Hexagon Tattoo Project: Martin Dobson

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 30th, 2019

Martin Dobson is a self-confessed tattoo addict and owner of the incredible hexagon tattoo project. An enterprise that starts life as simple outlines of  hexagons that are then filled by various tattoo artists from around the world.  We caught up with Martin to find out more about his inspiring tattoo collection and the thinking behind it…


What was your first tattoo and how old were you? I got my first tattoo when I was 17, yes I lied that I was 18. It was a tiny piece of terrible tribal flash on my arm, which has since been covered by a slightly less terrible tribal wrap around which I got a few years later in Thailand.

What inspired you  to get tattooed in the first place? I don’t really remember what inspired me to get a tattoo. I lived in a provincial town in the UK and in 1997 there was no one I knew or anyone I was even at school with that had a tattoo. I think it must have been a rebellion thing but I was just drawn to it. Something that 22 years and over 60 tattoos later I understand was the start of an addition and calling.


How did your hexagon project come about? I travel a lot with work and a few years ago whilst on a long trip taking in NYC, LA, New Zealand, Oz and Singapore I starting thinking that it would be cool to mark each country or city I go to with a tattoo from a local shop. My first (probably bad) idea, was to get the logo of the shop tattooed in a circle on my leg, like a passport stamp. Whilst discussing with my wife this morphed into what it is today. My wife, Dawn came up with the hexagon shape so that they tessellate.

Do you go to tattooists with a design or let them have free reign with the space? No I give them complete free reign. We usually talk about their options and they ask my opinion. But honestly I love that I don’t know what design I’m going to get when I wake up on the morning of getting a new tattoo or even when I’m walking into the studio – sometimes even when they are starting the tattoo! It’s my experience and I think a universal understanding that you definitely get an artist’s best work if you allow them the freedom to do something they like doing or that challenges them. It’s been fun to see seasoned, highly talented artists freak out about what they are going to do in such a small space. All bar none have completely nailed it too!


You’ve got some amazing work from some incredible artists, who else is on your list? My list is endless. With Instagram people’s work is so accessible, it’s crazy – my wish list gets bigger everyday. It also gets longer every time I go for a session and the artist I’m working with starts recommending their friends and peers. I’ve had to stop talking about new artists! I put out a post on International Woman’s Day recently asking for recommendations of female artists as I’m embarrassingly low on woman tattoo artists compared to men. I got over 125 comments with atleast 200 artists tagged, it’s taken me hours just to look at their profiles let alone start contacting them.

Some big targets currently are Filip Leu who is up for adding a design next to his friend Tin Tin’s but I need to go to Switzerland – I might just have to turn up on his doorstep! Nikko Hurtardo says he’s up for adding a piece but again he’s hard to tie down. I’d love to get something from Boris, Kahn Tofi. I have a long list of Japanese artists, but I’d like to go to Japan rather than doing it at a convention in London or Europe. There are a load of good artists in Korea that i’d like to get hexagons from too. Lastly I grew up watching Miami Ink, I know it can be derided in the industry but Ami, Chris, Darren and Chris are super talented and their show is how I got introduced to tattooing. Ami and Chris Garver have added hexagons and I have two spaces free next to them. Darren is visiting the UK in the summer and is going to add his – now I just need to get a line to Nunez and hopefully I can have them all together.

Do you plan on covering your whole body?  I’m about to extend to my other leg and do a full sleeve which should give me at least another 50 hexagons – after that it will be a conversation with my wife! She didn’t marry a heavily tattooed guy so I have to respect that. She loves the project and actually came up with most of the ideas but I’m not sure she’s up for a husband completely covered in hexagon tattoos!


What sorts of reactions does your project get? Amazingly positive – I think I’ve been quite lucky and stumbled on a reasonably unique idea in a tattoo world that doesn’t have much left as far as new ideas on placement or collecting go. It’s even got to a point where there are a few people out there copying the idea exactly!

It’s amazing that pretty much every artist I contact is into the idea and usually fits me in to their schedules at short notice – even when they have long waiting lists. As I say I’m a lucky guy and feel humble that an idea that started off as a bit of a punt has turned into something that a lot of people are truly interested in and want to follow to see the outcome.

Photos by Dan Lowe

Interview with Tattoo Artist Peggy B

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 23rd, 2019

Tattoo artist Peggy B creates magical blackwork tattoos out of Grace Neutral’s Femme Fatale tattoo studio in London. We chatted to Peggy about her beautifully recognisable style and the energy she brings to her work…


Photo by @alien_ink_

How did you start tattooing? 
I was getting tattooed a lot at uni, and over the years I became friends with a tattooer. I ended up buying a machine with his help and with my own understanding of what tattooing was, I started my journey.

What was the first tattoo you did? The first one which didn’t fade after two weeks was a smiley face on my pinky finger.


What made you want to become a tattooist? I think tattooing chose me more than I was me looking for it. Moving to London at a young age and soaking up the culture of this city has had a big influence on me and my tattooing. The tattoo industry here is different to my home town, it’s been introduced to me from a different point of view. My experiences of the London tattoo scene, the craft and the culture are definitely a couple of things which made me go for it. Over the years it took my heart and all the spare time I had, and quickly it became my passion. It has taken a while but, patience is everything. It feels like tattooing is just my way to express myself in the best way possible. Creating imaginary creatures and immortal flowers, hanging out with the most wonderful artists and making people smile, it’s just such a beautiful job to have.

How would you describe your style? It’s definitely black work, maybe a little bit illustrative. But I wish I could call it “just magical!” I want people to feel the energy flowing through the moment when they look at my work.


Where would you like to take your work? To the other dimension, or as far as it can go.

How has your tattooing changed? The industry keeps developing for me. The more trust I am lucky enough to get the more creative I can become. Patience and working with the people who trust you is the only way to progress. Once the trust is built you can create such an amazing experience. And I think this is why I can work on my style more and more.

What inspires you? Anything and everything.


We love how you use the natural curves and shapes of the body and nature for your tattoos, do you prefer to work freehand like this or from flash? I don’t have preferences. I enjoy the experience of it. I am always trying to suggest a freehand piece just  because it flows more naturally with your body, and I can make it so it exactly fits the area you planned to get tattooed. And it’s fun! I love when my work wraps a lot so you need to move yourself to show it off. When I am adding star dust to my pieces it’s my favourite part to. It’s making it all more magical and you can feel the flow of it.


What would you like to do more of? Keep creating magic on people that they can keep for ever and all the other things that make me happy!

Apprentice Love: Hannah Elizabeth Gehrke

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 14th, 2019

We just can’t get enough of new tattoo artists, and this is what fuels our Apprentice Love series. A selection of posts and interviews in which we like to showcase new talent in the industry. Hannah Gehrke is a tattoo apprentice at Broadside Tattoo in Swansea, UK, who our editor Rosalie was lucky enough to be tattooed by too. 


How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into the industry? I’ve been tattooing for a little over two years and apprenticing at my shop, Broadside, for three years so far! I’m part of the herd; I did the normal thing of doing my A Levels and going to University where I studied counselling and psychology with the aim of being an art therapist, but it wasn’t panning out how I wanted it to. Art was still a big hobby of mine though, and half way through my final year of university when I was writing my dissertation and preparing my final exams, I saw Broadside advertising for an apprenticeship position and I just went for it!

Scott allowed me to apprentice at the shop whilst doing my university work which worked out well, and now I both have a degree and a job that I absolutely adore (I didn’t get the first in my degree I was hoping for, but we won’t talk about that). I wouldn’t change it for the world now. This is basically a form of art therapy anyway so I have the best of both worlds!


What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? I’m going to say it: Miami Ink. It was always on the TV at home and it had a big impression on me. In my tweens I was watching it and just thinking, this is so cool! I love it! I didn’t know any people with tattoos then, so this TV show was really my only source of knowledge. As I grew, tattoos were slowly introduced to me by friends, and I’ve been hooked ever since. My mum booked her first tattoo in her 40s before I booked my first at 18, and I wasn’t having that so I snuck in an appointment before her. Sorry Mum!

I’ve always been creative and loved art at school, even though l ended up packing it in because I lost my spark and I didn’t think that pursuing any career in art was doable, let alone tattooing, or more so that I wasn’t capable enough, but here I am! Living my dream. Sometimes I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact I actually do this for a living and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. A little determination and perseverance goes a long way. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, friends and my boyfriend, and without them I don’t think I’d have done this and got to where I am today.


How does it feel being a woman in the tattoo industry? It feels great and I’m honoured to be a part of it. I’m very much aware that tattooing is quite the male dominated industry, but times are changing and I’m very happy to be involved.

There are so many fantastic female artists out there who’re a huge source of inspiration to me, such as Lucy O’connell, Sadee Glover, Natalie Gardiner, Debbie Jones: I want to be like them one day! I also like to think that in 10 or so years time, maybe a young girl my age now will think, if she can do it, so can I. It’s all about supporting each other and holding each other up, and as much as I’m here for all my girls, I’m here for all my boys too.


How would you describe your style? Has this changed since you started, what direction would you like it to go in? I’d say my style leans more towards colour neotraditional, but I bring a lot of illustrative, “organic” elements into my work too. Dotwork is also something I do a lot of. Generally, I just draw, and what comes out… comes out.

I’ve noticed big changes in style since I started tattooing, and it’s only been two years! I can’t wait to see what I’m working like in another two. As I’m still an apprentice, I’m still learning and adapting to different styles too. I’m happy to do traditional, black work, I’ve tried black and grey, script, Japanese and Maori… it’s adding more strings to my bow and I love learning new methods, however I would like to purely work in my own style one day, and the demand is growing which is amazing! But if someone wants something which isn’t my usual style, I’m more than happy to do it and I think being able to do a little bit of everything is important. I want to have my fingers in all the pies!

What inspires your tattoos? Happiness! I love making people happy! Whether that happiness is derived from a majorly colourful Kewpie dressed as Dolly Parton, or a blackwork tombstone commemorating the death of your diet, if it makes you happy I’m all about it.

I work with some fantastic artists and Swansea has a lovely little hub of us who all to different styles, so there’s endless inspiration. I’m also a really big fan of vintage Hallmark designs and botany books, and I reference them throughout my work frequently. I take a lot of my own reference photos too, whether that be wildlife, plants or myself (I have nice hands, OK?!)

What do you love to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? The list of things I love tattooing is endless! I really enjoy doing florals and botanicals, they’re always my go to, however I also absolutely adore tattooing the more obscure and personal. Does your nana have a brooch that you’ve always wanted to get your hands on? Did you really enjoy that hotdog you ate in New York back in 2011 and haven’t stopped thinking about it since? I want to tattoo it! I want you to have a memory to wear forever, and it’s such a wonderful feeling being part of the process and making it happen; I get to share and cherish your memories with you. Meaningful or meaningless (and it’s ok to get a tattoo with no meaning just because it looks cool!), I’ll work with whatever you want and do my best to turn it into a tattoo for you, and generally the more detail I can get into something, the better!


How does tattooing make you feel? Including the tattoos you create and the tattoos you have on your own body. When I’m tattooing, I don’t think about anything else. I’m completely engrossed in what I’m doing and don’t have the time to think about anything but the tattoo; I’m in my own little bubble! Don’t get me wrong, throughout this learning process there have been tears and tribulations, but thankfully they’ve just made me work harder, and my will to succeed is huge. I really, really want to do well and there is absolutely nothing that can stop me. I’ll have my ups and downs, but that’s all part of it and I respect that.

I don’t think there’s any better feeling than completing a tattoo and not only being proud of it, but your client being proud of it too. I’m not in it just for myself, and I’m aware how much of an impact a tattoo can have on a client regardless of how big or small, simple or intricate, and I want them to walk away from the experience fulfilled because that’s how my own tattoos make me feel.

Tattoos have allowed me to accept and love the parts of my body I didn’t, show off my interests and memories… they’re more than just tattoos; they are my own personal accessories and I wear them all proudly, old and new. Tattoos and tattooing are a major source of joy in my life, and I want to share that with as many people as I can.

Still Not Asking For It Tattoo Flash Event

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 5th, 2019

Still Not Asking For It

The worldwide tattoo charity event is back on Sunday 9th June 2019

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Born in 2015 by tattooer Ashley Love, Still Not Asking For It, an annual tattoo event, aims to bring people together to support and speak out about sexual assault and abuse. In their own words the charity fundraiser is ‘making efforts for awareness, prevention and recovery from sexual violence.’

Starting out in a just one tattoo shop, this year’s tattoo event sees over 80 tattoo shops and hundreds of tattooists and artists from around the world taking part in a co-ordinated charity flash day. From London to New Jersey, Johannesburg to Florence, tattoo shops are coming together to support this event and survivors.

Tattoo designs will be available from each artist in the shops, and the proceeds of these will raise money for local and national organisations that fight for issues around sexual violence. Each shop or artist will choose a charity to donate to, and since 2015 the event has raised and donated $367,000.

Just some of the tattoo shops taking part on June 9th:

Yellow Rose Tattoo, Salt Lake City
Red Point Tattoo, London
Diving Swallow Tattoo, California
Lotus Body Adornment, Utah
Lizzie Renaud, Toronto
Ninth Wave Tattoo, New Jersey
37tattoo, Peru
Tooth and Talon Tattoo, Manchester
Black Iris Tattoo, New York
And many many more

Make sure to follow @stillnotaskingforit_flashevent and #stillnotaskingforit2019 for more tattooists, tattoo shops and information.


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