Tagged: tattoos

Paul Clark: Scalp Micro Pigmentation

Paul Clark initially trained as a tattooist before specialising in scalp micro pigmentation and works at Brandwood Clinic. We chatted to Paul about the processes behind his work and the clients he works with… 

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What is scalp micro pigmentation? Do you tattoo hair onto other parts of the body? Scalp Micro Pigmentation is a procedure that creates the appearance of hair using an insertion of ink and the micro-dermal level. It is (as the name suggests) mostly for the scalp but we also replicate facial hair -beards, stubble. This is particularly for alopecia but also for those who want the look of stubble without the work of keeping it trimmed or people whose natural stubble isn’t dark or thick enough.

We work with other technicians who are skilled in semi-permanent make-up for eyebrows and the like. Essentially we can offer the whole package.

How does it work? What is the process? How long does it take to heal? We insert a pigment into a shallow layer of the scalp, we use thousands of impressions randomly distributed in order to replicate the appearance of hair follicles. The end effect is an appearance of hair at its shortest, we regularly describe it as the ‘buzz cut’ look. When working with clients who have some hair it can add density to the thinner or thinning areas, something we’ve done with both women and men.

It’s a procedure that usually takes three sessions distributed over four weeks or more. Overall the healing process is five days from the last session, when the pigment size has reduced to appear ‘as hair’. It’s effectively healed when the pigment size matches the existing or previous hair follicles.

How do you match the colour? We have 70 different shade variations which get close to any hair colour. They are specifically mixed for each client. We use a special pigment which is totally organic, all plant based and suitable for vegans – very important to me as I am one!

What sorts of clients to you get? What do they ask for? Are they happy with the results? Most clients ask for a natural, realistic end-result that can’t be detected easily. They are seeking the appearance of hair. It can be all ages, I’ve treated a 15-year-old with alopecia and a 70-year-old guy wanting his hairline back. It’s many different walks-of-life: celebrities, armed forces, musicians, sportsmen. Essentially anyone who is image-conscious and doesn’t want to be bald.

It often takes a long time for people to come to the decision that they want this treatment, we frequently talk to people who are on a journey and coming to terms with their hair loss. Once they’ve had the treatment it restores a level of self-confidence, they’re liberated and feel extremely happy. It’s an incredibly rewarding role to have in someone’s life.

Can you tell us about your pioneering work? It’s a relatively new industry, the very first procedure was probably only a decade ago. I was the first ‘full-time’ practitioner and have helped to train a lot of the people working in the business world-wide. The first treatments were in the straight-looking, defined hairline style and this is still something that a lot of clients like. What I’ve tried to do over the years is to perfect a more natural looking hairline because people’s hair tends not to grow in razor-sharp lines.

One of my early clients was Simon Lane who’s been on an incredible journey of his own  with scarring and hair transplants and the like. He trained as a practitioner and we’ve been close friends ever since.

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Simon’s hair journey

Working together we experimented with a few different styles of hairline and definitions. We first introduced the broken hairline, moved onto the jagged and eventually the feathered look which is one of the most advanced procedures that can be performed.

When we started Brandwood Clinic we were keen to introduce a whole new method and spent a few months perfecting something we call the 3D Scatter Technique. It’s a way of working, particularly with clients who still have some hair, to deliver the most realistic appearance possible. It is the most sophisticated procedure available and, at present, we’re the only two practitioners who can perform it. We’re naturally proud of it, as it demonstrates a great leap forward for scalp micro pigmentation.

Can you tell us about where you work? Me and Simon are at Brandwood Clinic in Solihull where we see people from all over the UK and further afield. We have a client regularly flying from Ireland and a guy coming to see us from Spain in early 2016. The whole ethos behind the clinic is that we deliver a professional service in a comfortable and clean environment. Our aim is to improve the overall respectability of Scalp Micro Pigmentation, improve standards and work towards regulation of the industry.

Costs are variable depending on many factors – what level of hair density you have remaining, whether there are scars from hair transplants or other treatments and what look you are trying to achieve. We also ‘top-up’ a lot of previous clients and have updated some of them to the 3D Scatter appearance.

Treatments (over three sessions) can take up to twelve hours, an average cost for a completely new treatment is in the region of £3,000.

Can you tell us about your tattooing background? How long were you a tattooist? Where did you tattoo? I did a six month apprenticeship in Birmingham. I studied art and felt that this was a natural progression but then found an opportunity with scalp micro pigmentation that didn’t exist in traditional tattooing. It was a chance to really help people but also, eventually, use some of my knowledge of art and tattooing background.

I felt that I wanted to concentrate more on that and not jump between the two. I wanted to immerse myself in the technique of micro pigmentation and perfect it. Trying to tattoo at the same time would be confusing, they’re different disciplines. I’ve treated tattooists and they’ve always been blown away by the work, I always felt like it justified the decision I made. I’m very passionate about scalp micro pigmentation.

Can you tell us about your tattoos?  I have quite a few tattoos, sleeve and chest area mainly and a recent one on my hand. Andy Cryztalz at Park Street Tattoo in Birmingham did the dot work and mandala on my hand, it’s a great piece. I also like Dawnii at Painted Lady who did my sleeve, Mike Philip at Immortal Ink did my chest, all great artists. In the new year I will be starting on my other arm!

Careers: Tattooed Model Booker

We chatted to 22-year-old Laura who works as a model booker in London, about her beautiful tattoo collection and people telling her she doesn’t look like the tattooed type… 

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My first tattoo was (I’m embarrassed to say) those feathers with little birds coming out of them with the quote “Not all those who wonder are lost” I cringe so much looking at it but despite what it is it’s not actually a bad tattoo but just poor decision making on my part. I was 18 when I got my first tattoo and have learnt a lot about tattoos over the past four years so I try not to feel too bad about my first couple of tattoos!  At the time I loved it so I’ll never regret it but at the same time feathers and birds are so cliché;  I didn’t even realise the quote was from The Lord of The Rings (sorry!) so that makes me feel bad!

There are two people in my life that influenced me. My older cousins had tattoos and I used to think they were so cool. I’m like 12 years younger then them so they were my idols. When I was older (like 16/17) I worked with an Aussie girl at Dr Martens and she had beautiful tattoos, I can’t remember the name of the tattooist she went to but from then on I was set on getting at least one tattoo. I lost touch with her after leaving Dr Martens but I always think about her and her tattoos.

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I guess one of the first thing people notice is that the majority of my tattoos are ladies and animals, animals on my legs (there’s a couple of exceptions to that though) and ladies on my arms/chest. I have a tattoo by Daniel Gensch based on Rebecca from a novel by Daphne Du Maurier that’s on my arm, Sam Smith also tattooed a portrait of that author on the same arm. I love my Eckel tattoo, it took years to finally get a reply from him and I still can’t get over that I managed to get booked in with him!

My tattoos are quite girly apart from my chest piece that is a lady with daggers going through her head. Sam Smith tattooed that one as well, she finished it all  in five and a half hours, it’s one of my favourite tattoos but hands down the most painful. I’ve been really lucky with who I’ve been tattooed by;  Sadee Glover, Drew Romero, Kodie Smith, Magda Son, Georgina Jurd.. My most recent tattoo is a portrait of the actress Felicity Jones by Rose Hardy.

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There are so many artists that I admire and still want to get tattooed by, including Emily Rose Murray, Jacob Gardner and Sam Clarke, to name just a few! There are so many more though! I can’t wait to get my back started by Aimee Cornwall, I’m really excited but nervous because I hate not being able to watch myself being tattooed.

I saw my current job on Fashion Monitor whilst at my previous internship. I applied, got an email back 10 minutes later, had my interview the next day and got offered the job a couple of hours later! I started working at Scallywags which is a child’s modelling/acting agency and I’m starting up a little model division with Simon & How which is Scallywags big sister company. I look after Scallywags social media, answer the phone to parents but mainly look after new briefs that come in from clients I submit the children that match the briefs to the client, book in children for auditions, shoots. I do a lot of scouting as in town and have meetings with photographers and potential new clients.

Before that I was interning at the Anti Agency which was really fun, I learnt a lot and really enjoyed working there! Aside from that I’ve worked at Dr Martens, Fenwick’s, Whistles, Fred Perry, Office and Waterstones so yeah I’ve had quite a few jobs. I attempted university twice and changed my course three times. My courses were fashion based so I guess I tried to to study for my current job.

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Another thing I’ve been really lucky with  is doing lots of work experience. I started doing work experience at Vogue in the classified department when I was 14, I worked hard and eventually was allowed to work at GQ and Russian Tatler, I had done a lot of the packaging of clothing and accessories that had been on set for shoot. I assisted different stylists for a couple of years as well, interned at Tank, worked at Fashion week doing photography.

I tend to dress pretty casual for work as the office is super chilled. When I came for my interview I covered up all my tattoos and when I got my job I came into the office with most of my arms and legs on show. I’m lucky that my bosses actually don’t mind at all about tattoos. In general I usually wear a lot of dresses and skirts, little tops. I think I live in a constant mental state of summer, I hate winters clothing!

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I think my family have just accepted all of my tattoos now, they were never angrily against me getting tattoos but my parents were more worried about the financial side of things. I’ve got a twin brother who doesn’t have any tattoos and I just think that my family were more surprised that out of the two of us I started to get all the tattoos that I now have because I’ve always been the slightly awkward, quiet one. I think my work colleagues were surprised that I have tattoos just because they said I didn’t look like someone to have any interest in tattoos. That’s the most common thing I’ve heard people say about my tattoos that they were surprised I had any because I didn’t look the type, I don’t know like to me it feels normal and natural to have my tattoos but maybe to others it might not make sense.

I get a bit of a mixed reaction from strangers in the street, I get stared at A LOT and most the time I just ignore it but if I’m having a bad day and I’ve got someone glaring at me and shaking their heads it just makes me really anxious. People come up to me and start talking to me about my tattoos and that’s really nice when people have a genuine interest in the art that I have. I’ve had some mean comments as well from complete strangers like I was going to order a coffee from Costa and the guy serving we was like ‘oh you look really scary’ I only wanted my coffee not your opinion on me but yeah thanks! Recently I got told I looked like a public toilet which was very nice- people have such a lovely way with words!

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I would say to people thinking about their career when getting tattooed to think carefully about getting a obvious tattoo like on your hands, knuckles, face etc. just anywhere that can’t be covered just purely because some companies still judge someone on appearances as opposed to their skills and what they’re capable of. I think it’s a rubbish way of judging someone but at the end of the day that’s what people are like so before making a rushed decision and then being angry about not getting a job maybe just try sit down and have a careful think. As for getting tattoos on any other part of the body that can be covered then go crazy!

In the kind of job I have it doesn’t really matter about whether you have tattoos so I’m really happy about that, to be honest I’ve never really had a job (whilst having tattoos) that have a no tattoo policy, even when working at Waterstones I got my job because the manager liked my tattoos.

Rosey Jones Illustration

23-year-old Rosey Jones from the Netherlands creates bright and bold illustrations. We chatted to Rosey about what inspires her, her fashion style and her awesome tattoo collection…  

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When did you start up your company/big cartel store? I started my store exactly 10 weeks ago! It’s funny to think my intentions were never to make prints of my designs, it was coincidence that I got asked to make one of the designs I handpainted on a tote digital for a band from the UK – then I realised I could do this with more of my designs and eventually the main focus became making designs for prints instead of hand painting them on totes. That’s kinda how this all started!

What kinds of things do you create? My main focus is on making artwork for my prints, besides that I also handpaint tote bags that I sew myself too, but I haven’t got as much time for it at the moment. The designs on my prints vary from teacups to roses and from donuts to daggers, I literally just draw whatever I fancy at that exact moment which could be anything really!

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How do you create things, what is the process? I try not to think too much about what I draw so I usually just start sketching up some stuff that comes to mind, which usually happens when listening to music (might explain why half of my designs got lyrics included in them), then when I start seeing it come together as a whole I redraw my sketches with a sharpie, scan the image, and colour it digitally. I love the mix of it being both analogue and digital without it being super obvious how it’s done (if that makes any sense).

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Do you have a background in art? After I graduated high school I worked for Vans for three years so I had time to build up a portfolio – my biggest dream was to study photography. I eventually got accepted in the school of the arts in which I’m a third year photography student now!

What inspires you?  Literally anything and everything inspires me, I get fascinated by small things really easily which makes it quite easy to stay inspired all the time! Also cool looking people and nice tattoos inspire me a lot, and seeing amazing artwork of others always makes me want to get better at what I’m doing. I’m crazy lucky to be surrounded with passionate people, it’s really hard to be uninspired or unmotivated when the people closest to me are so supportive and hard working themselves.

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How would you describe your style? Both fashion and art.  I would say my artwork is pretty much the exact opposite of the way I dress, my artwork is all bold and bright while my clothing style is literally all black everything most of the time! I like simplicity, black jeans, black tee, black denim jacket and some sneakers to go with it (ok, maybe some dr martens when I’m feeling adventurous). I think for some strange reason my glasses make my outfit look a lot more fashionable as people keep on asking me where I got them from.

What does the word beauty mean to you?  Not much, if there’s one thing I learned over the past few years it’s that beauty is relative.

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I got quite a few tattoos for a 23 year old but then again, I started getting tattooed at the age of 16. My goal has never been to get covered as quickly as possible and I’ve never been one to get a whole suit planned out on my body either. Lately the main focus is on my legs as I just find that super pretty, finally got my second knee done too woo hoo! Couldn’t be more excited about that. Most of my pieces are done in the traditional style which is what I love most, there’s some very colorful ones and also some black ones but I think they go really well together. When I first started getting tattooed I always made sure I had some story to go with it but now I don’t really care about that anymore. Now I just want to get things tattooed that I find pretty or funny without it having to have a meaning – my latest addition is the donut design I drew myself. I’m super happy with how my legs are looking, all my favourite tattoos are on there.

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Which was your first, do you still love it? My first tattoo was Stay True on my wrist, got it done in Germany when I was 16 and knew nothing about tattoos or how they were supposed to be done. This might explain why it’s upside down too, but I don’t really regret it, it’s something I still stand for – wouldn’t say I love it but I wouldn’t get it covered either!

PostSecret: Tattoos

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.

People send in all kinds of secrets, some funny, some heartbreakingly sad, yet most are relatable and allow readers to realise that they are not alone. The blog is updated every Sunday and Frank Warren, who started the project, has released books comprised of postcards. He also does live shows and works closely with suicide prevention and mental health charities.

Here are a few of the tattoo related secrets posted in anonymously from all over the world:

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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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