Kindness – a tattoo

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 01 25th, 2020

Editor, Rosalie shares the story of her most meaningful tattoo yet. 

What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness for me means rejoining a weekly yoga class as a way to enjoy movement without seeing it as a punishment, something that I had been doing for way too long. It means starting counselling and commiting to it for almost a year. Kindness is turning my back on years of dieting and self hate in order to learn to be self compassionate and love my authentic self.

My yoga class begins and ends with a quiet moment of gratitude in a seated, comfortable cross legged position. The way I cross my legs or place my feet together, depending on how I am feeling that days, means my left ankle is always visible to me especially when I am bowing my head on my prayer-formed hands in thanks to my teacher and my body.

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My yoga teacher encourages us to choose an intention for the class, a word, thought or feeling to carry with us while we stretch and move but also for the week ahead. The word I always settle on is kindness. Not only to help me be kind to my body in the moments when I move through our sun salutations and flows, but also as I begin to look around the room and compare my yoga poses and ability to those around me in the village hall where we practise. My chosen intention is also for and towards myself always, whether I am at work or home and more importantly to those around me too.

I wanted to commemorate how far I had come, the positive changes I have made and my progress with the best way I know how – a tattoo. I already had the perfect gap on my left ankle, and an artist in mind who specialises in fine line work.

The artists at Francis Street Tattoo in Leicester have always been warm and kind to me and Ellie-Mae was no different. She helped make the whole experience so positive and she is super gentle, which is always nice. It was as if the ink, the tattoo machine and artist were all working together to pour kindness into my skin. To add power and meaning into a word that had come to be so significant to me. 

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Now settled in and healed, my kindness tattoo pokes out at me at the end and beginning of my class or when I practise at home. It is visible below the cuffs of my  jeans and my favourite dungarees, as a constant and strong reminder of my intention, the person I am and can be, as well as a promise to myself and others. The old English script signifies how far I have come, my history alongside the important work I am continuing to do with my mental health but also how far I have to go.

Most of my tattoos have no real meaning but this one makes up for them all.



Interview with Abbie Johnston

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 01 22nd, 2020

Down a sheltered side street dotted with little coffee shops and small businesses sits Studio 58 in Carlisle, Cumbria. It is here in this quaint little part of the city that tattoo artist Abbie Johnston creates stunning blackwork tattoos. Her work often features a dark or spooky twist on nature and animals; she has also ventured further into the realm of witchcraft inspired tattoos, so many of her designs have a generally witchy feel to them.

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‘Witchy tattoos’ can be anything from a bubbling cauldron to a simple sage bundle and they are becoming increasingly popular. You don’t have to be a witch to get a witchcraft inspired tattoo and while to many people they may have great meaning, to others the aesthetic is simply just really appreciated. That’s what makes Abbie’s more witchy designs so wonderful to me, they appeal to so many people aesthetically and they celebrate the craft at the same time. As a practicing Wiccan myself and a lover of all things spooky It’s hard not to love Abbie’s designs alongside her respect and admiration for the world of witchcraft.

I decided to chat a bit more with Abbie about her career, artistic influences and her opinions on witchcraft and Wicca in both her work and her personal life too…

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How long have you been tattooing and what led to you becoming a tattoo artist? I’ve been tattooing for five years now. I’ve been interested in tattooing since my early teens but never really thought I’d get into it due to how hard the industry is to break into. I decided to study illustration at university first and build my drawing skills and then I just went for an apprenticeship and got it! I was quite lucky in terms of getting into tattooing but at the same time I worked my ass off.

Where do you get your inspiration from and what influences you? I’m heavily inspired by nature. I grew up on a little farm, so I was surrounded by woodlands and wild animals which have always fascinated me and I think it’s just translated into my work. I also love scouring charity shops for books on birds, animals and flowers because they give me endless inspiration.

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How would you define your style? I always find that quite hard to answer, I’d say dot work blackwork with a gothic illustrative twist

What is your favourite subject to tattoo? Definitely birds, I don’t even know why I just have some weird connection to them, I’m a bit of a crazy bird lady.

How did you become interested in creating witchcraft inspired tattoos? What are your thoughts on them and their popularity? I just find the whole subject matter fascinating, I have a lot of books on witchcraft and Wicca and it just crept slowly into my drawings. I love the way it translates and can transform a cute subject matter into something more dark and interesting. I also really love the way it’s becoming more popular in tattooing; people are getting interested in it and being influenced by it just like me. Today’s society is a lot more accepting and I think this has helped allow people to become more confident in expressing themselves.

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Do you have any personal interest in witchcraft or Wicca that feeds into your work? I wouldn’t consider myself a witch or a Wiccan but I do get a lot of inspiration from it, the way I dress, the things I like. I just love how connected the whole subject is to nature which is the main reason I was drawn to it. I know a lot about it but there’s a lot more out there to learn and draw inspiration from.

What has been your favourite witchcraft inspired tattoo to design and why I loved doing a piece which was essentially a woodland witch gang, incorporating my love of animals and spookiness my two favourite things to do!

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Do you have any projects, upcoming guest spots or conventions you can tell us about? This year I’ll be working at Big North Tattoo Show in Newcastle and Tatcon Blackpool so far, with some potential other spots to be announced! I’m also currently selling prints to raise money for Badger Trust UK!

Words: Lucy Edwards, a 20-year-old tattooed university student, cat mum and trying-new-things enthusiast. You’ll most likely find Lucy posting about mental health awareness and self-acceptance on her Instagram.

Photo of Abbie: Korin Thomson



Plant-based living with Bettina

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 01 13th, 2020

We absolutely adore Bettina Campolucci Bordi, she’s a plant-based/free-from chef who has a wonderful collection of tattoos. We sat down to have a chat with her about her fave meals, post-tattoo treats and the therapeutic buzz of the tattoo needle… 

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Bettina, we adore your Insta feed (check it out @bettinas_kitchen). It provides us with such gorgeous food inspo… What made you fall in love with food and decide to follow it as a career? Food has always been a lifelong passion of mine since I was little. Luckily, I stumbled across hosting retreats and found a way to make my dream of cooking as a career a reality. Everything kinda fell into place and the rest is history. I am very lucky that my passion is my actual job!

We love the little peeks of tattoos in your photos, can you tell us about the designs you have on your body?  I have my butterflies that were done by an artist in Malaga – my “believe” was done in Barcelona for my 27th birthday. I have a big arm tattoo by an amazing Icelandic artist based in Barcelona called Jonpall, and my latest big piece of the Goddess Kali on my left hand-side shoulder is by a Balinese artist! I also have some more smaller hidden ones…

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Are there any that have special significance? Any food related? All of them have significance and were done during transitional periods of my life. Rather than food related, I would say that they are life related

How do you find the tattoo process? I find it therapeutic and almost like going into a zone. I think anyone who gets them can relate. Some of my tattoos took me years to decide and design, and you get into a special head zone, when it comes to having them finally done. The design process, finding the artist, connecting with your piece and then the execution or the creation process is magical. I feel like I go into a trance during, then when it’s done you kind of come out of it. Once the piece is done I go through a bit of honeymoon period with my piece until it becomes part of you and your journey.

Do you have any special meals you eat before?  I wish I could say yes but I tend to eat less. Lots of water, no alcohol and good sleep beforehand.

Or any that aid in the recovery/healing process?  I love little chocolate treats! There are plenty of recipe ideas in my book [Happy Food], great to batch make before and pull out of the freezer when treats are needed!

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What’s your favourite meal? Why? A curry, there is something extremely comforting about a curry. It’s like a warm hug.

What have you got planned for the new year? I am in Costa Rica right now, and will be in Bali soon. I am contemplating getting another tattoo but I am not sure yet! And The 7 Day Vegan Challenge [published by Hardie Grant], my second book, is out now! Exciting.

Bettina’s book is out now



Tattoo politics: if I could turn back time…

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 01 8th, 2020

Perhaps you’ve fallen out with the artist, maybe they moved away or it was badly executed, but is it ever, really, okay, to get another tattooer to complete someone else’s work?

This feature was written by Alice Snape, and originally published in Total Tattoo, September 2019.

ALICE BACK BEFORE

I look at my back in the mirror. I try not to regret the huge tattoo that travels from my neck right down to my bum. That butterfly lady now looks at me, mocking. I wish I could rewind to that time, pre tattoo, when my back was bare. Tell myself to wait. The tattoo reminds me of the tattoo artist I would rather forget. But I can’t forget, whose hands my tattoo is by, the hours I spent under his needle, and how I felt bullied into getting it in the first place.

I started getting tattooed when I was 22, later than most, I was always overthinking, worrying about what I wanted, where it should go, and who should do it. Since I started writing about tattoos, apparently I have become an expert on them – I have presented documentaries, I even edited a tattoo magazine  – yet I still made a mistake. The advice I gave to others, I didn’t follow myself. The back is that huge piece of canvas that shouldn’t be wasted – or so I tell people. It is prime real estate for a custom piece of art by a tattoo artist that you love, whose work you will forever wear with pride.

However, somehow a quick chat about possible ideas with tattoo artist Matthew Gordon accelerated at a rapid pace and I was booked in for a backpiece. I travelled all the way to Berlin for my first session. An epic eight hours of linework, travelling back on the plane was agony. And something about the whole experience didn’t feel right. I went with it anyway, ignoring that nagging feeling in my stomach. But then every time he messaged about a follow-up appointment, I felt trapped. I couldn’t bear to spend even an hour being tattooed by him. Knowing what he had said about other girls’ bodies while in my presence, talking about their “saggy tits” while he tattooed my bum. I felt vulnerable and exposed. It made me wonder what he might be saying to other people about my body…

It got to the point where we were no longer speaking, due to a couple of antagonistic emails that made me no longer feel comfortable with the situation. I’d had a total of three sessions with him, and although the linework was mostly done and the shading started, it was nowhere near complete. That huge unfinished tattoo haunted me for years. At times I could forget it was there. But then I’d catch a glimpse while at the gym or naked as I stepped out of the shower. The tattoo I was supposed to love the most was mocking me.

At times I could forget it was there. But then I’d catch a glimpse while at the gym or naked as I stepped out of the shower. The tattoo I was supposed to love the most was mocking me.

So I called on my friend Google. I wanted to know the politics, is it okay to get a tattoo finished by someone else? I typed in: “getting a tattoo finished by another artist” and immediately fell down a Reddit hole, then stumbled across a film, with different tattooists talking about the “tattooist’s moral code”. “For me, it’s disrespectful to the artist,” said tattooist Jess Yen. “Out of respect, I don’t like to finish someone’s work.” And Phil Garcia agrees that you must get permission from the tattoo artist who started it. “A tattoo artist puts their heart and soul into it, and if someone else finishes it, it’s just fucked up.”

So at first, I considered someone else finishing my back with trepidation. I know that tattoo artists have a code, one that can be extremely intimidating for the customer. But a year or so after I first started the journey, tattoo artist Antony Flemming offered to finish it for me and we did a couple of sessions. He fixed her flyaway hair and added some colour to the monarch butterflies, but my heart or my head weren’t in it anymore. But since Antony did that session, I have been mulling over the issue: who owns the tattoo? And is it really okay for someone else to finish a piece started by the hand of another?

“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,” says Antony, reassuringly. “I’ve been there too with my backpiece. Unfortunately, I ended up feeling incredibly uncomfortable getting tattooed by the artist. A few different things happened and I didn’t really want to get it finished by them. It’s a real shame as the tattoo is beautiful – and it’s something I was so excited about at the start – but now I really don’t like talking about it. To the point where I’ve been recently thinking about getting it blasted over. It goes to show that actually your artist plays a huge role in the tattoo, even after it’s finished. It’s made me take extra care in how I treat my customers and also how I can make the experience the best it can be.”

I have sought comfort that others have been there too – started huge tattoos by someone they perhaps wish they hadn’t. Tattoo artist Myra Brodksy started getting tattooed by Matthew Gordon too, in Berlin in 2015. She had ten sessions with him but stopped getting tattooed for various reasons. “He moved to Birmingham after my tenth session. My back piece was halfway done then. I did not know he was planning on moving and he never told me when we started. Of course, I was not ready to travel to Birmingham to get tattooed. He didn’t even stay there for long. A few months later he moved to California, then to France. It was literally impossible to get the tattoo finished by him. In the beginning, he was very nice to me. But after a couple of sessions he turned into a miserable nervous wreck. While I was getting tattooed I listened to his problems and soon he would take things out on me.” Myra still likes the design and placement of the piece, but is now looking for someone else to finish it for her.

While I was getting tattooed by Dolly at No Friends Tattoo Club in Brighton the other week, she told me she too had to stop a huge back piece after just two sessions. “[The tattooist] started it four years ago,” she told me. “Everything was okay during the first session, but during the second, he climbed on top of me and tried to finger me while he was tattooing me. I yelled at him, gave him no money, left and cried. Now every time I look at it, it makes me angry. I went to him to get his best work, I didn’t get that as he was clearly distracted. I work in the industry, so I am lucky I have tattooer friends who will finish it for me.” She advises anyone in this position to seek out someone else to finish the piece – even if there is only one more session to go. “If I am taking on someone’s work, I always ask why,” continues Dolly. “You can change your perspective on a tattoo if you work with a new tattooist to help you reclaim it. It’s like going back to a city that holds bad memories. If someone came to me with an unfinished tattoo that holds bad feelings, I’d go the extra mile to try to change that for them. It should never feel like it’s your privilege to get tattooed by someone.”

What Dolly said really got me thinking. As customers, we’re often made to feel that the tattoo artist’s vision is sacred, that it would be sacrilege to get someone else to take over. But where does our own bodily autonomy count in that? After all, it is a tattoo on a body – your body. A tattoo that is paid for by you. “At first, I was apprehensive [about working on tattoos by other people] because I had a really traditional apprenticeship and was taught that you should never touch someone else’s work,” Guen Douglas, of Taiko Gallery in Berlin, told me when I asked her about this dilemma. “But the more I thought about body autonomy, I realised that no one owns the tattoo on the body of the client but the client. If you buy a beautiful expensive handmade vase and decide to doodle all over it, take chips out of it or just smash it, the ceramicist is allowed to be sad that you ruined his or her artwork. But ultimately it has been paid for and the object belongs to you. Do what you will with it – but that doesn’t mean that you can replicate it and sell it again.”

“With the rise of the black out bodysuit, I remember the first time I saw a client had blacked out a small piece of mine,” Guen continues. “I was really hurt at first, then I realised I have my photo, I was paid for my work. Surely I wouldn’t prevent a client from evolving and transforming in a way that makes them happy.”

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And now, I finally feel ready to embark on my journey again – galvanised by words of tattoo artists I admire and respect. I want to turn my backpiece around. I want to own it all over again. Fall back in love with it. Believe it when people tell me how beautiful it is; work with someone I trust implicitly. So I met tattoo artist Tracy D – who works at Modern Classic in west London – to chat about it. She has tattooed me three times already. She’s gentle and understanding and I adore her style.

“I try not to get involved in politics, there are always two sides to a story and at the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that there is an unfinished piece,” Tracy told me when I asked her what she thought about finishing someone else’s work. “I know it’s hard for me to look at an unfinished piece on my own body between sessions, I can’t imagine how it would be to have no finish point in sight.” And so, she agreed to take the reins, bring my butterfly lady back to life. We are one session down, and she has worked magic already. The face has been reworked. And over the coming months, we will add more butterflies and some colour.

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I am now excited again. I am motivated to get it finished, to work with Tracy on our shared vision. Please follow my progress on Instagram @alicecsnape. I was overjoyed to see your comments after my first session, and so many people messaged to say they have been in a similar situation and didn’t know what to do. If that’s you, know that you’re not alone. Get the tattoo you want, by the person you want to do it. Reclaim something that has bad memories. Never, ever, feel like you must continue with an artist you’re not happy with. You are the customer, and the customer – as some say – is always right. Especially when it involves YOUR body.

END NOTE: I contacted Matthew Gordon and told him I was writing this piece. He has no hard feelings and wishes me the best with my journey.

In response to tattooing’s growing #metoo movement, we have set up a private group on Facebook to share stories and find support, you must request and be approved to facebook.com/groups/tattoometoo

 

 



This isn’t a boys’ club anymore

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 01 5th, 2020

The tattoo world is no place for racism, sexism, misogyny.

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On Thursday 2 January, former tattoo artist Katie Sellergren revealed some truths about the misogyny and racism that still poisons the tattoo world. She outed one of the most famous tattooists in the world for who he really is – something that those within the tattoo world have known for years.

As part of his shop Elm Street Tattoo in Texas, Ink Master star Oliver Peck had organised a charity tattoo event, a female takeover that would raise money for women’s charities. Seeing the hypocrisy in this, Katie chose to speak out about her own story of rape. Katie says she was sexually assaulted by another prominent tattoo artist and his wife in 2009 – these people are friends of Oliver Peck’s.

Katie then went on to to share a shocking video on her Instagram page, you can watch it here. It shows the Ink Master star calling her a liar and a whore in a room full of white men. That room full of men also included the alleged rapist. The video was originally posted in 2014 on the Instagram profile of stelltattooart (this is The Stells, Richard and Jen, the married couple who Katie has said she was assaulted by). While on their page, we also found a number of disgusting, sexist and racist posts:

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This is not a joke. It is toxic.
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Spot the swastika.

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Katie also revealed that in the past Oliver threatened her. He told her he would ruin her career if she spoke out against Richard Stell. This is absolutely unacceptable. It silences a sexual assault survivor and puts all the power back in the hands of a rapist.

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Next up, tattooer Boneface revealed photos of Oliver Peck wearing blackface. Not once, but on numerous occasions. We were shocked, appalled and sickened. There is absolutely no justification for a white man to put on black face. A day after, Oliver did post an apology. It read: “I was 100% wrong to depict myself this way and I take full responsibility for my immature, misguided perspective, total lapse of judgement and insensitivity. I can only hope that… anyone I have offended can… find it in [their] hearts to accept my sincere apology.” It doesn’t sound too sincere to us, and where’s the apology for calling Katie a whore?

This news makes us both sad and angry, but also emboldened. When we first launched in 2012, we were told that that the tattoo world didn’t need a tattoo magazine for women. That there was no place for us. That we weren’t welcome. And now we see why. There are some male tattooists who have a boys’ club mentality that is very dangerous. They wanted to silence us. They knew they would get called out. When we posted about Katie’s story, here, numerous women got in touch with us about their own experiences of sexual assault, racism and the inappropriate scenes they have witnessed. How they have felt unsafe or unwelcome.

We want to provide a space for survivors’ voices to be heard. To change attitudes and break up the boys’ club so that everyone who wants to get tattooed can, without fear. We want women tattooers not to feel threatened or bullied.

We will be posting much more over the coming weeks and months, watch this space. In the meantime, we stand with you and applaud you Katie.

Email us if you need us, hello@thingsandink



Icebergs by Elvira Garcia

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 12 21st, 2019

Tattoo artist Elvira Garcia works at Hive Tattoo Art Gallery in Milan creating stunning iceberg inspired tattoos, here she tells us the story behind them…

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I have been tattooing for 4 years. I started when I was 20, now I’m 24. I became a tattooist because I love to draw, I’ve been drawing since I was three years old. It’s my passion and my life, everyday I need to draw something.

I remember when I was seven I would love to paint the skin of my friends at school with coloured markers. that’s where it started later when I was studying fine art in university my friends encouraged me to start tattooing and so I did. 

My style is a mix between blackwork and sometimes black and grey. I normally use black because I like how it lasts in different kinds of skin. 

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When I was a kid my father told me that inside our mind we have two things: conscious and subconscious. What we know about us, the conscious part is very small, and on the surface, instead our subconscious is deep inside us, under water, like a deep sea of things, emotions, forgotten experiences that never disappear completely.

The iceberg represents that: our love, our fears, our happiness, our depressions, what we have lived, our influences.

 Elvira Garcia

I’ve always drawn iceberg flash to show some of my ideas. To show how the design can look with the iceberg with a subject inside, but they can be also custom. I love to tattoo icebergs and anything related with nature including; animals, flowers, plants, woman and space.

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I normally like to do guest spots because they are easy to organise, you have everything you need in the studio and I tend to work better My next guest spots will be in Munich, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Zürich and London in 2020. I’ll be posting details on my Instagram so follow me on there for updates.



Modern Woman, Indigenous Spirit

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 12 12th, 2019

The story behind Laurence Moniasse Sessou’s tattoos and scarification

Photography and Art Direction – Josh Brandao / Model – Laurence Moniasse Sessou / Words/Story – Laurence Moniasse Sessou and Alice Snape / Illustrations and Set Dressing – Katerina Samoilis / Styling – Olivia Snape / Make-up and Hair – Anna Wild using Nars / Septum Ring – Studio Lil Art and Design / Earrings – Manaka Handmade / Thanks to India Ame ‘Ye’

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From a very young age, I have always been fascinated by body art, everything that seemed a bit forbidden and weird, I pay attention to. I was always a dreamer and would often get in trouble for not conforming and being different (mainly from my peers in the neighbourhood). I grew up in a small town in France called Evreux. It wasn’t easy being a teenager, I’ve experienced a fair bit of bullying while growing up.

I have always been fascinated by body art, everything that seemed a bit forbidden and weird

I came to London for the first time in 1999, when I was 20 years old, to pay a visit to my sister. From that moment, I knew I had to come back to that sense of freedom. London was so big and messy, but I knew I could find myself in that mess. A year later, in 2000, I came back, supposedly, for one year to learn English – but I never looked back. I graduated in 2007 with a Bsc Natural Therapeutics (Bodywork and Neuromuscular therapy) from the University of Westminster. I have been practicing for over eight years now and hold two busy practices in London.

While I was at university, I started travelling, Thailand was my first big trip – I was amazed by the Thai culture and, of course, tattoo was part of it. One of my friends at the time had her full leg tattooed, I thought it was insane. I loved it, but never thought it would be my cup of tea. This idea of having something permanently on my body freaked me out. But as I travelled more through the world, I became more open to many things, including spirituality and body marking. My first tattoos were two little ankhs on my wrists. I was 21 and in London at the time. Then I went on another trip to Thailand and decided to get
a fairy on my right shoulder, it was an African fairy that looked nothing like a fairy after a few months. I had started losing a bit of weight and her face disappeared.

I love flowers. They are beautiful, feminine – I just love they way they always face towards the sun

I guess the big trigger to my transformation started in Mexico, when I went to Palenque for the first time. That’s where I met tattoo artist Sanya Youalli, and we had a chat. I was originally there just to view her work, but our conversation ended with starting to decorate my left arm with flowers and spirals. I love flowers. They are beautiful, feminine – I just love they way they always face towards the sun, I like to see myself as a flower and always look and walk towards the light. I love the warmth and the way the sun kisses my skin. Spirals symbolise infinity, this ocean of opportunity that never ends. I could have my body covered in them, I can’t see myself falling out of love with these symbols. Sanya and I became close friends, we’re like sisters, every time I go to Mexico, she continues work on my arm and when she came to London for the tattoo convention, last year, she stayed at my home and we carried on.

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Then I was looking for another artist to do a cover up of my right arm, Sanya had started doing some kind of removal work for the fairy, but we didn’t get a chance to cover it completely. I knew I wanted it to be covered as soon as possible, so I searched for another artist. I found Touka Voodoo at the Divine Canvas studio – again it was an instant connection. I loved his work, so Touka did the cover up of my right shoulder and we carried on the theme of flowers and spirals – I have a full sleeve now. I also met Iestyn at Divine Canvas, I knew the kind of work he specialised in: scarification and piercings. I remember thinking to myself, “Who on Earth in this age would want to go through this?’ He proposed to perform scarification on me as he’d never worked on black/African skin before. I told him, “No way! You will never cut my skin, never!’

About a year later, I was going through some changes in my life and my spiritual practice started to become more important. I initially wanted to tattoo my back with some symbols of my spiritual path, I spoke to my sister about it and she thought that my skin tone was so beautiful, if I did tattoo my back, my arm work would disappear. That is when the idea of the scarification came to me. I thought it would be a way to embrace my spiritual practice, as well as my tribal African roots. One day I went to see Iestyn, we discussed the design and we started. Iestyn knew me for about a year and he understood my journey and where I was coming from – I trusted him fully with it, he was absolutely amazing.

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The meaning of the symbols – the cross in the middle is ‘the Chakana’ sacred cross where the fire of life burns, the four arrows around it represent the four nations and four directions, flowers symbolise beauty and femininity, spirals symbolise infinity, and dots for their simplicity – and how lovely they look. To me, it is like carrying my dream in my back: the four nations enjoying the fire of life together in the four corners of the globe, in beauty and harmony with each other and nature… It sounds a bit dreamy, but that is the truth. I live to see a better world and become a better person.

Having the scarification done was very challenging, particularly the healing – it is a long and painful process. I was not been able to sleep on my back for over seven months. When the keloids form, it is very itchy. Receiving the scar wasn’t as bad as people may think, of course, you feel it as the first cut is done without anaesthetic, but there is no other way to go through it, you must feel and transcend the pain – and it is a beautiful feeling. I was very high at the end of it, feeling super-human.

I didn’t think the scar was going to raise that much, I thought I would have a very discreet design on my back, but my body decided how it was going to turn out and I love it! It is quite bold and shocking for some people, but I don’t really care, the journey and the story behind this back is worth it.

The chest scarification was also performed by Iestyn and filmed live by Nick Knight back in May 2013, it was supposed to be used for a music video, but it wasn’t in the end. But, hey, I got paid to have a beautiful piece of body art work on my chest and got the amazing opportunity to work with a genius like Nick Knight. It was a dream come true.

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I didn’t realise how emotional I was going to feel about doing this photo shoot for The Modification Issue using pictures of my family, including my mother and grandmothers. I started to have tears in my eyes, because I know how powerful and brave these women are and I know the struggle they have been through in life and in labour. They respectively brought my mother and my father, and my mum brought me into this world. I feel deeply grateful and proud to be a fruit of their lives, I feel they are still living through me, and my nephews and nieces, they are eternal. And I hope that from wherever they are, they are watching over with pride, their lives will always be celebrated.

 Laurence’s story was first published in Things & Ink magazine, when we were in print.



Tattoo Street Style by Alice Snape

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 12 10th, 2019

Our editor Alice Snape’s Tattoo Street Style book came out last year. It features more than 400 original portraits in cities from London and Brighton to LA and NYC, and a directory of studios in each city, a guide to tattoo styles and a personal foreword from tattoo artist Cally-Jo. Here’s a peek inside, and the reasons why Alice wrote the book.

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Derryth Ridge, spotted in Brighton. Photo by Heather Shuker

I’ve always been fascinated by people and enjoyed glimpsing them from afar, and spying what they’re up to. When I travel to a new city, my favourite thing to do is find a little café and sit sipping a cup of coffee, watching the world go by. I love looking what someone has chosen to wear or their hair colour, wondering why I might be drawn to that person’s particular style, the way they walk or hold themselves. I make up little stories about them in my mind – perhaps they are on their way to a meeting, to call on a friend, to hang out at the park or to go to work? This fascination is why I fell in love with street style photography. I love that it captures a moment, a city, a person at that exact point in time. Street-style photos tell a story – tiny but complete – of a place and the people in it.

Manni Kalsi, spotted in London. Photo by Heather Shuker
Manni Kalsi, spotted in London.
Photo by Heather Shuker

What I have loved about writing this book is not only capturing a sense of each city, but working with different photographers in each location, whom we briefed to capture their city through their own lens. The result doesn’t just provide a snapshot, it communicates a particular vision, with each photographer contributing his or her own unique style and interpretation of what ‘street style’ looks like.

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Simone Thompson, spotted in New York. Photo by Elena Mudd

Alongside the imagery, I have loved delving further into what motivates each of those people and gathering snippets of their life stories. This volume of Tattoo Street Style allows me to introduce you to some prominent figures in the tattoo world, such as Wendy Pham in Berlin and Angelique Houtkamp in Amsterdam. But we’ve also spoken with random inhabitants of the eight cities we have featured – people I never would have discovered if I hadn’t written this book. In my everyday life, I often wish I could stop someone in the street and find out more about them – this book has given me the chance to do just that. In London, businesswoman Sian Rusu shared that her tattoos make her feel “different – and difference is what makes us unique”. In contrast, Berlin’s stylist Flora Amelie talks honestly about sometimes questioning her decision to become heavily tattooed, a revelation you wouldn’t expect from someone who portrays such confidence.

Flora Amalie Pedersen spotted in Berlin. Photo by Lisa Jane
Flora Amalie Pedersen spotted in Berlin.
Photo by Lisa Jane

It has been a joy to curate this compendium of tattoos and fashion in eight of my favourite places around the world, cities I have lived in, loved spending time in and dream of returning to. I love that it will immortalise this period in time. I love that one day, someone will look at it as a historical document, in the way that I have looked at old photos of tattooed women from the 1940s. What feels so thoughtfully current now as you flick through the pages will one day be but a memory of our own moment in time.

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Cally-Jo, spotted in Brighton. Photo by Heather Shuker

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In all good bookshops and available to order online here



For Identity // Against Stereotypes

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 12 9th, 2019

A couple of months ago, lingerie brand The Underargument asked our editor Alice to model for their new campaign: For Identity // Against Stereotypes. This inspiring lingerie brand is a wearable reminder to embrace individuality and argue against the norm.

The For Identity // Against Stereotypes collection illustrates that we are more than the boxes that we are sometimes put in. Your identity does not start or stop with your gender, your religion, your abilities, your cultural, occupational or social background. This underargument will remind you that you don’t have to be the product of your environment and predispositions or let stereotypes define you.

Here is Alice’s story for the collection. 

 

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“One of my favourite things about my tattoos is that they challenge traditional stereotypes of beauty, that a woman’s skin should be pure or unmarked. It still shocks me that, in 2019, some magazines and mainstream media push the idea that we should look a certain way, by losing weight or using make-up to conceal our so called imperfections. It is so damaging.”

“Perceptions of tattooed women have always suggested sexual promiscuity and over-confidence. And I think that society still views female confidence with an irrational disdain. Perhaps that is why tattoos on a woman are so provocative. I don’t often wear shorts in the summer now for fear of #tatcalling. As dependable as clockwork – when you’re a tattooed woman in public, some guy will eventually shout, “I like your tattoos!” My tattoos aren’t an invitation to leer at me. My tattoo on my back is certainly not permission to run your hands down my spine or pull my top down to “get a better look” or ask me “how far does that go down love?”; I am not public property. Tattoos don’t make me “easy”, they are not any reflection of my morals and they don’t mean I am seeking attention.

I bumped into an ex a few years ago who was like “what are you, good girl gone bad? “

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“Whenever I go back to my hometown, it’s a small place in the midlands, people are always shocked that I have tattoos. I bumped into an ex a few years ago who was like “what are you, good girl gone bad? “. My uncle has a few tattoos and even he is surprised that I am the one in the family who is heavily tattooed. Women with tattoos are never portrayed as the “girl next door”, they are never the nerdy girl, they are the bad girl, and they are sexualised. Women with tattoos have been painted that way for years. The Tattooed Lady in the circus, for example, was literally a freak, a strange creature to be objectified.

“Tattoos have always been for “tough guys”, and men with tattoos aren’t sexualised in the same way that women are. I was a studious girl at school, quiet, shy, forever with my head in a book. The fact that I have ink on my skin apparently doesn’t fit into mould. But I am still that person. In fact, tattoos have given me confidence. I used to hate the way I looked and adorning my body with beautiful artwork has been empowering – and I can’t wait to see how my collection grows. I would love to fill all the gaps. It will be my life’s work. It is funny. People often ask if I worry about what I will look like when I am older, but, really, why would I? I don’t plan on fitting into another stereotype about what I should or shouldn’t look like in my seventies, eighties, nineties…”

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View more at theunderargument.com



Tattoo Aftercare: Salix Moon Apothecary

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 11 24th, 2019

At Things & Ink we’re always looking for new products to help heal our new tattoos, especially if the ingredients are natural and created by an independent maker. Louise founder of Salix Moon Apothecary kindly sent us some of her Achilles Charm botanical healing salve to try. Read on to find out a bit more about Louise and her tattoo balm…

Louise is a graphic design graduate and aspiring herbalist living by the sea with her partner and two chinchillas. She explains how “Salix Moon Apothecary was born out of my love and respect of the natural world and a need to connect and experiment with it. It was a way of getting creative with nature, combining my love of herbs with my love of design and my urge to create. All of the packaging and illustrations are designed and hand drawn by myself. My partner Max is also a big part of the business, we come up with the recipes and make the products together.”

Louise

“I am fascinated by plant medicine and love to go foraging for herbs for my herbal first aid kit and little home-apothecary. I’m very interested by our ancient ways, folklore and the history of our use of medicinal plants and I’m working on some new products inspired by traditional western herbalism/remedies, with herbs used by our ancestors. I recently started studying Herbal Medicine, which has reinforced my path. I hope one day to become a medical herbalist.”

Louise continues to tell us how she is “passionate about leading a sustainable and ethical lifestyle and I try to reflect that in my products and business ethics. I try and source my essential oils and carrier oils from farms in the UK wherever possible to try and reduce our carbon footprint. Our labels are paper based and compostable and biodegradable and so is our packing material. All my products are in glass bottles and you can choose either an aluminium cap, pipette or spray closure (depending on the product). I encourage customers to re-use their pipette/spray top and go for the aluminium cap for future purchases as they are more easily recycled.”

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What is Achilles Charm tattoo salve? 

Made with a combination of cold pressed and unrefined plantain infused organic Jojoba Oil, Calendula infused organic Sunflower Oil*, organic Yarrow infused organic Sunflower Oil, organic Virgin Rosehip Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax and naturally derived Vitamin E, the balm is:

  • Paraben free
  • Sulfate free
  • Cruelty free
  • Preservative free
  • 100% natural
  • Unscented
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Achilles Charm contains a magical blend of potent herbs that Louise and Max have macerated in organic botanical oils for many weeks to slowly extract their soothing and nourishing properties. Each herb and oil has been carefully chosen for their nourishing compounds and medicinal properties that help to soothe and protect, promote skin repair and tissue regeneration.

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A highly moisturising and soothing ointment for the skin, this salve is the perfect addition to your herbal first aid kit, it can be applied to bites, stings, scrapes, minor cuts, dry itchy skin conditions and it is our absolute go-to for tattoo aftercare.

As directed our editor Rosie massaged a thin layer of salve directly onto the skin to help soothe, soften and protect her new tattoo. This is what she had to say:

I absolutely loved this tattoo healing balm, not only is it made from natural ingredients and cruelty free, it also has a beautiful natural scent. The texture is ideal for new tattoos as it just melts into the skin like a dream. I’ve been using it on my husband’s new tattoos as well and he loves it too! It’s so nice to have tattoo care that is ethical with recyclable packaging that also supports an independent maker. I also like to use Achilles Charm on my face as a night oil, and I always wake up with beautifully soft nourished skin.

 

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Rosie using Achilles Charm on her new tattoo

Be sure to follow Salix Moon Apothecary on Instagram or Facebook for more plant magic and you can shop the full range of plant based products on Etsy here










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