Tagged: Things and Ink

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… 


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.


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.

FullSizeRender (3)

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.

Film Review: Berberian Sound Studio

Our guest blogger is hobbyist film and TV series reviewer and writer Harry Casey-Woodward. In this post he reviews Berberian Sound Studio directed by Peter Strickland released in 2012…

Sometimes, you’re sure that you’ve seen a good film, and the critics say it’s good.  You just can’t see why.

Toby Jones plays a British film sound technician named Gilderoy, who arrives in an Italian sound studio in 1976, where they’re recording the soundtrack for a horror. Tensions among the crew rise, and Gilderoy becomes increasingly alienated and disturbed, though he doesn’t show it, since Jones gives a great reserved performance, communicating isolation with as little emotion possible.

This film works best as a tribute to 70s Italian horror and as an exploration of the art of film sound effects. Watching the sounds of mutilation being provided by hacking up vegetables, and demonic screaming being produced by weirdly talented vocalists are the movie’s most fascinating elements. Technically, the film is impressive, with great lighting, sound, and shots, all creating suspenseful atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the film only offers suspense, which never builds up to much. It felt like an experimental indulgence in technology that shunned sense, confusing and excluding the average filmgoer. Some scenes questioned film violence and expectations of the horror genre. Overall, however, it tried to say something without saying it, which annoyed me.

Though original and inventive, it felt atmospheric and menacing just for the sake of it. As much as I applaud cinematic strangeness, a film is only threatening if it shows what it’s threatening you with. The fact that the film tried to say lots through the exclusive setting of a sound studio just felt (though I hate using this word) pretentious.

Image From Worn by Heroes and ICA 

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Erasing the Past

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the third of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Catch up on the first, second, third and fourth posts in the series. 

Are we tattoo snobs? I think I might be. I have not so long since covered up my last teenage tattoo. I had laser removal for some of them and it was during this procedure that a friend challenged my intentions. ‘Why would you get a tattoo removed? Don’t you know they are permanent, they are markers of your life, don’t throw away your memories’. His body is covered in what must be close to one hundred tiny tattoos, each linked to a memory, a person, an event, an emotion. He collects his tattoos using his body as a trinket box. None of them you would describe as a piece of art, but they are pieces of him.

Beginning of backpiece with cover up

The tattoos I had early on in life I wanted covered up for two main reasons, firstly they were badly done and secondly they were taking up space on my body which I wanted to cover with large, professionally done tattoos. My tattoos now could be classed as artworks on my skin, they are beautifully executed and original in design.

But is that the point of getting a tattoo? I really don’t know, we all have different reasons for going under the needle. It cannot be as simple as collecting art, I could and do have a multitude of art hanging on my walls at home, there was no need to have it on my body. Most of my tattoos cannot be put down to any special meaning either, of course there are the traditional meanings, I have a rooster which is my Chinese zodiac sign, I have a Foo-dog which represents protection but these aren’t meanings deeply personal to me. I have a peony on my knee which is solely there to fill an awkward gap, there for aesthetic purposes does that make it purely fashion?


Like fashion, tattoos can cost very little or exorbitant amounts. You have the high street budget fashion comparison in the street tattoo shops, often boasting special offers ‘all you can sit for £250’, ‘full sleeves £300’, ‘any two names £20’ (all genuine offers seen on the streets of Sheffield), you can get a full outfit from Primark and your boyfriends name tattooed for under £50. On the opposite end of the spectrum you can pay $500 per hour – I won’t say who quoted that but on large pieces you can pay an average £80-100 per hour. Some artists charge by the piece and depending on the size and details a fairly large tattoo can cost between £200-£500. Just like a Chanel handbag, if you embark on a body suit you will look to pay into the thousands.

Therein lies the elitism, not everyone can afford the best artists and the largest tattoos. For some having a spare £50 for a tattoo is a struggle. When I had my early tattoos done they were the ones I could afford.  But does erasing those tattoos mean I’m erasing my past? Am I trying to hide my working class background? Every now and again I forget I had my first tattoo covered up and get confused for a second when it’s not on my wrist, there instead the snake concealing it. Throughout our lives we change, we change – our clothes, our hair, our jobs, our homes so why not change our tattoos to better reflect the people we are now rather than the people we were.


 Snake by Kelly Smith

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Ink Poisoned

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the fourth of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Read the first, second and third in the series. 


I just tapped out during a tattoo session…

It’s one of the biggest fears people have before their first long sitting but for those of us regularly taking 3-5 hours at a time we are used to the process and become a little blasé about it all. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been a few places I’ve been tattooed that have made my eyes water – I very nearly did a little cry having my ribs tattooed. Once you know what to expect however, you learn to eat something beforehand, drink some water throughout and breathe deeply to get you past the tough spots.

Tattoo by Tacho Franch 

I generally enjoy getting tattooed, it’s exciting, it’s fun chatting to your artist and hanging out in the studio. I don’t even mind the Bepanthen rituals in the days that follow, the Clingfilm wrapping and the bizarre clothing choices you have to make to avoid any rubbing. The past few times however I’ve not been as enthusiastic, confessing to my boyfriend ‘I really don’t want to get tattooed today’. But when you’ve made the bookings and you really want a piece finished you just put those thoughts to one side and get on with it.

I went into the sitting without any worries, we were going to finish off the little bits of colour on my back piece and get the lines in to extend it down the back of my legs. I’ve got fairly big tattoo in that area already which wasn’t a problem so I had no feelings of apprehension.

I knew I was in trouble after the first line, I couldn’t relax into it like usual. Not a word was uttered as I hid my head under my hoodie. My amazing artist sensing the struggle just cracked on with it as fast as possible. How I even managed an hour I have no idea, by that time I was shaking all over, boiling hot and feeling sick. My body simply couldn’t take it and I tapped out. After some food and a hot drink, I calmed down and felt much better. The guys at the studio really looked after me as always and I was able to continue the rest of the session just with some little bits of colour on a different area – certainly no more lining!

After that we agreed that my body needed some TLC, I’d pushed it too far. I usually only have one sitting a month at most but I’d had four in a month, three of those in just one week. I usually heal quickly, within 6-7 days for the main stages but I still had unhealed patches from two weeks earlier. These patches struggled to heal well and ended up in deep sores, which will now have to be retouched. So my artist has put me on a tattoo ban for two months, during this time I am also going to take a much needed holiday in the sun. Falling back into unhealthy eating habits and missing out on gym time due to unhealed tattoos had taken its toll.  This break will be hard for me, especially if I end up at any conventions in the meantime, but it’s been a real wakeup call that we have to love our bodies from the inside just as much as the outside.

Is there more to getting a tattoo than changing your appearance?

Here at Things&Ink we think there is so much more to getting a tattoo than merely changing your appearance. Things&Ink reader,  Hannah Keningale explores how tattoos have changed her, her lifestyle and even how she approaches situations.

For some, getting a tattoo is a very simple act of wanting to change their appearance; a transaction that will make them more fashionable, or perhaps help them pay homage to something they love. But for others, there is more to getting a tattoo than discussing a design and sitting in a chair wincing for a few hours. We often read stories of people who have made connections with others through their mutual love for art and permanence. We have seen beautiful images of colourful wedding days, amazing designs covering painful scars, and difficult journeys that have been celebrated and remembered with ink.

Pug by Abbie Williams 

So, how about me? What have I gained from getting tattooed? Do I have an amazing story to share? To be honest, the impact has been somewhat more subtle for me, yet in my eyes still very important. I remember the excitement of getting my first tattoo, and also the anticipation. I wasn’t too worried about the pain, but more about how to handle myself and what to except. After reading many websites, blogs, and magazine articles, I had gathered there was certain etiquette to follow. I was a little worried I might not conduct myself in the right way. Would they think my design ridiculous? Would I do something to offend the artist? Would it go wrong simply because I hadn’t made the right decisions? These are some of the thoughts of someone who suffers from anxiety. I go through this process almost every day with even the most mundane situations. I have to tell you, it’s not fun!

Tattoo by L’ain Freefall

I chose a studio called Evil from the Needle in Camden, London, and was lucky enough to get tattooed by L’ain Freefall. Everyone was so welcoming, and we talked all the way through my tattoo. No one laughed at me. No one said my design choice was stupid. The whole experience was really fun and I was actually a little sad when it was all over. From then on, tattoos have helped me build confidence. I love my body a lot more now.  I felt like I had something I wanted to show the world finally, and also enjoyed the affect of putting on the simplest of clothes and still having something colourful to my appearance. The biggest thing I have gained though is a sense of belonging. When I walk into one of my favourite studios I’m greeted with smiles and hugs. I’ve been able to share excitement with artists over design choices, been given gifts, compliments, even tea!

It may sound silly to some, but I feel truly at home when I’m sat in a tattoo studio, and I’m always planning my next visit. Tattoos have become part of my lifestyle now. I have prints adorning my walls, I can’t tear myself away from Instagram, blog pages, and tattoo magazines, and I even buy different clothes now that my body has changed. I think for many of us, there is more to getting tattooed than simply following fashion. While a lot of people still reject the idea of being tattooed as “acceptable” or “normal”, I actually feel more accepted and happy now than ever before.

Ice Cream by Paula Castle

So is there more to getting a tattoo than simply changing your skin? Well for me I’ve also gained new friendships, made new journeys, gotten over some of my anxiety, shared stories, shared laughs, and had a lot of fun. The experience changes you as much as the ink.

Long Term Illness and Tattoos

Our guest blogger is illustrator and crafter Rachel Rawlings, creator of Rachel Vs Body blog. On her blog Rachel writes  about her various chronic conditions and how they affect her life and have changed how she experiences the world. In this post she talks about her tattoos and how they help her to regain control of her body… 

The human body is an interesting thing. Take mine, for example. In 2012, I was in my final year of studying for my illustration degree, working as a healthcare assistant in my spare time, spending most evenings in the week cooking and hanging out with my friends and coursemates. I was 20 and everything was – for the most part – working fine. But then, I got sick.

It was just a virus to start off with, but over time, I didn’t get better. I was constantly in pain; I felt dizzy at the smallest motion; food became my greatest enemy, triggering nausea and cramps at the most pathetic nibble; my concentration was shot; walking became something akin to climbing mount Everest; and, above all, I was EXHAUSTED. Not tired; not fatigued; not sleepy or dozy; but that all consuming physical exhaustion that you get when you’ve had a particularly bad bout of flu. I was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and P.O.T.S (postural tachycardia syndrome) on top of my existing health conditions (chronic migraine, IBS, eczema, eczema herpeticum and asthma), and three and a half years on I’m still undergoing tests to see what’s making me so unwell.

Moth by Paul Davies at Loki Ink, Plymouth

Things got progressively worse, and these days I can’t work or study as I’m mainly confined to my bed (although on good days I make it to my living room); I use a powered wheelchair ( or crutches if I’m feeling particularly perky) to get around because walking is so difficult; I’ve lost a lot of friends who can’t figure out how to cope with me being poorly. Trying to be well is my full time occupation.

With my body failing me in such an extravagant fashion, there is one thing that makes me feel like I have some modicum of control over it; getting tattooed. I got my first one in early 2014 while I was doing my MA and had been sick for a couple of years. It’s a small deathshead moth on my wrist done by Paul at Loki Ink in Plymouth, a subject matter I chose because of its connotations of transformation and freedom.

Connor Tyler at Joker Tattoo, Portsmouth

Getting tattooed is a bit of an ordeal for me. The actual tattooing is fine – I’m very lucky to have a high pain threshold (pain holds very little fear for someone on painkillers as strong as the ones I’m on) so I can sit under the needle for hours without it bothering me. The issue is everything else.

First off, I have to get to the place – which is hard. I usually only leave the house once a week, twice if I’m lucky, and always with someone else (it’s not safe for me to go out alone), so the logistics of organising that can be tough.

Then, getting there, I have to deal with the sensory overload of a place full of people and buzzing machines and music; with M.E., your senses are often in an extremely heightened state and any noise, light, touch can be excruciating. The noise is a particularly tough one for me as I get migraines and tinnitus, so I have to really prepare myself for the aural onslaught of a tattoo shop.

Chrissy Hills at Kingston Ink

Having to sit or lie in one position really still is hard for anyone, but when you get muscle spasms and convulsions on top of chronic pain, it can be … interesting for all involved. P.O.T.S causes tachycardia, dizziness and blackouts if you’re upright for too long, so I have to be in a position which is safe for my particular conditions. I have to bring my medicines, lots of water, layers of clothes, my walking aids, ear plugs, sunglasses, a whole bunch of nonsense just to get through the session. After a tattoo, I’m always in agony – but the tattoo itself isn’t the problem, the joint and muscular pain incurred is.

It took me a while to draw up the courage to get tattooed – not because of the pain (note the aforementioned painkillers), but because I was scared of doing something so permanent to myself. But my body was already permanently altered from the way it should be, so that was no longer an excuse. I was scared that people would judge me on sight – but if you’re a twenty-something having to use a wheelchair or crutches, people give you some odd looks anyway. So, sod it, I thought – let’s give them something to stare at.

Marcelina Urbańska, Rock’n’Ink, Krakow

It seems like a lot to go through just to get an image on my skin, but for me it’s worth it. After feeling like my body had turned traitor, I have taken back the reins and forced it into a form which makes me happy. Sure, I may be covered in scars, a bit chubby from the medication, pale as death and with eyes like pissholes in the snow, but I’m still in control of how my body looks – on a superficial level, at least. Tattoos have helped me accept the changes that have been forced upon me by letting me shape the way I look, even if I’m powerless to control the way my body works. There’s a lot to be said for a needle and ink and the power of positive thought – it might not make the crippled walk, but it can damn well make us feel good sitting down.

Miniature Ink II

Miniature Ink II kewpie by Jondix sneak peek


Atomica Gallery and Things&Ink magazine are delighted to announce Miniature Ink II, the second exhibition featuring miniature original artworks from over 100 of the world’s leading tattoo artists.

Join us for the opening reception on Wednesday 23rd September (exact location to be revealed soon) with complimentary drinks kindly provided by Sailor Jerry.

Rsvp@atomicagallery.com, or attend our Facebook event.

There will be no preview list of artworks, first come first served!


Have a look at last year’s celebrity and cocktail filled Miniature Ink opening night.

Keep an eye on the #MinitaureInk and #MiniatureInkII hashtags for more kewpie capers.

Check out what some of the artists have been up to on Instagram…






 Top image by James Stittle

Focus Group: Tattoo Spotting

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


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

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

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



Name: Laura Age: 40 Lives: Maidstone, Kent  Job: Dinner lady/ toddler rugby coach
Tattoo: Abi Cornell at Inkfish in Maidstone


Name: Silvia Age: 24 Lives: London Job: Digital marketing executive
Tattoo: Lady by Angelique Houtkamp at Salon Serpent Tattoo in Amsterdam

If you have any suggestions or comments about the magazine get in touch, email us at hello@thingsandink.com

Burning Desire: Body Branding

Burning Desires is a short film created by Channel 4 that follows tattoo enthusiast Kerri as she has traditional Viking runes (letters) burned/branded onto her skin. ‘Burning Desires’ sits within a Body Mods C4 shorts series, which also features other forms of body modification including ear pointing and corset piercings.

Kerri chose the designs based on her fascination with Viking travellers and the way that they marked their skin. The runes, representing love and victory, are burned onto her skin with 500C-700C heat.

Watch the video below to see Kerri’s whole scarification experience:

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Cost of Permanence

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer,  freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. This is the third of many posts to appear on th-ink.co.uk, in which Natalie will be telling us about her life in tattoos. Catch up on the first and second posts in the series. 

Aren’t you worried how dated your wedding photos will look when you’re older? How can you justify spending all that money on your wedding when there are starving children in the world? Don’t you think it’s a bit selfish getting married when some people who are still single might get upset about it? You’re wearing a red wedding dress, wow you must be a slut!? No men will ever find you attractive once you’ve gotten married. How on earth will you get a job after you are married, employers will just think you’re unreliable and unprofessional – needing all that time off to have babies!?

Be honest, you would never, ever say any of those things to a bride. Getting married is often an expensive affair that will change you and impact the rest of your life by a means of permanence. I use the wedding analogy as I and many other tattooed women face this strange barrage of questions on a regular basis. Yet there is no shame, no recognition that doing so is rude and insulting.



Backpiece by  Tacho Franch

Aren’t you worried what you will look like in your wedding photos with all those tattoos when you are older? How can you justify spending all that money on tattoos when there are starving children in the world. Don’t you think it’s a bit selfish getting tattooed when so many people are offended by them? You have tattoos, wow you must be a slut! No men will ever find you attractive once you’ve gotten heavily tattooed. How on earth will you get a job once you have visible tattoos, employers will just think you’re unreliable and unprofessional – scaring off all the customers!

It’s a given that people will be curious towards those of us who are tattooed, those who choose to go past the holiday dolphin on the ankle and cover a large part of our skin with ink. Most questions come from an innocent mouth, intrigued rather than insulting yet producing that result all the same. I’ve had a woman chase me down the street and try to lift up the back of my shorts to see a Sailor Jerry style wolf on the back of my thigh. When I turned around to give her a mouth-full I saw she was with her two young children so I bit my tongue and answered her question as to where I had gotten it done – how she could tell it was a good tattoo from the minuscule part of it that was on show I’ve no idea.


Wolf by Kelly Smith

By far my worst experience was a group of guys at a crowded bar talking loudly about my back piece as I stood in front them. I’d left the girls to guard our seats and battled to the bar for a round, suddenly I felt very alone. The bar was jam packed so I couldn’t escape and resigned myself to listening to them mutter, when one managed to saddle up beside me ‘that’s a big tattoo’ he yelled, ‘how far down does it go’ and he proceed to try and pull down the back of my dress. I couldn’t tell you what I said but luckily it was loud enough for the bar security to drag him out. ‘Bloody hell he didn’t mean any harm’ I heard his mates protest on the way out. Harm meant or not, it was caused, I’m now wary of going out at night with my back piece on display without my boyfriend. Anyone trying to pull down the dress of a non-tattooed girl would have been accused of sexual harassment. Us tattooed girls are tough, we spend hours upon hours having needles sunk into our skin, but experiences like that would upset anyone.

On a lighter note there are of course the ridiculous questions which can only be met with an entertaining answer. How much did your tattoos cost, how can you afford it? Oh I get paid extremely well from my high profile job – OMG yes tattooed people can have careers too. We also save up our hard earns just like people save up for a car, a holiday, a designer handbag. Why the choice to decorate your body with tattoos is still such an enigma for some I cannot answer, but I sure do enjoy a good witty comeback story!