Archive for March, 2018

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 🙂 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 🙂

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 🙂



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 🙂

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,  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…. 🙂

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