Tagged: tattoos

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Completion

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 her tattooed body being complete… 


‘It’s the end of an era!’ My artist exclaimed as we completed the final session on my back piece. Over 18 months we had put in 30 hours to completely cover my back and thighs in ink. That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears – literally and on numerous occasions. It didn’t feel like the end of anything though, months of eagerly awaiting to be finished and… And well nothing really.

I don’t feel any different. I don’t know if I expected to really? Perhaps I expected to feel more complete in some way. I am extremely happy it’s finished, it looks beautiful and I can’t wait for summer to show it off. The thing is it’s not really finished-finished. Next we will add sleeves, after that extend around my ribs. Will it be finished then? Is there ever a finite finishing point when we begin to get tattooed?


For me I don’t think there will be. There may come a time when I no longer feel like getting tattooed any more but I expect that to be because I’ve found something else to become obsessed with rather than ever feeling ‘finished’. I don’t have an idealised image of my tattooed body that I am on a mission to achieve. I do have a small list of artists I would like to tattoo me and an idea of what and where the tattoos would be.

I think the biggest question I have for myself is whether I want to achieve a full body suit or just continue with some more large pieces and keep those empty spaces. If I get one leg finished into a sleeve then I’ve really got to do the other, one Japanese style and one traditional, would that work? I feel a body suit, for myself at least, would need to have a coherent design – but then I look at where my two different styles meet and for some reason it just works. Perhaps it’s like fashion, how we string together old jeans and beaten up trainers, those well worn and much loved items that when combined are ‘just us’. For no other reason that that simply we like them and choose to live our lives in them.

Interview with Paul Davies

We chatted to geometric tattoo artists 28-year-old Paul Davies who works out of Artium Ink in Kingsbridge, Devon about what inspired him to become a tattooist and how he recently found out that he is autistic… 


Photo taken by Matthew Partington

I’ve been tattooing for roughly six years. I moved from Cardiff seven years ago to study fine art at Plymouth university. It was a really last minute decision so there was no available student housing. I moved in with some guys that worked in a tattoo studio, so hanging out with them everyday I started to think this was the path for me, rather than being a painter/illustrator which had been my original goal when moving. I’ve never been interested in doing anything other than being an artist. From the age of around five I really wanted to be an architect, but by the time I was old enough to do some work experience at an architectural practice, I realised it wasn’t as creative as I hoped it would be.

Once I started tattooing I was immediately drawn to patterns and geometry. But the style wasn’t really as popular then, so I just did anything to keep busy. Dabbled in all styles of tattooing and slowly convinced people instead of idea had, maybe it would look good to add some patterning to their tattoo. As time progressed the patterning took over. But I still really enjoyed all the other styles I used to do so I merged them to create something of my own.

I enjoy all the drawing I do but given the chance to design unrequested designs I tend to draw things that I have an almost obsessive interest in, like people with super human abilities, whether that’s a comic book character, Jedi knight or action hero that inexplicably can’t be killed.

I have a few guest spots and conventions around the UK lined up for this year but the one I’m most looking forward to is a guest spot I was invited to in Toronto. One of my favourite artists from Japan has been invited at the same time as me so looking forward to meeting him.


I hate most of my own tattoos as I did the majority that I can see myself to practice when I first started. I’m ambidextrous so I’ve done both of my forearms which as they are always on show, get most attention. I get embarrassed when I’m asked the artist that did them as its not a reflection of the work I do.
Recently I found out I’m autistic. On the spectrum it’s Aspergers but I’ve been told that’s not used anymore and it’s ASD (autism spectrum disorder). For my job it’s a massive benefit, I’m completely focused, never want to stop working and able to think about things a little differently to other people. Behind the scenes it really impacts my personal life. I’m currently writing this from a bar in Cheltenham as I’m heading back from Tattoo Tea Party in Manchester and I’ve freaked out that too many people got on the train in Birmingham and I can’t get back on until I’m drunk.

My wife would liken me to the character Spock from Star Trek, I’m not without emotion, I just don’t understand to show it properly. I think only logically about things and have little time struggle to include other people’s feelings in my actions. A few people over the years have mentioned I maybe autistic but I naively dismissed it as I thought only of the extreme form of the disorder.
Recently I posted a status about this and I’ve had a couple of artists message me saying they often feel a similar way, I wasn’t surprised to see they also specialise in patterns and geometry.

Being a social job I do struggle with it, it would be great if I could just be given an arm to take away and work on alone. Since finding this out I’ve realised I have a script that I say to each customer and that helps me feel in control. I have almost the same conversation every day and I really like it that way. Routine helps me function well, and sometimes I think I couldn’t have got to where I am without autism. However I am stuck in Cheltenham until I get over my anxiety attack and I’m drunk enough to get back on public transport so, swings and roundabouts.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Tea Party

Last weekend saw Tattoo Tea Party return to Manchester for its fifth season and our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom popped along to see what this year’s convention had to offer… 

An action packed convention with an all the fun of the fair theme- dodgems, waltzer and side shows galore. Hosting over 350 artists over the sprawling Event City we wandered the maze catching up with old friends and discovering new. Tattoo styles were diverse with many artists choosing to offer walk-ups all weekend what better place to get your latest tattoo fix.

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We chatted to Bex Lowe who was offering the most kawaii flash think smiley pizza, grinning tea cups with some old school gamer influences too, Hadoooooken anyone? Tacho Franch came armed with bold traditional Japanese flash peonies, neko, Noh masks and fat toads. Whilst we and many others gathered around to watch in fascination the hand tapped tattooing by Lawrence Ah Ching.
Tea Party is a vibrant, family friendly show which return next year 4th-5th March 2017










Apprentice Love: Olivia Foxx

We spotted the work of apprentice Olivia Grace Foxx, 23 on Instagram and instantly loved her dotted Disney tattoos. We chatted to Olivia to find out more about her life as an apprentice at Skin Kitchen in Margate, Kent where she works.


How did you get your apprenticeship? What were you doing before? I’d been trying to find an apprenticeship for around two years and had been for a few interviews but not found the right shop. A couple of my friends sent me a link to an advertisement for an apprenticeship at a local well renowned shop. I sent over examples of my work, had an interview and was asked to work a trial day. Everyone immediately made me feel welcome and I’ve been there full time since December 2014.
Before starting my apprenticeship I’d been working as a doctors receptionist for around three years, all the while building up a decent portfolio.


What do you like about it, what do you dislike? There are so many things I love about being an apprentice. I love working in a creative environment and being surrounded by such talented artists who are also a lot of fun. Being given the opportunity to do something you love everyday is incomparable.
The only down side for me is that I get incredibly nervous and do doubt myself and my work a lot.


Do you have a background in art? Ever since I can remember I’ve always drawn. I studied art at A-Level and went on to do a Foundation Diploma specialising in fashion and textiles (not too sure why) but I did learn a lot of useful skills and techniques that I still use now. I was a little unsure about what I wanted to do career wise until I got my first few tattoos and realised that was the job for me.


How would you describe your style? I feel like I’m still trying to find my style but think this will come with time and tattooing more. I’m really enjoying dotwork with some elements of blackwork at the moment. I’ve also done quite a few mandalas which are fun, and also some dotwork Disney pieces!

What is a typical day like for you? A typical day at the shop includes setting up my boss’ station, cleaning the shop and making sure everything is nice and tidy. Speaking to and booking in clients and lots of drawing (if I’m not tattooing). There’s also quite a lot of tea and coffee making.


How did you feel doing your first tattoo? My first tattoo was on myself, it was a little traditional rose on the inside of my calf. I was so nervous and it took me around four hours. Mainly due to the fact it was so painful. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of lovely volunteers (mainly my brother) who let me practice on them shortly after.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? My tattoos are a bit of a mixture really. I love traditional/neo traditional work. My first was a traditional thigh piece done by Dan Frye, which I’m still completely in love with. I’ve also got a couple of really cool pieces done by the guys I work with including a stylised Daenerys on the back of my calf. I have a ridiculous amount of space, but I have a long list of artists that I want work done by so it’ll have to be gradual.


Careers: Tattooed Hair Stylist

We chatted to 28-year-old Lucy Keegan aka Stylicorn about exploring her creativity with a new career venture as a hair stylist and her pastel cute tattoo collection… 


Lucy styling at a BMW event 

I was 18 when I got my first tattoo. It was a koi carp on my lower back. I’d just rocked up to a local studio with a picture off the internet, it was on a whim and it took me around seven years to get anymore. Although I loved the tattoo at the time, it didn’t age well. I’ve since had it covered with a gorgeous piece by Lucy O’Connell. Using Instagram opened me up to a world of amazing tattoo artists, and I just fell in love. It feels really important to me to have these lasting pieces of artwork, and they have helped me to make my body beautiful. I’ve had a tough few years with the loss of my mum in 2013 and lots of health issues, and I’ve found tattoos give me back a control over my body and my life.



Most of my tattoos are very ‘me’ –girly, colourful and cute. Some have personal meanings, my anchor is linked to a quote ‘hope is the anchor for my soul’ , which Harriet Heath created from a picture I painted for my mum while she was ill, and my match was inspired the by the Paramore song ‘Last Hope’. Others, such as my fan and my jackalope, were designs artists posted on Instagram and I fell in love with. Most are purely for the fun of it, such as my piece of cake and my happy doughnut! I always enjoy the collaboration process between the artist and myself, and knowing that I can email them and ask for ‘a girly, feminist, amazing, sparkly sailor moon tattoo’ and get just that!

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I really admire all the amazing female artists out there, and it’s great to see them grow in popularity. Two ladies who are very special to me are Lucy O’Connell and Abbie Williams, because I know they will always create beautiful pieces for me, and they have both tattooed me numerous times. They are also both super lovely ladies! I met Sarah Terry at the Brighton Tattoo Convention in 2013, and have followed her progress as an apprentice since then. Her dedication to the craft is amazing and I was so happy to finally get tattooed by her in January this year.
I am booked in for another tattoo with Lucy in April, and I’m hoping to grab something at Brighton this year too. I’ve got lots of artists on my list for future work, such as Katie Shocrylas, Onnie O’Leary and Shannan Meow.



I was originally a Primary school teacher, but after five years I wanted a new direction. I’m a very creative person, and I felt like teaching was trying to squish me into a tiny box. Plus tattoos are still frowned upon as ‘unprofessional’ in teaching, so I was getting mine in places that couldn’t be seen. I’d always wanted to get into hairdressing, so last year I was brave enough to leave teaching and retrain at the London Hair Academy in Shoreditch. It was an amazing experience and I’ve been taught by such great tutors who are still in the business. My dream is to become a session stylist, and to work on magazine shoots, music videos, film and TV. So although my day job is as an assistant in a salon (Matthew Cross Hairdressing) while I complete my training, I take on freelance styling work, such as a recent event for BMW. Hairdressing is not 9-5, I spend evenings and my days off doing hair for friends and family, but I love every second of it. Countless people have told me how happy I look, and although its hard work starting from the bottom, I’m excited about the journey ahead.


Red carpet hair- I won 1st place in my college competition and have now been nominated for Level 2 British Hairdressing Student of the Year

There is no dress code at my salon, and lots of stylists have tattoos so I don’t worry about them being on show. Most of mine you will only see if I’m wearing a dress or a skirt, so it’s funny when people notice them for the first time. To be honest I get more comments about my hair, which is my little pony colours!

ninety nine percent of the reactions I’ve got have been positive. People always comment on how girly and colourful they are, and like to ask about what they mean. I like how engaging having tattoos can be, and it always creates a conversation. The only real negative I feel is when people don’t respect your boundaries if you are tattooed. I’ve had a couple of men pull at the back of my dress and stare at my back tattoo while in bars or at work, which makes me really angry. I don’t mind showing my tattoos if I’m asked, but nobody has the right to touch you without your permission.



I think it’s really important to consider your career when you get a tattoo, and also think about the fact that you might change your career in the future. As a teacher, it was not acceptable for me to have tattoos on show, so I always had mine covered up. Now my job is accepting of tattoos, but I have yet to take the plunge and have any really visible ones. You don’t have to have tattoos on show to enjoy them, as for me that’s not what they are about. Although tattoos are much more common, especially on girls, they are still seen negatively by society in a lot of ways. I always advise people to think carefully about any tattoo before they get it, because it’s a lifetime commitment.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Taxi Driver

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about the perception that all tattooed people are criminals… 

My boyfriend and I jumped into a taxi, on our way out for a few drinks. He starts telling me a story of what had happened to him earlier in the day involving a community officer giving him a telling off for putting an empty can into someone’s refuse bin which was out in the street. Needless to say, knowing James, this debate went on for about half an hour ending with him taking the can back out of the bin and telling the bloke what a jobs-worth he was. I’m crying with laughter by this point as I know how stubborn he can be in proving a point, when the taxi driver pipes up: ‘No way, I thought you were gonna say you smacked the guy one’, we both look at each other, ‘with all those tattoos and your clearly ripped’ (it was a tight t-shirt and biceps kind of day) ‘when you walked up to the car, I thought bloody hell you know’!

We didn’t know, that was the first time I’d ever really thought about other people’s perceptions of us. The taxi driver was just having a laugh with us and nobody took offence, but it’s easy to forget how stereotypes still exist around tattooed people. Have we really not moved on from the image of the bad guy with tattoos? It reminded me of my guilty pleasure Australian soap Neighbours who always chose a greasy haired, leather jacket clad tattooed bloke to signify a new character who was inevitably up to no good. Australia has been in the news with reports of changes to the law under Queensland VLAD (Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013) part of which would see all new tattoos photographed and recorded to create a new database of tattooed people – because only criminals have tattoos right?

Interview with Arianna Fusini

Our Italian contributor Ilaria Pauletti chatted to 24-year-old Arianna Fusini who works out of Soul Shop Tattoo in Rimini about how her parent’s holiday home in the mountains inspired her tattoo career.  Arianna fell in love with those old illustrated gardening manuals, and her passion for subjects like insects, hands and birds can now be seen in her work… 


When did you begin tattooing? What drew you to this form of art? 
I’m actually at the very beginning of my tattoo journey, I’ve only been tattooing for a year and a half, so I still have a lot to learn. When I was at high school, I used to buy alternative music magazines, and I would doodle on my friends arms with the designs I saw in those magazines. I was in arts high school so that kind of background helped a lot.
Later, during my university years, I began drawing more frequently, so that I could find a style that I loved. I put them all in a big book, it was full of sketches, and that portfolio was the reason why I got an apprenticeship in a tattoo studio.

How would you define your style?
Giving my style a definition is hard, some characteristics come from the traditional, but I also love those thin lines and details, the dotty shadings rather than the classical ones.


Who/What inspires you daily?
A lot of artists and tattoo artists I follow, those I know personally and those I hope to meet soon! I can compare myself to some of them and it helps. I often look at books illustrations, old advertising from the 1800s. I love scientific, botanical and Victorian illustrations and classic tattoo flash.

Do you prefer to work in black and white? Does this come from a personal choice or from the customer’s request?
I have always sketched in black and white and consequently I’ve always focused on using black in my work. Clients have asked to see my pre-drawn flash and it is all in black line work, I prefer the effect of the lone black ink on the skin, it creates a contrast that remains in the course of time.


When working with clients do you prefer having free reign or as many details as possible?
The optimal solution resides in the middle, too much freedom disables me sometimes! Having a subject or a reference and knowing I can interpret it as I want makes me really happy. It’s beautiful when the customer trusts me. I always try to direct people to what I like the most, not because I want to decide for them, but because I know I can guarantee a better result if I work on something I find inspirational.

Who are your reference artists and on which newbies would you bet?
In England there are certainly many of my favourite artists to which I refer to, the list is long two of them are Kelly Violet and Scott Move.
I have to say that every person I meet in this environment has something to teach me because of my lack of experience, so I try to keep my eyes open and learn from everyone.
In my first year of tattooing I met a lot of talented tattoo artists of my age or a little older, around conventions and studios from which I got tattooed and I’m sure many of them will come a long way in the next few years!


What are the subjects you prefer to tattoo?
I love birds, insects, flowers! When I was little I always stared at those illustrated gardening manuals that my parents used to preserve in our holiday house among the mountains. I think it all started there.I also love hands and blades, they are the best! Sometimes it’s funny to find out how some subjects you never really thought about before shown them by a client, become your favourite ones!

What do you think about the reaction of today’s society to tattoos and tattooed people?
Tattoos are increasingly fashionable so that’s pretty obvious that society is adapting. They have become a mass phenomenon. Maybe they’re killing the tattoo spirit as well, though I’m too young to make a real comparison with the past, in which tattoos were part of a really niche culture. Surely social media helped a lot everything.


And how did your family react to your decision to become a tattoo artist?
My mom was hoping that I would never want to pursue this career seriously, she hoped it was a passing phase, but now, seeing how I work hard  and how it makes me so happy, she has calmed down.
My dad has always told me to try to pursue my dreams! I tattooed him twice (a wolf’s head and a classic super eagle).
They are both very supportive and I thank them very much. On the other hand, I’m not very sure that my grandparents understand what my job is all about.

Would you define yourself a tattoo collector? Who has tattooed you and who is on your wish list? 
I definitely try to collect pieces by artists that I admire a lot, getting a tattoo is one of the best ways to learn. For now I have got tattoos by Michele l’Abbate, Guy le tatooer, Giacomo Seidita, Marlen Mckey, and many others. I got various tattoos by Elia Landi and Michele Ianni, who are very young but with a very strong style! In my wishlist there are, no doubts, Alessando Lemme, Cassandra Frances, Wolfspit and Slowerblack.


What are your future guest spots and conventions? Anything in England?
This month I will be spending two days in Milan and in April I will join, along with my tattoo studio, the Tattoo Expo in Bologna.
For now I do not have any guest spots scheduled abroad, but I would love to! One of the most beautiful sides of this job is being able to travel and I look forward to start doing it.
I lived for a while in London  so, for me, England is a very important country where I would love to work in the future.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Winter Anonymous

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how she misses seeing tattooed people in winter… 

Jumper and jeans, jumper and jeans, jumper and jeans… That’s been my staple wardrobe for the past few months. Three near identical pairs of skinny jeans, three near identical black shirts and three crazy vintage 80s mohair jumpers, my unfaltering uniform of warm semi-smart winter work wear. Replaced on the weekend by a less smart pair of baggy boyfriend jeans and a plaid shirt with a stray hole in the back. For someone who works in fashion you’d think I might be more creative but in winter I just long for comfort. I’m not alone, for the most part everyone you see walking around is wrapped up, in coats, hats, scarves, gloves.


As we shield our skin from the elements however in doing so we also conceal our tattoos. It’s almost like becoming invisible, no funny looks, no rude comments, no sneaky stares – well maybe the odd one at the novelty jumpers. It’s made me notice how much I miss seeing tattooed people. The vibrant, colourful bodies of the summer replaced with a sea of grey coats and black umbrellas. When I’m sat on the train I look out for a tattoo peeping out from a cuff, or a little one tucked behind the ear, call it commuters eye-spy. Myself, I find a ripped jean knee or turned up ankle cuff the only way my tattoos can be on show and it makes me realise that I do very much enjoy being tattooed. Not to show them off to other people, but seeing my roosters claw slipping out from an ankle gaps just gives me a reassuring pleasure that this is my skin.

Interview with Kirsten Holliday

30-year-old Kirsten Holliday tattoos out of Wonderland Tattoo in Portland, Oregon and creates beautiful botanical tattoos with a muted colour pallet. We chat to Kirsten about the things and people that inspire her… 


Photo  taken by Adrian Whipp of Lumiere Tintype in Austin

How long have you been tattooing? Five years, not including my apprenticeship!

How did you get started? I’ve wanted to tattoo since I was 16! I finished college and was studying for the GREs to try to get into a PhD track program in rhetoric and writing and realized I was chasing my second choice profession in which there were no jobs. I packed up my car and moved to Portland without really looking at the insane licensing process here, but I lucked into an apprenticeship at a shop rather than one of Oregon’s infamous schools. I learned from Melanie Nead, who used to own Icon Tattoo here in Portland. I just showed up with an armload of framed work and threw myself upon her mercy! I’m super grateful to have learned there.

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What drew you to the tattoo world? I started getting tattooed by Scott Ellis, who now owns Triple Crown Tattoo Parlour in Austin, Texas. I think that cemented my feelings that tattoo shops were places I wanted to be; I loved being in the middle of a shop where people were talking and joking and having conversations about art. It had (and still has) such a feeling of community. I get to work there when I go home now, which is such an honor and still kind of intimidating in the best possible way.

What did you do before? The usual mishmash of college jobs. I worked at Starbucks, I worked at a law office as a legal assistant and a runner, I worked at a gelato shop.

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Do you have a background in art? My grandmother Betty Jo was a watercolour artist and started me drawing from still life when I was two, and I took high school art. I was fortunate to have an incredible art teacher in high school. Other than that, not really!

What do you like to draw and tattoo? I think my portfolio speaks to that – botanical and naturalistic work, animals, lady heads. I​​ love doing American traditional tattoos, too, though I haven’t been doing as much of that in the last few years.

How would you describe your style? Illustrative, with roots in American traditional


What inspires you? Vintage science and botanical illustrations, vintage postcards, traditional tattoos, the world around me. The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful, ecologically diverse place and that certainly influences all the work that comes out of Wonderland.

Are there any artists you admire, do they influence your work? I’m super lucky to work with really talented artists at Wonderland – Alice Kendall (who has been making incredible botanical tattoos for years in this town), Sean Wright, and Alice Carrier. I think we all influence each other a lot. Joey Ortega at Triple Crown has been a friend and mentor for years and his work is a huge influence on me. Josh Stephens in Richmond does such unique, strong floral work. I’d love to do more large work, so right now I’ve been specifically looking at a lot of large work compositions, too.


Can you tell us about your own tattoos? I have mostly piecework. I have one large piece from knee to armpit on my right side by Joey Ortega and the rest is mostly pieced together. The most recent tattoo I got was from my friend Alena Chun at Icon, who is amazing. It’s a cat and a skull on my kneecap inspired by a Kuniyoshi print – we saw an exhibit together in Paris in October and it was so inspirational. We traded Kuniyoshi tattoos afterward; I did the samurai frog I included in my photos on her. I have a lot of tattoos from Silje Hagland at Scapegoat (we used to be room mates!), a couple from Atlas here in Portland, four or so from Sean Lanusse at Blacklist. I have a ton of small to medium sized tattoos from a ton of people. I did get tattooed by Eckel last year, which was such a dream! ​