2nd-19th November

Posted: 22/11/2016 in Uncategorized

I’m mostly known for my colour and japanese work, but i do enjoy soft black and grey at times, too! This blog contains a few such pieces like this one on Colin, who is working up to a full sleeve of roses and scrolls, with other objects thrown in for good measure.

In a way these soft black and grey sleeves follow the same sort of path that i take with my japanese designs, except the elements and background are completely different. We start out with the basic narrative, then choose the objects, then the background, and lastlyย  put it all together with the flow that I’m after. In Colin’s case this will end up black and grey ๐Ÿ™‚

Someone who has been more higgledy piggledy in her approach has been the lovely Alex, with her we knew the basic narrative and sort of components, but we just kept adding at whim whatever made her smile and took her fancy. Then she changed the look of the whole thing by darkening down the background, which really worked, but it did mean that we just ran out of time before she had to return to her native Atlanta- gutted! There are some loose ends still to be tied up, but I’m sure her tattooist in Atlanta will do a good job, i just have to not be such a control freak.

this huffy rabbit is from Alex’s sleeve, and that’s a bit how i feel about running out of time ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t tattoo hands very often, I’m a bit old school and feel that you need to have your arms covered before you move onto your hands. The new school of thought seems to be that it’s pointless to have tattoos where no one can see them, and these people start with their hands and necks, each to their own i suppose. But I’m still old school- ha.

I was please to tattoo Paddy’s hand, who had run out of space on his arms years ago, and wanted a foo dog in colour. We put one on his hand, and i fully expect to continue working on this piece more- Paddy’s a joiner and this tattoo will be in for a rough healing time. I expect the ink to drop out in places, and I will fix this next time, and see how much detail we can get away with adding. I kept it fairly simple for the first pass, to not traumatise the skin too much and make the healing even rougher. We can always add to it.

And strangely enough I did another hand tattoo, another foo! Completely unrelated customers, strange how these things happen! Mark was after a black and grey foo, even though his sleeve is in colour. On his other arm he has black and grey work, so he felt it would be good to have two matching, black and grey foo dogs on his hands. If he changes his mind, we can always add some colour at a later date, although the colour palette will be muted due to the grey underneath.

Brad is working on his chest piece, we added some more yellow to the rays. Clouds and background will set this piece off most dramatically

We finished Ross’ phoenix ๐Ÿ™‚

And as we had finished Paddy’s (not foo dog hand Paddy) crazy sleeves, it was time to move onto his back. We are planning an epic piece for his back, so we just worked on the border at the top, in keeping with his mad Nick Blinko art ‘japanese’ tattoos.

I had tried to shoot a short video of his sleeves for you, as i felt that would be the best way to appreciate how mad they actually are, but that was a complete failure. My video looked like something out of the Blair Witch Project, and i wont embarrass myself by posting it on here.ย  I will try and get better at it, though, because it could be a good way to show my work, which often doesn’t photograph so well due to the movement in the pieces.

So here is a photo of Paddy, instead, and even that is of ropey quality.Sorry.

More black and grey, but the next two pieces are more delicate and traditional that Paddy’s.

David’s sleeve

and Andrew’s alethiometer, another soft black and grey sleeve in the making

helen was back to get the rest of her wedding flowers done, such a sweet idea

In case anyone was wondering what happened to Ozzy Bill, he is back, and getting more black! This is an epic piece of pure black with thin white lines, covering his arms and legs, and we are by no means finished. Bill had not been in for quite a while, sometimes it’s hard to find the time or stamina for such a massive undertaking, but he is back in the game. Bring on the Black!

Samantha’s roses sleeve couldn’t be a more different project form Bill’s:)

Or Jessica’s nature 1/2 sleeve in soft shades

And last but not least, Pedro’s surreal tree sleeve, we loved mixing it up here, and the effect is intriguing and dream like, people looking at it tend to go all quiet as they try and figure out why the objects are put together in this way. We played with textures and composition around the central element of the tree, and everything surrounding it has a meaning to Pedro and his family.





Roz and me went to France to work at the Evian tattoo convention for the weekend! I used to go to conventions with Roz all the time, but since she had her baby Rowan, she has had her hands full and traveling to conventions were off the menu for her. Rowan is 3 now, and Roz fancied another trip, so we plotted this one- a cute little spa resort town in foothills of the french alps, where the famous water comes from.

The line up of artists sounded fab, and i was really happy to be part of it, specially as i had heard good things about this convention. We weren’t disappointed! Dat the organiser put on a great wee show, us artists were well looked after and the convention was busy all weekend. Happy days!

Our journey took us to Geneva, then on a train along the lake, then onto a metro and last but not least a ferry- just as well we travelled light!

When we got to the venue to set up, we saw that our spot at the convention had a view to the lake and a bottle of- of course- Evian on the table. ๐Ÿ™‚

this is what the place looks like before everyone arrives and unpacks

and this is it once everyone has set up and the convention is in full swing! This is the section we were in, there were many more of course.

I had promised Roz a cat in a peony tattoo, so we did that straight away.

Strangely enough another girl wanted one, too! she saw Roz’s design and loved it, so (with Roz’s consent) I did another, similar one. I think everyone needs a cat peeking out of a peony! This is a photo of the drawing before, while she was standing, and then the picture of the finished piece s when she was leaning forward. that’s why they look so different, it stretches quite a lot when you lean over

A whole day was taken up by Fred, who wanted me to do some manga style waves etc behind his existing pieces. fred follows me on instagram so he felt confident to just let me do my thing, which is great of course. We tattooed for nearly 9 hours (!), but then Fred had the best part of a sleeve done. Unfortunately he didn’t want a cat peeking out of a peony, but there was room for a peony without cat. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wish I’d taken the time to take some decent photos of his piece, but by the end of that shift we were both just keen to wrap it up. it was actually quite a bold and colourful piece, but the photos don’t tell you that.

i managed to take some photos around the convention, there were characters of course (thank god! what’s a convention without it’s bams?) This guy was my favourite, he was always on the move so I never got a good picture of him. He was wearing a Daffy Duck track suit and a towel over his head.

there were ‘tattoo celebrities’ like Theresa Sharp, in fact a lot of really great artists

I liked this arm with the dragon coming off it

Roz and me managed to sneak away for a trip to the nearby spring, the source of all Evian water, where people fill their bottles. We filled ours of course- I don’t know if Strathmore would approve!

before long it was an early morning ‘au revoir’ to Evian and back home.

back in the studio i had Pedro in, we are working on a background to his sleeve, today his pelican got a fireworky sky behind him, he now looks rather special.

Laurennes ‘monmon’ cat got a gladiola to lean into, also part of a background ๐Ÿ™‚

and Rannoch is moving onto his back with his tattoo collection, with two shishi/ foo dogs. These designs are not by me, but they work really well with his collection.

Ross got some colour in his phoenix,

while liam got his phoenix outlined

Luke is getting me to rework a dragon sleeve by another artist, it’s looking a lot more vibrant now with some bright colours

colin added a clock face and some acanthus leaves to the top of his piece

and another Colin got his poppies finished and the lower section started, with a light pink rose.

There has been a change of the guards in our Glasgow studio- Angie has left the reception to do a ‘grown up job’ in a bank

๐Ÿ˜ฆย ย ย ย  We will miss her!

Taking her place is young barry, he has worked in tattoo studios on reception before, so you are in safe hands! ๐Ÿ™‚




I managed to squeeze a quick overnight visit to London into my weekend, and check out the annualย  London tattoo convention. I rate this convention as one of the best anywhere, lots of amazing international artists ply their trade that you would never get to see any other way. You can just stand and watch them work, flip through their portfolios and maybe pick up a print of their artwork if they have any for sale. I go into full throttle nerd mode when I’m there, it’s great to watch all the different ways of tattooing, machines and inks. Everyone has their own way of dong what is essentially the same basic process, there are of course the ones who use no electricity, only hand tapping the ink into the skin

and for those of us who use machines, there are a lot of trade stalls where you can browse different kinds of them, run them and see how they perform. Endless fun!

I noticed that some of the tattooists who were blowing us all away just a couple of years ago, and who were feted and hailed as gods, had been overtaken by the next ‘big thing’ and were not being paid much attention to

things develop and progress at such a rate, and the new talent is coming thick and fast with hundreds of thousands of ‘instagram followers’ in their tail, that it’s a case of here today, gone tomorrow. I was left wondering if the age of the ‘super star tattooist’ had passed. It’s hard to come up with anything new, and the boundaries of technical ability has pretty much gone as far as it can with the prevalence of incredible photo realism- what can you do now to blow people away?

I think I noticed a few more artist who were producing more dark and gritty, illustrative work, maybe that’s a reaction to all the photo realistic portraits and roses. here are some of my favourites

there were a few artist who had ‘black metal’ style logos, you know the ones that no one can make out what they say


I loved this guy’s stall. No portfolio. No nothing except business cards and three horrible, massive, rusty nails. Nice! ๐Ÿ™‚

this guy is always fun to watch. he charges something like ยฃ400 euros an hour, but it must work out an ok deal, because when he gets going he is like possessed, going at a furious pace. i hate to think what that feels like.

With my interest in Japanese tattoos, I’m always pleased to see The Daddy of modern japanese tattooing, Shige of Yellow Blaze studio in Japan. I owe him a lot.

Also spotted Horiyoshi III’s son tattooing, I didn’t know anything about this person, but he’s certainly got a good start in his career with a dad like that!

Apart from the tattoo convention i enjoyed a trip down Brick Lane, where i was staying. It’s hard to beat for street food, vibe and quirkiness!

This guy made me some healthy pancakes with coconut chocolate on top. I love how the urban art in the background makes him look like a kind of saint- a pancake saint!

London is always fun for people spotting

and here’s a guy selling coffee from out of the top of a London cab. Genius.

beautiful detail reminding us that Brick lane used to be the centre of tailoring with the immigration of the Huguenots

The next day i had time to go and look at some paintings, another one of my favourite past times. I spotted some tattoos on a couple of paintings from 1851! Captain Cook had brought the idea of tattoos back from his voyages onlyย  ~50 years earlier, so to see them in a painting is quite remarkable. You need to look carefully at the forearms in the bottom of the compositions, it may not be that obvious in the photos, but when you’re standing in front of the paintings the tattoos are very obvious.

as for tattoos I did this week, there was Laurenne’s cute ‘mon mon‘ cat (we designed our own) with her lily of the valley. In progress

also nice and colourful is Kirsty’s manga style piece, the flowers and peacock are based on a spray painted mural, and we might still add some of the more urban looking drippy detail in the background. The peacock covers some scarring left over from some terrible tattooing and some heavy handed lasering. None of it by us, i hasten to add

gareth’s tiger got some colour

dave’s black and grey sleeve is making progress

and Scott’s sleeve is finally finished, after having started it 6 years ago!

We made a start on Andrew’s half sleeve, today we tackled the cover up . The pin up will be surrounded by fairly dense detail, Andrew has a whole pile of ideas he would like incorporated, so we will see where this leads us. So far I’m liking his ideas

and last but not least another installment on Tony’s leg piece

September, and my time to pack my bags and go to work in Hamburg for a week, at my friend Charly’s studio ‘Jungbluth’. I have some lovely regulars in Hamburg, including of course Martje, who is getting quite a bit of work done including this colourful goddess we are working on. The goddess is Kwan Yin, the goddess of compassion and mercy- or as Martje calls her ‘the vegan chick’ ๐Ÿ™‚


Danker decided to get some another wing/ feathers kind of shape to connect to one we did a while ago, and to connect with another, older piece to make a sleeve. We got some of the shading done, and apart from finishing that next time, we also want to add some dates in the gaps. The dates will be in a rough typewriter font, done in a punky ‘ransom letter’ kind of graphic style, with splashes of red and black. Danker sings in a punk band, so this look will be perfect for him.

Christine is getting a fairy backpiece, we did the last session on this when Christine was in scotland, travelling around in her beautiful campervan. We were all pretty jealous of her motor!

Lisa got a dram catcher on her side, this piece was a struggle for her from the first dot til the last, poor lisa!! We tried everything for the pain, numbing creams of all types, but nothing really worked. I felt terrible. Some people are just very sensitive to pain, and the ribs are famously tender. We got there in the end, but I would love to get a chance to work on it just a bit more…poor Lisa will probably kill me though.

Even though I only go to Hamburg twice a year, I’ve managed to do a full back piece and a chest piece on Marko, just chipping away at it every time I’m over. (Actually, he did come to Scotland once in between, too. Good old easyjet flies direct these days) This time we started on a half sleeve, as usual Marko has a wonderfully eclectic mixture of graphic elements he wants to include, my job is to fit them together and make it work. The top is a masked lady that on first glance could also be a butterfly, going into a softly shaded city scape with trees and a wee figure crossing a tight rope. There is also some lettering in there, we made a good start on the basics, but I can’t wait to see this finished!

back in Edinburgh, I had Gerald in who has decided to take his sleeve down onto his hand. He likes this illustrative skull, which works well with the work we have been building up on his arm over the years. make that decades haha!

We also added a little bit a script on the forearm, it’s from a bottle of jameson whisky ๐Ÿ™‚

Ian was after a night sky to tie together some existing pieces he had been collecting on his upper arm. Once this has settled in I will revisit it and make sure all works together with the older tattoos.

Mark is getting a fiery dragon in warm colours and with autumn leaves, as a contrasting colour we added some teals to the belly scales and crest. Some yellow in the flames and hair will finish this off nicely.

also working on some pink roses as scar cover up

Laurenne fell in love with the mon mon cats

(by artist Horitomo), so we designed one just for her, with peacock feathers. This is just the first session, there will be flowers surrounding the cat and background, love it ๐Ÿ™‚


I had two weeks off at the beginning of august, one for doing Edinburgh festival stuff/ lazing around in the garden (which was great ๐Ÿ™‚ )

and one pretty much for fecking jury duty. I was cited for the tuesday and managed to shift enough appointments to make it just about work,ย  ended up with 4 days off to do my jury duty. Of course I didn’t get picked the first day, got asked to come back on the third day, didn’t get picked, etc, and in the end I was excused. What a monumental waste of everyone’s time! Next time I’m called, I’m going online and booking a hotel for the dates- anywhere- and say I have aย  holiday booked and i can’t make it.

Anyway, rant over. I did some tattooing in the second half of august, so here goes!

roses are a popular choice, and I did a fair few recently. Here is Colin, who is getting a lot of roses eventually, with a few other objects of his choice in between. Roses compliment pretty much anything you put them with, a design classic that manages to be romantic without being sugary- I think that’s because of the thorns on the stems, they have a bit of a sinister side.

Dave is working on a dragon and foo dog sleeve, today we added a wee pagoda in the background. Nothing makes a scene look more japanese than a pagoda (although I did find myself wondering what actually goes on inside of them. I will look it up) (it’s a place of worship. must be small congregations)

my next piece is very romantic, Helen wanted a tattoo based on her wedding flowers. We chose the main features of the bouquet for her tattoo, and although there is still a bit of work to do, the resemblance is already there

Alex was in for a couple of finishing touches on his geisha and tengu sleeve. (The tengu artwork is not mine)

I covered some old self harm scars with some cute, illustrative daisies. I wish more people with these type of scars would chose to get them covered with a nice tattoo, it makes a remarkable difference.

If you have some, and have been advised that your only option is a skin graft, please come and see me!

my next customer, Kirsty, had had some lasering done on her old tattoo and was ready to get it covered. Kirsty had come across some manga style graffiti and loved the colours and chunky fluidity of it. We used these elements to our advantage, and will add a cute manga girl (not the ones in this artwork) and some drippy spray paint style background, too.

I’ve been tattooing some bright and colourful work on Alex, and she surprised me this time by saying she had experimented with her eyeliner on her tattoo, and was now in favour of some more black in the background.

this has the advantage of helping to bring out the different animals and figures, and tones down the overall brightness of it. I like it! I liked it bright, too, but the more muted effect really brings out the shapes.( the nymph piece at the top is not by me, I’ve just been adding on to it)

Another sleeve in progress, this one is for Elliot, and we are going for lots of movement and detail

and to finish how I started this blog- some roses. This will be a half sleeve of mostly black and grey ones, with maybe one coloured one somewhere. Samantha’s son has black and grey roses tattooed, so she is getting, some, too. It’s a family affair ๐Ÿ™‚

oh, and a wee piece i did, it’s reference to Dougie’s Hebridean heritage

22nd- 30th july

Posted: 11/08/2016 in Uncategorized

Some of you may remember our artist Didi, he worked with us in Glasgow for a few years before opening his own studio in Edinburgh. Well, he has decided that running his own business is not for him after all, and he has come back to Tribe- we are thrilled to have him on the team again! He’s a wonderful artist and great fun to have around. If you want a piece by him, he is in our Edinburgh studio, just get in touch via the website or phone the shop.

I’m still working on Stevie’s piece, bringing some existing work by another artist into a full sleeve with japanese flowers. The original work was black and grey, but we added a little colour to help blend it in. Looks like the elbow needs a second pass….. he won’t like that.

update on Tony’s progress, we worked on two sections today. Staring out adding a bit of colour to his leg, but Tony was not having a good time lying down. He has a badly behaved horse who chucked him off (again) and Tony hurt his back and neck, making it painful to lie in the position he needed to be to work on his leg piece.

We changed tack and finished off some colour that was still missing on his back. Hats off to Tony for coming in to get tattooed when he was injured!

Laurenne is getting an elegant kitsune piece, a kitsune is a magical and mischievous fox with nine tails, a favourite in japanese mythology. Laurenne’s kitsune is sitting in the night, we will add a moon and stars over the shoulder and the fox will be joined by some cats, too. Can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚

More red and blue, Colin is getting some colour in his poppies

more colour for Mark, too

and the start of a massive tiger for gareth. This will be in black and grey, and is looking up at the dragon on Gareth’s chest that we did a few years ago.

Jim has two beautiful cats, I did one portrait at the last edinburgh tattoo convention, and now it was time for the second one.

Enjoy the edinburgh festival, everyone!!!

29th june- 16th july

Posted: 17/07/2016 in Uncategorized

working up from Ian’s wrist, we needed a background to the tree silhouettes and up into the gaps between the tattoos at the top of his arm. Those gaps are of a middling size- not big enough to squeeze in any new pieces, but quite large for just background. We decided on a night sky as a background with some character, and as a way of tying together a few fairly unconnected images Ian collected on his travels. The start we made today will be refined and tidiedย  as we progress, with clouds where we have space and where it seems appropriate.

A similar challenge presents itself with pedro’s sleeve, there are a few really nice images that work together but could benefit from a background. The background can’t detract from the foreground pieces, so we need something completely different looking that wont swampย  the delicate flowers and gnarled tree. Pedro liked the idea of having something with a completely different texture, so we did some dotwork clouds and some hatched lines in the foreground, which we may tone down a bit with some shading once everything is settled down and healed. The effect will be nice and illustrative

We are creeping onto Laurenne’s arm! her tattoos are spreading from her back to where she can see them. Today we made a quick start on what will be a colourful fox piece

Matthew handed me a curveball when he announced he wanted a skull octopus on the top of his arm, but it was great fun- love the idea! ๐Ÿ™‚

Mark is going for blue water on his sleeve, which is unconventional and sets off the chrysanthemum well

Frankie’s half sleeve is a work in progress, the roses will have lace behind them, this will make them stand out nicely

Getting to the end of Alex’s crazy wonderful sleeve! we’ve to add a few flowers to the top of the design (which is not by me, the lady figure and hair), fill in some gaps and darken some colours here and there. This has been a really fun piece, it just developed and grew and has a lot of beautiful shapes, colours, cute characters and a lot of humour in it. You’d never get tired of looking at it, which is how Alex wanted it. She supplied the cute ideas and I put it together for her

Colin is getting a half sleeve of images that have meaning to him, his family crest protected by two foo dogs, and some remembrance poppies. Today we made a start on shading the foos and lined the poppies, which will be in colour

One of my Hamburg customers was planning a holiday in Scotland this summer, and booked a tattoo appointment for while she was here, clever girl! ๐Ÿ™‚

we worked on her green fairy a bit more

Aileen got a couple of flowers added to her leg piece, her white skin shows off the colours beautifully. And she always looks so glamorous when she comes into the studio! makes me feel bad! Just look at those shoes…..

Brad is the original hipster, we have decided. Young hipsters want to have their photo taken with him because he is so cool, so we have been teasing him- to be fair it’s not just the hipsters, Brad has the photographers round him like the paparazzi when he comes to get tattooed at the convention. How does he do it?

Today we started on the background to his jesus chest piece. The jesus will be a fair bit darker, now that we have decided on the light coming from behind him. Originally there was going to be a city scape behind him, so I kept the central figure quite light so that he wouldn’t get lost.