Missy Poison from London, UK
Where did you grow up?
Born in Portugal, raised in London .
How was it growing up there, would you say that it influenced you?
Growing up I was a chubby awkward kid, an absolute geek. I loved school; I had dreams of becoming a journalist. I stayed away from trouble, since I wasn’t in the in crowd I avoided being picked on for not being popular or pretty. I was uncomfortable in my own skin until my early 20s when I started to realize that it was ok to be different, that I did not have to look like everyone else.
When did you start getting tattoos?
My first tattoo was at the age of 17, I remember just kind of waking up one day and wanting one.
So, I committed the mistake of just finding the nearest tattoo shop nearest to where I lived and asked for a black heart with my family’s names. I wasn’t asked for ID so I didn’t show any. The shop was dark and dirty filled with heavily tattooed men. I was asked to write down exactly what I wanted, which I did, told to sit and if I even so much as winced he would stop. I kept myself distracted and an hour later I walked away with a cheap tattoo that I couldn’t wait to show off.
The first person to see it was my younger brother, who took one look at my ankle and said “That’s not how you spell my name,” My face must of been a picture, I hadn’t actually looked at the tattoo, and when I looked down and saw that they had in fact misspelled his name, I was devastated. The following day, I went straight back to the shop, the guy that tattooed me told me not to panic he could easily sort it out, in seconds he was ready to try and turn an A into an E.
He miserably failed. For years I wanted the tattoo covered, but I changed my mind a long time ago, I see it as a reminder of where it all began for me.
I only ever wanted the one...however quite a few years later I am slowly running out of space.
How would you describe your style?
Geeky rocker with a splash of colour and a zesty passion for the alternative lifestyle
Do you consider tattoos as a serious art form?
It is a serious art form. Tattoo artists are just that, Artists. Along the years I have had the opportunity to meet and be tattooed by amazingly talented artists who, from a simple idea in my head have been able to transform them into beautiful pieces of art onto my skin.
How do you see the tattoo culture right now?
At the moment, having a tattoo or even several tattoos has become popular; it’s become part of a (pop culture). I’ve met extremely young people absolutely covered in tattoos who have had them done just because they look cool or just because they wanted to fit in. TV has popularized having tattoos, and as entertaining as it is to sit and watch a tattoo being created in just a few minutes, it’s not real. Some of my ink is very personal, I have turned life events, people I love, things I have done into tattoos that I love walking around with. Most of those pieces are not understood and liked by the public and people that appreciate the work I do, but it’s the one thing that I have learned to not care too much about, my ink makes me unique and different.
What has been your inspiration for getting them?
Life events, my travels, my family and best friends have been the biggest inspirations behind my biggest pieces. I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to collect a piece in most places I have visited around the world. Most people take pictures and collect postcards; I just chose to walk away from a place with new ink.
What’s your favorite piece?
I don’t really have a favorite piece, I like all my ink because I have a story to go along with every single one of my pieces, I remember where, when and why. The portraits of my brother and mother are pieces I love because I feel no matter where I go or what I do they are always with me.
Do you catch people starring at you because of your ink?
Yes I do, all the time. I’ve have had a few interesting conversations regarding my ink. I just recently tattooed my neck, so I often catch people starring. It no longer bothers me, and if people are intrigued or want to ask something then I would like to think my ink wouldn’t discourage them from doing so. I find that in London and in LA people are a lot more used to seeing heavy ink where the positive comments outweigh the negative.
In your opinion, do your tattoos change your mood often?
Sometimes yes it does. I learned from a young age to treat others the same as you would like to be treated, to not discriminate based on looks, race, etc.. I often find that if I am out in certain places, shops around town, people will turn their noses up at me because of the way I look or dress. I try to not let it ruin my day but it can sometimes be hard to be ignored, or not receive the same level of service as others just because I am comfortable being different.
What’s your most significant tattoo and why?
The portraits on my right arm of my mum and brother were a birthday gift for my mother on her 50th birthday. Being a traditional Portuguese woman, tattoos were never accepted with open arms, and I remember being told that tattoos were for sailors. Men came home covered in tattoos and it was acceptable. Women with ink in Portugal were trashy and no man would ever want to marry them. My mum’s perception of tattoos changed very quickly when she took the time to ask me why I had had certain pieces done, it was then she realized that I was collecting them for a reason.
A few months before her birthday I asked a family friend to dig through my mums old photo albums in Portugal, and send me a portrait I had seen of my mum at the age of 16. Along with a picture of my brother also at the age of 16, I found an artist and I began the process of having them both tattooed in time for her big day. I was able to keep the pieces hidden and only unveiled them to her the evening of her birthday in front of all her friends at a surprise party. My mum isn’t a very emotional person, but she cried when she saw them and spent the evening dragging me around to proudly show off my newest piece of art. My brother thinks it’s awesome that he is on my skin forever, he loves the idea of having his face published all over a magazine or on the web because he feels like he is able to share my dream.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Know what you want, be 100% certain before you allow someone to leave a permanent mark on your skin. Do your homework and look for quality of work. Tattoos are not cheap and just because you are able to get what you want cheaper in a backstreet shop does not mean you will end up with good quality work on your skin.
Will you be getting anymore?
Oh yes! I am currently healing a hand tattoo, and have already booked in to have my knuckles done, which I am looking forward to, I am also in the process of having a candy themed thigh piece done so I will be completing it within the next couple of months.
What’s your biggest inspiration, what keeps you going?
My family’s support keeps me going. My friends love me for having the courage to leave behind the chubby, geeky, scared little girl and went on in following my dreams, my passion for seeing the world, and for sharing my stories behind my ink with those that are as passionate as I am about the art.
What is one thing that life has taught you?
To live with no regrets, we all make mistake but it’s how we deal with them that makes us who we are. I've learned to do my own thing, to not follow the crowd to just do what makes me happy and if that makes me a little selfish, so be it. Life is way too short to spend any kind of time worrying about what others think of the way you look.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”- Marilyn Monroe.
Will White Photography - 1, 5, 7.
Specular Photography - 2, 6.
Brian Harris Photography - 3, 8.
Shaheen Razzaq -4.