Tagged: tattoos

Merpola Clothing

25-year-old Toby King is creator of streetwear label Merpola a mixture of maritime whimsy and urban sensibilities. We chat to him about what inspired his debut collection, how The Prince’s Trust helped him set up his business, and his aquarium of oceanic tattoos… 

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How did you start your company? What inspired you? The ocean is the main inspiration for the pieces I make. Merpola worships at the alter of the world Ariel left behind, that inspired Cher for Halloween, that Rose survived and Jack froze in, that swallowed Pinocchio, that produces up to 70% of the oxygen we depend on for survival… it’s an endless source of inspiration. I’m really proud to be the founder of a company that I always wanted to exist, no one else was doing it so I decided to do it myself.

I started Merpola with the help of Prince Charles’ charity; The Prince’s Trust. They have a scheme called Enterprise for young people who want to be trained in entrepreneurship, they are honestly Jedi Masters at what they do (and to be their Padawan was a huge honour) they taught me a lot and helped get Merpola up and running.

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Can you tell us a little about your brand? Merpola is my own clothing and accessories brand that launched in Winter 2015. The first collection is on sale now and is made up of t-shirt prints, beanie hats and tote bags. The brand is independent, unisex and forward-thinking. I didn’t want to gender any of the items because the concept of giving a sex to threads of cotton or a design element is ridiculous. If you like it, put it on. A focus on high quality within affordable limits is a number one priority, it’s important to me that I offer something that isn’t set at an elitist high fashion price but that still feels unique and special, like a lot of passion has gone into the creation of it. I source components as ethically and ecologically-friendly as I can given the budget and sell worldwide.

Do you have a background in fashion?  I don’t have any background in fashion, no! I studied Media & Communications at university and went into television and PR after graduating. I love all forms of expression though, from tattoos to clothing, and the idea for Merpola has always been in the back of my mind. I had been working for a company that I didn’t respect – the way they did business was without any moral compass. I had to get out of there, and that’s when I went to The Prince’s Trust with my idea for a streetwear label.  They provided classes to teach me all about being an entrepreneur and helped fund the equipment and fabrics I needed to get going, it’s an amazing organisation.

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Can you tell us a bit about your new collection? With the debut collection, I wanted to create a solid baseline and incorporate certain staples that would help define Merpola moving forward. I think there’s a very playful and rebellious attitude to all the things I’ve created so far, I’m really proud of everything. There wasn’t much money to get started with so I chose to focus on creating a small run of a select pieces that build the foundation of what I want to achieve whilst still having opportunities to expand upon on and adapt as the business (hopefully) grows. Some sizes are already selling out, and because there’s only a few dozen of each item I think the first batch will be quite special one day. RuPaul has already given Merpola his stamp of approval, which was a massive confidence boost when I needed it most. Starting a business is scary!

The brand is a reflection of maritime whimsy and kitshy elements mixed with some urban sensibilities picked up from my current surroundings in London.

What do you want your collection to say? I want Merpola to inspire rebellious spirits and invoke a sense of adventure. If you want to feel empowered like a menacing sea witch, cover yourself in our tentacle print. If you want to tell the world “watch out, I will drown you” then represent that with the Sea Tee. You haven’t escaped the Matrix so you don’t need to dress in plain black every day of the week. Break the rules, have fun with your style.

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What is your favourite piece from the collection? I’m proud of the little details in all of my first collection. I don’t have a background in fashion or design, and it was a long process to teach myself how to do it properly – nothing is worth doing unless you throw yourself into it 100%. I actually feel like my DIY approach has benefited the clothing, there’s no fashion rules to follow when you don’t know them! But it’s little details mixed with a sense of humour and rebelliousness that give my label its identity. I really appreciate and strive for humour in what I do and hope it comes across.  And I’m getting better at what I do every day, I’m starting the process of creating Collection II now so there’s a lot to be excited about going into 2016.

Where can people buy them? I set up Merpola.com as a platform to sell the collection, that’s where you’ll find my garments. There’s also a blog there with updates on the business and more creative writing planned for the future, swing by and have a poke around.

Can you tell us about your tattoos? I’ve always been awestruck by tattoos. I craved having my own when I was younger because I viewed them as a sign of a free mind, a rebellious statement. Now finally having my own, I understand that they’re much more than that. They’re art, stories, history and emotion sitting under your skin. Unsurprisingly, most of my own tattoos are rooted in oceanic imagery, I’m my own aquarium and I love it.

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What was your first one do you still love it?  My first tattoo is terrible, but yes, I still love it. A lot of people I meet have a ‘first pancake’, that first tattoo that didn’t turn out right. I saw the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch when I was around 14 and it blew my mind open. There’s a tattoo in that film which I wanted to replicate so I had a fake I.D. made, skipped school and went to a really crummy place in Exeter that tattooed it onto me for just £20. It’s sloppy and gross, but it’s been with me for over a decade now and reminds me of the fearlessness I had that day, it’s quite empowering.

Mais2 Illustration

Alessandra Criseo, better known as Mais2 on Instagram, is an illustrator and crafter from Italy who has lived in London for the past five years. Inspired by Things&Ink Alessandra created this tattoo inspired girl for us… 

 

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How would you describe your style? Sometimes it’s hard for me to see- I love trying a lot of different things and techniques so sometimes I feel inconsistent, but apparently other people can see my identity better than I can. People that know often talk about my style mentioning the fact that it has humour and makes them laugh, and that it has something creepy about it as well. Both compliments.

What inspires you? From my side I get inspired by things happening to me and sentences that I form in my head in specific situations, things connected to my childhood and people and things I love. Externally I get my inspirations mostly from fashion, food, objects, strange combinations of items together. I realised that I get inspired more by photographic stuff than illustration, I guess because it is a different media.
I do of course follow a lot of amazing artists, but often when I see a drawing I really love and I think that is perfect, I don’t feel like I need to repeat what they already did.

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Do you have a background in art? I do, instead of high school I went to art school in my city, but it was quite crap at the time. It was the only art school in town and It wasn’t very good. In my third year I have chosen to specialise in fashion, where I met two of my favourite teachers though, so no regrets. I also did a two year course in a school of comics that allowed me to meet some of my artist friends and professionals and start my career.

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What medium do you use? I tend to draw and ink traditionally (with any pencil and graphic liners) because it relaxes me much more than digital. I colour digitally in Photoshop, or if I go for a more traditional technique I use markers.

What do you like to draw? I definitely love to draw silly people,oh and food- if together even better. I love spooky and dark subjects too, drawing street fashion and animals.

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Can people buy your illustrations? I have a bigcartel shop where people can buy everything I put on sale. At the moment you can find a few things in there and between those there is my first self published book Memento Bento that is an illustrated diary of my first trip to Japan- I’m very proud of it!

Do you have any tattoos? What do you think about tattoos? I love tattoos, I adored them from far away for ages before getting mine.
It’s always hard for an artist to decide what to get as a first tattoo because we change our mind easily and in my case my only certainty was that I didn’t want to design it myself- but I couldn’t stop picturing the composition in my head!

Tattoos are a big influence on my style, a lot of people get my illustrations as tattoos as well. Becoming a tattoo artist and tattooing my pieces myself is a dream of mine, I seriously have thought about that but I haven’t been brave enough to just do it yet. I wish some of my friends were tattoo artists to teach me and help me get started! Maybe one day, hopefully soon!

I got my first tattoos two years ago, on both of my calves.They are subtle references to two video games that really influenced my taste during my childhood and I’m sure I will love forever: Monkey Island and Prince of Persia. I also have a moon on my right wrist and I love it.

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Are there any artists that you admire? One of my biggest weakness is making lists of things I love or hate, seriously, that’s so hard for me! I don’t even know what my favourite food or song or colour are! Generally speaking I love a lot of Japanese illustrators, ancient and modern. I love their humour, I feel like they get me. I love a lot of graphic illustrations- I enjoy the process of limiting yourself with the amount of colour and detail. It makes the result so elegant and timeless, and I find it calming as well when I do it myself.

As I have already mentioned, tattoo art is a huge inspiration as well. I love symbolism and really appreciate the composition that a good tattoo artist is capable of creating. I love how a well done design can stand alone perfectly without even any need for a context. I also follow a lot of illustrators that don’t fit in any of these categories, especially on Instagram and Tumblr- I kinda like everything.

Interview with Hannah Hill

21-year-old Hannah Hill is the talented lady behind independent business, Hanecdote. Since 2012 she has been creating cute and quirky embroidered patches, along with establishing the Ghoul Guides International club. Not only does her stitching wizardry make you smile, with slogans such as “Avocado Angel” and “Pizza Princess”, but they also bring awareness to subjects such as mental health, racism and feminism.

Amber Bryce caught up with Hannah to talk about her art, inspirations and amazing collection of tattoos, of course…

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When did you first start embroidering? I started embroidering when I was about 17, at college studying a BTEC Art and Design course, where I was given the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of mediums and techniques. Saying that, my mum has always knitted and stitched so the influence has been around me for most of my life.

Where do you find your inspiration? My sources of inspiration can vary a great amount. I find beauty in kind people and my intense love for my best friend, nature, architecture, pop culture, emotions and politics, girls, identity and family. I find huge inspiration and support in my online feminist art babe community, and people constantly making me want strive to be better and make even more meaningful work.

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Are you interested in any other art forms? I love all kinds of art forms and styles, although hand embroidery is my main skill. Both of my grandparents were architects, which influenced my outlook on the world around me from a very young age, and as I mentioned, my mum is a very talented crafter, who has done projects including mosaic, stained glass, knitting, painting, floristry, embroidery and sculpture. All my life I have been surrounded by art/design in one way or another, whether it was crafternoons, gallery trips or work experience. This year on my fine art course, I hope to expand my textile techniques as well as explore my identity further. This is something I am really excited about, and look forward to seeing where my work goes.

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Do you have a favourite artist? There are plenty of artists who I love but I don’t think I could choose just one. I recently saw Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy and it was incredible. What stood out to me in particular, other than the deep historical context and emotion behind lots of his pieces, was the beautiful craftsmanship, which just further represented aspects of China’s history.

I also love Yayoi Kusama’s work and am really inspired by her resilience through mental health issues and how that transpires in her hypnotic, colourful work. Right now I am obsessed with Reuben Dangoor who has been painting Grime artists as if they were landed gentry, which combines my love of grime music and classical painting. I am all about changing up the art world, and injecting the variety of cultures now residing in the UK into what we think of art and history in England, and this series really represents that crossover.

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Which of your creations are you proudest of? Over the past year, my embroidery has grown from teeny patches expressing hobbies and interests, to more biographical pieces, which are much more detailed. I love both kinds equally, but the patches that are closest to my heart are ones that support and encourage little victories, activities that are hard for people with mental health issues but still deserve to be rewarded. Knowing that I have impacted someone’s mental health, and helped them to not feel so alone is so heartwarming to me.

I personally love the embroidered self-portrait I made last year, which was challenging but my hard work really paid off. It had originally started of as a self-care project, which turned into really fun way of working for me.

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What are your future plans for Hanecdote? As far as my shop, its had to be put on the back burner while I’m back at university, but I do hope to reopen it soon, just selling machine embroidered versions of my classic designs while I study. Next summer I will have more time to commit to my business, introducing some clothing, expanding the machine embroidered range and also offering customised embroidered hoops, similar to the ones I have been making. I love being able to share my creations and designs with people, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy business, so I kind of make it up as I go along, improving and learning constantly, and I would like to grow personally as an artist for a while before committing to my shop again.

What advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business? It takes a lot of patience, that’s for sure. I struggle to think of sound advice as it is all about trial and error for me, and I’ve been running Hanecdote since I was 17 so there really has been a lot of learning and figuring out the best process. I was making and sharing kind of crap things for a year or more before I made my Ghoul Guide patches and they got popular online, which propelled me into the patch machine I have turned into over the past two years. I guess be confident in your products, work ethically, don’t copy other peoples designs and have fun expressing yourself.

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Tell us about your tattoo collection? I got my first tattoo a week after my 18th birthday, which is a bum in a heart shape and could still be one of my favourites as my mum also got tattooed with me and it brings back fond memories. I also have a black cat on my wrist; a matching honey jar with my brother, which commemorates a fond memory with our grandpa; an interpretation of my popular Too Cute To Care patch; a palm tree, which I got in Antigua with my boyfriend; a pin up girl with a snake wrapped around her, inspired by John Collier’s painting of Lilith and Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn; a skull pin cushion; a Friday the thirteenth embroidery sample; a sad girl; a crying eye; lil ghoul; a heart with a G inside; a heart saying ‘mine’; a nude Polaroid, and a butterfly.

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Have you got plans for anymore in the future? I have lots of ideas for tattoos in the future, including some mermaids, no doubt more embroidery inspired ones, some more babes, and I’ve been really thinking about a beautiful under boob tattoo. I think I’m gonna go easy for a while though, if I can help myself! Matching tattoos are my favourite and I would love to get some more. Hopefully one day I can convince my dad to get one with me

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.
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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.

image2 (1)Fox by Jody

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.

sadie

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.

coco

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.