Saturday, 25 April 2015

TATTOOS: Part two interview with Sion, editor Skin Deep Magazine

You should have seen part one of this interview with Sion last week, were we talked tattoos and tattoo culture. 

This week, because Sion has so many great things to say I've  got part two of my interview with him, all about his fascinating work life.

You are the Editor for Skin Deep magazine, so I have to ask you some questions on that, mostly because I am super nosey!

Tell us about an average day at the Skin Deep office?

As expected, there is no average day! The biggest surprise to most people is that I don’t work in the office - I would hate that and so would everybody else. I work at home with my dog (though he’s not very helpful). 

The day starts with a lot of coffee, an internet radio station called The Raven (that is honestly a coincidence - they’re based in Dakota) and standing around in the kitchen sorting out email on my phone. 

Some days there’s a lot of email traffic and some days (sometimes for a few days at a time) I’ll not look at all if I have to write something. As the day progresses, the music gets louder but generally it starts about 8.30am and ends about 2am and I stuff it with as much as I can. 

At a rough guess I would say tattoo gets at least ten hours of that - seven days a week. I try to respond to everybody because this stuff means a lot to people - it’s only fair and right to do so. There are requests from radio shows, papers, apprentices, artists, models, mag readers… and somehow, it all works out just fine, 13 issues a year! That’s my job and I love it. 

If you’re reading this, have sent me an email and I haven’t replied yet, when I last counted I was getting about 900 emails a week, so  err… sorry…. I will get there! 

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Aside from finding an artist that makes my heart sing, the travel. It’s etched into my psyche to love trains, planes, airport lounges and watching the world turn. 

There’s usually something tattoo related at the end as a bonus (and when customs people find out what you do for a living, they like to roll their sleeves up and show you their ink more often than not) - I have become very good at handling delays and Acts of God too because there’s always something to write about if you look closely enough. 

To be honest, I don’t even look at it as a job anymore, it’s become a very big part of me and to try to separate myself from it would be foolish and a complete waste of time. 

Biggest achievement whilst working at Skin Deep?

Good timing with the question! I never thought I would be the editor at the 200th issue, nor the 20th birthday issue - and as I write this… the 21st birthday issue is next. Those are milestones for an important magazine. 

Issue 200 was the best selling issue of all time and that was a big deal for me because you never know if what you’re saying is what anybody wants to hear. I take nothing for granted from one issue to the next and treat every one like it’s the first time somebody will pick it up (which it probably is). 

That’s good way to work isn’t it? People should work like that with everything in life because it’s over in the blink of an eye. All that considered, I guess my biggest achievement is that I’m still doing it and haven’t even scratched the surface of what I want to say yet.

Advice for aspiring tattooists?

Well… I’ve said this a million times already in my life and it applies here too. If you want to be a vet or a dentist, go to university. If you want to be an artist (or a writer as I normally apply it), get the hell on with it. You will not “find yourself” at big school - you’ll only find what you want to do and where you fit in by drawing every day and never being satisfied. It’s an awful way to live but that’s what it takes and if you’re lucky you’ll learn to love treating yourself this way. 

Learn how to strip down a machine and rebuild it with your eyes shut. 
Know your equipment - and know your craft. 
It all seems pretty common sense - anybody can learn to tattoo but not everybody can tattoo well… and even fewer tattoo great. 
There are fewer still who can keep it up. 
Choose which you want to be and do that for the rest of your life or “find what you love and let it kill you”. 

And lastly, some bits about you: 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

LIFESTYLE: The love and hate of dating a bearded man

They are quite the fashion trend right now.
And my husband has one.
Yes, a beard.

He hasn't always had a beard. In fact he's spent about 80% of our relationship clean shaven (photo below, on the left is 2008 and the right is 2015 - I really upped my eyebrow game recently!).
But last year he decided to grow a beard. I think he was inspired by the beards of stereotypical tattooed men, and the increase in cool beard products.

So over a year later and he still loves his beard. And I have to admit, I do too.

So I thought I would share some of the great things and not so great things about living with a bearded man.

The good

They really do make a man look rugged. Without a beard, my husband has a cute baby face, but with a beard, he looks more grown up.

Less time shaving... and less hair in the sink to clean. Enough said.

A unique talking point. He is constantly asked about his beard. And it is different.

The products smell AMAZING. A personal fave is Rusty beard oil by Bearface, plus this brand is super cool, and the team behind it are so lovely. We've met them a couple of times at various tattoo conventions and they are great to chat to, whether bearded or not.

The bad

Growing the beard is a nightmare. The first couple of weeks are pretty awful. It doesn't look too hot and the stubble/beard rash is nasty.

Personal grooming means they spend more time combing, shaping, tidying, oiling and primping their beards, than you do when doing your hair AND make up.

The ugly

Eating can be an interesting experience. Food does cling to it when you didn't think it possible. Personally it is my only real problem with beards! They just attract food like a magnet.

But I do love the beard.

Do you date a bearded man?
What do you love and hate about it?

Monday, 20 April 2015

TATTOOS: Free flash, and why you shouldn't steal designs

This isn't  a new concept. 

You don't  have to look far on the internet to see a bad rip off of a good tattoo. 

And pretty much all tattooists now watermark their images for Instagram. 

It is a sad inevitability that anything on the internet will be stolen, copied or reproduced. It's  an unfair fact of humanity. However it doesn't make it right.

But there are good reasons not to just copy any art you see on the net, for your own personal use.
As I said, there are many bad rip off's. It is pretty difficult to accurately copy a design and more often than not, anyone willing to take someone else's design, just doesn't have the talent and skill to create their own design.

A custom design piece can take many hours of work from the tattooist, including several drafts, amends and redesigns. It is just plain rude to steal or copy that work for yourself without permission.

Add to this the fact that there is someone out there that came up with the  initial idea behind the tattoo, and probably has a reason for wanting that tattoo.

Put yourself in their shoes.

How would you feel if you paid for a custom design and then saw someone else with the same thing, a few weeks later.

Not great right?

I guess this post is just my way of getting that old message out there. There is nothing quite like originality.

And if you do see something you like, ask. You never know if it can be tailored or redesigned to be a new piece.
Or perhaps take a leaf from Jason Minauro who every so often does Free Flash Friday, where he posts a design to Instagram that can be used by anyone. Cute idea right? And they are pretty awesome designs too!

Have you experienced someone taking one of your tattoo designs?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

TATTOOS: Interview with Sion, editor Skin Deep Magazine

Welcome to the second of my tattoo interview series. This time I have the absolute honour of bringing you an interview with Skin Deep magazine editor Sion Smith...

This is part one, all about his tattoos... with part two next week, all about Sion and his life with one of the world's  biggest tattoo magazines.

Let the quizzing begin!

What was your first tattoo, and how old were you? 

So far in this job, I have managed to ever avoid talking about this. I was 19 (which makes it 1987) and it comes under the heading of “a good idea at the time”. I was publishing a fanzine back then which was about American glam rock bands nobody had ever heard of and some guy drew a picture of a character he wanted to do a comic strip for in the mag. He was actually a pretty good artist and my wife (at the time) suggested I get it tattooed because then we would both be tattooed. This was quite a big deal in 1987 and she already had a flaming skull on her shoulder. To put it into context for you, life was all very music driven and apart from tattooists, the only people you ever saw with a lot tattoos where Guns n Roses and Motley Crue - and back in ’87, even the Crue weren’t heavily tattooed by today’s standards. I was just putting a band together at the time as well… it was all very natural and felt very right. There was no ‘scene’ to speak of and it really did make you an outsider. 

Rebels without a clue. All of us! 

Actually. if I expand the story to my second tattoo - which was a 1990 ‘flash piece’ of a shaman with wolf head-skull head-dress - I learned fast. It was well done and still stands up to scrutiny today. 
Fast forward to sometime in 1998, I decided I needed to move on from this original statement of youth and got it covered up with some really big black stuff (search for Brotherhood of the Wolf online and you’ll see how big) - this was done “as a favour” to a friend who had just finished his apprenticeship and wanted to practice. In hindsight, not the greatest idea in the world but at the time, I was in a “what the hell” kind of mindset - nobody was ever likely to see it and never in a million years thought I would be the editor of Skin Deep one day. Anyway, to wrap this up, it’s taking forever to laser off but we’re getting there! It’s also a damn good experiment in what a laser is capable of and how much patience I have!

How many do you have now, and what are they? 

Two sleeves… minus the laser work that’s in the way but once that’s down to a reasonable level and my skin is in good shape, that will be cleverly and smartly finished off. All of my tattoos are ravens (aside from the shaman but it fits into the story) - everything I get tattooed from now until whenever, will be ravens. I’ve lied to the BBC and CNN as to “why the ravens” because I think some things should remain a secret or at least personal. Please don’t think bad of me for not telling you why but at least I’m not lying to you! 

Who is your favourite tattooist/s? 

One day, I was trawling through submissions on discs, dropped in one from Henrik Gallon and immediately fell in love with the timeless woodcut style that he works in - in that instance it was two foxes. Woodcut has never dated on paper and it doesn’t date as a tattoo style either. I still love what he does and am very committed to continuing and finishing what we started, but of course there are others and we have spoken about how to move forwards when the time is right (let that be a lesson to everybody about not thinking things through properly - it’s 2015 and there’s no excuse anymore!). 

Aside from Henrik, I’ll be working with Otto at White Elephant on my chest and I need to get on a plane to Austria to speak with Carola Decasa at some point too. Noon is a class act and I hope we can find some way of incorporating his work into what I have going on… and I’ll say the same for Yann Black as well. David Hale is another. I’ve never been asked this question before. It’s a scary list to try and compile but basically, anything that veers as far from the norm as possible and is done with precision skill is what I look for - if they have a killer understanding of the natural world as well, that’s a bonus. 

Professionally speaking - which is slightly different - not much gets in the magazine that I don’t personally appreciate as good work.

Do you have any tattoos planned for the future? If so, what? 

Ravens! The laser work also comes across onto my chest, so that’s what we’re working on at the moment and sometime in the late summer, there’s work to laid down across the chest as well to finish off what seems to have become “part one”. Doing this job, I early on figured out that I could be covered very fast if I wasn’t careful and I’m still discovering new talent on a daily basis but the legs have already been marked out. It would all happen a lot faster if the people I want to work with weren’t thousands of miles away. 

As a slight side-line from this question, seeing so much good work every day of the week actually takes away from wanting to get tattooed every five minutes. I think a lot of artists find that too. It’s as though somebody else has gone to the trouble for you and you can remain satisfied for a very long time by proxy - so when I do get work done, it’s a big deal because I really want it.

Do you have any 'no-go' zones? 

Yeah - I’m pretty old school with this. No hands. No feet. No neck. No face. I’m of the Yakuza mindset with this. Tattooed when you want to be and not tattooed when you don’t. It’s a big world to operate in and I’m not going to held back by other peoples prejudices about art. Small sacrifice but those are my own rules. No big deal - getting around the world and finding time for what I do want is hard enough!

What is your favourite thing about tattoos and tattoo culture? 

That moment when you think you’ve seen it all and something comes along that shoves the theory right back down your throat is my favourite thing. I’ve also met some fine, fine people who have become good friends because tattoos are what we had in common in the first place - life is beautiful if you let it be that way.

Thank you so much to Sion for sharing some of his tattoo life - and check out part two next week!

Monday, 13 April 2015

TATTOOS: Ink is for all the girls!

I'm  a tattooed girl. There is no way round that. I have many tattoos, and I am female. 

However I do not look like many of the women you see on Pinterest or Instagram under the numerous #tattooedgirl #inkedgirl or #girlswithtattoos and the like, hashtags. Or the girls on the top shelf in WHSmith. 
There's nothing wrong with how they look, far from it, but the connotations associated with inked girls are a stretch from the truth. 

So I'm  here to set the record straight.

Tattooed girls aren't  just the ones in the top shelf magazines, or even the tattoo models. 

Don't get me wrong, tattooed models are some of the most beautiful girls on the planet. 
Take Cervena Fox, Monami Frost and Katy Gold, three totally stunning and truly down to earth tattoo models. 
Some of their shoots involve more clothing than others, but all tastefully done. Yes they are sexy, but its not smutty, which is the typical stereotype given to tattoo models and tattooed girls.

I love seeing these photos, I mean, they are beautiful and perfectly showcase how stunning tattoos can be, and that they aren't 'trampy', 'slutty' or 'butch'. Is there anything 'butch' about these images I ask you?

Katy Gold

Katy Gold by Inspiration Online

 Cervena Fox

Cervena Fox by Mike White

 Monami Frost

Monami Frost

There are so many girls out there, from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes with a huge range of tattoos.
Just like non-tattooed girls really.

A little, or a lot of ink, doesn't change a girls personality, or make them more promiscuous. So don't  judge a book by its cover, or tarnish everyone with the same brush.