Where were you born and where are you from?
I was born in a town called Dover, Kent which is on the southeast coast of the UK. I lived there until I was 17. I currently live and work in Guildford, Surrey, UK.
How did you get introduced to the tattoo culture?
I first took an interest in tattoos when I was about 15. At that time two of my favourite bands were My Ruin and The Distillers, both fronted by tattooed women. I idolized the singers, Tairrie B and Brody Dalle, and was fascinated with how they looked so cool and tough, yet super hot! Basically, I wanted to look just like them. Having always been artistic, it wasn’t long before I started considering tattooing as a career and I started buying tattoo reference books and drawing in more of a traditional tattoo style. My cousin and I got our first tattoos together in 2003. We both got a matching tattoo of our Grandmother’s name, who had recently passed away. A few months later we both went back for another, after which my cousin stopped, and I just carried on. I initially had a plan to get a lower back piece and two half sleeves and stop there, but I got hooked and that plan went out the window.
When did you get started?
Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
Yes, it was a rose, just the outline and shading on my boyfriend’s leg. It’s still there now and it doesn’t look too bad!
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I try not to define my style too much, but I suppose it’s mostly of a traditional theme. I do a little bit of Japanese influenced work and black and grey as well, as I think it’s important to be a good all-rounder while specializing in one style. But most people come to me for my bold colour work and that’s what I like to do best. I am currently enjoying doing work with more detail and experimenting with colours. I feel my style is constantly maturing and developing whilst remaining recognizable as my own. Who knows what my style may look like in another 6 years time!
What were you doing before you got into the tattoo business, and what made you change?
I was fortunate enough to get into the tattoo business quite young, I was 20. I studied Art full time until I was 19 and then worked in retail while I figured out what to do next. I tried various office/hospitality jobs which were all my idea of hell. I was incredibly lucky to land an apprenticeship with Jon Nott in 2005. Many people try for years and years to get into the business. Tattooing was the only thing I wanted to do since the age of 16, so I didn’t have to wait too long for my dream opportunity and not a day goes by when I don’t marvel at how lucky I am.
What influences your artwork?
I am influenced by allsorts. Like most artists my feelings, emotions, experiences and my imagination inspire me to do something creative. At the moment I also take a lot of influence from nature/animals, the female form, the Victorian era, kitsch art, gothic art, the macabre, antiques, taxidermy…so much! I find tattoo conventions incredibly inspiring too, and I always come home with a new level of passion for my work. Artists whose work I currently find inspiring include Christopher Conn Askew, Stefan Johsson and Rose Hardy to name a few.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
First of all, don’t go to the first person who gives you the cheapest price and can fit you in immediately! Research artists based on their portfolios, and remember that it’ll be on your body for the rest of your life, so it’s worth paying for a good job and waiting for an appointment if necessary. And possibly most importantly, find an artist you trust.
Do you see yourself doing anything other than tattooing?
Well, assuming tattooing remains as popular as it is today, then no I don’t see myself doing anything else. I love my job and I am so lucky to be doing it every day. Tattoos are more widely accepted and more popular than ever before, but hopefully tattooing hasn’t yet reached its peak. Having a young daughter I often find myself wondering if her generation will get tattooed on the same scale as my generation, or if they will find other ways to rebel against their tattooed parents! I think there are bigger and better things to come, but I endeavor not to take tattooing for granted.
Do you have a favorite quote?
"In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued." Aung San Suu Kyi
Anything else you would like to add?
Shop: Bespoke Tattoo Company, 127-129 Manor Road, Guildford, GU2 9NR, UK
Telephone: 01483 533339
Thanks to Jon Nott, Ade Stacey, Becs Holley and Pete Kinsella for their help/advice/support.