Interview with Artem Koro

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 10th, 2021

A tattoo artist and keen traveller Artem Koro creates incredible tattoo compositions. We caught up with Artem to learn more about his avant-garde tattooing and love for the craft…

I have always been attracted to the trade and have been a tattoo artist for the past six years. I first got tattooed when I was 14 years old and at 28 I realised that I could combine my love of tattoos and travelling the world into one profession. I then set out to become a tattoo artist.

I would define my style as avant-garde. It’s a style that has evolved and continues to evolve. That’s something that is very important to me; it’s important that my style and myself will continue to constantly develop. I don’t believe in staying in one place in terms of style and what I create.

I think it is very important to note that there is always some growth in my art. Development is the root of success as is growing as an artist.

I get inspiration from many aspects of life, including music, movies and places I have visited. I get lot of inspiration from nature, my roots and where I grew up (in the Middle East). For example, a lot of my textures and compositions are inspired by desert areas, Middle Eastern music, patterns on carpets etc. 

Each appointment can take a full day, but the tattoo itself will take between three and six hours maximum. I like a darker atmosphere in my tattoos, and these days I prefer to work with black ink only. I try to perform work with a high contrast so that the tattoo will last for a long time in the best way possible.

I like to design animals that are not seen every day as well as different textures and unusual compositions. I also like to emphasise the aesthetics and flow of the shape of the body.

In the first two months of the pandemic it was very difficult for me to create and it affected my work. But over time I tried to keep doing the things I love in general (not only tattoos), and eventually this blockage passed. I can say I have remained active for the past year which has helped.

I cannot imagine life without tattoos. My life has changed 180 degrees since I started doing this work. It is very difficult for me to describe in words how much the world of tattoos has affected me. I believe it would be impossible to understand this feeling without experiencing it yourself.

Make sure you follow Artem on Instagram for more awesome avant-garde tattoos.



Interview with Artem Koro

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 10th, 2021

A tattoo artist and keen traveller Artem Koro creates incredible tattoo compositions. We caught up with Artem to learn more about his avant-garde tattooing and love for the craft…

I have always been attracted to the trade and have been a tattoo artist for the past six years. I first got tattooed when I was 14 years old and at 28 I realised that I could combine my love of tattoos and travelling the world into one profession. I then set out to become a tattoo artist.

I would define my style as avant-garde. It’s a style that has evolved and continues to evolve. That’s something that is very important to me; it’s important that my style and myself will continue to constantly develop. I don’t believe in staying in one place in terms of style and what I create.

I think it is very important to note that there is always some growth in my art. Development is the root of success as is growing as an artist.

I get inspiration from many aspects of life, including music, movies and places I have visited. I get lot of inspiration from nature, my roots and where I grew up (in the Middle East). For example, a lot of my textures and compositions are inspired by desert areas, Middle Eastern music, patterns on carpets etc. 

Each appointment can take a full day, but the tattoo itself will take between three and six hours maximum. I like a darker atmosphere in my tattoos, and these days I prefer to work with black ink only. I try to perform work with a high contrast so that the tattoo will last for a long time in the best way possible.

I like to design animals that are not seen every day as well as different textures and unusual compositions. I also like to emphasise the aesthetics and flow of the shape of the body.

In the first two months of the pandemic it was very difficult for me to create and it affected my work. But over time I tried to keep doing the things I love in general (not only tattoos), and eventually this blockage passed. I can say I have remained active for the past year which has helped.

I cannot imagine life without tattoos. My life has changed 180 degrees since I started doing this work. It is very difficult for me to describe in words how much the world of tattoos has affected me. I believe it would be impossible to understand this feeling without experiencing it yourself.

Make sure you follow Artem on Instagram for more awesome avant-garde tattoos.



The handpoke tattoos of Mellowpokes

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 03 22nd, 2021

Mellowpokes from Toronto talks to us about how she got into tattooing, why she loves handpoke and tattooing during a pandemic…

How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into it? I’ve been tattooing for three years. I went to OCAD university here in Toronto and studied illustration. After university I always made time for creative projects, but generally found that they didn’t pay enough to actually make a living, so I started doing graphic design. There were parts of it that I enjoyed, but for the most part I didn’t find it very fulfilling. I found a lot of the jobs to be tedious, and often found myself working for large corporations with many different people to please.

I didn’t actually start getting tattoos until I was in my mid-20s, but once I started I got really excited by all the incredible talent in my city. I got a backpiece done by the absolutely incredible Jess Chen and we talked a bit about having both gone to OCAD and afterward doing graphic design out of necessity more than passion.

She suggested I try tattooing. I ended up mentioning this conversation to one of my best friends, Dana, and like a month later she bought me a stick and poke kit. I am so immensely grateful to Jess for pushing me on this path and for giving me a bunch of super helpful advice when I first started. And I’m grateful for Dana who forced me to actually START doing it. I did my first tattoo on Dana, and I think if it weren’t for that push it would’ve taken me a lot longer to actually take that plunge.

What drew you to hand poke tattooing? When I first began tattooing, I didn’t intend for it to become my full-time job. I was interested in learning tattooing, and I thought that the handpoke technique would feel more intuitive and similar to working with a pen. (Turns out I was wrong, and in a lot of ways using a machine is more similar to the act of drawing than handpoking is!) I intended to just try handpoking, and if I liked it, potentially upgrade to machine tattooing.

But, once I started, I fell in love with handpoking, and the quiet and intimate nature of it. I’m generally fairly tech-averse and prefer drawing most of my designs with pencil and paper. I bought an iPad and it took me about six months to actually break it out and start using it. I do intend to introduce machine tattooing to my practice eventually though, just to broaden the scope of what I can achieve!

What inspires your tattoos? I’m inspired by the world around me, although I guess that’s not a particularly interesting answer. I love drawing animals and women. I think when I first started I was really focused on making tattoo designs that looked like tattoos, but now I just tattoo whatever dumb stuff I draw.

One of my favourite exercises that generates a ton of my flash is posting on Instagram asking people what I should draw. I get so many silly submissions and I draw them all quickly, and usually without any references. Those weird moments trying to draw a crocodile from memory ended up making some of my favourite flash designs. 

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? Right now I’m in the process of introducing a tattoo machine to my practice, so I would really like to do more work with the machine. I think it will lend itself nicely to the intuitive looseness in some of my drawings, where poking was more precise and slow.

In terms of subject matter, I want to make sure I don’t get stuck in a niche doing specific things. I love doing dogs and cherubs, and they’re two of my most requested images, but I always want to push myself and expand. I would love to do more larger pieces and more experimental compositions.

Do you prefer working in colour when you handpoke? How does this differ to handpoking black ink? This has two sides. On one hand, I love tattooing in black ink because I find it easier. The ink is hyper-pigmented and the perfect consistency to push into the skin by hand. The ink makes less of a mess and is generally easier to work with. However, I love tattooing in colour because I love the end result.

Coloured ink looks so beautiful in the skin, and introducing colour into a composition gives you so many more options for where to take a design. Colour heals so differently on different skin tones and I love seeing how the colours heal and integrate with people’s bodies. I always love when a client is open to colour, even if it takes a bit longer and is a bit tougher to work with.

Can you tell us about some of your experiences getting tattooed? Do you prefer handpoke or machine tattooing? I love both methods! I think in general handpoke tattoos hurt less, and in general machine tattoos hurt more. There are always exceptions to this (depending on the artist, the design, the placement) and I’ve definitely had poked tattoos that were excruciating and machine tattoos that I barely felt.

There is also a bit of an assumption that handpokes don’t heal well or don’t last, and that machine tattoos heal better, which is also not necessarily the case. It all depends on the artist, the placement, and how you treat the tattoo while it’s healing. Anyways, I love both methods and don’t tend to choose my artists based on what method they use, but rather based on their artwork!

How has COVID affected your tattooing? COVID has been really tough on so many people and industries. We had to shut down in March 2020 for the initial lockdown, and we remained closed for five months. We were able to reopen again in August, but were forced to close for lockdown again in November, and remain closed now. It’s been very difficult.

The Canadian government hasn’t provided much support to small businesses, particularly newer small businesses who don’t have the financial history to qualify for government support. The uncertainty of things adds extra strain (both mentally and financially) since it’s impossible to plan. We have no idea when we will be able to tattoo again at this point. Not to mention that an important part of my job, and one of my favourite parts, is being able to travel and guest in different studios around the world. I had plans to travel to London and Paris to tattoo (literally had flights booked) as well as to the US. None of that happened, and now I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again.

I am trying my best to explore other art forms in my downtime from tattooing, and have been getting back into painting and making merch. At the end of it all, though, I am so grateful for my health and understand that COVID has hit many more people far more directly than it has me. Just want to hammer this point home – please be careful, please wear a mask, please be considerate of others!

Follow Mellowpokes on Instagram for more handpoked tattoos.



The handpoke tattoos of Mellowpokes

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 03 19th, 2021

Mellowpokes from Toronto talks to us about how she got into tattooing, why she love handpoke and tattooing during a pandemic…

How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into it? I’ve been tattooing for three years. I went to OCAD university here in Toronto and studied illustration. After university I always made time for creative projects, but generally found that they didn’t pay enough to actually make a living, so I started doing graphic design. There were parts of it that I enjoyed, but for the most part I didn’t find it very fulfilling. I found a lot of the jobs to be tedious, and often found myself working for large corporations with many different people to please.

I didn’t actually start getting tattoos until I was in my mid-20s, but once I started I got really excited by all the incredible talent in my city. I got a backpiece done by the absolutely incredible Jess Chen and we talked a bit about having both gone to OCAD and afterward doing graphic design out of necessity more than passion.

She suggested I try tattooing. I ended up mentioning this conversation to one of my best friends, Dana, and like a month later she bought me a stick and poke kit. I am so immensely grateful to Jess for pushing me on this path and for giving me a bunch of super helpful advice when I first started. And I’m grateful for Dana who forced me to actually START doing it. I did my first tattoo on Dana, and I think if it weren’t for that push it would’ve taken me a lot longer to actually take that plunge.

What drew you to hand poke tattooing? When I first began tattooing, I didn’t intend for it to become my full-time job. I was interested in learning tattooing, and I thought that the handpoke technique would feel more intuitive and similar to working with a pen. (Turns out I was wrong, and in a lot of ways using a machine is more similar to the act of drawing than handpoking is!) I intended to just try handpoking, and if I liked it, potentially upgrade to machine tattooing.

But, once I started, I fell in love with handpoking, and the quiet and intimate nature of it. I’m generally fairly tech-averse and prefer drawing most of my designs with pencil and paper. I bought an iPad and it took me about six months to actually break it out and start using it. I do intend to introduce machine tattooing to my practice eventually though, just to broaden the scope of what I can achieve!

What inspires your tattoos? I’m inspired by the world around me, although I guess that’s not a particularly interesting answer. I love drawing animals and women. I think when I first started I was really focused on making tattoo designs that looked like tattoos, but now I just tattoo whatever dumb stuff I draw.

One of my favourite exercises that generates a ton of my flash is posting on Instagram asking people what I should draw. I get so many silly submissions and I draw them all quickly, and usually without any references. Those weird moments trying to draw a crocodile from memory ended up making some of my favourite flash designs. 

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? Right now I’m in the process of introducing a tattoo machine to my practice, so I would really like to do more work with the machine. I think it will lend itself nicely to the intuitive looseness in some of my drawings, where poking was more precise and slow.

In terms of subject matter, I want to make sure I don’t get stuck in a niche doing specific things. I love doing dogs and cherubs, and they’re two of my most requested images, but I always want to push myself and expand. I would love to do more larger pieces and more experimental compositions.

Do you prefer working in colour when you handpoke? How does this differ to handpoking black ink? This has two sides. On one hand, I love tattooing in black ink because I find it easier. The ink is hyper-pigmented and the perfect consistency to push into the skin by hand. The ink makes less of a mess and is generally easier to work with. However, I love tattooing in colour because I love the end result.

Coloured ink looks so beautiful in the skin, and introducing colour into a composition gives you so many more options for where to take a design. Colour heals so differently on different skin tones and I love seeing how the colours heal and integrate with people’s bodies. I always love when a client is open to colour, even if it takes a bit longer and is a bit tougher to work with.

Can you tell us about some of your experiences getting tattooed? Do you prefer handpoke or machine tattooing? I love both methods! I think in general handpoke tattoos hurt less, and in general machine tattoos hurt more. There are always exceptions to this (depending on the artist, the design, the placement) and I’ve definitely had poked tattoos that were excruciating and machine tattoos that I barely felt.

There is also a bit of an assumption that handpokes don’t heal well or don’t last, and that machine tattoos heal better, which is also not necessarily the case. It all depends on the artist, the placement, and how you treat the tattoo while it’s healing. Anyways, I love both methods and don’t tend to choose my artists based on what method they use, but rather based on their artwork!

How has COVID affected your tattooing? COVID has been really tough on so many people and industries. We had to shut down in March 2020 for the initial lockdown, and we remained closed for five months. We were able to reopen again in August, but were forced to close for lockdown again in November, and remain closed now. It’s been very difficult.

The Canadian government hasn’t provided much support to small businesses, particularly newer small businesses who don’t have the financial history to qualify for government support. The uncertainty of things adds extra strain (both mentally and financially) since it’s impossible to plan. We have no idea when we will be able to tattoo again at this point. Not to mention that an important part of my job, and one of my favourite parts, is being able to travel and guest in different studios around the world. I had plans to travel to London and Paris to tattoo (literally had flights booked) as well as to the US. None of that happened, and now I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again.

I am trying my best to explore other art forms in my downtime from tattooing, and have been getting back into painting and making merch. At the end of it all, though, I am so grateful for my health and understand that COVID has hit many more people far more directly than it has me. Just want to hammer this point home – please be careful, please wear a mask, please be considerate of others!

Follow Mellowpokes on Instagram for more handpoked tattoos.



Interview with Alberto Lelli

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 03 17th, 2021

25-year-old Alberto Lelli from Italy creates rad traditional tattoos mixed with Italian Futurism and German Bauhaus at Seven Doors Tattoo in Lane, London. We chatted to Alberto about the inspiration behind his pieces and the affects of the pandemic on tattooing...

How long have you been a tattoo artist? I did my first tattoo at 18 so this year it’s my seventh anniversary in the tattoo world. The first thing I did after turning 18 was get a tattoo. I immediately fell in love with this world and started visiting the tattoo studio almost on a daily basis. One year after I finished high-school I started my apprenticeship in the same tattoo shop.

What drew you to the world of tattooing? During high-school I studied at art school. This is where I got a strong education in the history of art and graphics. I took a lot of inspiration from the artistic movements of the 20th century.        

How would you describe your style? My favourite definition of my work is “a contradiction between the past and the future”. Indeed, my style conjugates artistic elements from the Italian Futurism and German Bauhaus. When I started tattooing my first approach was American traditional. I think knowledge of what has been done before you is key to being able to build your own interpretation. I am always studying, learning and trying to find new elements and inspirations.    

Can you tell us about your process, how long does a tattoo typically take? The process  is determined by the size, placement on the body and the amount of work going into the design. I am pretty lucky because most of the time my customers choose pieces from my sketchbook, but obviously if I have to do something custom I need more time to create the design. I’m pretty fast in tattooing and normally my tattoos take two to three hours maximum.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? My favourite subjects are definitely figures of women and men. I really want to do more architecture inspired tattoos in the future, I’ve already done a few and I really enjoyed it. I’m from Bologna and I grew up with the architecture of the city, filled with arcades. This strongly influenced my love for geometrical shapes.

How have you found the pandemic, have you found time to be creative or been feeling blocked? At the beginning it was very bad. I think everyone in the last year has been forced to change their way of life and when you feel forced to do something you can’t be happy and you work is going to reflect that. I have now learnt how to deal with that and actually I’m happy because I have found more time for painting and to do a lot of things that I wasn’t able to before. At the moment for example, I’m experimenting in the field of carpets and rug design.

What does tattooing mean to you and what does it mean to not be tattooing? Tattooing is my life and I really miss it. At the moment I’m not working at all in London as everything is closed due to national lockdown. I also miss travelling a lot and that is a really important part of my job. I hope that after the vaccine has been administered to enough people and the crisis has been contained we will slowly go back to normality.

Follow Alberto on Instagram for more traditional style tattoos.



The growing bodies of Lauren Hepple

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 03 3rd, 2021

Lauren Hepple of String of Hearts Tattoo in Southsea shares her love for cat tattoos and the inspiration behind her ‘growing bodies’ tattoo series

Photograph taken by Bradley Salmon

How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into the industry? I have been tattooing for around three years now. Tattooing was always something I wanted to do but after being discouraged at school from looking into it seriously as a career, I moved onto other arts practices and worked in textiles briefly. After a few months of this, I saw a local studio advertising that they were looking for apprentices. I sent my portfolio in and that’s where it all started.

What does tattooing mean to you? Tattooing is a big creative outlet for me. Even while I can still draw at home, creating a piece for someone and bonding over the experience is very fulfilling. It is also a medium unlike anything else. It is constantly evolving and changing and with each tattoo I do I get new opportunities to push myself to create the best work I can. It’s a huge motivation to be able to see myself grow as an artist.

Outside of my personal work, tattooing is all about the community. I have been missing my clients and seeing other artists. Over the last year especially, even while we haven’t been able to see each other in person, the support has been overwhelming.

How would you describe your style? I always use the term illustrative to describe my work. It has strong roots in printmaking which is where the off registration colour comes from. 

Where do you get your inspiration? I tend to separate my work into two categories of things that are full of fun such as the fruit cats or animals, and then the work that focuses on the growing bodies – and the inspiration comes from different places for these.

The cats are created when I’m in a good mood and am not too stressed. I’m always influenced by what I scroll past on social media – and an idea will usually stick from there and I have to make it into a cute illustration.

The bodies are created from days I don’t feel so great and am feeling the pressures of the world around me. They’re a great way to get emotion down onto paper. They help me work through anything that’s bothering me and having them resonate with other people feeling a similar way is what made me keep creating this work. 

We love your cat tattoos, are they your favourite animal to tattoo? Cats are always my favourite animal to tattoo – not that that means I don’t enjoy others, but their round faces always make me smile so much. Along with the fact that I do a lot of these pieces to look like my clients cats – hearing their love for their animals as the most wholesome thing. 

What else do you love tattooing? I love tattooing anything with a little note of love to their owners on them. This could be on illustrations of hands or on little envelopes. I love hearing what they mean to my clients – each one is so unique. 

Your drawings and tattoos of the ‘bloom girls’ share a message of self-love and growth, how does this resonate with you? Is this something you like to talk about and share with others? I first created one of the growing bodies after hurting myself skating and it meant I couldn’t do something I loved for a long while. I found that super tough so had to channel this energy into something else. After creating this first one, it resonated with a lot of people – and they expressed to me that it really showed what they were going through. This connection is a huge driving force for me when creating the growing bodies. These have now moved from encapsulating how others and I were feeling emotionally, to expressing the journey we had been on and the progress we are still making.

To me, the phrase ‘still growing’ is a constant reminder that I am always on a journey with self-love, and it’s not an overnight achievement or something to be ticked off a list. It’s a constant practice. 

During this time I also wanted to see more representation of bodies that looked like me in this industry, and when changing how the bodies looked, I had input from others wanting to see more of these illustrations that represented them. What these illustrations mean to others is what keeps me creating them. I have drawn pieces to specifically look like clients and being part of their self love process is something I am so grateful for.

For me, when I create these they are a time of focus for me. I am an anxious person and sitting focusing on these creations of self-love, stop me spiralling. Literally writing ‘I am enough’ or ‘watch me grow’ stops me being so hard to myself, and taking a beat to think what’s actually going on right now and what I can make manageable.

Things might be tough but that’s okay, I’ll get through it.  

Can you tell us about your own tattoos, have these helped you to see your body differently? My tattoos make me feel more at home in my own body. I don’t have many where the design has any hidden meaning, but so many are done by friends, and always take me back to a positive moment in time.

My work focuses so much on self-love and self-positivity – I feel the artwork that is on me is part of my process in being more comfortable with myself. Having artwork on me that makes me feel strong always helps on days when I am struggling with my body image. 

Follow Lauren on Instagram for more gorgeous growing bodies tattoos.



Sextiles: Molly Cavell

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 02 26th, 2021

Molly Cavell is an erotic feminist artist based in Leeds where she creates stunningly colourful and detailed textile art, ranging from sex themed rugs to plush vaginas and sex toys. We caught up with Molly to discuss her personal tattoo collection, her inspiration and what drew her to creating sex inspired art…

Tell us about your artistic journey, how did you first get into textiles and how did you come to create your business? My mum first taught me how to use a sewing machine whilst I was in high school and I absolutely adored it, but never stuck with it. It wasn’t until my foundation course and then university that I properly got into textiles as a medium. I just adore creating things with my hands and find sewing beyond therapeutic. Being such an impatient person, it’s taught me patience and allowed me to take that time out for myself and just sit and listen to music or be at one with myself and create art.

From sewing I then started to get into punch needling. Amy Hastings on Instagram was the first account I saw creating rugs and I became obsessed (her work is beyond beautiful). However, I still wanted to create art by hand as the process of hand work is really important to me, through this process I then discovered punch needling which is now my main way in which to create work.

As for my business, this came about accidentally to be honest, I first created my art account during my foundation course about three years ago. I made this account as a way to document my art and in no way thought I would ever make money from my art let alone grow a following. As I kept on posting my art the account slowly grew momentum and eventually, I got a message requesting a commission. This is mad to think but this only happened at the end of 2019 so just over a year ago and from then I have started selling my work. My dream goal is to become a freelance artist, so fingers crossed I can get this going in 2021.  

What made you want to create sex/masturbation/pleasure/genital diversity inspired work? Since high school I’ve been creating feminist art, however it wasn’t until my A-levels that I began looking at sex and masturbation. For me personally, I have always been a really open person in regards to talking about sex and masturbation. I just did not care, I’m a very sexual person so why should I hide that when it’s something I love? I soon realised though that with owning your sexuality comes a lot of backlash. I’ve had creepy men assume that just because I talk openly about these things it must mean I automatically want to have sex with them. I’ve had people make pre-assumptions about me, I’ve been called a ‘slag’ and all kinds of sexist names, all because I’m not embarrassed to say I love all things sex.

Creating my art is all about being true to myself and saying a huge fuck you to all the misogynists that expect a woman to act a certain way, cause news flash hun, women are just as, if not, more powerful than you. Why should women have to sit at home like I did when I was younger and think my labia are wrong, that I have to act this way, I should orgasm through penetration alone and I can’t express my sexuality because I’ll be shunned etc? It’s just disgusting that women feel that way and have for so long.

My art is all about empowering and educating women and it’s also been a personal self-love journey too. My work is really for all women (myself included) encouraging us to own that sexual power! 

What else inspires you, your art and designs? Women have always been at the forefront of what inspires me, not only in regard to my artwork but in my personal life as well. Female artists that create work surrounding their sexuality have always drawn me in. The fact that when I was in school, boys could freely have sex and talk about it openly but a girl doing the same was shameful. To then come across these powerful women that were essentially saying ‘fuck you’ to a system that told them to behave a certain way was amazing to me. Womanhood and the coming together of all women, whether they’re cis, trans, white, woc, disabled, working class etc. is what really inspires me and my work. 

The power sexually rebellious women exude is something I really try to bring into my own work as I think it’s so important for other females to know they can exert that same power.

How important is feminism within your life? Feminism to me is everything and is beyond important to me in everyday life. I have seen so many women from my mum to my closet friends experience struggles, backlash, and abuse at the hands of patriarchy and there is nothing more important than standing up against it. I speak from the position of a very privileged person, I am a cis white femme woman and although I am working class, I am still very privileged compared to other women, so I feel its so important for me to knowledge that and support and uplift the voices of those who do not have this privilege.

Feminism is extremely important to every aspect of my life especially my art. 

Feminism is all about equality and not just between women and men, it’s about trans women and women of colour having equal opportunities and rights as white cis women. It’s about non-binary folk and all those on the gender and sexuality spectrum having equality.

We love that your art and designs are so strongly empowering, do you intend to help educate your followers on female sexual liberation? I think my work started as more of a reassurance for myself more than anything. I used to be a very shy and quiet child and as I grew up and discovered that I was a very sexual person. I started creating art to express that and kind of input the message that ‘yeah you are completely normal and it’s okay to express yourself this way’.

My art has given me so much more confidence. When I started posting on my Instagram account and explaining my own personal experiences about things such as labia shaming and masturbation and the ignorance. I experienced more and more women came forward and began messaging me with similar experiences and then it’s just become this creative outlet for me to empower and validate myself and also educate and (hopefully) liberate other women. I absolutely adore this aspect of my work and it still blows my mind that people actually enjoy and connect with the art I make. 

Can you tell us about your personal tattoo collection, do your tattoos inspire your work at all? I only have 15 tattoos at the moment, but I plan on covering my whole body in them. I got my first tattoo at 18 and god its such a bad tattoo but we move! Most of my tattoos are done by completely different artists, I have all sorts of different styles on me, however my most recent piece is more traditional style, and this is something I want to stick with going forward. If I’m completely honest my current tattoos don’t have much connection to my art and I don’t take my tattoos too seriously. I feel like some people want really meaningful tattoos (which is so lovely) but for me it’s not about that it’s more about the art side of them. Most of them are animals – I got my flying pig because pigs are my favourite animal, the two headed lady because I saw her on a flash sheet and fell in love with her and

I am starting to get more meaningful tattoos though, the most recent ones I got was the words ‘feminist killjoy’ above my knee because that is exactly what I am! I have a Venus symbol on my arm with plans to get ‘no terfs no Tories’ above my opposite knee. I want my body to reflect my political beliefs as I’m a VERY political person but also displaying my genuine love for art at the same time. I’m really not precious about the tattoos I get, most of the time if I see a design or a flash that I love as an artwork then I’ll get it tattooed.

Tattoos for me are self-expression and make me feel literally about 100 times more confident in my skin and I cannot wait to be covered head to toe in them. 

Do you have a particular design you want to create more of? At the moment I am enjoying creating my sex scene work. I started making work about sex toys in order to normalise them and their use and slowly that developed into me actually showing scenes of sexual nature displaying masturbation, pegging scenes, oral sex etc. I’m really loving how it’s going. I don’t think too far into the future about where my work is going. I just think the best things develop and grow naturally so I’ll continue creating this work until I feel another direction or concept would be exciting to explore! So, expect a lot more sex scene rugs! 

Do you have any upcoming plans or collaborations you want to share with us? My plans for the rest of the year are to hopefully get my website up and running and I’m going to be bringing back my vulva cushion commissions very soon which I am so excited about! I graduate from university this year and I’m so excited to be able to put all my focus on building up my business and hopefully going freelance! I have a few collaborations coming up with some amazing artists that I can’t wait to share, mainly creating pieces to raise money for various LGBTQ+ charities and individuals, so keep an eye out on my Instagram for the details of these bitzz! 

Make sure to follow Molly on Instagram and check out her shop.

WordsLucy Edwards, 21-year-old tattooed freelance writer, cat mum and trying-new-things enthusiast. You’ll most likely find Lucy posting about mental health awareness and self-acceptance on her Instagram.



Cuteness overload with Little Rach

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 02 16th, 2021

Rachel (Little Rach) tattoos at Luck and Love Tattoo in Darlington, UK where she creates, bright, bold and super cute tattoos. We chatted to Rachel about her style, inspirations and how she’s been spreading a little kindness during lockdown…

How long have you been a tattoo artist? I started my apprenticeship in 2016, so just over four years.

What drew you to the world of tattooing? I was always attracted to the alternative from a young age, noticing people with bright hair, piercings and tattoos. When I first started listening to heavier music as a teen, a lot of the bands I listened to had tattoos and I just thought it was so cool! As I got older and started getting tattooed myself I just loved everything about it.

I would buy tattoo magazines with my partner and we would sit and redraw our favourite designs from them for fun. I knew it was something I really wanted to get into.

I loved how tattoos looked but also the feeling it gave me to take ownership of my body and my choices in life (which at the time felt quite rebellious).

What inspires your work? I really like to collect vintage kitsch ornaments and kawaii toys, so I’m often inspired by things I surround myself with. I have always loved Sanrio characters and that look of cute animals or inanimate objects with big sparkly eyes. Sometimes I’m just inspired by a colour I see and I want to use it in a design.

How would you describe your style? I always struggle to answer this question because I find it difficult to say where I fit in, in terms of style. I guess cute and colourful with bold lines and a bit of sparkle. It developed from being taught how to tattoo in my apprenticeship.

I was taught by Kenny Ackerman who specialises in realism, so I learned colour blending techniques and the impact of a nice white highlight to make a tattoo pop. I was also taught by Ben Roberts who showed me the importance of clean solid line work and bold colour, so I have combined elements of the two techniques to come up with my style.

Has your style developed over time? My style has definitely developed over time. At the moment I’m really enjoying stripping my tattoos back – focusing on a solid line and saturated colour to make the design stand out on the skin. I am enjoying using a different colour palette – I have been using nice bright warm colours but contrasting them with more muted tones to give them a bit of a vintage feel.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I love tattooing things with faces that wouldn’t normally have a face – stick a cute pair of eyes and a smile on a banana and I’m happy! Anything cute and colourful I love to do. I am also a HUGE fan of drag, so anything drag related I am always keen to do and would love to do more! It’s so much fun.

How have you found the pandemic, have you found time to be creative or been feeling blocked? The pandemic has been really tough. As someone who lives with anxiety and depression, it has been difficult for me to keep motivated and inspired at times. There have been times where I have had creative block for months and it becomes frustrating. I start to doubt my abilities and feel really low.

That being said, the lockdowns have given me the opportunity to explore my work in different ways, and come up with ideas that aren’t solely focused on tattooing or being a tattoo-able design. I guess being unable to tattoo takes the pressure off my art having to then be translated to a tattoo design – it can be anything it wants to be.

I’ve taken to drawing positive/inspiring messages within my art that represent things that have helped my mental health experience, trying to focus on gratitude and putting kindness into the world. 

What does tattooing mean to you and what does it mean to not be tattooing? Tattooing means the world to me. I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to tattoo and I’m so fortunate for the life it has given me. I have been so lucky to have such supportive people in my life who have encouraged me from the get go. I have met so many wonderful people, artists and clients, and it still blows my mind that people want to wear my artwork on their skin forever, I will never take that trust for granted.

Not being able to tattoo at the moment has been hard. Me and my partner, Ben Roberts, have our own private studio, so it has taken away a big chunk of our lifestyle. We love tattooing and everything about it, we owe everything we have and everything we do to tattooing. We miss being able to travel and see our pals across the UK, guesting in studios and doing conventions, and financially it is a worry as we both rely on tattooing for our income.

We are fortunate that we have people who are really supportive of our work and have bought prints and other bits and bobs from us, it really does make a difference and I encourage everyone to support small businesses and the arts during this tough time. I look forward to the day when there are no more lockdowns and I’m allowed to my give my clients a brew and a biscuit again when they come in the studio. 

Make sure to follow Little Rach on Instagram for more cute tattoos and artwork.



Interview with tattoo artist Sonia Cash

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 02 11th, 2021

If you love traditional tattoos and pinups Sonia is the tattooer for you. Sonia Cash works at Berlin Ink in Berlin, in this interview we discover where her love for tattooing started…

How long have you been tattooing? I’ve been tattooing for eight years now. From time to time I take a break for a few month to gather new motivation and inspiration. I don’t like it when my work gets too monotonous.

What drew you to the tattoo world and how did you get into it? I have roots in the subculture of punk, hardcore and psychobilly. 20 years ago most tattooed people came from there. That’s why tattoos have always had a big part in my life. I always thought they were very beautiful, cool and outstanding. Also because tattoos weren’t for fashion and more about making a statement.

I got my first tattoo when I was 15 and I totally fell in love with this kind of art. Then I started to get tattooed more and get to know more people from the industry, which was very small and snobby back then in Israel. After some years I decided to follow my dream and with help from my tattooer friends I started to learn tattooing – that’s how I became a tattooer. Since I was young I’ve loved art and I always dreamt of having a job where I could spread my art and make people feel pretty.

What inspires your work and how would you describe your style? I get inspired a lot by vintage photography, pinup drawings, athletes, body positivity and other tattooers like; Angelique Houtkamp, Paul Dobleman, Marie Sena, Jessica O, Olivia Olivier, Matthew Huston, Andrea Giulimondi and many many more!

What do you love to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I love to tattoo lady faces, tattooed and non-tattooed pinups in different positions and flowers. I’m always happy to do more and more of them.

Where do you see your art in the future? On people all around the world and also in their houses or work places.

How has the pandemic affected you and your tattooing? The COVID-19 situation affected me in good ways and bad. Good because I became more creative and fell in love with drawing again. Also good because it made me accept a lot of situations that are not under my control. It has been bad because I can’t travel as much to see my family, friends and clients in Israel like I did last year.

Follow Sonia on Instagram for more traditional style tattoos.



Tattoo stories: Caroline

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 02 2nd, 2021

At Things&Ink we’re a curious bunch – we want to know about your tattoos. Why did you get that design? Why that artist? Tell us EVERYTHING! So we’re introducing our tattoo stories series, as a way to get to know you all better (and be nosy). First up is Caroline, a youth worker and creator of morbid art from Kent, UK sharing her tattoo story…

How old were you when you got your first tattoo, what was it and do you still like it? I was 18 years old and living in Eastbourne when I had a slightly abstract galaxy tattooed on my forearm. I am slowly blasting over that arm with blown up, large scale finger prints; but it’s still mostly visible at the moment. It’s not that I dislike the tattoo, it was done well and even 15 years later the white highlights have held up. I suppose it just doesn’t serve me any more. I’m not particularly emotionally attached to it so won’t be sad when it’s not visible. 

What made you want to get tattooed? Was there a person or experience? I didn’t know anyone with tattoos when I was growing up. My family were very middle class and very anti-tattoo and modification, so I didn’t really know tattooing existed until I noticed it on television and occasionally on strangers in the street. I remember noticing a man in the supermarket with a tribal sleeve and feeling fascinated.

Later, I started drawing on my hands and arms in school during lessons, and trying to make it as intricate as possible. My teen subculture was definitely goth, and we got our first internet ready computer when I was 12 years old, so as soon as that happened I was planning various body suits and hundreds of piercings. Perusing BMEzine became a daily ritual for me and it just escalated from there. 

Can you tell us about your tattoo collection, any favourite pieces/artists or experiences?The vast majority of my tattooing has been done by artists at Dead Slow in Brighton, and under its previous ownership as Nine. The artist who has done more of my work than anyone else is Jack Applegate, and I love working with him because it feels very collaborative and we’ve forged a great friendship. The way he works feels organic and painterly, which requires a lot of trust and communication. Last year he finished a leg piece on my right leg from ankle to hip inspired by Fenrir and Jormungandr of Norse mythology. He also finished my throat / chest piece which is hard to describe, but is essentially a Black Metal inspired necklace. Those two pieces have a special place in my heart. 

I’ve also really enjoyed being tattooed by Kirsty Simpson at Dead Slow. Once again I’ve found a real friend in Kirsty which has made the tattooing of my belly very comfortable, very professional, and almost emotional. I don’t think I’d want anyone else working on that part of my body. Knowing that Kirsty is very accepting, and appreciative of fat bodies has made the tattooing of this part of my body pretty enjoyable in a lot of ways. We have fun, we build each other up, and it all lends itself to a very warm and comfortable endeavour. 

Can you tell us about your latest tattoo and the story behind it? I have two ongoing projects, one with Kirsty Simpson and one with Jack Applegate. Jack is tattooing two satanic goats on my bum! At the time of writing, I have an appointment with Kirsty coming up to finish the new tattoo on my belly apron. I did the initial design myself, and it is a heavy black script of the word “Sanctuary”, and Kirsty has added her own flair to it. 

As a fat woman my stomach has often been the epicentre of my self-loathing, and the main target of abuse and fatphobia from others. At the age of 33 I decided that now was the time to do something drastic to reclaim it, embrace it, and start enjoying it. The fact my belly hangs and protrudes further than any other part of me, and yet it was bare and I’d tried so hard to ignore it, made it seem really stupid that I wasn’t tattooing it like the rest of my body.

‘Sanctuary’ came to mind as the perfect word to emblazon across it considering how horrifically I had viewed my body, particularly this part of it. Slowly I am coming to realise that my belly (and the rest of me) in all its softness is a sanctuary for friends, family, and lovers.

Hopefully over time and through actions like this, it will feel like my own sanctuary too. 

Do your tattoos help you to view your body differently? Over time tattooing has helped me reclaim my body, embrace and enjoy it. Through my whole life, from the age of five I have faced fatphobic bullying and abuse. Consistently I have been told that my body is wrong and incorrect, including what I should wear to hide it, what I should do to minimise it, what I should do to stop it getting “worse”, and what is and isn’t appropriate for my body to look like as a woman.

Tattooing wasn’t a rebellion, so much as it was a loving act.

The more tattooed I become, the less ashamed I am and the more I love my flesh. The decisions are solely mine, and I do not listen to anyone else in terms of what goes on my body. Despite the negative reactions I get, I am more and more comfortable in my skin since modifying it. I can wear a strappy top, shorts, or crop top and feel comfortable in a way I never did before modifying my body in a way that pleases me. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days, because I really do, but those bad days are no longer every day. 

What sorts of reactions do your tattoos get? The more tattooed I become, the more polarised reactions seem to be. I get more positive reactions than I did five years ago, with some people telling me that seeing me makes them feel more seen and embracing of themselves. People can be very kind and have genuinely polite curiosity. It can be refreshing to engage with someone well-meaning. My social circle is very small, and despite being the odd one out aesthetically, no one really acknowledges or talks about my tattooing.

My family seem to have reached a point where they just don’t pass comment anymore, when previously they had been quite negative. In my line of work it actually gives me a positive boost quite often, and young people I work with seem to respond well to me not looking like their teachers or social workers. I hope it helps them to see that you can be a professional and still look the way you like to look, and express yourself. 

Sadly, I also get more intensely negative reactions than I used to before. I face daily abuse when I leave the house. There is something about being fat, tattooed, and femme that makes some people think they can treat me like dirt. Perhaps it’s a trio of characteristics that makes people really angry. Walking my dog down the road will almost always lead to someone (or multiple people) calling me horrific names as they walk or drive past. I have had food thrown at me from moving vehicles, and I am regularly heckled in supermarkets and shops. On a few occasions I have been filmed without my permission and my image posted on social media.

It’s led to me isolating myself in a lot of ways, and some days I find it hard to walk out the front door. Most people tell me that I come across as confident and self-assured, and that I don’t appear to care what others think of me. More often than not I force myself to go about my day, refuse to react (usually because it doesn’t feel safe to do so), pretend I don’t notice. I don’t believe there is an easy solution to this. If I react I potentially put myself in harm’s way, and if I don’t maybe those people feel like they are vindicated in their nastiness. I really don’t know if it’s being fat or heavily tattooed that angers people the most. 

Thank you Caroline for sharing your story with us. Get in touch if you’d like to be part of our tattoo stories series.
















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