January+ February 2019

Posted: 12/03/2019 in Uncategorized

Plenty of pretty colours for you in this blog as usual, it’s what i get asked for most, and I love colour as much as the next person, so it’s perfect!

nealle is working on a sleeve of two birds, the forearm and hand is of a peacock in cool colours, blues, greens and the odd splash of contrasting colours. The upper arm and onto the chest will be a phoenix, in warm and fiery colours to compliment the peacock, can’t wait to see the two pieces come together! Here’s the peacock, or as far as we got, some detailling still to go. Nealle says he gets a lot of attention from girls with this colourful piece, so if that’s your thing, you know what to do haha! I can help you with this cunning ploy πŸ˜‰

A much more subdued bird is this magpie, part of an on going botanical drawings style sleeve. We kept the colours in the Victorian palette, to look like hand tinted plates in a book.

Speaking of a muted colour palette, this cute little cover up is reminiscent of designs from yesteryear, incorporating brambles, rosehips and dog roses.

Another botanical piece, including butterflies and acorns πŸ™‚

A couple of scar cover ups next. This koi piece in chunky modern colours and shapes is japanese in influence, but more manga style than traditional. The peony flower is where we hid the worst of the scars, the irregular, organic shapes of the petals allowed us to hide any bumps and lumps in the skin.

 

More scar cover ups, and here I’ve got to say I did a piece over the scars that I would normally advise against. The intricate shapes of the mandala really don’t do a good job hiding any irregularities, but I’d warned the customer and she was cool with it. You can see where the lines blew out a bit on the scar tissue, but on the whole we pretty much got away with it- it helps that there are soft, organic flower shapes right next to it, they help draw the eye away from any inconsistencies.

A roses and lace piece in progress

And a cute little story capsule, this is an illustration for the poem ‘Tamsons Bairns’, with a fox and a red squirrel.

And here is a big and bonkers story capsule, if you can call it a capsule- it goes over both of Derek’s upper arms and onto the chest. The work in progress design weaves around the four elements, water and fire on one side, and earth and air on this side. The mad vortex represents air, with butterflies coming out of it and flying onto the chest. The earthy side starts with celtic roots, going into the tree of life, which incorporates the green man (and woman, next sesh) and little cute caterpillars climbing up into the vortex, to be reborn as the butterflies. This all came out of Derek’s brain, I just helped him put it all together on his arms- it’s been a fabulously organic process, just the way I like it! Some planning is important, of course, but my favourite way of working is for the ideas to grow with the piece and for it to be a collaboration with the customer.

Dean’s tiger and snake sleeve grew like that, too

This phoenix work in progress is based on a painting by Hokusai, (Hokusai the one with the famous wave painting), muted colours and repetitive shapes give this a classic japanese look. It’s also a cover up, Laura one of our laser techs, had zapped the old piece a few times so that it was light enough to be covered with colour.

Harley is mixing japanese imagery with comic book art, a combination that works well, specially as he has kept it all in black and grey (pretty much). Today we worked on his belly piece, which is of the comic ‘Monstress’

 

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The Seashepherd thing was an interesting trip. For those who aren’t familiar with the Seashepherd, they are a marine conservation group who are not adverse to some pretty confrontational direct action against poachers and illegal fishing. Recently they opened a small tattoo area in their main base/ office / shop in Amsterdam, and were inviting tattooists to come and do some work there, with all proceeds going to theΒ SeashepherdΒ .

Image result for seashpherd logo

 

I like the concept of tattooing for a good cause, as you probably know, all the profit made at Tribe goes to fund our animals sanctuary here in Scotland. The Seashepherd are a massive organisation, and I was curious to see how they made the tattooing work for them, so I packed my bags, flew over and did some work for them (and my nosey *cough*). It was a good experience, although they are still at the beginning of their venture and there aren’t many customers yet, I fell that I helped contribute a bit to their mission.

the Seashepherd shop is right at the end of this very dutch looking street πŸ™‚

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Back at home I’ve had some interesting projects to get stuck into. I’ve been trying to cut down on posting ‘Work in Progress’ pictures on this blog here, but here’s one anyway! Derek is working on a colourful, bold and imaginative four elements theme, with fire and water on one side

and air and earth on the other arm. We’ve not tackled the earthy bit yet, but the air one is fun!

There are also some old, lasered pieces under the new work, but our laser tech did such a great job with getting rid of the old pieces, that we were able to blast over them with warm colours. Hurray for laser!

another cover up was done without much laser. The design over it had to incorporate plenty of black to hide the old tribal piece, but we did let one corner of the tribal peek out from the dress, so that warranted a small bit of laser to help lighten it and let it disappear in the grey flowers.

Not involving a cover up was Aileen’s phoenix. Aileen loves colours and patterns, so we incorporated some of the patterns found in a geisha sleeve on her arm that we did a while ago. The placement of this phoenix allows for it to stretch it’s wings when Aileen bends her knee πŸ™‚

 

An unusual trip for me into photo realism, although my usual style is illustrative, I do enjoy this kind of work occasionally. John’s hanya mask

back to japanese work I finished this 3/4 sleeve with a green dragon

and another dragon sleeve (black and grey dragon) with a flash of blue

Scar cover ups are something I enjoy doing, here are some wild flowers and berries, not quite finished yet, but finished for now until the customer decides what flowers she wants next.

I added a few inches on to other artists work with a sleeve about the Hong Kong island of Lantau, there is a massive statue of a buddha at the top of this island ( that and a dragon and some flowers take up 3/4 of the sleeve, by other artists), with hundreds of steps going up and some goddess statues and pillar type structures on the way. we used stylised representations of these to give a kind of dreamscape feel to her sleeve.

now here’s something batshit crazy: a front torso piece after a piece by scottish artist Alasdair Grey. This is what we are working towards:

and here’s what we’ve done so far. We did a section a few years ago, but this is a deliberately long process, the customer likes the slow journey and isn’t in a rush.

another black and grey sleeve, with a fun old world/ pirate map kind of feel

and here are a few smaller pieces and works in progress (..I know…)

I’ve been a bit late to the instagram party, it’s a must for visual artists these days, and I have jumped on the band wagon. Although i much prefer the blog, a bit of a blether and back story, what the kids want these days are smaller snippets of information and images. I’m still going to write this blog, but I have been pilfering it for content and reposting images on instagram- I apologise if you follow me on social media and see the same images and blurbs again; I’m just ‘playin the game’ πŸ™‚

august + september 2018

Posted: 08/10/2018 in Uncategorized

I finished two big pieces recently, one of them the extensive scar cover up. Apologies for the number of pictures, I just couldn’t decide, she rocks her tattoo so well in each one!

 

and George’s octopus/necktopus is done. He really suits it, the blue of the tattoo brings out the blue of his eyes.

Gerald got a cool upside down moth on his sternum

another scar cover up, this is in a water colour style, works great to disguise scars. The quote is a song reference, and the water colour background is based on the artwork of the record. It seems a nice way to close the chapter on the self harming.

some flowers, california poppies- the start of a flower sleeve,

and blue orchids, a bit of a cover up going on there.

the start of a celtic themed piece with thistles and roses, colour to follow

and a traditional rose on the hand for Billy. The bee was already there. Next time we’ll join it up to the sleeve

work in progress with this badger and wild flowers piece (‘mon the badgers!)

and then two Alfonse Mucha inspired pieces, (one of my favourite artists and an inspiration of mine my whole career)

the first one is Beth’s mermaid and octopus sleeve, we’ve been chipping away at this piece slowly, but it’s starting to come together and look like a sleeve. There are little personal and film references scattered in the background, we will be adding blues and greens to complete the watery background

and this cover up is also inspired by Mucha, the distinctive ‘halo’ is still to come

this looks like I was trying to saw Dean’s arm off haha! I shouldn’t really be posting this, should I….

what was really going on

and Aileen’s phoenix is getting there. We are introducing patterns into the tail feathers that are a reference to the fabrics in her geisha tattoo, a bit different πŸ™‚

 

 

this blog is a lot about scar cover ups. I do a fair few of them, and have done for many years, so I’ve seen plenty scars, caused by accidents, self harm or operations. We need to wait a couple of years for the skin to heal as much as it will, and then we can go over them. I’ve not seen scarring that couldn’t be made to look more attractive with a tattoo, although you might need to be flexible as to what kind of tattoo you get- not all designs are suitable.

these two pieces are over self harm scars, as usual, the scars look worse, more raised, just after the tattooing process. This is due to the needles aggravating them, but they calm down again and are much more camouflaged when the tattoo settles.

same for these two

and for this piece. Often these small pieces are the start of a sleeve or so, we have an idea for the bigger picture, but wanted to concentrate on getting the scars covered first.

I’ve started an exciting project- two wings to cover some extensive scarring due to an accident. Her first tattoo!

She has already noticed a difference this tattoo is making to her daily life. With scarring so visible, she finds herself explaining the situation all the time, so the conversation takes a dark turn as she goes over the details of the accident and people’s shock and sympathies…when all she wants is to be her happy self. Now the focus is on her cool tattoo πŸ™‚ Result!

another big badass piece, without scarring, is george’s neck octopus, one more session to tidy little things up here and there, but very happy with this crazy piece, very unique idea, thanks george!

 

and while on the subject of badassery, I’ll chuck in a picture of Bill and his progress, he is slowly covering himself in black. No, not a cover up πŸ™‚

Johnny’s sleeves are getting there, or should I say getting there again. We did some of these pieces 15 years ago, and have since been adding to, covering and changing and blasting over, so that now we have a wonderfully layered look, colourful, dense and dark, completely unique. The ideas are all Johnny’s, I helped him on his journey πŸ™‚

Joanne’s sleeve is nearly done, and we are creeping onto the chest with this botanical illustration style design in muted colours. That’s the thing with plants, they keep on growing……

a couple of cute ones

a tibetan eternity knot, behind an existing tattoo marking his wedding, part of a tibetan prayer flag half sleeve

and this wonderful customer, getting dragons on her leg. The first session the Tshirt she had on said ‘I knit so no one has to die’ and the second was ‘mother of dragons’, awesome!

I don’t really have the time to do conventions abroad these days, but the one in Cognac in France is a fun one, and me, Nik and Didi worked at it last year and had a blast.

This year was ridiculously hot, which was a distraction, but we still had a great time, met new and old acquaintances, partied and worked hard.

The organisers had put massive posters up of me and Didi among others, so I felt like a celebrity in Cognac!

I was too hot to remember to take much in the way of photos during the convention, just took a picture of this lady’s leg, as she had a tattoo done by me last year, too, a wonderful lady and fellow animal lover.

This piece was meant to be in colour and with background shading, but the poor lady struggled from the start, so I stripped the brief back a bit, we did go all the way around, but we settled for light grey shading instead. She can always add some colour and background at a later date if she feels brave. This is one of the challenges of working at a convention, you’re only in town for a short time, so can’t really stop and continue another time once it’s healed. It’s all or nothing.

(check out Didi’s orange crocks in the background, pure style, that man πŸ™‚ )

everyone is always giving you cognac in Cognac, not complaining of course. This was after the convention

 

The after show party was in Cognac castle, an old cluster of buildings where cognac, a type of brandy, is still made. Very atmospheric and beautiful, I took a little wander around

why does this kind of thing always seem like a good idea after a few beers? πŸ™‚

april +may 2018

Posted: 28/05/2018 in Uncategorized

plenty of colour in this post, starting off with Derek’s epic dragon and lion 3/4 sleeve. it’s going to be one of two sleeves exploring the 4 elements, this one being fire and water. Chunky shapes and bright colours, what’s not to like about that brief? Very satisfying indeed! One more sesh on this to bring it all together

A nice bright orangy peony on neil’s neck. We had already done a bright crown on the front of his neck, which is very striking, however any tattoo that sits under the chin will usually be in a shadow- cast by your chin- and that doesn’t alow it to glow as much as Neil likes it. So we went for a bright one at the side of the neck, a more visible placement than the front of the neck- you wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. I’ll get some pictures of the crown next time to show you.

we are still working on Luc’s leg snake, some more colour here and there, it’s starting to come together. With a project this size it seems like ages until you start to feel like you are getting somewhere, but this is shaping up.

Matthew got a black and grey sleeve by me a wee while ago, and was feeling that it needed to come down onto his hand. The stigma of having tattooed hands is much less these days, so why the hell not .

Kiaran got this cute little bird, I wish I could remember the name of it, but it’s just adorable. we added some red outline blossoms to help it work with some existing pieces by another artist, and it sits in there just so.

Kiaran is a very talented lady, and is currently in the process of designing us a new website for the studios. We are super excited, should be up soon, woo!

Laurenne and her mon mon cat, which is a work in progress, have a funny story. We did most of the cat, which has Laurenne’s own tattoos on it’s back but didn’t get round to finishing it before Laurenne was booked to go on holiday. When Laurenne was trying on some nice new shorts for said holiday, she noticed that the only visible thing of her mon mon cat tattoo were the outlines of the bottom of the legs, and it looked very strange indeed…

so an emergency appointment was needed to add a nice blue lotus for the cat to stand in, now it looks fabulous with a pair of shorts! The lotus isn’t finished yet, either, but it’ll have to wait until after the holiday. I hope the good people of Greece appreciate the time and effort we went to to prevent any confusion πŸ™‚

Another work in Progress is a colourful scar cover up. With scars you are well advised to let the new tattoo settle and see how the skin takes the ink, then come back to it to add more colour and detail, etc. Sometimes the scars are hard and can reject the ink, sometimes the opposite, so we will let it heal and see where we are with it. Good start was made, though.

and now a black and grey piece, Harley’s back is dedicated to a comic called Saga. I’ve now read the first book and can confirm that it is excellent, with superb artwork. This has been fun, we pick the characters we think will work well in the composition, and fit them all together using the artwork from the comic. the backgrounds will be more our own-

saga fans will like this, and there appear to be many out there!

 

 

My last blog post didn’t have any pictures, so I apologise for this whopper of a blog, but i’ll try and keep it shortish.

The local tattoo convention happened recently, and as usual it was a really well put together show, the organisers really know what they are doing. If you haven’t been, make sure you give it a go next time, it’s as good a convention as you would find anywhere on the continent, with lots of international artists working.

Myself and Nik represented Tribe, and we also had a section of the stall dedicated the the animal sanctuary, which generated a fair bit of interest.

I was booked up in advance for the whole weekend, and my first customer was martin. We got the sleeve finished (bar that tune up hr once everything is settled in). It’s a japanese sleeve with some more detailled elements like the geisha portrait and a temple with a garden. The beauty of the flowing japanese designs is that you can get the structure of the piece with the background and then add whatever elements you like. Nothing is too weird, unless you are a tradition purist, which I’m not. I love Martin’s sleeve for the untraditional elements, it still looks japanese!

Beth is getting a mermaid sleeve, we did the mermaid (most of it) and outlined the octopus last time, and this session we added the colour to the seaweed. We are doing to work from foreground to background on this one, making it up as we go along πŸ™‚ There’s going to be a treasure chest, crabs, other mermaid silhouettes, fun things like that.

My last customer at the convention was Luc, his epic snake tattoo is always a winner, and he had lots of admirers watching him get tattooed. Luckily Luc likes the distraction of getting tattooed at a convention, there’s a lot going on to take his mind off the pain.

Speaking of epic tattoos, I started an octopus on George, our body piercer in edinburgh. It is going to be colourful, blues and reds- ‘bold’ is an understatement! he said the lines on his temple were the worst, but he’s a trouper, and I didn’t hear a peep from him.

 

and while we are on the bold pieces, Neil got a chrysanthemum on his hand, as colourful as I wanted…pow pow! pink and blue will do it!

Jo on the other hand, wanted muted colours for her botanical illustrations sleeve. we took our inspiration from old books and made a collage of her favourite plants and animals. Most of these are to be found in her garden, so they have special meaning. I’ll need to take some decent photos of this once it’s had it’s tune up.

A similar idea but completely different look- Dee got a large piece of bold flowers and plants, each representing a country that meant something to her on her travels. we went for chunky, bold colours for the flowers and the background, making for an eye catching piece.

Now for some black and grey pieces, Sheena is extending her nature piece up her neck πŸ™‚

and these matching, but not identical sleeves are done- kois on one side and a dragon on the other. We kept the basic flow and tones similar, so that together they make a set without being the same, it’s a cool look and he carries it off well.

Elliot got his sleeve finished, it’s a koi swimming up stream, and it represents the time in his life that he went to uni to further himself. He didn’t enjoy it much, but he did it, and now he has more options for his future- good for him! If that doesn’t warrant a nice sleeve to remind you of it, then I don’t know what does!

also done is Stephen, finally, he had to take 6 months off to have cancer. Yep, he got it, beat it, and came back to get his tattoo finished, just like that- wowzer!

and I’ll finish with a cute daruma piece. Darumas are small japanese doll things, when you get one, only one eye is painted in. You make a wish or a plan, and when it’s come to pass, you fill in the other eye and then burn it. Farah’s daruma will never burn of course, he is safe in his chrysanthemum πŸ™‚

 

 

I’m snowed in for a couple of days, which has given me an unexpected bit of time on my hands. I’ve been thinking about writing about my blog for a while now, as a way of defining it for myself as much as anything else, and where it fits in in my life and the tattoo industry as the bigger picture.

I’ve been writing this blog for around 15 years now, Fifteen! It’s mad to think it’s been that long, the tattoo industry was in a different place back then and so was I, of course.

Let me start right at the beginning of this project, probably even before I started writing it. I suffered from migraines as a child, and was advised to keep a diary as a way of keeping my mind ‘tidy’ by writing all my woes down at the end of the day to help process them. The thinking was that my migraines could be relieved if the pressure caused by problems wasn’t allowed to build up, and cause headaches.

I took to this new routine well, and continued to write a diary well into my 20’s, even though the migraines had stopped by this time. I enjoyed it. It was ‘me’ time.

At some point it became a chore, though, when I started believing that keeping a diary was self indulgent and childish, I moved on and hated the little collection of scribbled books (still got them, though).

The notion of processing thoughts through writing about them stayed with me, however, and I’m still the queen of lists and bullet points. It’s a good thing to have a ‘tidy mind’.

When I came across those new ‘blogs’ online 15 years ago, I thought it would be fun, and useful, to write a blog about my daily work . I was really into the whole new online thing, and we started a forum for our customers, which included my blog. There wasn’t anything else about at the time, and we enjoyed a very cool period where the forum really brought everyone together and was a genuine community of like-minded folks, I still speak to quite a few individuals from that time 10-15 years ago!

My work back then was different, of course the whole industry was different, and I did mostly small pieces as was common for tattooists then. The blog consisted of a few small pieces per day and was written daily as a sort of record keeping exercise. As my work started shifting towards bigger pieces, I stopped writing every day and did more of a weekly round up, because there seemed little point in putting just one piece of ‘work in progress’ up at the end of every day.

A big shift also came when I decided to wrap the forum up and move my blog to WordPress, a platform that people could subscribe to, and then they would get the blog sent directly to their emails, as opposed to having to go to the forum and open up the blog to read it. Now i didn’t want to spam people with constant blog posts in their emails, so I cut down writing posts to one a month or so. Facebook was also a game changer, now I could advertise the arrival of a new post with a link people could click on if they fancied, making the blog available to more people apart from just my subscribers. Bonus!

The feedback I got from people was that they liked to look at the pictures to get some inspiration for their next piece, some people told me laughingly that they didn’t really bother reading the text, which was fine of course, I was happy to be providing a service.

Things have changed again….with images galore available on instagram, pinterest, vero, facebook, google, you name it, I don’t really think I need to provide that service anymore, and I might go back to chatting more again. I’ve had to think of ways to edit the work I put up, anyway, so that the monthly blogs don’t get out of hand, and I’m considering trying a slightly different format again. Moving with the times!

I’ll still post updates on some of the works in progress, but I’d like to chose one project a month and talk about it a bit more in depth. People who are more interested in pictures can just scroll on πŸ™‚

In this time of image overload and tattoo culture proliferation, I still believe that my little blog has a place, and that place is more to do with you, the customers and what lies behind the tattoo picture. Tattoo pictures are ten a penny,Β  but what makes the tattoo come to life is the meaning you give it, the stories behind the sleeve or the sentiment attached to a particular piece. I love my customers’ stories, and would like to put them centre stage a bit more- with consent of course, I’d never divulge some of the more personal pieces or blab out of turn.

Crikey, this has turned out longer than I had planned! But while I’m at it, whittling on about myself, I’ll bring up another direction I’m taking, not to do with this blog as such.

Many of you will know that I’ve been a passionate vegan for a long time, it’s not something I am in the habit of ramming down anyone’s throats, but I’m happy to chat about it if anyone is interested. Last year I fulfilled my dream of starting an animal sanctuary- I’m now a bona fide country bumpkin – and have also opened a small, licensed tattoo studio in the sanctuary. I’m not the only vegan tattooist, there are many of us, and I would like to build a vegan tattoo community that brings together like minded people.

To this aim I’m starting a vero (new social media platform) page about myself as a tattooists and vegan, the first time I’ve considered bringing the two things together properly, but I think the time is right. I know this isn’t for everyone, so I’ll keep my veganism out of this blog and (mostly) my instagram, so if it’s bothers you, let me divert you away from my vero page…. πŸ™‚

right, thank you for reading my ramblings, I think it’s in everyone’s interest that I don’t get snowed in again!