Self Love Club member Sare Goldman

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 07 1st, 2020

We chat to Manchester-based business owner Sare Goldman, a fat positive self lover who loves tattoos, empowering others and sharing her creativity.

Being a self lover is a journey that never ends, it’s about breaking the rules that society has set and embracing everything about yourself – good and bad.

I have dabbled in self love for around two years, I followed plus size girls on Instagram and started to follow their journeys, but it really came to life in June 2019. My parents were going through a divorce which hit me hard and I wanted something else to focus on. I had always struggled with my weight, I yo-yo dieted and I was never happy with my body. In June 2019, I decided to ditch the diet and just start to love and embrace myself instead. I started to take pictures of my body, clothed and unclothed (in underwear), and started to post them on Instagram. I was never prepared for the amount of support I got from other like minded people who were on their self love journeys just like me! Since then I have never looked back!

I’m very much an activist at heart and I strive to be the voice for people who feel that they don’t have a voice. So self love is present in my life every day. Whether that’s practicing it myself or by trying to empower others to see that they’re amazing!

Self love is about trying to train your brain to rethink the rules around your body and the clothes your wear. Of course I still get body conscious from time to time but it’s about always speaking to yourself in a kind way. No matter who you are, I can guarantee that you have something that you’re hung-up about when it comes to your body; whether that be fat rolls, cellulite, stretch marks or your teeth. Life is far too short to be worrying about what you look like. No matter what you look like, you are allowed to exist freely, you are allowed to wear what you want, when you want and live free from judgement. Self love isn’t selfish and you deserve to love your body.

Being a fat positive self lover can be hard at times as it’s about changing people’s mindsets, which can take a long time! I find that the best thing to keep me going in the right direction is to simply get dressed up and take selfies. It’s so empowering to look back on the pictures and think “OMG, I’m so gorgeous”, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking so highly of yourself! If I ever get disheartened or body conscious, I just talk to one of the many friends that I’ve made in the self love community and they put me on the right track again! They are so supportive and it’s great to know people who are exactly like you.

Fat positivity is about accepting fat bodies and not wanting to change them. It’s about normalising the fat body and teaching people to not see fat bodies as “disgusting” and “unhealthy”. Being fat positive isn’t “promoting ob*sity”, it’s simply just trying to show society that fat people shouldn’t be shamed for just existing. I love empowering other people, I love encouraging them to see how gorgeous and amazing they are and yes, sometimes, people can be quite rude and ignorant but when you know you’ve empowered another girl to wear a crop top then it’s so worth it!

Tattoos have helped my self love journey so much! My body is a piece of art already so the tattoos just add to it. I’m not using tattoos to cover my body, I’m using my body to showcase some amazing work that makes my body look even more beautiful! I have around 20 tattoos and my first tattoo was when I was around 14. My ex was getting a tattoo and I was intrigued, so I bit the bullet and got a small star near my bikini line so my mum wouldn’t see it. It’s safe to say that I’ve had it covered up now! From the age of 16-18 I used to be obsessed with stars to a point where I have about five different sets on my body, all of which I’m planning to get covered up with some other amazing work!

My choice of tattoos have definitely changed since I’ve started my self love journey. I have a few women/feminist related tattoos and a few with empowering words on them such as “Stay True”, “Empower Women” and “Tough Girl”. My favourite type of tattoo style is neo traditional. I absolutely love the style and can’t wait to get more once lockdown is over!

Tattoos definitely inspire the pieces I create ! I can’t draw so the pieces I create are the next best thing. I started my business, Creative House UK, in July 2019, I had spent years trying to think of different business ideas because I’d always wanted to be my own boss.

Since a young age, I’d always wanted to be a hairdresser so took a fast track course to qualify. Once I qualified, I soon lost my passion for it. I then dabbled in photography and started to do model and family photoshoots, but then I found it too stressful to try and get that perfect shot. Then I had a lightbulb moment – “OMG, I can make prints!” I had made all of my own wedding stationery and it just seemed like the perfect idea.

I uploaded my first print on Etsy and when I got my first sale, I was just ecstatic! Fast forward to now and I have my own website and I’m now selling prints, phone cases, t-shirts, tote bags and other bits and bobs and I love every second. I’d always wanted a creative job but could never find anything that suited me until this.

I love to create empowering pieces that inspire people to love themselves. I want to create pieces that when people look at them or wear them, they feel so good about themselves. My t-shirts have been a massive hit and so many of my self love babes are wearing them. It makes me so proud to see them wearing something I’ve created, knowing that they feel empowered and that they are loving themselves wearing it.



That’s how magic happens: The tattoos of Blvck Mamba

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 22nd, 2020

Liam Blvck (@theblvckmambatattoo) crafts contemporary blackwork tattoos at Bebop Ink in Vancouver, Canada. Liam combines their heritage of Chinese and European culture into dark, fantastical artworks which straddle the line between the above and the below, much like the lines Liam tells us they have existed between throughout their career and life…

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? Did you complete an apprenticeship, if so what was this like? I’ve been fascinated by tattoos since I was young when I saw all of my favourite band members covered in tattoos, it really intrigued me. I remember thinking “can I just wear my favourite art on my skin forever?”

I was the only arty child in my family, and my family thought I would pass that phase as I got older, but I didn’t. I didn’t really think about being a tattooer until I was 16. When it really struck me how I was extremely into body modification and that I would love to do anything related to art, but at the same time I’m wasn’t interested in just painting on a canvas and selling my art in a gallery. After high school, I ended up going to art school which really reinforced the idea of becoming a tattooer. It took me years to find a proper apprenticeship, but I managed to find one at a street shop.

Luckily my mentor was willing to guide me through the process, even though it was a learning curve for both of us. I was his first apprentice ever. Most of the people who worked there were apprenticed under another boss, and I was the exception which kind of made me the black sheep. I was taken through extreme ups and downs when it came to my learning, because I wasn’t taught the way my boss was as an apprentice. I felt like I needed to learn faster and work harder to prove myself.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos, and the process behind these – how do you settle on a design or choose an artist? I’ve collected a handful of tattoos from different artists around the world; each of the pieces represent my growth as a person, and what I was going through at that time. Most of the tattooers I find are from tattoo magazines I’ve purchase, word of mouth, tattoo conventions and artists of the late 90s/early 2000-esque from a website hosted on Angelfire. I was on more of a scavenger hunt for tattoos back then, instead of just going on Instagram like you do now.

I used to believe every tattoo had to have a meaning in order to get it permanently on my body, and I was told if they didn’t I’d regret it for the rest of my life. Surprisingly, some of my most meaningful tattoos have now been covered. The older we are, it seems that we look back on things and the feelings we had have changed. Nothing stays the same forever, every day we grow as a person. I came to the realisation that it’s okay to just simply appreciate something in the moment, overthinking it would make things complicated.

Most of my tattoos at this point don’t have any meaning, rather I loved the work the tattooer had put out. I simply want what they’re good at, not just the styles, but the subject matters they’re interested in too.

Do you have a favourite tattoo either on your own body or one you have created? Every tattoo I’ve created I’ve loved in different ways, that’s pretty much asking someone to pick their favourite children!

But I would say my favourite tattoo on my own body would be my black-out arm. It was a cover up of a sleeve I’ve got when I was between 18 and 20. It showed how much I had changed as a person, and I realise back then I was still exploring my self identity, as a woman at that time, and as a non-white. Underneath layers and layers of black is a super colourful sleeve that even had an owl with neon pink wings! The black-out took me two to two and a half years to finish, each layer was done by a different coworker that I trusted. The experience of a black-out arm is so different than that of getting a design, it’s a different level of commitment, and it’s something that’s hard to describe until you’ve experienced it on your own.

How would you describe your work? Do you think your experiences have shaped the tattoos you create? Although I was born in Canada, the majority of my childhood was spent in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was colonised by the UK at that time and so I was exposed to European culture along with my own people’s culture. European art was always my favourite because I’m obsessed with how humans can achieve such levels of details in their craft or artwork. Also I was into heavier music and often old European art would be featured on album art and merch.

My work is a fine line between European-esque art, and my life experiences of living on the line between Western and Chinese culture – my identity, my skin, gender, mental health collides with European occult imagery. It’s abstract and complicated.

What kinds of tattoos do you love to do, what designs get you excited? Is there anything you’d like to create or a particular concept you’d like to explore? I would like to continue with the occult aesthetic in my work, but take it more into a surrealism direction. Loving what you do and taking it to another level is the truest growth of oneself.

How would you describe your experience as a queer tattooer in the tattoo industry? Does this influence the spaces you tattoo in? I started out as a cis woman in the industry and I experienced the struggle of being part of the boy’s club. I still notice how I get treated differently compared to white colleagues, and often I get the harsh end of it all. Even the clientele at the beginning of my career treated me poorly because most of the folks that came to me did so because I’m not white, they assumed that they could get a deal on the tattoo they wanted.

I also have experienced male tattooers putting me into uncomfortable situations, such as commenting on women’s appearances, wanting to meet me outside of the workspace for a “consultation” and when I’ve gotten a tattoo from them their arm is positioned in a questionable area.

When I realised that I’m non-binary, and started to dress more queer it was another segregation on top of what I had already experienced. I feel sometimes that the community itself questions my queerness and my right to the space because I’m married to a cis man and therefore I’m not queer and non-binary enough. I was still treated as a cis woman, and my chosen name threw people off and some of them got a bit uncomfortable when they had shown up to their consultation and were expecting to get tattooed by a male tattooer.

All of these experiences, have shaped me. I want to tattoo in a queer friendly safe space where all bodies, race, genders are welcome. Both tattooers and clients give so much trust to each other and vulnerability, in this space judgement and hate is not tolerated. Getting a tattoo shouldn’t be scary and you shouldn’t leave with a traumatic experience.

I’ve read that you’ve explored your craft in a lot of different countries is there a place or moment that stood out for you? I’ve travelled to a few places throughout my tattoo career, I always get inspired by my experiences. Also seeing how other tattooers that I admire love and perfect their craft, gives me the motivation and validation to know that you create your own journey within this craft. There’s no such thing as one art being superior to others, your craft is created by a collection of experiences. The people who come to you do so because they connect with your creation, and that’s how magic happens.



Tattoo collector in lockdown

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 20th, 2020

It’s been three months and seven days (who’s counting?) Since my last tattoo, and I know one of the first things I’m going to do, when it’s safe to do so, is get a new one. I think I may even be longing for that new tattoo itch. That may be pushing it a bit too far, but I definitely miss getting tattooed.

For me a new tattoo is usually an excuse to see a new part of the UK, a day trip by myself or with a friend – an adventure. Where I can get tattooed, meet a new artist, discover some good food and a new place in the process. Last year I even stayed away for a night, on my own in a hotel, which may not be much for some people, but for someone with anxiety this was worth celebrating. I travel miles and hours to get tattooed, sometimes booking months in advance to allow me to save and plan out my day. Aside from checking train travel and Google Maps, I’m scouring Instagram for restaurants, shops and things to do after I’ve been tattoo.

It’s not just the excitement a new tattoo brings that keeps me adding to my collection. The freedom to add something new to my body, taking ownership and decorating this home I live in with something I’ve chosen or dreamt up. A little collaboration between myself and an artist, it’s pretty special. This time has been tumultuous, unsettling and disruptive for many, but I’m grateful that it’s allowed me to slow down. I was chatting to a friend (on the phone) about how we’ve found ourselves with even more time to think of new tattoos ideas and to discover new tattooers. My screen time and my tattoo wish list have definitely increased, but I’m ok with that. With lives on pause there is space to admire and look at our bodies, at all the gaps we can fill and that perfect placements for that new design not yet created.

Unfortunately tattoo artists now find themselves temporarily out of work, however many are drawing, posting new commissions and artwork almost everyday. The flurry of creativity has me lusting after every post, every possible sketch could be my next tattoo. My tattooers-to-get-tattooed by list is growing by the minute! In this new expanse we find ourselves in with free weekends and an empty calendar, it seems only natural to start booking in, buying gift vouchers or leaving deposits for what feel like almost imaginary tattoo appointments. Claiming those designs before anyone else does, filling our walls with tattoo prints and art are ways we can offer support to an industry on pause.

If anything this time has helped me to reaffirm just important tattooing is, how much of my life I dedicate to this art. As well as cementing how tattoos allow me to be my authentic self, that they’re an even bigger part of my identity that I first thought. Lockdown has also shown all of us just how fleeting and precarious everything is, showing us what matters and what doesn’t. Before this time I worried whether people (strangers) liked my tattoos or if they thought differently of me because I have them. Of course this doesn’t matter, and I’m not going to let these hang-ups stop me from getting more prominent tattoos. The first new tattoos I’ll get will be on my fingers, and they will be glorious.

Words: Rosalie Hurr



Sewing tattoos into skin: Laura Taylor

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 13th, 2020

Laura ‘LAET’ Taylor creates sensationally beautiful tattoos at Sri Yantra Tattoo, Oakland California. We chat to the artist about her craft and inclusivity within the tattoo world

You describe yourself as a skin seamstress, can you tell us a more about this? I started using my mother’s sewing machine at around five years old. One day, she sat me down in front of her sewing machine, and as I picked up the machine technique, I discovered that I found machine sewing enjoyable. I would make quilts and clothes, little projects that grew into big projects, experimenting with a variety of fabrics and bold colours as I went along.

Fast forward 15 years, I went to Central Saint Martins school of Art and Design in London, a place that celebrates courageous free-thinkers and creative innovators. Going to that art school was a game changer for me. I felt seen by the staff and inspired. Being at CSM made me realise my passion for textiles was a legitimate endeavour, as I saw the same spark amongst the textiles students. I studied illustration there, and was able to work on my draftsmanship. I’ve always been looking for a creative space that combines my love of drawing and technical sewing with textiles. Tattooing has become that space for me. The intricacies of my tattoo designs often feel like embroidery as I am constructing them, and so the term ‘Skin Seamstress’ came to mind and has stuck with me.

How long have you been tattooing and what drew you to the industry? This year (2020) will be my 18th year in tattooing. It’s a pretty surreal feeling. I’m in my 30s and I’ve already been tattooing for over half of my life. It’s weird. I’ve been tattooing for far less time than a lot of folks, but a lot longer than others. Enough time to see enormous shifts and passing trends.

I’d say I prefer the way things are headed. A little more conscious, a bit more inclusive. It keeps the bar high, with artists producing higher quality work along with happier clientele.

The experience that drew me to tattooing was the first time I saw a tattoo on a person. It was the ’90s era of London, England, outside the Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street. I saw a woman walking towards me on the street. She had a huge red mohawk, fully sleeved up, and Doc Martens. She owned that road with her presence, and her confidence shone. I was four years old. I decided right there and then that I would tattoo.

How would you describe your experiences as woman tattooer, especially in the light of recent events within the industry? I would say that things have improved, slowly but surely. The industry is witnessing shifts as the cultural conversation progresses and society moves forward. Being a woman in this industry used to put you in a minority group, but equally that gives you more chance to make a difference and lead for the change you’d like to see. I believe in equality, I believe we are getting there one conversation at a time. I see changes and I remain hopeful, and as always, empowered.

What does tattooing mean to you? Both the work you create and the tattoos on your own body. Freedom. Tattooing is freedom to me. Artistic expression and freedom. Something worth striving for. A great aspect of tattooing is the ability to travel with your job. Tattooing opened up opportunities for me to move to the United States, and develop my skills in more depth. The work I create is heavily influenced by my love of textiles and nature. People will ask me for my flowers, which I will never tire of! Nature is a brilliant resource and teaches us so much.

I personally have a collection of blackwork from about 15 different artists from the UK and the states. Some is ornamental blackwork, some is very gothic blackwork, some is dotwork, and some is punk style/prison style blackwork.

How would you describe your style? What inspires your creations? My style is intricate and detailed for sure. Clients will approach me asking for large-scale pieces, and to keep things intricate. I’d say this is where my seamstress tendencies come into action; often my tattoos look like textiles on skin. I am inspired by my biracial heritage too. I grew up in a British multi-racial household with a variety of vibrant cultures surrounding me. I try to allow this to flow through me into my work.

What do you love to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? Nature is always going to be a favourite theme for me. It offers up endless possibilities. I’m always down to tattoo floral tattoos.

Growing up in London, I felt the medieval and gothic architecture of the city calling me. I’m a Camden Town goth chick for sure, and spent a lot of time in the London goth scene as a teenager. Over the years I can see those style tendencies come through in my work. So anything gothic will always speak to me personally.

We love your rich, opulent colour palette, do you prefer to work in colour or black and grey, or is this like choosing a favourite tattoo – impossible? Tough question! When I tattooed in London, I was known for gothic ornate blackwork. Clients would mainly ask me for black and grey. I was expanding on the celestial style sun and moon pieces I like to do, and I’d tattoo a lot of depictions of tarot cards. Once I started travelling to the states, I’d already done some vibrant pieces. Mainly tattoos of brightly coloured peonies or chrysanthemums. I started receiving a lot more interest in my colour work, once I came to the States. I guess the colour thing really took off. It’s pretty cool, looking back on that, to think about how much my colour style blew up, even after I was known for a completely different style.

We’ve heard than many tattooers may often refuse to tattoo dark skin, is this something you have experienced? If you do not know how to tattoo all skin tones within society, you do not know how to tattoo. So you’d better learn. Tattoos look brilliant on black and brown skin tones. If you don’t know how to display your work on these tones, you are missing out. 

How can we make the tattoo scene more inclusive? What changes would you like to see, do you have any advice for black artists? I think that some important steps forward are being made. I don’t believe overall that tattooing is the racist place it used to be. Tattooing reflects society, and as society continues to be diverse, so should tattooing. Accepting this, is a simple but huge step forward. I would encourage any black artist with a passion for the craft to get involved. It is hard work, you must be committed, but it is also a birthright and something to be very proud of. 

Is it important that we call out cultural appropriation when we see it? How can people who profit from this turn things around? I’ve been watching cultural appropriation get worse (especially in England, as we are not taught about our colonial empire building heritage) I used to think it was not important, but now I’ve seen where it has lead us, and as the cultural conversation progresses I’d like it to be more considered. Just think about the marginalised cultures that do not benefit. Tattooing is alive within society, we exist because of our diverse clientele, and I would like to see tattooing reflect and be respectful to that. 



“I love tattoos. I am a woman. And I happen to be Black”

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 11th, 2020

Ermine Hunte always believed that the tattoo world was inclusive, until she encountered neo-nazi symbolism and open racism at tattoo conventions…here’s her story

words: Ermine Hunte

I was initially apprehensive about writing this piece. Partly because I’m aware that there’s ‘fatigue’ and partly because it’s a prickly subject.

I’ve been into tattoos and tattoo art from as long as I can remember. I also have a love for pin-up art and style. I’ve been going to tattoo conventions since the days of the Quadrant in Dunstable. The international convention in London was like my tattoo Christmas! I still have a love for them, but in the last few years that love has waned.

Unfortunately, the love doesn’t always go both ways. Why?

That word of the moment: race.

I can already imagine the eye rolling and tapping/clicking away from this article, and that’s ok. Those people will always be those people. I’m not talking to them, fuckers. I’m talking to the people who purport that tattooing is inclusive.

I had always believed that the tattoo ‘family’ were inclusive. That it didn’t matter who you were, as long as you loved tattoos. There’s the old adage, ‘The only difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people, is that tattooed people don’t care if you’re not tattooed’. A naive belief, perhaps, but I held it all the same.

Being 41, I remember when tattoos were seen as the reserve of sailors and criminals. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint, the likes of footballers and people in the public eye (I’m loathe to call them celebrities) have made tattoos more mainstream. That bleed-through means all sections of society are now being tattooed. That brings with it people who are not open- or broad-minded.

The tattoo industry has its cliques. It’s very evident when you go to conventions. However there’s an undercurrent of thinking, by some people, that the industry should stay white.

In January, Oliver Peck left the show Ink Master because of blackface photos resurfacing. At the time his apology wasn’t exactly sincere. And for people with that viewpoint, it never is. Recently he’s been making anti-racism posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder. I believe people can learn and grow, but I always have that part of me giving him a side eye just in case, because it was a long-held viewpoint and there are plenty of examples of his viewpoint out there.

I’ve been to tattoo gatherings/conventions where there’s been open racism both around me and directed towards me. From artists who celebrate neo-nazi symbolism to attendees sneering at my presence. I’ve been asked why I’m there. Why I’m not wearing a cleaner’s uniform. Why I’m wearing ’50s inspired clothes, when I should be wearing slave rags. I’ve been asked if I’m only there to sell drugs. The ‘what’s point of getting tattooed if you have dark skin?’ question. The ‘Shouldn’t you be covered in/getting some tribal shit?’ question. Asked why I want to be white so bad because I want to be tattooed.

Tattooists have said that it’s too hard to tattoo dark skin, or subsequently to photograph it. To me that’s an admission of failure as an artist *shrug*. Because if that were me, I’d want to be creating fantastic pieces for all skin tones. I’d have the ring light or whatever is required to take that photo. Pushing and striving to be the best tattooist, whoever a client is. That attitude, to me, is defeatist. I said what I said!

Tattooists really need to remember that in the same way that there is a Pink Pound, there’s a Black Pound. You’re losing business. We know that in this industry personal recommendations go a long way. Who would want to spend money with an artist who avoids black skin? Why should black people only go to black artists? As much as we want to support black artists as black people, not everyone caters to the style of tattoo that a client may want. There may not be a polka-trash black artist on the scene or whatever. I’m not taking away from black artists at all, I am however, exhausted at the thought that we even should be having this conversation in 2020.

Technology, machinery, inks have moved on in recent years and it’s for all of us to push forward inclusivity.

Silence against racism is complicity. It’s not enough to be against racism. You have to be actively anti-racist. Racists should never feel comfortable in their racism. If you see it or hear it, challenge it. Smiling and nodding to fit in is not only weak, it’s giving the aggressor more confidence. It’s emboldening them.

Education is key. Talk to your black friends. If you’re an artist I’m sure a black client would be happy to give up some skin if it helped you be a more inclusive and experienced artist. Hell yeah I’d do it!

I love tattoos. And I happen to be a woman. And I happen to be Black. I’m no longer naive but I’m hopeful for the future of the industry.

Sending love to all

Photo of Ermine from Things and Ink Issue 9 Photography and Art Direction: Josh Brandão
Bespoke Costumes by Bridgette Cocchiola
Styling by BlitzHaus Shot @ BlitzWerk Studio, London



The tattoo world’s me too moment #tattoometoo

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 9th, 2020

Last weekend, we stood in support of the hundreds of brave women who took to Instagram to tell their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of some prominent male tattoo artists – under the hashtag #tattoometoo. This in turn sparked an intense public discussion about what’s normal and acceptable between an artist and client.

by Alice Snape.

Content warning: sexual assault, rape, trauma.

We have known for far too long that parts of the tattoo world are toxic, and performative masculinity has been allowed to thrive. Many tattooers have operated outside the law for so long that there are no set boundaries. No rules to know what is and isn’t okay, making young women in particular very vulnerable. The lines are blurred. You’re in pain, uncomfortable, it can be hard to realise when boundaries are being crossed.

If you have been sexually assaulted while getting tattooed and feel able to, I urge you to report it to the police. I am also compiling stories so please do email me, alice@thingsandink.com (you can, of course, remain anonymous). What I have realised, from my own experience and hearing that of others, is that we often don’t realise at the time that mistreatment or abuse is happening. Stories I have heard so far range from rape and abuse to moments that have made women feel uncomfortable – for example being told to take off their bra when they don’t need to, so an artist’s face can hover too close to their flesh, or ordered to expose themselves unnecessarily without cover. . .

We’ve also probably all witnessed those who shrug off tattooist’s behaviour, with things like: ‘Well you know what they’re like’.

“I just wanted to mention the “banter” you so often have to put up with in male-dominated tattoo spaces,” one woman DM’d me. “It’s like you get forgotten about and that actually you might not want to hear about so and so’s body. I spoke out once when the four guys were rating women out of 10 and there was no apology or anything, just a grunt. I never went back. I just felt unwelcome and uncomfortable.”

The tattoo industry is not the sort of industry that has a central body, there are no HR departments or DBS checks. There are no set rules. You can view a discussion I had with tattoo artists, Dolly, Gemma May and Lucy, on YouTube about ways we can tackle sexual assault in the industry, including the possibility of seminars and training.

Earlier this year, we posted a feature I wrote about getting a tattoo finished by another tattooist (read it here: If I Could Turn Back Time). Tattoo collectors have long felt bound by an outdated moral code about tattooists owning the tattoo on your body. That is not true. If you feel uncomfortable with your artist, don’t feel like you need to carry on getting tattooed by them. It’s your tattoo and your body. You are not privileged to get tattooed by an artist, it is their privilege to mark your skin. You must feel like you are being treated with respect, and if you’re not you can leave.

The tattoo world needs to and must change. This feels like the start of something. We must put a stop to the normalisation of sexual harassment – in EVERY SINGLE FORM in tattoo shops, at conventions and inside the doors of private studios. Male tattooists should not be able to take advantage of their position of power to physically or mentally abuse and take advantage of their clients who put their trust literally into their hands.

Tattoo artists Dolly and Gemma May have also teamed up to create Tattoo Me Too Recovery Artists, which is a worldwide directory of artists who have volunteered to fix, rework and finish pieces for victims of known abusers in the tattoo industry. Allowing survivors to feel empowered and hopefully to move on from negative experiences of getting tattooed. By known artists, they mean “Those who have either been convicted, admitted their actions publicly or who have been reported to us multiple times displaying this pattern of behaviour,” Dolly explains. You can email tattoometoorecoveryartists@gmail.com, and your message will be treated in the strictest of confidence, any details you give will not be shared anywhere. Dolly has told us that they are very busy, and may not be able to reply instantly, please be patient and they will reply as soon as they can.

Lucy has also set up Tattooists Sexual Assault Survivor Support (@tsass_uk) on Instagram to address sexist attitudes in the industry, help victims, spread awareness and dispel misconceptions about sexual abuse.

A GoFundMe page has been set up too,  funds will go towards the artists who are reworking tattoos, and invested into education materials and furthering the movement to permanently change the industry.  All remaining funds will be split between three charities: Women’s Aid, Safeline and Survivors Network.

Although there is power in speaking up, we urge you not to name and shame online. Instead get in touch with us and we will help.

There was also an Insta thread that started to circulate, people posting that they felt safe while getting tattooed by [insert tattoo artist here]. This can have a triggering effect because not everyone has the same experience with the same artist, so we don’t suggest joining in. Sometimes it takes victims so long to realise what’s happened to them because it’s at odds with what they believe about that person.

There has been reports about this movement in The Metro, and Eastern Daily Press, which states that Norwich based tattooists Brad Ward and Andrew Balls announced on their Instagram accounts that they were leaving the industry and apologised for their behaviour.

For additional support follow @tsass_uk or visit rapecrisis.org.uk. Contact police on 101 to report any sexual offences.



One is too many

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 8th, 2020

*This article is written from a UK perspective, by Lauren Marina.

**TW sexual assault, rape, trauma.

You’re not overreacting. 
You didn’t bring it on yourself. 
It isn’t just a joke. 
Call it by its name. It is sexual assault.

Last week on Instagram, hundreds of women broke the silence on sexual assault in the tattoo industry. The sharing of personal experiences snowballed and awareness of the problem grew louder than ever. 

As I read each story I felt many emotions. My gut wrenched and churned in disgust and anguish. I had tears of sadness in my eyes that so many women have faced such atrocious behaviour at the hands of someone who should have been a trusted professional. I felt rage; rage that these assaults have happened in an industry so close to many of our hearts. But amongst these feelings, I did not feel surprised. That lack of shock felt heavy and grey in the pit of my stomach.

Why wasn’t I surprised? 

Unfortunately because I deeply resonated. I connected with many of the elements of the stories shared. 

I’m not a tattooer myself, but I’ve been getting tattooed for around 13 years and have visited a wide variety of shops and conventions in different locations. Despite having largely positive, respectful and professional experiences I’ve also felt the vulnerability so many of the women shared in their stories. 

I’ve been the only woman amongst a group of men in a tattoo shop, whilst they share loud and lairy sexual jokes about past clients. Whilst I sit small, waiting for the work to start; unable to speak out for fear of being turned upon. I’ve been unnecessarily topless in the middle of a tattoo convention, my naked body subject to lingering eyes and photographs taken by strange men whilst I’m held down with the tattoo machine; holding back words for fear of being condemned, from fear of being considered an overreaction, my male artist, seemingly unaware of any wrongdoing. 

These are examples of some of the conditions within tattooing that enable disrespectful sexual behavior to exist. These types of conditions and similar, play a significant role in allowing rape culture to cultivate; and I believe the boys’ club is largely to blame. 

‘Boys’ club’ is a term used to describe typically ‘laddish’ behaviour. Perhaps reading this will instantly summon a scenario (or likely many) in which you have witnessed ‘the lads’. In this context I’m referring to the type of behaviour where, in an all-male scenario, a vulgar sexual joke here and there is allowed to slip through in front of friends, for the ‘banter’. This sexual ‘joke’ is not shut down by the audience, but applauded, these are the enablers of the perpetrator, a part of the boys’ club. This normalises and in fact, rewards the content of the joke. This normalisation and reward is the base level that allows rape culture to exist, insidiously – whether that be in one tattoo shop or across the industry as a whole. This habit alone, or alongside other enabling behaviours such as the sexual objectification of women, permits – and can cheer on – the potential escalation from harassment to abuse by the perpetrator. The sheer volume of shared experiences of sexual violence at the hands of male tattooers shared by women in the last week is testament to this. 

Add a ring of accomplices, who have been enabling behaviors, such as looking the other way, denying wrongdoing, participating, or casting the actions off as “that’s just what he’s like” or “boys will be boys”, allows – and in fact loudly endorses – acts of sexual assault towards clients. Individual unacknowledgement of widespread sexual abuse, victim blaming and trivialising rape also contribute. 

Then combine this with the client.

A female client has booked in to see a professional tattoo artist. They arrive, perhaps having travelled for some time, or having booked in months ago, feeling the thrill of anticipation of new work to be added to their skin. Perhaps they have to be in a level of undress. They will likely be in some degree of pain. They will also likely be in an unknown environment, surrounded by strangers. This may also be the first time they have met the artist, so a new rapport may only begin on the day of the tattoo. The collision between the client’s vulnerability and the normalisation of rape culture can be devestating.

Enough is enough. 

This is not a problem with the industry. This is a problem with the individuals who perpetrate this predatory behaviour. Rape culture must be stamped out in the tattoo world. Clients should never have to be in a position of sexual risk. The predators existing in the industry are a minority, but even one is too many. 

One instance of unwelcome sexual advance is too many. One instance of groping is too many. One instance of forced sexual contact is too many. One degrading tattooer is too many. One unsolicited dick pic is too many. One experience of client humiliation is too many. One client feeling scared and vulnerable is too many. 

Raising awareness, education, new legislation and active allyship are all preventative measures that can be taken. Despite there being stigma and fear around shining a light on perpetrators, we can also encourage and support victims to speak out in ways which are physically and mentally safe to do so; and only if they want to. There can be no pressure here. Your experience is yours. Public naming and shaming artists can be unsafe for victims in many ways, for one due to defamation laws in the UK. TattooMeToo are a support group who have mobilised quickly to support victims in a safe and professional manner.

If last week has proved anything it’s that we can unite together and create change. Justice can be achieved. This is the end of the boys’ club.

A collective of women have set up @TattooMeTooRecoveryArtists you can donate via www.gofundme.com/f/tattoometoorecovery.

For additional support follow @tsass_uk or visit rapecrisis.org.uk.

I also have a charity t-shirt for sale at Mercht. All sales (except for Mercht’s printing cost) will go to TattooMeToo Recovery Artists.

Our inbox at Things & Ink is always open, alice@thingsandink.com



The black womxn tattooers you need to follow right now

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 8th, 2020

For too long the tattoo world has been a racist place to be. There are so many incredible artists but they’re often not given the space they deserve in magazines, conventions and on Instagram. We’re heard stories of tattooers turning clients away because of the colour of their skin, as they don’t know how to tattoo black skin and are unwilling to learn.

We want to help amplify and raise marginalised voices through Things&Ink, and that includes POC tattooers. We’re shining a light of the incredible black womxn in this industry who are showing you exactly how it’s done…

@laet_tattoo

We absolutely love Laet’s floral designs, which mould to the body as if these petals and leaves grew there all along.

@humblebeetattoo

Soft yet powerful, Brittany’s tattoos often depict strong women mixed with delicate florals for a beautiful effect.

@jadechanelp

Fine lines and delicate shading come together into tattoos that portray the artist’s power and strength. Who said delicate couldn’t be tough?

@jalenfrizzell

Fierce tattoos showing black femmes from all ages, make sure you check out her disco-inspired portraits.

@yesrainforest

Delicate ornamental, floral and nature inspired handpoked tattoos with magical auras.

@phylotattoos

We love the way bold lines and florals are woven together in the ornamental tattoos of Phylo.

@ahadejia

Showing us how colour, bold lines and negative space are meant to be tattooed.

@flesh_and_fluid

An artists that draws from sacred geometry to bring you intricate tattoos that also have protective elements for the wearer.

@americandebbie

Mini tattoos are our fave, finger tattoos are our fave! We’re loving how much fun these curated hand tattoos are, oh and those nails!

@leanneckerr

Pouring big femme energy into her delicate floral pattern-work tattoos, we love the flow in these pieces.

@finest_trash_ink

No truer contradiction than girly and traditional, we love when these genres mix. Cierra shows us that glitter and scorpions belong together.



Apprentice love: Heavy Petal

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 25th, 2020

We first shared Stevie’s beautiful tattooed hand print on Instagram back in December, and ever since we’ve known we had to find out more about the artist behind the artwork. Currently in the early stages of her tattoo apprenticeship at Union Street Tattoo in Devon, Stevie is definitely one to watch!

How long have you been apprenticing? How did you get your apprenticeship?
I started my apprenticeship in October 2019. I’ve always wanted to get into tattooing! I originally started building up a portfolio back in 2014 but unfortunately it wasn’t the right time for me. I had a couple of office jobs but I just really wanted to get into something creative. So I started doing a bit of freelance illustration and greeting card designing in 2017 alongside my day job.

But in 2019, circumstances had changed with my job so I started building up my portfolio for an apprenticeship again! I saw that Union Street Tattoo were advertising for an apprentice, so I popped along with my portfolio and had a lovely chat with the owner, Mark Breed, who later introduced me to Forest Lewis and they offered me the apprenticeship! They’ve both been so welcoming and helpful, it finally all clicked into place, I’m still so stoked!

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the tattoo industry?
Really work on making your portfolio the best it can be! Draw lots and include different styles whilst making the portfolio itself super presentable. Do your research on the tattoo industry and it’s history! Ask for help and advice if you need it.

We love the traditional nature of your work, is this a genre you draw inspiration from?
Definitely, I love traditional tattoos and their history. Traditional tattoos look so clean and bold and bright, I love that. Flowers and colours are also a big inspiration!

How would you describe your style and where would you like to take it?
Bold and colourful! I really love experimenting with different colour palettes. I use a lot of pinks! I’ve tried to not always go for pinks but I love it! I’m really looking forward to trying different styles once I’m tattooing properly, though. In particular dot work, fine line botanical pieces and mandalas.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of?
I haven’t actually started tattooing properly yet. So it’s hard to say at this stage. I’ve only done just over a handful of tattoos so far, mainly on myself. A lot of flowers though!

The illustrated hand print we shared on our Instagram

Can you tell us about your own tattoo collection. Do you have a favourite or a list of tattooers you want to get work by?
The majority of my tattoos are by the lovely Gem Carter. I got my first tattoo from Gem when I was 18. I often travel up to her beautiful studio, Black Rose, in North Devon for more! I love every single one! I also have one of Kelly Smith’s peonies and one of Chloe O’Malley’s floral bouquets, I adore both pieces! There are so many other tattooers I’d love to get work by in the future. Including Cassandra Frances, Rabtattoo, Rebecca Vincent and Leonie New, to name a few!

Have tattoos altered how you feel about your body at all?
Definitely! I’ve always struggled with my self esteem and body confidence. Having tattoos has helped me feel more confident in my own skin.

The more I get, the more I admire that my body is all mine to decorate.



New tattoo anxiety: How long before your appointment should you see the design?

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 22nd, 2020

It makes sense that when getting tattooed you’ve chosen that particular artist because you love their work and want something in their style. Maybe you’ve followed them on Instagram for a while, loved all their posts, read interviews and checked healed work. You know that they produce great tattoos, their work is solid and, from what you can tell, they’re a nice person. So what’s the problem, why do you feel uneasy when looking at the tattoo design?

We’ve probably all had that moment when you see the design of your new tattoo for the first time and that not-quite-sure, something-isn’t-right feeling arises? Or maybe you’re being shown your finished tattoo in the mirror before it’s wrapped up? Perhaps before the tattoo you’re tired from travelling or getting tattooed by someone you’ve never met flares your anxiety, on the other hand after a session you’re sore and groggy, your tattoo brain has definitely set in and all you can think about is getting some food and getting home. Sound familiar?

Does how comfortable you feel with the tattoo about to be etched on you, or the one just completed, all come down to timing? Should you see the design at the start of your appointment, the night before, a week before? When exactly should you see the tattoo design to make sure that it’s what you want and what the artist is happy to create?

I know many artists may hold back because they fear you won’t show up for your appointment and may even take the design to another artist. While they may not email you the design, there are usually opportunities to visit the studio and see your new piece in person, just ask your tattooer. However, if you’re like me and regularly get tattooed hours away from home, this isn’t always easy.

There’s also the thought amongst tattoo artists that a client may try to micro-manage the whole tattoo process. They could worry that after they have translated your ideas into a workable tattoo that will stand the test of time, you’ll see the sketch and make way too many additions and changes that will render the design now unworkable and unsuitable as a tattoo. It may be hard to hear when a tattooist tells you that your ideas may not work, but really a good artist will have the experience and know-how to give you the best tattoo they can. It may be best to trust their judgement even if this means seeing your design at your tattoo appointment. I’ve found that more than often not the artist has drawn a few examples and sizes so we can play around with placement, or they’re happy to make a couple of small changes if needed.

If you see the design a few days in advance, could you overthink the whole thing? Rather than have time to sit and settle with the tattoo, instead you pick it apart and completely change your mind. No longer are you excited but a little frantic, not even sure that the tattoo will become part of you like so many have done before. This is where seeing the tattoo the night before or at your appointment can be helpful. It’s that balance between exciting and nerve-wracking, surely that feeling is why a lot of us get tattooed?

You’ll also find that the tattoo changes and comes to life as it’s being tattooed, it’s unlikely that you can tell exactly what it will look like from the drawing. Especially if you’ve chosen to add colour and the sketch is in black and grey. For someone who gets a little anxious I’m often telling the artist to choose the colours, do what you like, so my tattoos can be a real surprise! And this is usually a positive thing. I say this because I trust them, I trust that my past self chose them for this tattoo. It will be amazing, I just have to hold space for the tattoo magic to happen.

Surely the more tattoos you have the less it matters, right? Just slap it on, fill that gap. Does this attitude change if you have less or more tattoos? I can only talk from my experience as a heavily tattooed woman, by now, with the amount of tattoos I have they almost blend into one, each new one, as it heals becomes no more significant than the rest. So really does it matter when I see the design, because my skin is a welcoming home anyway.

Thank you to everyone who answered my Instagram stories around this question, your thoughts and voices have helped to mould this piece.
Rosalie Hurr










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