Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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!



I get asked about conventions, whether I’m working any and where. I’m only working two of them this year, the Edinburgh one (of course, my home turf so to speak) and the one in Cognac, in France.

The truth is, it doesn’t suit my way of working, and I feel I can’t do the things I really enjoy- big pieces that flow with the body. I like to have multiple sessions on one piece, that allows me to refine and layer, building on the work from the previous time, things you can’t do if you only see the customer that one time.

A lot of the artist who work a lot of conventions are at a stage in their careers where they are trying to make a name for themselves and build their customer base, again, I have wonderful customers who are put on hold while I take time out to travel to a convention, so i don’t like doing that too often.

there is the party aspect, it can be an opportunity to let your hair down a bit and hang out with other artists at the bar, but I prefer to do that if I’m not working the next day.

The only question remains, when did I become such a boring bastard? 🙂


Sheena’s chest piece is starting to creep around over to her back 🙂

That’s what happens with nature based imagery, it grows

and a piece on Lorraine which is based on a mindbogglingly beautiful brooch by Rene Lalique. It’s a sort of dragonfly, done in the art nouveau style which was at it’s height  120 years ago, and now lives in a museum in Lisbon. I’d love to see the real thing!

There will be more added to this later on

Martin is working on a japanese sleeve and today we added some oregami birds -Martin’s idea, love them!- and finished off the forearm with some colour in the cherry blossoms

Auzzie Bill got another installment on his epic black work, this has been going on for years, we have covered his legs and now most of his arms, and of course we are not done yet!




Then for something completely different, Dee’s colour sleeve of flowers is taking shape 🙂

Also a fan of colour, Elliot chose colourful elements for his japanese sleeve, with the traditional black and grey background to set it off

Peter is working on a dragon extension to his existing koi on the upper arm

sticking with the japanese, another session on Luc’s leg, we put most of the red in the snake, but ran out of time on the head. That’s a lot of red…

and Karen got her flowers and witch piece finished, a good witch, of course!

Andrew is starting the new year with a new dragon sleeve (the odd hatched in pen bit is where the hanya mask will go next time)

Derek is starting on a project involving a couple of cover ups (lasered) and today we cracked on with a water dragon. The water is unusual in that it will be very stylised and blue, like a fabric pattern


Douglas, you nutter 🙂

23rd oct -29th Nov

Posted: 04/12/2017 in Uncategorized

maybe it’s because it’s winter and there are no flowers in bloom, so my customers are recreating them on their skin, but I have a lot of flowers for you in this blog. Some japanese work as well, of course, but I find myself doing more and more flowers these days. I love flowers AND japanese, so that works out great!

As this blog covers quite a few weeks, I’m going to concentrate on the larger pieces that are nearing completion, (flowers and japanese!) and first of we have peter’s black and grey koi sleeve which is getting there

Stewart needed his sleeve extended, so we added a foo dog to his phoenix

John is working on a mad chessboard sleeve, it’s huge cover up, so it’s a good thing he loves lots of black with strong shapes and movement! This was John’s concept, in case you were surprised to see this style by me, but I am really enjoying the process.


Jules was after a cover up of some chunky little stars on her foot, luckily there were enough gaps between the stars to add some small forget me nots, and to balance it all out we took the design up over her ankle a bit, more flowers are always a good thing

That goes for Dee’s sleeve, too. The idea was to get a plant that symbolises every country that she has ties to, so as she is a well travelled lady, that was quite a few! We will be adding more detail as we go along, but are making good progress with the bold foreground flowers.

Faye also wanted symbolic flowers, hers were two lilies for her children, in the colours of their birth stones. She also added a protective dragon wrapping around them that symbolises herself. It’s a lovely way to add meaning to a decorative piece.

Jo is working on a sleeve that is all about flowers that grow in her garden and animals she observes in her little corner of the world. Inspired by old botanical drawings, we are keeping the lines fine and the colours muted, and designing the composition as we go along- all very organic 🙂

Laurenne has been working on her colourful backpiece in a similar way, here is a detail of a sun flower with a blue bee- yes, they exist, they are called carpenter bees and they are beautiful!

Sheena is going bold and bringing her black and grey chest piece up her throat. Today’s addidtion include chanterelle mushrooms, how cool is that? I have tattooed chanterelles before, as part of a sleeve on a chef from Glasgow, but they certainly don’t come up very often, even though they have a wonderfully tattooable shape…

I had three ladies over from germany to get tattooed, they like to come and visit Edinburgh, stay in a hotel a few nights and make a city break of it, and why not, Edinburgh is a beautiful place to visit.

The first one added some cherry blossoms to bring two pieces together that I did previously,

the second one added some cherry blossoms to a half sleeve done a while ago and a new peony on the other shoulder,

and the last one was after a colourful Tinkerbell 🙂 🙂

Farah likes the idea of a colourful sleeve that is based around winter, so the plants flower when it’s cold (plum blossom and persimmon) and the king fisher stays and doesn’t migrate to warmer climates, we will be adding snow and snowflakes as we go along- nice idea!

and here is a work in progress, I thought I’d include it because it’s a cute geisha 🙂


8th sept- 18th oct

Posted: 19/10/2017 in Uncategorized

after a bit of a break, Brian came back in to get his Horiyoshi backpiece worked on a bit more, we still had some detailling in the fabrics to do and made a start on the clouds in the background


Dave got two old school swallows on his hands, a tribute to his dad who has them, too, but from a good few years ago. Nice thought!

Jo is working on her nature sleeve, we added a wee goldfinch this time

althought he core of this tattoo was not by me, i’ve been working on drawing it out more and making it less dark and dense. She felt the original piece was a bit stuck on looking and was after something more organic and flowing.

more flowers, I’m doing a lot of them lately, and I love it! these were flowers that Alison chose because they represented countries that meant a lot to her and her identity. Two calf pieces, the first one was snap dragon and peas , I’m including the initial drawing as for once it didn’t look like chaos that only means something to me!

the other piece was a thistle and a nice canadian flower whose name escapes me now

Paul’s nautical themed sleeve in progress

I did a phoenix piece on Stewart a while back, and now it was time to add a foo dog and some clouds and cherry blossoms and go for the full sleeve



also going for a full sleeve is Peter, two koi and water in progress

Mark’s epic nautical leg in progress, this time we added the ship

Andrew wanted some poppies, which would cover up an older piece underneath

a bull frog. That’s the short version of a long story involving the shapeshifting gods of the hindu religion 🙂

another epic leg sleeve in progress! We finished the scales on Luc’s snake and even got to make a start on the colours

Amy is a tough girl, this phoenix is a cover up of a smaller phoenix, which had been outgrown. The ribs are no joke to get tattooed, so hats off to Amy!!

I have a few customers from Germany that come to see me, one of these is marko, and he always brings me mad ideas. I really just facilitate his collection of ecclectic images, and offer my expertise in putting them on his skin. We are working on a half sleeve of leaf type shapes, that have other images below and/or in them. We got a pink land scape and tiny city scape done, as a start, and filled one of the bigger leaves with a small goddess image. On the other arm we still had small gaps that needed filling, which we did 🙂

back to my more usual type of thing, a dragon 🙂 Paul had got a koi on the upper arm some time ago, and now decided to hell with it, go for the full sleeve. That’s ma boy!

Mark’s sleeve has been a long time in the making. In between he got a backpiece! But now it was time to tie up a few lose ends and call it complete.

Paddy is bringing his backpiece round his sides, we are doing two demons from japanese mythology, suitably crazy ones, of course!

and more flowers to finish this blog Jules had some small and poorly done flowers on her foot, which we covered with some forget-me-nots, and to have some fun, added some california poppies, daisies, violets and peonies. Rest of the colour next time

and Alexis got a yellow rose on her knee

The work on the Tribe animal sanctuary goes on as usual, for updates on all the furry and feathered residents which are supported by the profits from these tattoos, go to our facebook page   here

16th june- 12th july

Posted: 13/07/2017 in Uncategorized

we’ve been busy on the Tribe animal sanctuary, check our updates on the  facebook page

for that aspect of our work, and meet the furry and feathered residents!

tattoowise I’ve been busy with some wonderful projects, too.

Claire is finally finished with her backpiece, I say finally because she forgot all about it for a good few years and then came back to get it completed 🙂

Emma got her sleeve finished, too, we worked two foo dogs around some existing pieces (portrait by me, lady on the forearm by another artist). Emma chose muted colours for this piece, so we went with ochre and muted greens, blues and reds, giving it an understated look and letting the flow of the composition do the talking.

With Tom’s phoenix the colours most certainly do the talking, we chose bright as bright colours and used them in a way that makes them pop against each other, all possible partly due to Tom’s white as white skin. Another session to go on this one to bring it all together, specially where it joins onto the upper section which we did a number of years ago.

I’ve not posted about this next piece before, as it’s a scar cover up, and I don’t usually blog about these projects on the world wide web as they are usually of a more sensitive nature. However, some of my most rewarding pieces are scar cover ups, having a nice tattoo in place of some ugly scarring can be life changing! My customer in this instance agreed to let me post some after pictures of the project, in the hope that it might encourage others with scars to consider getting tattooed over them.

The scars came from a dark place, and the tattoo was to be light, colourful and life affirming, delicate and feminine, everything the scars were not. She loves how she can now proudly show her arms and the focus is on the tattoo and not the bumpy skin.


Another customer who has been coming to see me on occasion over the years, Andrew, felt it was time for another small addition to his tattoo, so we added a Hokusai wave to the bottom.

jo is working on a sleeve of botanical drawings, with a few birds and a fox thrown in for good measure. Today we concentrated on the dog rose and a small blue tit above the elbow. Again using more muted colours to give that old fashioned water colour illustration look.

Sheena had some henna done on er hand a while ago, and liked it so much, she got something like it tattooed 🙂

karen’s tattoo idea started off with a small illustration of a lady’s face that her son Jason drew, and we added ideas and textures as they occurred to her, all tied together with some sweeping art nouveau style shapes. Today we took one of those shapes and filled it with fire, and added some stylised poppies at the bottom. This contrasts nicely with the Escher butterflies we did next to it, and the stylised northern lights we are working on round the back of the arm.

farah is slowly working on a sleeve with flowers, it’s going to have a wintery background to it, so today’s flowers were some little plum blossoms, which can flower as early as february, and are often pictured with snow.

More botanical drawings, but this time like really old, etching style illustrations that you might find in an old text book. There will be a splash of colour in this, but mostly this is about the line work


I’m working on a project for Jade that involves covering, but not obliterating, some old home made pieces. We chose some strong geometric shapes to complement the arm and hand, whilst retaining some of the randomness of the original collection of tattoos. Overall this will look beautiful but with surprising irregularities, i can’t really think of a better way to describe it! the key here is for me to take Jade’s ideas on board now that I have come up wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzgtzu7777777777777777777 (cat typing, sorry)  with the overall concept that would work technically to cover the home made pieces somewhat, because I want that unusual input to keep it ‘Jade’.

this is how it looked before we started

and up to now


a cute cute piece for Breagha to finish the blog, she and her sister have just released their first album called ‘target girl’ with their band Bratacus, how fitting!

19th may- 13th june

Posted: 15/06/2017 in Uncategorized

Exciting news! Tribe now has it`s own animal sanctuary! We got the keys and are now getting the place ready for our rescued residents- soooo much to do… fences, grass cutting,  building the chicken run, cleaning and more cleaning, then some more cleaning….

We are applying for charity status at the moment, so you will be happy to know that all the profits from tribe will go towards helping the animals. You can keep up to date with our progress on our facebook page, and meet our first residents, two highland coos called Lachlan and Moorag 🙂 like us here    We will be adding photos and updates for you.

Of course the tattooing will, and has continued as usual.

I had two lovely customers from Germany make the trip to Edinburgh to get some work, Doreen had been getting floral and ornamental work and now liked the idea of pink magnolia flowers and a wee humming bird

and the piece on  Nicole was inspired by her love  for Las Vegas and white lilies

Paul decided it was about time he got his first tattoo, and to celebrate overcoming some challenging times in his life, he chose a black and grey koi piece. The koi symbolises struggle, as it battles up stream to get to the place it needs to be to become the enlightened dragon, a higher being in Japanese mythology.

Phil`s unusual black and grey chrysanthemum half sleeve is nearly done, just a fine tuning session and he`s good to go. Usually flowers are done in colour of course, but they can be just as effective in black and grey, if a bit moodier maybe.

My next project was also unusual, Jade had a fairly random collection of tattoos, some home made, some not, plus scars, and some were to be covered, while some were to stay.

Tattoos are massively personal of course, they tell a story about the wearer and will reflect our personalities. Jade`s collection struck me as random, irreverent and somewhat humorous, and I didn’t really want to get completely rid of that, so I was looking more to consolidate and enhance artistically what was already there.

We chatted about a few options, and as she liked patterns and dot work, putting some designs like that together seemed like a striking and flexible way to work around existing pieces or cover others up, without ruining the character. In true Jade style, when she saw the purple transfer I used to stencil on the pattern work, she decided right there and then that she would like it done in purple ink instead of black 🙂

there will be a matching circular pattern on the hand, but we ran out of time this session.

a cute barn owl, the start of a nature half sleeve

Farah is starting a sleeve of flowers, and as she only wants flowers with a background behind them, we are able to add the flowers one by one, rather than work out the whole sleeve design first.

Today we went ahead and did a blue chrysanthemum

Talk about taking it slowly, Martin had last been in 5 years ago! Today he was back to get some more colour done and to bring the sleeve onto his hand. We will still need to finish off the original sleeve, there is some detailling and fine tuning still to be done. Five years, tsk tsk….:)

and for something unusual, this is a cover up of a dragon, to make it easier for us, it had been lasered a few times to make it lighter.

more flower pieces, two cute small ones, one is a cover up of a small fairy on an ankle

and I’ve got two  black and grey nautical themed sleeves on the go, and I use the term nautical loosely. In both cases it’s a collage of images including a mermaid and an octopus of sorts.

Paul’s sleeve got some work done to his ship and watery reflection done (not finished yet)

and Matthews sleeve is getting the last pieces added, his collage includes images that are decorative and meaningful to him, but maybe not what you’d expect in a nautical sleeve, and the overall effect is eclectic and intriguing.

Lynn is the proud owner and rescuer of a beautiful bull called Prince, and had a portrait of him done by another artist, and today we added the logo of her organisation ‘Lotus Animal Sanctuary’. You can follow Prince and his story  and the great work Lynn does on the Lotus  animal sanctuary facebook page.

Margaret likes the look of old botanical drawings, so we are putting together a collage of plants that she likes, got the main design lined and had some time to start on the detailling in the fern.  Like the etching of an old botanical illustration, this will be just in Black lines and hatchings to give it that victorian look

Tom is getting more colour in his phoenix

Paddy’s back is pretty much finished. A few finishing touches to tie it all together and he is done, a japanese nightmare that covers his arms and back! His tattoos have been a journey into the dark and surreal world of japanese ghosts and ghouls, combined with the nighmarish artwork of Nick Blinko. The whole thing looks quite pleasant, black and grey illustrations that swirl around the body in a decorative way, until you look a bit closer 🙂