If you weren’t at this year’s Scottish Tattoo convention, you missed out! A beautifully sunny weekend and the corn exchange in Edinburgh was buzzing with tattooists from all over Europe and beyond, trade stalls, stage shows and a great aftershow party. My old friend Laura Buss (Tex) was over from San Francisco, and working alongside me and Raffi, she is an amazing artist and it was great to have time to spend together.

The good thing about working a tattoo convention in your home town is that you can bring all your own comfy seats and benches with you, I even brought my trolley and lamp, so it was just like working in the studio- apart from the huge amount of people strolling past of course!

I also brought along some drawings and a painting to decorate my booth, I was going for the kind of arty, bohemian look 🙂

But in earnest, I do feel that it’s important to show that as tattooists, we are artists who operate in other mediums, too. Specially with my style, which is big, flowing and mostly freehand, I need to give potential customers a reason to trust me artistically. I know lots of tattooists work closely from detailled reference material and have everything laid out before the first line is tattooed. I take my inspiration from the customer’s body, be it arm, leg, back or wherever, and get to work from there- this required quite a level of trust from the client, specially when there are no detailled drawings, if anything just a very rough compositional sketch.

I am forever grateful for the trust my customers have in me.

Two of my clients at the convention allowed me to show off my Japanese inspired freehand work, first was Emma, a seasoned convention veteran. She had two existing pieces on her arm, one a portrait of her wee son we did a number of years ago at a convention in Manchester. The other is a lady jumping, (I forget who the artist is), and my job was to construct a full sleeve working around these two pieces, including foo dogs and some ginko leaves. Got a good bit done, great fun!

also getting some freehand is Luc, we started a mahoosive snake on his leg and for this session I concentrated on some background shading. It was Luc’s first time getting tattooed at a convention, and I think he quite liked the distraction of all the weird and wonderful people walking past and stopping to look and chat- it is a real buzz. The only downside of getting tattooed in from of a curious audience is that you probably don’t want to start gurning  if it gets painful 🙂

The real convention veteran was of course Brad, a favourite with the photographers…we added some clouds to the top of his shoulder and as usual, the paps drawn to him like moths to the light.

I had hung a painting of Brad up in my booth, so that added to the fun.  I painted Brad as the uncompromising political activist I know him to be, and had the luxury of knowing what all of his tattoos mean to him and his views. I’m glad he liked it!

Back in the studio, I’m working on a long term project on Clair’s back. There was a long break where Clair was busy and anyway we were waiting for the lasered section -an old tribal piece that ran across the top of her back, right across the geisha’s face- to lighten up more. The geisha is based on a photograph of Clair taken in Japan, where they dressed her up as a geisha in all the traditional kimonos.

I also did a purple lily on Lorna’s foot, we had done one similar on the other foot 10 years or so ago, and now another mile stone had occurred in her life that needed celebrating with a tattoo 🙂

Kiaran needed a wee robin on her hand, so cute!

And then for something completely different, Karen wanted a colourful, abstract piece including a drawing her daughter had done of a lady’s face. We added Esher style butterflies, too, for a completely different texture. Not my usual style, but I love it, and I had a lot of freedom to create flow and shapes.

Dave’s sleeve is getting there, sorry about the shiny pictures

Alexis is getting a vintage inspired floral leg piece, we are starting to include some more random elements like this tea cup. The decoration on the cup is based on the crest of Glasgow, which has been worked into some of the more ornate lamp posts in the city, a nice  local reference.

another session on Paddy’s japanese acid trip 🙂

The start of a pretty geisha for Tiffany

and some additions to Laura’s water colour sketch style piece on her shoulder. Today we added some sweet peas, and  took the opportunity to darken some of the original sketchy lines on her back

some colour for Jason’s sleeve, only little bits in the flowers

another robin! I’ve never done any robins, and then two. They are very special wee things, and look sweet in Jo’s vintage flower illustration type of work

I’m working on a traditional, heavy black windbars kind of japanese sleeve for Liam. Unfortunately the last session will need to wait a bit until the lasering has worked a bit more, then we will add a peony to the inner forearm.

More flowers, Alan got a nice simple, illustrative piece on his forearm

We added a section to link Tony’s thigh pieces with his chest, upper back and arm designs. We wanted them to be a bit more subdued and softer than the other pieces, we will see how that settles in and how it looks. We can always add more depth if we think it needs it

Nothing subtle about Laurenne’s pink flower! It’s a doreen flower, in memory of her mum. Laurenne’s work started out as a delicate scar cover up after she survived breast cancer, but now we are getting bolder and bolder, and the subtle wee cherry blossoms needed a facelift to keep up 🙂

Another session on Michael’s half sleeve, that’s us finished his koi and shishi piece

after a long absence, Tom was booked in to bring his half sleeve down onto his forearm, with a snake and a skull. However when he got there, he said he would prefer a phoenix if that was alright 🙂

course it was…


10th feb – 9th march

Posted: 12/03/2017 in Uncategorized

Apologies for my long absence here, I’ve been crazy busy of late. I’m putting together some major changes-which I’m very VERY excited about- but I’d like to be a bit further along before I  go public, so watch this space 🙂

The lovely Laurenne came to me a while ago to get some post operative scars covered, she had been though a lot and wanted to do something nice for herself, so we did some very delicate cherry blossoms on a wee branch on her back. Laurenne took to getting tattooed like a duck to water, and now we have been going a bit nuts, covering her in beautiful flowers and creatures in wonderful colours- I love it!

Another customer was looking to get some old scars covered up, I remembered to get a snap of the scars before I got too far down the road of drawing on the dragon

the dragon isn’t finished yet, but as you can see, the scars are well disguised, and not nearly as obvious as they were. The scars are actually a bit raised in this picture, that is what happens when you aggravate them by puncturing the skin during the tattooing process, it goes down again, making the scars even less noticeable.

Actually you can notice this in the next picture, too, Paddy had stretchmarks across his back from growing up fast as a teenager. They are not normally noticeable, but after the tattooing is done, the are raised.

Paddy is getting a backpiece of a Japanese ghost, the internet says this about them:

Japanese folklore has a rich and terrifying tradition of ghost stories.

Japanese ghosts (yurei) are spirits that have been prevented from a peaceful resting place by dramatic events during their life. Often they are murder or suicide victims . In other cases, an injustice has sparked intense desires of love,revenge, sorrow or hatred — these desires are so strong that the ghost is able to transcend death to dwell on the earth.

I love them and am thrilled that Paddy is just as keen! The skeleton at the bottom is after a print by Kuniyoshi from 1844, and the ghost coming from it’s mouth is inspired by the many images of japanese yurei in japanese art. There will, of course, be more ghosts and skeletons in the background 🙂

Tony’s thigh pieces are getting there, some tweaking here and there, but broadly speaking  it’s all in place, looking lively and vibrant.

Work on Jason’s sleeve is getting there, some colour in the maple leaves and general tidying up to do

Laura’s lotus is finished, the lotus is a flower that symbolises spiritual enlightenment blossoming from humble beginnings, like the lotus whose roots and tendrils go down into the muddy waters and produce a wonderful flower.

laura’s lotus includes two little initials, hidden in the tendrils.

Peter had moved on from an old tattoo of a small dragon he got a long time ago, and had been getting our Laura to laser it and a couple of bits of the tribal that surrounded it. This had opened up a nice space for a new, much bigger dragon going onto the chest.


It’s great to have a laser technician in the shop, we can work together on projects like this. She lightened the whole thing up enough for me to design the new piece over it, and then she can just concentrate on specific areas that need more attention once the man design is in place.


Liam is getting a phoenix in bright colours, this will be a full sleeve when Laura has done a few more laser sessions on some pieces on his forearm, in the meantime we are finishing up the top part.

Paddy got a name covered on his foot with some acanthus leaves with wee skulls in them. We called this creation ‘death berries’ 🙂

More acanthus leaves, and roses and other elements, Mark’s sleeve is pretty much complete (nothing is ever really done if you’re like me), we added some latin script at the top, giving it a classic look. There is actually some old script hidden in the leaves on the inner forearm, our Glasgow laser technician Roz had lightened it enough to make it a doddle to cover. Oh, and the rose on the shoulder is covering something, too,  forget what.

A customer from Hamburg came to see me, the one and only Martje, we revisited the first piece I ever did on her, and extended it onto the forearm- clouds with flowers and shells. It’ll need some more work here and there but we ran out of time, and like Cinderella, Martje had to disappear….. back to Hamburg.

Luc is getting an epic snake on his leg, big, bold and it’ll be colourful. If you’re coming to the scottish tattoo convention this month -and you absolutely should- you might see Luc there, getting more work on this piece.

Last, but certainly not least, Gerald got a portrait of his cute wee daughter. All the ‘awwws’ 🙂



20th- 8th February

Posted: 09/02/2017 in Uncategorized

A sleeve in three sessions! that’s what can happen if you can sit for the whole day (7 1/2 hours) and are only getting black and grey mostly. It’s hard going, but Brett sat like a rock, which helps.

There is a great story behind the design of this sleeve

there was a girl in Japan who was searching for her long lost father. In her search she came across a priest and a young girl, the priest explained that he was about to sacrifice the girl to the dragon who lived in the water below the rocks. This dragon terrified the local community and could only be placated with the regular sacrifice of young virgins, the power the dragon held was because he was in possession of a magical statue of an emperor. This statue he kept in a cave, but if the local people could get the statue back, they would be free.

Our hero decided she would jump into the water pretending to be the sacrificial virgin, but she would have a knife and kill the dragon, get the statue and release the people from the reign of terror.

here she is, about to jump in with her knife

the dragon is lured out of the cave thinking a virgin was about to be sacrificed, leaving the statue unguarded

the priest and saved virgin child stand by….

we leave you to imagine the ensuing slaughter….

anyway! here are some nice roses. By the time we have added teal to all the leaves and finished off the roses with any detailing they need, the scars underneath will be well disguised, which pleases me greatly. I love covering up scars with something pretty.

more pretty flowers, this time on Jo, she is getting cottage garden kind of flowers, done in an old fashioned illustrative style, from botanical books. We toned down the colour and the realism to capture that effect. (Except for the fox, that was from a photo of a fox in Jo’s garden). This will be a whole sleeve eventually. Sorry about the quality of the photos

Paul is working on a nautical sleeve, we already did a ship at the top, and now there is a mermaid looking up at it. We are gong for quite an illustrative, collage-y feel for this sleeve, in black and grey

Jason was in to get a sleeve, and unusually he wanted it to include the hand from the beginning.

Now I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to hand tattoos, to me it’s not the place where you start your collection, but where you get tattooed once you have earned your stripes and run out of space. Back in the day when you saw someone with their hand tattooed, you’d think ‘whoa, they must be covered, respect’.  I tattooed my hand when I’d been working in the industry for 20 years, feeling that I’d paid my dues.

That seems quaint and marks me out as an old timer who adheres to an old type of tattoo etiquette, I’m aware of that, but I don’t really mind. I know that now there is a general feeling that ‘getting tattooed where no one can see it, is a waste of time’. The new tattooists on the scene either are unaware of the old school etiquette, don’t care about it, or are aware but really, really want that picture of the hand tattoo on their instagram, so they flaunt it.

Jason already had one tattoo when he came to me- on his hand. Now I can see from the quality of the piece that the tattooist lacked experience, specially when it comes to hand tattoos, so he was still new to the game. I found myself wondering if he had considered any of the above, or that jason is a young guy and the hand tattoo might get in the way of getting a job or any of those things that used to concern us as tattooists.

I’m not bemoaning the passing of some golden age of tattooing, some of the ‘rules’ we used to have were pure crap, and a lot of the innovations and trends coming into the tattoo scene these days are amazing and lift our industry from ‘craft’ to ‘art’. I’m just a bit surprised to find myself witnessing the evolution. I just went off on one there, didn’t  I, sorry.

Coming back to Jason’s tattoo, seeing as he already had his other hand tattooed, and he actually now wanted some major coverage, I was happy to jump in and go right down onto his hand. It was admittedly great fun to be able to design the piece to come right down to the knuckles, there is a lot of movement in the hand that lends itself wonderfully to the flow of the piece.

First session we drew it on and did the outline, two weeks later he came back for another session when we did some of the background shading

here’s a wee dragon wrapping round an old, even weer dragon 🙂

Mark has been working on his sleeve for a number of years now, we got side tracked by the backpiece we did on him in the meantime… but now we are actually getting there. Thankfully for Mark we ran out of time just as  was tackling the elbow. The tentacles in the waves will have to wait

Samantha is working on a 3/4 sleeve of roses. There is some colour and background to go in, but we are getting to the end

More roses, they do make good tattoos, on Colin’s sleeve. This  black and grey piece is all about family, the time of his marriage is on the clock face, his family crest and we will be adding some more script at the top over the shoulder. There is a cover up of some lettering on the inner forearm, the original tattoo had been lasered to lighten it a bit, which made covering it so much easier.


1st – 14th december

Posted: 15/12/2016 in Uncategorized

Liz had a water colour painting of a barn owl she liked, and we used it as a base for her piece, which is a very personal tribute to a loved one, involving a small quote and a few special flowers and plants. the palette is deliberately muted and soft, giving t a bit of a nostalgic feel.

By contrast Laura wanted something quite bright and bold, a lotus with decorative swirly roots. The story of the lotus is that the roots reach deep into the mud to produce a beautiful flower, an analogy that is used in Buddhist teachings.

We will get round to finishing the roots next time, it was Laura’s first tattoo, so we didn’t book a very long session. Turns out she is hard as nails and we could have finished it no bother. 🙂

Brett took inspiration for his sleeve from a Japanese folk tale, where a determined young girl wanted to rid a community of the evil dragon that lurked in the waters below the cliffs. the community had to sacrifice virgins to this dragon to keep it appeased, so the girl pretended to be the sacrificial virgin and jumped into the water with a dagger, taking the dragon by surprise and killing it.

We got the girl and dragon sketched in, and will use the back of the upper arm for the cliff and other elements of the story.

One thing that does surprise me about this story s that I’m always telling people that in japan the dragons are enlightened creatures, it’s what you become at the end of your journey when you become wise- obviously there’s other dragons, too, the nasty ones who eat virgins! I’ll need to adjust my patter.

I’m working on Brad’s Christ on the cross chest piece, today we started blocking in some blue greys behind the rays, we will refine this as we go along, but t ties the other pieces together really well and brings the Jesus figure out. Looking forward to seeing this complete, it’s going to be pretty eye catching!

Brad is a long term customer of mine, and because he is a kind soul, he is letting Fraser, our apprentice, do a skull tattoo on him. here they are discussing it.  like how they are so serous looking!

Laurenne had some finishing touches added to her night fox 😉

Rannoch is now joining up his tattoos, the tiger in the water meets the foo on his back, using the stylised water as a bridge.

I had a cancellation that day, so I tattooed a young student who came in for his first tattoo, a tiny fish on his ankle. He was sooo nervous and promptly passed out when he was paying for it…. I have a lot of admiration for people who overcome their intense fear and get a tattoo done. It’s easy to forget how big a deal the first one is, when you usually deal with seasoned veterans like myself!

Paul is starting on a black and grey, nautical themed sleeve, today we just put in the ship that will sit at the top of the composition

Ian asked me to put a stylised night sky/ space behind the collection of pieces on his upper arm. he had been adding to this collection over the years and wanted them to be tied together with a dark theme, without losing any of his original pieces.

It’s not often i get to tattoo a whole leg from scratch, specially with only one existing piece to incorporate. Luc’s project involved a massive snake in a japanese style with lots of colour- that was my brief- great fun! we got the design worked out and the lines sketched in, flowers! Clouds! Massive snake! wind bars! All the good stuff, looking forward to this a lot!

Michael is adding a foo and a koi to his stark black and grey piece (not by me), i told myself I should make my section more gritty and urban looking to match the other artist’s work, but when i start freehanding, the curves and sinewy lines come out and I just can’t help it. Most importantly is, Michael loved it. He had a good idea what he was letting himself in for to be fair, and he asked me to do some bold colour work, so not really gritty and urban, and I’m sure we can make them sit side by side nicely

Tony’s thigh piece now includes a cherry tree, I’ve left a gap for a nice bat and further up there will be two birds and more clouds.

Tony very recently had a brutal accident where he needed major surgery to reattach his biceps, and apart from being majorly concerned for Tony’s well being, i was also a bit anxious to see what the surgery had done to his sleeve. Tony had the best surgeon I think i have ever heard of, there is just the tiniest scar on the dragon’s nose, and that will settle to nothing when the wound is completely healed.The scar on the other side of the arm i couldn’t even see when Tony was pointing at it. Gobsmacking what they can do!


Lastly for today I have a wee favour to ask. We have started a new facebook and google page for the Glasgow studio, because up to now Google would only pick up on our Edinburgh location, as it is listed first. It’s those damn algorithms, and because of that our Glasgow studio is harder to find online.

If you like what we do in Tribe Glasgow, and enjoy my blog, I would love it if you could take a moment to like our page or even leave us a rating, it would help us a lot and we would love you forever! Thank you ❤

tribe glasgow google

tribe glasgow facebook page

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 lastly  put it all together with the flow that I’m after. In Colin’s case this will end up black and grey 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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.  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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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 🙂

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

😦     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! 🙂




I managed to squeeze a quick overnight visit to London into my weekend, and check out the annual  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! 🙂

this guy is always fun to watch. he charges something like £400 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 only  ~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