Tagged: Women with Tattoos

Women with Tattoos

The gorgeous blog Women with Tattoos was started by digital producer and photographer Eleni Stefanou, 30, from London, a year ago. To celebrate we caught up with Eleni to find out more about her inspiration behind starting the blog and her own collection of tattoos…

Portrait of Eleni by Eftihia Stefanidi

Photographer Eleni started Women with Tattoos blog
to record the stories that may otherwise go unheard

Photograph by Eftihia Stefanidi


Women with Tattoos
is celebrating its first birthday, but what inspired you to start it? 
I was spending hours on Tumblr researching my first tattoo when I realised how one-dimensional the representation of women with tattoos was. It’s the kind of imagery you’d find in a lad’s mag – women dressed and photographed to gratify the male gaze. Around the same time, a study came out revealing that, for the first time in recorded history, tattooed women outnumbered tattooed men. That’s pretty fascinating, yet mainstream culture wasn’t reflecting and exploring this shift. Women with Tattoos was an attempt to record some of the stories that may go unheard and to offer beautiful images that women could identify with.

Describe the blog in one sentence…
I think of it as a visual love letter to tattooed women.

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How has it evolved over the first year? It’s hopefully become more diverse in its representation of women from different backgrounds. I’ve also focused a bit more on the artistry of tattooing, by interviewing female tattoo artists and linking to portfolios when crediting the artists behind the featured tattoos. On a more general level, I’ve slowed down quite a bit. I used to do photo shoots almost every weekend, and while I loved it, it was becoming exhausting alongside my full-time job. I had to remind myself that this was something I was doing in my own time for my own enjoyment and that any pressure I felt was self-inflicted.

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Gabriella

Who has been your most stand-out portrait, why? There’s a photo I took of a woman called Gabriella, which is really hypnotic. We were in Camley Street Natural Park, this beautiful nature reserve hidden away in a busy part of London. Gabriella has a beautiful botanical tattoo by Saira Hunjan down the length of her arm. It includes a lemon, butterfly, bluebells and other flowers and there’s lots of negative space around these elements, so it’s not your typical sleeve. Ironically, her tattoos aren’t that visible in this photo, but I kind of love that they’re subtle and blend in with the nature around her. First you see Gabriella, the person, then you see her tattoos.

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Laurence

What have you learnt while shooting these portraits? I’ve learnt that most people feel quite vulnerable when they’re being photographed. As someone who spends a lot of energy avoiding the lens, I can completely relate to this. So I try and adapt my approach depending on the person. Some of the women like to talk a lot in between shooting, while others prefer to listen to music.

I’ve also found that photography can be an empowering experience for many women. One of the most common feelings they express when I reveal their portraits is a sense of surprise at how beautiful they look. But they *are* beautiful and I’m just capturing what I see. It’s like the photo becomes a form of validation. When I photograph someone, they’re the only person in the universe in that moment. My focus is entirely on them, in fact, often I catch myself gasping for air because I’ve forgotten to breathe! Hopefully, the women can sense that they have my full attention and admiration, which is something that comes through their disposition in the photos.

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What do you hope others will take from them? I really hope that the project will help shift people’s perspectives and prejudices about tattooed women. A friend of mine who I went to school with told me that he never really liked or understood tattoos, especially on women, but now he finds them beautiful and reads all the interviews on the blog. I also hope that women will see the project and feel understood and valued – that’s probably the most important thing.

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Daley

Tell us about your own tattoos…. I have a dotwork prism on my side rib and a wreath on my inner arm. My tattoos are a source of strength – they crystalise what’s important to me in life. I’m a big believer in the power of symbols and how they can hold meaning and memories. Every time I do a photo shoot I have a really strong urge to get tattooed. I try to avoid rushing into things though. Luckily, most of my favourite artists live in the US, South Korea and New Zealand, which kind of enforces a more patient approach.

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Jane

Where do you hope to take the blog over the course of the next year? I’d really love to travel to new places and represent cultures that aren’t reflected in the blog. I want to find out what it’s like to be have tattoos as a woman in other parts of the world – what is the common ground and what are the differences in experience? I want to photograph and interview more women who are over the age of forty (a large portion of the women I photograph happen to be in their 20s and 30s) and I’m really keen to speak to someone who has a mastectomy tattoo – to find out more about the healing process of covering a scar with a tattoo. I’m naturally inquisitive and drawn to people and their stories, so this is the driving force behind what I do.

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To view more portraits of women with tattoos, visit womenwithtattoos.co.uk

The Tiger Style: Tiggen

We chat to Tiggen, 19-year-old retail assistant manager and blogger, from London about her blog, fashion style and collection of blackwork tattoos…

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When did you start blogging, how did you get into it? I first started blogging last March, however I’d been building up the confidence to start for about a year by that point. After following and admiring many other bloggers online, I wanted to try it out for myself. It was something I’d always thought about pursuing but initially I had to push myself into writing my first post.

What kind of things do you blog about? Typically, I enjoy blogging about personal style, as it’s something that is unique to everyone and so closely linked to self image. I find issues around body image, and how we view ourselves and others, to be very interesting and I plan on writing more about that in the future. Other topics I blog about are lifestyle, beauty and London.

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How would you describe your style? My style is very minimalist. I only wear black and white, with one exception of a brown jacket. As my colour plate is so simplistic I tend to focus on the quality of the material over anything else. I would say I dress quite casually on a day to day basis, I’m nearly always wearing my leather jacket.

What inspires you? I take inspiration from people watching, seeing the variation of street style and how people present themselves. London is such a diverse city and full of so many interesting people that I can’t help but feel inspired.

Do you have a favourite, artist, designer or musician, or someone else that you admire? I wouldn’t say there was just one person in particular that I admire, there are so many people that I look up to. Social media plays a part as it allows you to glimpse into people’s lives, to respect what they’re feeling and going through. To name a couple that I follow on Instagram:  @jayrosetattoo @acornandauger

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When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still love it? I got my first tattoo the day after I turned 18, it was only small but I was extremely happy to finally have one. Sometimes I forget it’s even there now that I have many more, but I still like it.

Tell us about your tattoos? Do they help you to see you body differently, do they inspire confidence? Each time I get a tattoo it instills more confidence in me and makes me feel at home in my own skin. They don’t feel like an addition, more as though they were there all along just under the surface and now they’re revealed. To me getting a new one is not only a physical change but a mental one, they help me to see my body differently and to boost my self image. I find them empowering. Much like my personal style I only have blackwork pieces, they range from illustrative style to more mehndi buddhist pieces.

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Do you have any future tattoo plans? I have a habit of planning very far ahead in regard to tattoos. I’ve carefully thought about what I’m going to get and where, most of my body is already planned out. Next on my list is to get my other hand done.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? Without a doubt. I enjoy collecting tattoos and meeting new tattoo artists. I’m hoping to travel to get a lot of them done, it’s all part of the experience. The beautiful thing about collecting tattoos is having artwork on your own skin that you can admire everyday and carry with you.

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What kinds of reactions do your tattoos get? Luckily most of the reactions I receive are positive, whether from friends and family or strangers. However, there are occasions when people  make derogatory remarks or invade my personal space to try and touch my tattoos. In the end though they’re on my body, so the only thing that truly matters is how they make me feel.

Careers: Tattooed Licensing and Marketing Director

We chat to 33-year-old Grace Pantony, Licensing and Marketing Director for Marshall Amplification, based in Milton Keynes, about developing Marshall as a lifestyle brand, her tattoos and of course love for music…

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo? I got my first tattoo, when I was 18. I had a big tribal piece on my back. I am now in the process of having this covered up.

What drew you to tattoos, did anyone influence you? At the age of 14 I really got into heavy music, and tattoos came along with this culture. I listened to a lot of metal music and was adamant as soon as I was old enough I was going to get some tribal like my idol Kerry King of Slayer! Also, my dad had always been into tattoos and was covered himself, so it was something I grew up with and never thought anything of, other than I wanted one as soon as I could.

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Back (cover up by Ade at Axios)

Can you tell us about some your tattoos? I got my first tattoo when I was 18, this is now in the progress of being covered up by Ade at Axios Tattoo in Hove. Ade’s specialism is Japanese tattooing, and I first came across his work about 15 years ago when he was working in Guildford. I love his style, and have also had a full sleeve and Japanese mask done on my leg done by Ade. I always said I would never get a band tattoo, but have now got four band related tattoos. I don’t regret them at all though and already have another band filler that I want doing at some point.

My current favourite tattoos of mine are my knees done by Elliott Wells at Triple Six Tattoo in Sunderland. I am so in love with the placement, the colour, the design – everything! I never get bored of looking at them. Elliott really has mastered peonies, and I would love to have more work done by him in the future.

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How did you get into your current role? I started at Marshall as a temp after returning from a work placement in Los Angeles with a previous employer. Being really into music it was such a perfect company to work for and I was really happy to get the chance to even temp at the company. Once my temp position ended I was thankfully offered a job within another department, and it has been happily ever after!

Did you have to study or get any qualifications or have you worked your way up? I have worked my way up within Marshall as well as doing study in my spare time. I have studied skills that were identified as specific to the career direction I was looking for but that also benefited Marshall and the position I was in with them.

I have worked really closely with the managing director of the company to develop the Marshall brand within the lifestyle category which is outside our core product. This was a new segment for Marshall, therefore a new department was created. I saw this as a great opportunity so seized this chance and put myself forward to take the bull by the horns and run with the development of this department, it was something I had a huge interest in and also Marshall is a brand I love, so it was a perfect fit.

grace1I was drunk at Leeds festival with my friend and I drew a dinosaur, afterwards we felt it needed to be a tattoo!

What is a typical day like? No day is the same. My job is really varied. Which is what I love the most. I have always been someone that needs a challenge and variety in my work. And this job certainly does that. I am the director for licensed products as well as marketing for the core brand. The role means I am immersed in Marshall in all ways, I live and breathe the brand.

An average day can involve approving a new product off the factory line through to event planning and coordinating. Reviewing counterfeit goods and trademark registrations with IP attorneys to setting up a record label – it’s my dream job! The role has developed so much, and I work with such a great team. We all love the brand and have a huge amount of fun, sometimes it makes you question that what you do is your job! But saying that it is hard work, we all work really, really hard but having a great team makes this a whole lot easier.

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Music Week announcing Marshall launching a record label, of which I sit on the board of directors.

What do you love about your job? I love the variety that no day is the same. That I am challenged every day to push myself and learn more about the industry and products we work with. I am forever learning a new skill, and I love that. And I would be lying if working within music wasn’t a huge part of the love for the job. I get to be around music all day. Listen to it, work with it, and getting to go to gigs for your job – life doesn’t get much better than that! It’s a dream.

How do you dress for work? Do you show off your tattoos? How would you describe your style? I am by far the scruffiest and most casual director at Marshall. My go-to is high waisted jeans, vans and a band or Marshall baseball tee. I am a comfy dresser at work and also you never know when you will be lifting amps, so a skirt and heels really isn’t practical, especially as I can’t walk in them at the best of times. I don’t make a conscience effort to show my tattoos at work, but I certainly don’t hide them, and thankfully have never been expected to.

Before Marshall I worked for the government and hid my tattoos through the interview stage and also until I passed my six month probation, so to say they were shocked when they saw them was an understatement. But I always believe that you should be judged on the standard of your work, not on if you have tattoos. Sadly, I don’t think the government is quite ready for that way of thinking yet. But thankfully Marshall are more than happy with it.

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Marshall always sponsor Movember, and I got a Mo tattooed to be an official Mo’sista

How do people react to your tattoos? I normally get “you didn’t look like the sort of girl to have tattoos” and I am not sure if that is a compliment or an insult so I just ignore it. I live in Milton Keynes, where it is becoming more common to see people with a lot of tattoos but I still think there aren’t that many females who are fairly covered, so whenever I go out I get people asking about them. But it’s always in a positive way. You always get people that only want to know how much you have spent, it still seems to be the most common question. I always find that bizarre, and again ignore it.

In a work capacity, no one has reacted negatively, if anything it is a positive as my arms have been used for marketing campaigns for the brand, so that I do take as a compliment!

Do you have any advice to other people considering their careers when getting tattooed? Regardless of career choice, you should always research what you want and who is the best person to do that. I learnt the hard way and lived with a bad tattoo for far too long.

When it comes to work and tattoos I think honesty is the best policy and also knowing what you want to work in and if tattoos are still a bit of a taboo in that career. I am lucky that I work in music and that tattoos are common place. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it when getting another one. When I got my fingers done, the first person I asked if they had any problems with it before I got it done was my boss. I wouldn’t want to do anything that could jeopardise my job regardless of how tolerant they are of tattooing – so yeah, be honest and run it past them before walking in with your hands done, it softens the blow that way!

Interview with GaldaLou

26-year-old GaldaLou is a retail manager and SuicideGirl  from Leicester, England. We chatted to Galda about how she began modelling, her tattoo collection and how she has learned to love her body…

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When did you first become a SuicideGirl and what inspired you to do so?  I applied in August 2008, shot a few sets that weren’t bought, until early 2009 when I had my first set make Set Of The Day, and was made an actual SuicideGirl. At 15 I came across SuicideGirls. I was all of a sudden exposed to these women who were themselves. They seemed so confident and unafraid of being who they wanted to be, and at 15 I was desperately craving to find my place in the world. I made it my aim even at that young age that I would become one.

How have people reacted to our photos, or decision to become a suicide girl? My friends and family are overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been with my boyfriend Russ since I was 17, and since the beginning he knew of my hopes to pursue things with SG.  He shot my initial application pictures for me, and even a couple of photo sets right at the beginning. My Mum actually follows me on Instagram and Twitter, she’s that supportive. Everyone at work also knows about my online life, which makes things so easy.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to become one? Think long and hard about it. Whilst it’s been a huge part of my life for the last eight years, not everyone has such a supportive set of people around them. If you’re on a serious career path for example, being naked on the internet may well reflect badly on you.

Have you always liked your body? Have you always felt confident in yourself? Oh hell no. And I still have days where I hate myself! But you just have to keep in mind that it’s just a day, and tomorrow you’ll feel differently, and that every single person out there feels the same way about themselves. What I have always done is project confidence. It’s a fake it til you make it sort of thing I think.

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You used to follow a shake diet plan,  what motivated you to change your body in this way? Do you think this was a drastic way to do it? It was originally my doctor who put me onto the idea of doing Lighter Life a few years ago as I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and often ladies with PCOS struggle with losing weight due to a chemical imbalance. I lost four and half stone in four months. It was hardcore, the last straw was when I started to lose my hair, because my body didn’t have the energy to grow it anymore. At the time, I lost my identity. I felt completely separate from myself. Sure, the compliments were nice from everyone, but they were complimenting the act of weight loss because it’s what society expects them to do. I’ve put a lot of that original weight back on in those three years since, but now I feel much more comfortable with myself as a whole.

When did you realise you had PCOS? Does it make you see your body differently? I had some unfortunately symptoms at first, like pain and copious amounts of bleeding after sex. I was 20 and I went and saw my doctor about it, and after some investigations was diagnosed with PCOS. It explained recent weight gain, and made me look harder at my body. At first I resented it for being another thing wrong with a body I already didn’t like, and hated the fact it most likely took away my choice to ever get pregnant naturally and easily, and it really took a while for me to get my head around it all. Now, at 26, I’ve realised I’m more than happy collecting cats instead of having a baby, so the only thing I resent is still having to have disgustingly painful periods each month.

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You’ve had breast enlargement surgery, did this influence your decision to start modelling? I started modelling at 18, and didn’t have my breast enlargement until I was 23. I was always a little blinded by my boob hatred, and I found it really hard to look past them and see the good parts of the rest of me.

Have your tattoos helped you to feel more confident? Absolutely. I can’t wait for my legs to be well and truly covered so I no longer have to worry about my thread veins being on display. It’s nice to be able to choose what people see and don’t see about me, but most people’s snap decisions of me are usually based on my tattoos and hair, and I’m fully okay with that.

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What would you say to people who aren’t supportive of the SuicideGirls group? Or who think you share too much on Instagram?  We are all different and that’s glorious and to be celebrated. SG gets a lot of stick sometimes, and some of it’s fair and people’s opinions and some of it’s unfounded gossip, but for me it has provided massive amounts of opportunity, and more importantly, gained me some friends for life.

Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? No. Whilst some of mine do, actually the vast majority of mine are simply there because I appreciate that tattooer’s artwork. I am practically a walking timeline of Jody Dawber’s work, having one from the beginning of her career, and still being tattooed by her now. I adore her artwork, and her as a person. I’ve other pieces from artists that I adore, but don’t have any deeper meaning other than I love their style.

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All photographs shot by Shannon Swift

Women With Tattoos: Rosie

A few weeks ago our blog content manager Rosie was photographed and interviewed for the Women with Tattoos blog that explores the stories and art behind inked skin. In this post we share her photographs and interview where she talks about how tattoos have helped her to accept and celebrate her body…



What drew you into the world of tattoos? It all started when my boyfriend booked in to get his first tattoo. I was 18 at the time. If he was going to get one, so was I! I had always wanted one, but until then hadn’t really thought about it or had the guts to go through with it. My family have always been pretty against them. I remember one of my uncles getting a small football team badge when I was younger and everyone hating it.
I’ve always loved henna and mehndi-style patterns so I decided to start small with a floral design on my foot. I was totally unprepared for the pain that I never got it finished. I just couldn’t sit still so there are some wonky lines, but it is mine and reminds me of that time in my life.

It took me three years to pluck up the courage to get another tattoo. When I eventually did, I got a small fortune fish. I am obsessed with lucky symbols and talismans from different cultures and I’m secretly hoping these things will bestow on me some much needed luck! The lovely Sophie Adamson tattooed me and continued to tattoo me for most of my university years. She started my tattoo heyday; in the midst of it I was getting a new tattoo every week. I just loved spending time with Sophie and, of course, I adored everything she created for me.

Goddess sleeve by Lucy O’Connell

Lady Lamp by Sadee Glover

Left: moth by Sophie Adamson, Russian doll by Abbie Williams. Right: butterfly by Sonia Jade, hot air balloon by Sophie Adamson

What role do tattoos play in your life? Right now, they’re kind of a hobby and also a labour of love. Being involved in Things&Ink has opened a whole world of tattooing to me. I can interview, write about and research tattoos for hours! Without the magazine and blog I probably wouldn’t be as tattooed as I am and I wouldn’t have found so many awesome artists. Also my list of people I need work from wouldn’t be so long or frustrating. Tattoos have allowed me to meet some awesome people, make new friendships and travel the country. I’ll always be grateful to Alice (the editor) for the wonderful opportunity she has given me.

Why do you think that tattoos help people feel more confident? I’m not sure about everyone else, but with every new tattoo, I begin to love my body that little bit more. I see it as an empty canvas that I can fill. A tapestry that I alone can weave and create, a thing that I can change in a positive way rather than something that I feel negatively towards. I can make it my own and no one else can dictate what I decide to do with it. Now when I look at my body, I see the blank spaces that need filling, the possibilities and the gaps that have been mapped out for artists and ideas. Tattoos have become a way for me to celebrate myself and my body, a way for me to not only express and explore myself but find out what I find important in life.

Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.


Bird tattoo by Jessi James

If you had to explain what a tattoo is to a child, what would you say? Tattoos are beautiful pictures that we carry with us. They become a part of us. They sink into the skin, capturing memories, a moment and the person you are today.

How long does it usually take you to decide on a tattoo? Do you do lots of research beforehand? It depends whether an artist has drawn some flash that I love or whether I love their style and want them to create something. My left sleeve by Lucy O’Connell is two years in the making. I’ve always loved oriental styles, culture and objects. A trip to Vietnam last year to visit a friend really cemented my love for the Far East. I fell in love with the country that I saw from the back of my friend’s moped, from the beautiful pagodas to the street food. Being in a completely different country with some of my closest friends really helped me decide what direction I wanted my arm to go in. This sleeve is not just beautiful, it’s a tribute to the time we spent together and how important these people are to me.


Peacock quill by Sophie Adamson, bobby pin by Abbie Williams

Is a tattoo artist’s personality important to you? I know someone who makes sure she meets the artist before deciding to go ahead with them. I tend to get tattooed by mainly women, who I always feel more comfortable with anyway. I guess I just prefer the company of women. I also find that the styles of tattoo that I go for – bright, colourful and girly – tend to reflect those who create them. I have met a couple of tattooists at conventions that I didn’t click with or I got a bad vibe from and so I won’t be getting tattooed by them, no matter how much I like their work. If I get on with someone I definitely tend to get tattooed by them more, especially if they enjoy tattooing what I have commissioned. If I have fun – well, as much fun as you can have getting tattooed – I usually feel a lot better about the tattoo. I associate the person, jokes, music or the time in general with how I feel about the completed tattoo.


Tattoos by Lucy O’Connell

You work in digital media and I wondered how you feel Instagram has changed the tattoo scene? I’ve only known the tattoo scene since Instagram. Before then I didn’t know a lot about it, except just the local shop in our town. I think it’s amazing for the industry. There are so many amazing artists to discover and find all over the world. I spend way too much time on Instagram, finding new tattoo inspiration and generally wasting time! Everyone I have been tattooed by I found on Instagram and anyone I have chatted to for the magazine or blog I have found on the app. Instagram opens up tattoos to copycats and trends, but it also allows us to feel a wider sense of community and belonging.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about getting their first tattoo? Firstly, find a good artist whose style you love – there really is no excuse with social media now. Don’t just go to your local artist because they’re cheap or your friend went – tattoos are worth travelling for. They’re an investment, they’re worth waiting for. It’s great to draw inspiration from other people’s work, but get your artist to draw something custom for you – it’ll have more meaning and will age better with you in the long run. Saying that, not every tattoo has to have some grand meaning or story. With each new one I get I tend to notice them less. They just become a part of me that will always be there. Be true to yourself, don’t follow fashions, these are fleeting, it is your skin forever, adorn it with beautiful things and just do it!

Featured artists: Lucy O’Connell, Sadee Glover, Sophie Adamson, Jodie Dawber, Ashley Luka, Abbie Williams, Jessi James, Hanan Qattan, Sonia Jade.

WOW! FESTIVAL PHOTO BOOTH

We were part of something magical that took place back on Sunday 13 March 2016… WOW! Women of the World was a festival that transformed the Southbank Centre into a space buzzing with creativity, conversation and female empowerment.

Our editor Alice Snape was there with photographer Eleni, who runs the wonderful Women with Tattoos blog, to chat to women about their tattoos. Here’s a glimpse of some of the inspiring women we chatted to…

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Hazel
“I was just 16 when I got an arrow on my ribs. The more tattoos I get, the more comfortable I feel in my body. It is mine and I have chosen the way it looks.”

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Carey
“I was 59 when I got my first tattoo. My daughter found Grace Neutral and I knew I had to collaborate with her. I see getting tattooed by her as a collaboration. She draws the designs on with a Sharpie and then tattoos over it. I find it a very interesting approach. I feel better about my body now than I ever have before. I love it because it is art.”

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Aisling
“I got my first tattoo at 24. It’s a feminist tattoo as a tribute to the women in my life. I’m very aware of women’s representation in the media, so I would never get traditional pin-up imagery tattooed on me. I wanted to be marked for life with something that has meaning to me.”

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Sian
“I was just 15 when I first got tattooed; it was on my hip. Since then, it’s been reworked by Woody at Into You, so I love it even more now. I find that women with tattoos are often fetishised. I get comments in the street and people ask me questions. I have a whole list of tattoo plans – they make me feel great about my body. I love my body anyway, but they make me feel even better about it.”

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Ella
“I was 17 when I got a lizard tattoo. The first was a big deal for me, it is self marking and controlling the way I look. We are already marked by so many things. Tattoos are a commemoration of something, somewhere, someone…”

You can view the full collection of images and quotes on the Women with Tattoos blog: part 1 and part 2.

 

Let’s Talk About Tattoos: London Pop-Up Photo Booth

WOW! Women of the World Festival

 

This Sunday 13 March, we’ll be teaming up with blog Women with Tattoos to stage a pop-up photo booth at the annual WOW! Women of the World Festival at London’s Southbank Centre.

Come see us and get your tattoos photographed by Eleni (the brains behind Women with Tattoos) and chat to Things&Ink editor Alice Snape about what your tattoos mean to you.

Where: Level 2, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
When: Sunday 13 March, 11am – 6pm

Alice Snape Women with Tattoos

Editor Alice Snape photographed by Eleni for the Women With Tattoos blog, check out her interview at: womenwithtattoos.co.uk