination with tattooing and the culture of tattooing that I doubt will ever leave me. I have very fond memories of that basement!

Drew and his tattoos

When did you get alopecia? Can you tell us a little more about what alopecia is and how you got it? Alopecia is an auto-immune condition initiated when the body attacks itself. There are three types – areata, totalis and universalis. Universalis represents total hair loss, and that’s  the type I have. There are many theories as to what triggers alopecia – from genetics to lifestyle – but there’s been very little research and no cure. The general consensus is that my alopecia was triggered by stress, though I choose not to dwell on the cause too much. I began noticing the symptoms  in 2011. At first it manifested itself as a hole in my beard about the size of a 50p coin, before clumps of hair fell out until my head looked as if someone had shaved a map of the world onto it. I saw a specialist, but by this point my hair was falling out at such a rate that there was nothing they could suggest, and any suggestion probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. I remember crying in the back of my parent’s car for around one minute once I realised doctors couldn’t help me. That was the first and last time I’ve cried about it. Soon after my eyebrows fell out, then my eyelashes, then everything else. Be grateful for having nostril hair – I now have no idea when my nose is running!

Drew – Before
Drew’s alopecia was brought on by stress and began as a small patch in his beard.

What artists have tattooed you and how did you pick them? I consider myself extremely lucky with regards to the artists I’ve been tattooed by. 14 years later, and the shoulder caps Thomas Hooper did for me still look amazing. Being tattooed by Nica LeHead changed my life in ways I didn’t understand until I was considerably older, but gave me access to places like Into You and Divine Canvas. I have a sleeve by Duncan X and the genius Delphine Noiztoy from the Lacemaker’s Sweatshop has begun an epic front-piece that I can’t wait to continue. I collect hearts as well, to which Alex Binnie and Matty D’Arienzo have contributed. My hands were tattooed by L’ain Freefall, and I have some awesome work from Paupiette, who designed the sexiest bald pin-up for me. I’ve also got a sleeve of Frith Street designs, and a cool Godspeed You! Black Emperor tattoo from Dwam. A lot of thought went into my Duncan X sleeve, but beyond that everything else has come about fairly organically. Alopecia was strangely liberating; by removing a certain level of control over the way I look, I was forced to find ways to re-define my image and have been able to be a more experimental and carefree as a result. My time at Into You was integral to that process as they are such a nurturing family of artists. Since then, Delphine has been instrumental in helping me rebuild my confidence and reshape the way I feel I’m perceived. So tattoos have formed two functions; the aesthetic and the therapeutic.

What is your favourite tattoo? There is no way to answer that question as I don’t really think of my tattoos as distinct pieces, more as components of an ongoing whole. I’ve always been proud of Duncan’s script of a Frank O’Hara poem on my arm, as well as the fact I have an example of his actual handwriting permanently inked onto me. Sometime I have to pinch myself when I think about how lucky I’ve been.

 

What tattoos are you working on at the moment? The main project is my front-piece, and I don’t think poor Delphine quite realises how much I’ve got planned. She is the only person I trust to tattoo my head and neck, which I think will be an extremely exciting project.

Drew was a model at an ‘Art Macabre’ life drawing evening at Somerset House last year. Photo by Heather Shuker

What next? What tattoos do you have planned? Beyond my work with Delphine, I haven’t got any concrete plans. I have a ‘party’ leg of random designs which I’d like to add too, particularly as everything on it so far has been done by artists I’m close to. I have saved my left leg for Paupiette, and one day I look forward to starting that – which will hopefully be a design that’s planned in advance!

Does alopecia make tattoos hurt more or less? Or does it make no difference The only difference alopecia makes is that you don’t need to shave the area getting tattooed, but after that the pain is just the same for everyone!

Do you think that getting tattooed is an important part of body acceptance? For me, yes. I was able to take control of how I presented myself to the world. If I was given the opportunity to have my hair back, I wouldn’t take it. But this is a personal and subjective decision. I certainly don’t think body acceptance is predicated on body modification. Tattoos aren’t for everyone, and I think there are other ways for someone with alopecia to mitigate their loss without the need to black in their nipples. Thanks to the democratisation of the internet, there is a lot of inspiration online for anyone wanting to own a condition they didn’t choose. Once you get your agency back – by whatever means – alopecia becomes much easier to handle. My outlet was tattoos, but I have seen some sufferers find all sorts of creative outlets to embrace the baldness, and that’s incredibly inspiring.

What do you enjoy about the aesthetic of your tattooed body? First and foremost, I enjoy wearing my friend’s work and their love on my skin forms a permanent armour that I carry with me every day. Aesthetically there is something incredibly empowering about having a giant skull on my chest, and I enjoy the heightened feeling of otherness the combination of my tattoos and baldness give me. I hope to continue to explore that union and harmony, and eventually perfect a look somewhere between androgynous alien and Mad Max War Boy. There is nothing better than wearing a well-fitting suit with tattooed hands though!

Any advice to others who have alopecia? Alopecia is a deeply traumatic experience which no-one can fully empathise with until they’ve experienced it. As a result, it’s rare that people will accept how emotionally difficult the loss of control over your body is. So firstly, I would reassure anyone that it’s OK to grieve for what you’ve lost. Secondly, I would suggest (though this is a matter of choice) not fighting it. When my hair began falling out, Duncan tattooed ‘Adapt and Overcome’ on my neck. Embrace the change and style it out. Alopecia gave me a modelling contract, left me better dressed and – most importantly – forced me to become a kinder person. The process of change is wrenching, but once it’s over you have the opportunity to be reborn, to reshape your identity both spiritually and physically. Alopecia can grind you down, but it can’t kill you. You’ll still be hot without hair, you’ll still be charismatic and you’ll still be an amazing human. Embrace the change, don’t deny it.

Festival Tips

Our music writer Amber Carnegie gives you her top tips for surviving festival season… alongside photos from her own festivalling experiences… 

So when it comes to festival essentials, you’ve probably already got the tent down – and hopefully your ticket – but what about those added extras that could stop you making those fatal festival virgin errors? Read on, so you don’t end up stranded, hungover and soaking this summer…

 

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Groezrock at sunset

Keep Those Toes Dry (and safe)

If you’re festivalling in the UK, you should never expect sun for the entire festival. You can wear wellies to keep those toes dry, but to keep them warm and safe when in a mosh pit you should really invest in a pair of Dr Martens. When you’re jumping around a field and everyone else is basically wearing  rubber socks, your toes will be toasty… you’ll have made every single penny spent on those DMs back.

Keep Connected (that doesn’t always mean an Insta selfie)

If you still have your good old brick phone, I suggest taking that with you to use – it shouldn’t need charging the whole time you’re there (remember the days of phones lasting three days on one charge?!). But if you’re uber-trendy and like to use social media to organise your whereabouts, invest in a portable charger. Although most festivals have power banks to charge up, this is a quicker cheaper version that you can carry in your handbag… You can pick them up online for under a fiver and they let you cling on to every last per cent of that extra charge.

Carb Up (and keep up)

You are entering a world of overpriced food, so it’s better to be prepared and carb up for those all-day drinking sessions, rather than spend all of your money on chips that add up to more than the cost of your ticket. Cereal bars, crisps and my all-time favourite brioche aren’t going to leak or spill anywhere and will keep you going while you pound your liver.

 

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Keep Clean (you don’t always need to shower)

In a field with sweaty bodies and portable loos, hand sanitizer is going to be your best friend – do not let it leave your side. We know you’re roughing it, but no one wants to get poorly mid festival! Having your own loo roll is always a bonus and a wet wipe shower will never go a miss. And if that isn’t enough, don’t forget that typically aerosols are not allowed into the campsites so roll-on deodorant is a must. If dry shampoo is on the no list, pack a little bottle of talc to perk up your sopping mop.

Ear Plugs (your ears will thank us)

Ear plugs will not hinder the music and you will thank us when you can still hear those same tones decades from now. Getting a decent set of molded ear plugs could make all the difference.

Torch (this is a must-pack item)

Weaving through tents in the dark may make you feel like a naff spy navigating a laser maze, but the second you trip on a rope and fall into a tent you won’t be making any festival friends. A torch will help you locate your tent and may even help you find the right end of your sleeping bag.

 

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Hevy Fest

Safety First (always)

Aside from the one person in every group who has the whole first aid kit with them, you probably want to make sure you’ve got your own supply of pain killers, plasters and even a few Berocca to help that hangover taste a bit better. You also don’t want to wake up to find a stranger spooning you and feel that instant pang of fear. Pack a few condoms and don’t let yourself get caught out.

And if the sun does come out… remember to protect those tattoos, which you’ve spent your life collecting, with some decent sun cream. And never let yourself get dehydrated. Sunstroke is not fun, so do not forget to drink water. You can push through a hangover but paying to miss bands is never fun.

Duct Tape

Because you never know when duct tape might just save the day… you’ll just have to trust us on this one…

What festivals are you going to? And will you be taking any of Amber’s essentials?

Tattoos that Change Lives: Realistic Nipple Tattoos on Breast Cancer Survivors

45-year-old tattoo artist Ron Antonick creates nipple tattoos for women who have had breast cancer. Often his clients have had re-constructive surgery or are unhappy with the options offered to them by medical practitioners. We talked to Ron to find out more about his experiences helping women to regain their confidence after breast cancer. 

Can you tell us a bit about your studio? I own Sacred Tattoo in Wickliffe Ohio, just east of Cleveland. It is a private custom studio, not open to the public. I am the only artist there.

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How long have you been tattooing? I started tattooing professionally in 1988, working at a local street shop before doing a bit of travelling and guest spots around the country and then opening my own shop in 1997.

How did you start tattooing nipples? For the past decade or so, most of the tattoos I did were portraits or photo realism of sorts… so when a friend’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, they went to see the doctor together. The doctor explained about nipple reconstruction, where they attempt to create the nipple again or at least a bump of skin for lack of a better term and then have the nipple and areola tattooed to look more natural. He proceeded to show them a portfolio of nipple tattoos done by medical professionals that looked like peach or salmon colour circles but not anything close to what a real nipple would look like. So my friend called me and asked if I would do them for her when the time came and of course I said I would be honoured.

How did you perfect the technique? I started to research it and found some other artists doing them, with very few artists doing them well. I began drawing different types of nipples, sizes, shapes, textures and colour ranges to see what looked most realistic and what fell short. I worked with slight shadows and light sources to give them the most 3 dimensional appearance I could. When I had done enough of these drawings that I considered successful I then started to advertise for breast cancer survivors, that I could tattoo for free in order to gain some experience.

I had no shortage, almost right away, of women who contacted me looking for help and most of them already had been tattooed by medical professionals unsuccessfully and really wanted them to look natural.  The only stipulation I put on it was that I expected to take anonymous before and after photos which most had no problem with. I was shocked to find out just how many people this was affecting and that many of the women were so young. I would always make sure to take time to sit and talk with each client before hand to make sure they were completely comfortable with both myself and the process before starting anything.

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Do hospitals ever refer patients to you? Yes, it all started with my friend talking to his wife’s surgeon, saying that I would be better suited to do her tattoos, at first the doctor seemed uninterested. He persisted each visit telling him more and then showing him before and after photos of tattoos I had done and before too long he was opening up to the idea. His wife later set up a meeting between myself, her surgeon and his assistant that went very well. I met with Doctor Steven Bernard of the Cleveland Clinic and his assistant Jaquie Frazee. Dr. Bernard was also a part of the team who did the first successful face transplant so needless to say I was very nervous meeting him. I explained what I do, that I have 27 years of experience as both a professional tattoo artist and business owner, I showed them my portfolio and studio. I explained that I use only Fusion Tattoo Pigments because they are all natural organic pigments which are also vegan friendly. In closing he told me he felt that him and his partners clients would be well served by me and he would be referring them to me in the future.

Who was your first client? The first client I had was a woman in her early 30s who drove up from southern Ohio to have her existing nipple tattoos reworked by me.  I reworked her tattoos, correcting colour, adding depth, texture and shadows to give it a more realistic and natural appearance and she was extremely happy with the results! I spoke with her during the healing once and after the healing to make sure everything healed well, colours held up and the results remained, which happily they did. I say this because working on scar tissue is completely different than working on healthy skin tissue. It can be damaged much easier than normal skin and sometimes if not careful in the application of the tattoo , the pigment is more likely to lighten or even fall out of the skin completely during healing.

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Do you tattoo other things other than nipples? I still do regular tattooing  and as rewarding as it is to see a beautiful tattoo on a happy client, it just doesn’t compare to the look of joy on a woman’s face when she sees herself in the mirror for the first time after tattooing nipples on her. It absolutely helps to restore their sense of beauty, self image, confidence and makes them feel somewhat whole again, also in most cases giving them a sense of closure. Now they can move on from the cancer experience and feel comfortable with themselves again. The tattoos help to camouflage scars and in some cases make the breasts look a bit more shapely where they may be slightly misshapen due to surgeries. It feels so good being told afterwards and getting phone calls weeks later telling me that they don’t avoid seeing themselves in the mirror anymore.

Do you do any cosmetic tattooing? I have started getting inquiries about other issues that the doctors and nurses have referred clients to me in hopes of helping them. Some women after being treated for breast cancer never have their eyebrows grow back so I also have started doing these as well as correcting pigment colour on scars. I had a recent client who had hair plugs done in the 90s and since decided he wanted to go with the shaved head look but was self-conscious because he had multiple rows of small round scars that were much lighter in color than his normal skin colour. I matched the pigment and we did a small test area and let that heal to make sure he would be happy with the results before having him shave completely.

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How do you match the tattoo to skin colour? As far as matching skin pigments for different women, I just ask them to describe what they had, what they prefer as far as tone, texture size etc and do my best to make it look as natural as possible. I end up doing a lot of mixing pigments to get the right tones for each individual and always keep in mind, as well as tell each client that because of red or pinkness of the skin after being tattooed that there will be a 15-25% lightening in tone once the tattoo is healed and the skin irritation subsides. I also encourage if possible that they make a follow up appointment about two months after to make sure the healing went well, that the tone is correct and if needed do any layering or touch ups that may be needed ,which is all included in the cost. I do both bilateral (meaning both) or unilateral (meaning one) and the unilateral is always more difficult because you are trying to match the existing nipple colour, size and texture but is by no means impossible.

You have mentioned that you do a lot of free tattoos, how does this work? I did quite a few sets for free the first 8-10 months just trying to get as much experience as I could and feedback. Unfortunately I do need to make a living and feed my family as well but I feel good knowing that I am doing an amazing job for less than a third the cost of what most hospitals are charging – and a few hundred less than what most of the other professionals are doing. There are so many breast cancer survivors in need without the means to pay so I put aside 10% of every nipple/areola tattoo that I do and then reapply it to someone who cannot pay. So in short, every 11th nipple tattoo is done on someone in need who can’t pay, which helps keep me feeling balanced. In a perfect world, I would do them all for free.

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How long is your waiting list? My waiting list is normally anywhere between a month to two months depending on the season, but I see that filling up more and more as word spreads, as I network with more and more medical professionals and breast cancer resources. People can always reach me via email at ronantonick@gmail.com or my cell # which is 440 226 0069 although it can take a while for me to reply as I am extremely busy.

To find out more visit Ron’s website BreastRenew

Create a life you love with Sarah Starrs

Sarah is a 27-year-old writer, coach and creator of SarahStarrs a Punk Rock Personal Development blog. We chatted to her about her journey of self-love, achieving your goals and her beautiful tattoo collection… 

Can you tell me a little about your blog and what people can find on it? You can find my blog at SarahStarrs.com, where I help women get their shit together & create a life they love. I mainly write about self-love, personal development, lifestyle design, creativity, and achieving your dreams. I believe that it’s absolutely possible to achieve your big goals and that it all starts with learning to adore yourself. But this doesn’t happen by sitting idly by and wishing for good things to happen. I show people how to get down and dirty with the universe to make magical things happen. But you have to do the work. That’s why I call it “punk rock personal development.” I’m launching a podcast with that name on 14th August, which I’m very excited about!

How did you become a blogger? I’ve been writing online in one form or another since I was a preteen – I had Angelfire, Geocities, Livejournal, Myspace, etc. My current website, SarahStarrs.com, was born out of my old website The Laughing Medusa, which I launched in 2011. I started blogging that time around out of a kind of necessity. I felt really stuck and strangled in my job as a magazine editor. I was longing for a creative outlet and editorial freedom, so I decided to start a blog. At the same time I was undergoing a lot of personal transformations as I learned about personal development and got into healthy eating, so my online space became a place for me to explore these new interests. It began more or less as a personal/lifestyle blog, but has evolved a lot over time to become the business and resource it is today.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m most inspired by people who are balls to the wall following their passions and going after their dreams in an unconventional way. A lot of my writing is inspired by the things I learn from these types of people, as well as my own experiences learning to transform my life. But, as cliche as it sounds, I find that inspiration can spring from anywhere: a great conversation, an interesting film, a beautiful pattern, catchy lyrics… anything that catches my attention and gets me to look at things in a new way.

You are an advocate for self love and following your dreams how did this come about? Oddly enough, it started in a university philosophy class about existentialism. People know me as a positive, upbeat person who gets an idea and runs with it, but I wasn’t always like this. In truth, I used to be a bit of a neasayer. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression all of my life, but I also just didn’t think the things I wanted were possible for me. I let fear rule my decisions for a long time. Existentialism is based on the idea that all of us is radically free. We all face limitations imposed on us by physical realities, our histories, material circumstances, etc. But we’re always free to choose our actions and reactions. And that’s who we are: the product of our choices and actions.

That really struck a chord with me. To be honest, I resisted the whole thing at first. It’s hard to accept that our destiny is in our own hands. It’s a lot of pressure! Around the same time that I was taking this course, I started delving into the world of personal development, reading bloggers like Gala Darling and Alexandra Jaye Johnson. I saw a lot of similarities between the concepts of self-love and existentialism – namely an emphasis on personal responsibility and taking control of your own life. I started incorporating the things I was learning into my life and my mindset started to shift. As it did, it was like my whole world started opening up. Not all at once, but slowly I started to take risks because I knew I had to take complete responsibility for my life. The things I want were possible and it would be my choice if I denied myself them. Since then I’ve focused on making bold, sparkly choices and intentionally designing my life.

Has it taken you a while to love yourself? Do you have any advice for readers? I like to make it really clear that I am not finished learning to love myself; I do not have it all figured out. Self-love is a lifelong journey. I still have my bad days when my inner critic gets the best of me or I start comparing myself to other people and I want to give up on everything. I still struggle with my mental health and have dark periods that are difficult to crawl out of. The difference is that I now have a toolbox of strategies, practices, rituals, and mindsets that help me navigate those times with love and kindness for myself. Those are the things that I want to teach people. I know now that my mind can play tricks on me and my thoughts are not always real, but I have the ability to choose a more loving thought.

I’ve created a whole course on starting your self-love journey but if you’re looking for a simple place to start, I would look at incorporating some simple mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. I’m working on a post about this right now but a simple way to start doing this is just a spend a couple of minutes connecting with your breath and noticing your thoughts, perhaps labeling them as “planning,” “worrying,” etc. and then letting them float away. As you practice, you’ll strengthen your ability to clear your mind and you’ll gain more control over your thoughts. I’d also recommend either writing down the things you’re happy and excited or grateful for or just taking note of them mentally. It’s a great practice to do first thing in the morning and before you go to bed, so you’re starting and ending each day filled up by the good things in your life.

What first steps did you take to achieve your goals? I’m still very much in the process of achieving my goals, but I guess the first step was learning to put myself out there. It can be so difficult to share your dreams or your creative work when you’re so far from where you want to be, but that’s the only way that you’ll learn and grow. You have to take action or your dreams are just fantasies. When I started blogging, the work I was putting out there was so reiterative and my inspirations were so obvious. I had to write myself into my voice and find my unique message, but if I hadn’t put that early writing out there, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

Can you tell us a bit about the courses you have on offer? I offer a self-guided ecourse called Romance Yourself: A 40-Day Journey to Self-Love. I think of it as the guiding hand, encouraging voice, and kick in the ass I wish I’d had when I started my self-love journey. Self-love is pivotal to living the life of your dreams, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Romance Yourself will show you the way. The course provides a daily practice for you to start cultivating that feeling of love for yourself as well as daily insights and exercises to start exploring your thoughts and beliefs and creating a practice that is unique to you.

For anyone who’s feeling a little bit lost, I also have a free Define Your Dreams workbook to help start creating some clarity around your goals and what you want your life to look like. It’s completely free and you can download it from my website.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new course, The Daydream Revolution, which is by far my biggest and best offering yet. It’s an 8-week course on achieving your dream and making big shit happen. If you have a bigger-than-life idea, whether it’s starting a business or going on an international adventure, or anything in between, but can’t seem to make it happen, this is for you. Through the course we’ll overcome resistance, tackle your fears, and drag your big dream into reality. At the end of the course you’ll walk way with a detailed action plan, a clear picture of how you can afford your dream, and the tools to stay motivated. Registration isn’t open yet, but if you hop over to my website and sign up for my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when it does + you’ll get an exclusive discount.

What was your first tattoo? How old were you and do you still like it? What do you think about tattoo regret?  My first tattoo is a line of text that says “Dance like nobody’s watching” in my own handwriting around my wrist. I was 19; I got it for my birthday. It’s not my favourite tattoo but it’s unobtrusive and it’s part of my story. It’s not the quote I would be most drawn to now but it sums up my personal philosophy of living life on your own terms and always being true to who you are.

I think tattoo regret is part and parcel of being a tattooed person, the way I sometimes wake up and absolutely hate my hair, some days I wish I could wake up and erase one of my tattoos. But I’ve never experienced any lasting regret about any of my tattoos. I plan to be more or less covered in ink, so if I end up with a tattoo that I’m no longer wild about, it won’t stand out that much in the bigger picture of the canvas that is my body. And they’re all part of my story.

Which is your favourite tattoo? Do any of them have a special meaning?
All of my tattoos have some sort of special meaning attached to them, even if it’s just an association with a particular time in my life. If I had to narrow it down to my favourites, they’d be my chest piece which was done by Jessi James in Newbury. It represents self-love and personal transformation. And also the rose and bee on my knee by Cassandra Frances; I plan on getting the other one done to match. That tattoo was born out of a silly conversation with my friend about being “the bee’s knees” but I absolutely adore it.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? Are there any artists you admire? I want almost my entire body tattooed, but I like to think of it as a collection and I’m happy to curate it slowly as I can afford to get the work I want. I’m particularly keen to get pieces from Tiny Miss Becca, Emily Rose Murray, Rebecca Vincent, Peter Aurish, Danielle Rose, and Antony Flemming.

How would you describe your fashion style?
I describe it as technicolour punk rock chic! I’m a big fan of bright colours, fit & flare dresses, vintage silhouettes, statement jewellery, & motorcycle boots.

You’re never too old to get your first tattoo

You’re never too old to get your first tattoo and this bad-ass grandma proves it… 

79-year-old Sadie Sellers skipped her care home to join her granddaughter, Samantha at a tattoo studio in Londonderry, Ireland. The grandmother and granddaughter got matching small heart tattoos on their arms. It was a way for both of them to complete an item on their bucket lists: Mrs Sellers said: “You know, when you get to my age, you just have to live life to the full every day.”

The Belfast Telegraph reported that:

Afterwards when asked what her family would think of the tattoo, the grandmother of 11 reportedly left customers at the parlour shocked by retorting: “I don’t f****** care.”

Cultural appropriation and tattoos

Our guest blogger is psychologist, freelance writer and creator of the blog Dream Electric, Ally Richards. In this post she considers cultural appropriation and tattoos. 

Heritage often acts as a source of inspiration for tattoos. It’s also equally common for tattoo collectors to adorn their bodies with representations of other cultures – perhaps memories of places visited or finding inspiration in another population’s practices.

By Carlos Torres

When getting a tattoo referencing a culture that is not your own, issues can arise. We cringe at the (often misspelt) Chinese character tattoos that attracted popularity in the 90s and the use of other cultures as “exotic” or “edgy”. Beyond these examples is the possibility that the tattoo will provoke offense in members of the cultural group referenced and the wearer may be accused of “cultural appropriation”.

What is cultural appropriation? A quick google quickly evidences the controversy behind the term – angry voices making claims of racism and further angry voices proclaiming freedom of expression. In brief, cultural appropriation refers to a majority group who adopts the symbols and signs of a minority group. A power dynamic is inherent; the privileged group (often white and western) takes from an oppressed and marginalised group. This differs from “cultural exchange”, in which the trading between groups is mutual. The power lies in the hands of the majority group – they get to choose which symbols they take on and stand to benefit from this appropriation. This “accessorisation” trivialises and erases the oppression experienced by the minority group.

But I’m not racist, I just think it’s pretty…

Headdress by Ben Klishevskiy

A recent example of cultural appropriation is the wearing of “Red Indian headdresses”, which have become popular accessories. The headdresses (known as warbonnets) have a deep spiritual significance in Native American culture. Native Americans are also a minority group who have a history of oppression and suffering at the hands of Americans. The wearing of the headdresses encourages stereotypes and when worn with skimpy festival-wear it promotes the sexualisation of an ethnic group which already has a high level of sexual assault perpetrated against them. This year Glastonbury banned the sale of the headdresses at the festival for these reasons.

Mandala by Jonathan Toogood

But what about tattoos? Unlike a culturally insensitive costume, a tattoo is usually carefully considered and a lifelong commitment, not a trend to be picked up when convenient. However, by the above definition, cultural appropriation is very common in tattoo culture. Many white people sport tribal blackwork designs inspired by Maori culture. Mexican “sugar skull” designs and mandala tattoos inspired by Hindu and Buddhist practices have become increasingly popular. All of these designs come from cultures that have been historically (and in many cases still currently) oppressed by white people. Is this problematic?

Skull by Mike Harper 

You are free to present your body in whichever way you choose, and your tattoos are your own choice. However, others also have the right to be offended and express this. If you decide to get a tattoo representing a minority culture, you should be prepared for this possibility.  Although your intention is not to be racist, others may see it as such.

If you are in the white majority, it is not for you to decide what is and is not offensive to other groups. Inform yourself of the history and significance around your chosen design and discuss this with members of that community. You may find it helpful to speak to a tattoo artist from that culture. It may be possible to incorporate the aspects of the symbol you find appealing into a more culturally respectful tattoo. Above all, regardless of the eventual choice you make, being thoughtful is key. A tattoo is for life and you don’t want to be spending your later years defending it! Careful consideration of the cultural context around your tattoo may avoid unintentional offense and embarrassment in the future.

 

Katie Edmunds Illustrates Things&Ink

Fashion illustrator, Katie Edmunds from London, was inspired by Things&Ink magazine and created the original illustration (below) of blogger Yanin Namasonthi, who she has followed for a while and loves her style. 

We chatted to Katie about her artistic style, where she gets her inspiration and of course tattoos. Katie has also recreated a few of her favourite previous Things&Ink covers… 

Do you have a background in art? Yes I’ve always chosen related art subjects through education and I’ve just recently graduated from London College of Fashion.

 How would you describe your style? I love illustrating people’s expressions through portrait drawings. I have a realistic style, which I tend to juxtapose with playful, and colourful elements through use of watercolours, adding a raw quality to my work.

What medium do you use? Pencils and watercolour. I like the precision and detail of the pencil and the unpredictability and possibilities which stem from watercolour and ink on paper.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m hugely inspired by female empowerment. My illustrations tend to play upon women who control and employ power over the male gaze, but with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Do you have tattoos? So far I only have one, it was in the spur of the moment with my friend during St Patricks day in Dublin- a small celebration of a shamrock on my wrist. I keep illustrating different designs but as an illustrator I keep altering and changing what I want.

Are there any artists you admire? In terms of tattoo artists I really admire Keely Rutherford, like my own work hers is very colourful. I like her use of pastel colours and the way in which she translates that into tattoo art. I also like her fantasy aesthetic; it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

What drew you to Things&Ink? I was drawn to Things&Ink magazine as I feel it takes a look at both tattoos and the wider tattoo culture. Being an illustrator I really respect the artwork of tattooists so I love that it profiles the very best tattooists and shines a light on their illustrative skills. My work really focuses on feminist ideals so I was drawn to the strong women that are represented in Things&Ink magazine.

How did you decide which covers to draw? The first cover I chose to illustrate is my favourite of all the issues so far, issue 11 The Fruity Issue to me perfectly represents female empowerment. I love the bright and colourful aesthetic, which is something which I try to achieve in my work and I’m also really drawn to portraiture so I always tend to illustrate detail in faces.

 Can people buy your art? Yes,  I also do commissions and can be contacted by email katieedmundsillustration@gmail.com
Follow Katie on Instagram and Twitter for more art work

Tattoo Removal Cream

PhD student Alec Falkenham at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has been developing a cream that he claims removes tattoos without any pain.

He explains that the cream is cheaper than laser treatments and unlike laser will not cause the skin to blister or scar. The cream simply fades the tattoo over time, although it works best on new tattoos that are less than two years old.

There is still a long way to go and a lot of research still to be done as Alec has only tested the cream on tattooed pig’s ears, he is also unsure of the amount of treatments needed to get rid of a tattoo altogether.

Alec Falkenham, a PhD student at Dalhousie University, says the topical cream he's developing will eventually fade a tattoo away.

Image from www.cbc.ca

Would you use a cream instead of laser treatment?