Sunday, July 31, 2016

The collectors: Faridah, UK

"Hello! My name is Faridah, I'm 28 and live in Manchester, UK, with my partner Dom and our cats, Taco and Salem. Together we run V Rev, a vegan diner in the Northern Quarter of the city... Well, Dom and I do - the cats mostly just sit about. 

I first became aware of tattoos as something I could indulge in when my older brother Tom got his first from Louis Molloy at Middleton Tattoo Studio for his 18th birthday back in 2000. When I was ready to get my first at age 19 - my name in its original Urdu - I too went to Louis. My Mama drove me there and both my parents were very supportive. I thought about this piece a lot, and had it printed out above my desk at Oxford University to look at for 6 months to make sure I wanted it permanently just below the crease of my inner left arm. At this point I assumed I would become a Clinical Psychologist, or some other profession which would be difficult to navigate with visible tattoos. I thought I might get a few more small, easy to hide pieces, but had no idea I would go on to collect tattoos to the extent that I have today.

To date I have been tattooed by Louis Molloy, Sarah Schor, Andrea Furci, Lele, Tutti Serra, Xam, Ryan Mason, Cassandra Frances, Harriet Heath, Hannah Louise Clark, Claudia De Sabe, Jemma Jones, Matt Cooley, Scott Move, Daniel Morris, Kelly Smith and Antonio Roque.

Tattoo by Kally Smith // Tattoo by Jemma Jones
It's hard to pick a favourite tattoo: I love them all for different reasons and wouldn't change anything about them. Having said that, I think my most recent - a 420 tattoo from my good friend Harriet Heath - might well be the one I'm most fond of to date, but this feeling is the same with every new tattoo and I guess why I keep going back for more. I got this recently on the 20th April this year: a Japanese woman painting her eyebrows while smoking a spliff. I took a couple of days off work to visit Harriet and her partner Sam, and had some much needed and soul replenishing time whilst also getting totally baked of course. Harriet had initially drawn the design with chain print instead of weed leaves, and with a cigarette. We were chatting via text while she was doing this and I was already pretty gone when I made the suggestion of these edits. It was Harriet's idea to book me in on 420 and to aim to be finished just in time for a 4.20pm smoke. I had thought I would maybe get this piece a few inches big on the inside of my right thigh, but when I saw it drawn up large it made so much more sense with all the details. Harriet was keen to tattoo it big too, and the drawing fit the free space on my outer left thigh perfectly so we went for it. My outer right thigh by Claudia De Sabe took two sessions of three hours to complete, but Harriet knocked this out in an astounding 3 hours. The details and face in particular are so beautiful, and I really hope this attracts more clients looking for Japanese designs and bad girls, which I know she loves to do and totally slays at.

Faridah's favorite tattoo by Harriet Heath

I'm in no rush to fill up but still like to treat myself a few times a year if I can. In the past 9 years I've collected over 30 pieces from just over an inch big to the length between my knee and hip. I still have plenty of space though, and hope to still have enough to play with well into my 50s. My Dada started getting tattooed for the first time last year in his 60s and has work from a lot of the same artists as me. Seeing him enjoy the process into his retirement inspires me to look after my skin so I can do the same. I wouldn't rule out getting some sweet blackwork blast-overs, and am keen to cover visible areas such as my hands and neck in a few years, hopefully when I'm more confident in my self-employed life. 

Faridah with tattoo artist Hannah Louise Clark // Tattoo by Hannah Louise Clark

I have a few half-formed ideas for new pieces floating round my head right now. I've been hankering for a pair of Bert Grimm girls on the tops of my feet for yonks, and hope to start on my torso this year. As well as re-visiting old favourites, I hope for the opportunity to sit with artists such as Laura Yahna, Cecile Pages and Rachie Rhatklor in the future, and would love to travel more one day for work.

Picture by Fia Yaqub

Tattoos are no biggie in my day to day, and if anything get positive comments from customers and are even mentioned in reviews of our diner. We aim to create an inclusive and welcoming space for all people, so we're a no-judgement zone on aesthetic and my being visibly tattooed fits with that I guess. I dunno, I haven't really given much thought to it until now, we just are who we are and we do what we do. 

Until last year I was a Political Advisor, wearing my hair down, long sleeves and trousers or thick tights to work at all times. I couldn't cover them all completely however and I did receive some negative comments from senior management which were presented in a jokey manner but which I could tell there was some underlying truth to. More generally in public I do feel that being a visibly tattooed woman presenting as femme does increase negative interactions, particularly in the form of cat calling. I think it may well increase the frequency, which sucks, but some gross dudes have weird ideas about tattoos as a symbol of promiscuity or whatever which is of course totally untrue. Even if it were, that certainly doesn't give them the right to shout comments about my body in the street. Summer is the worst for it, so I'm bracing myself for it more already. 

Pictures by Fia Yaqub

What I love most about my tattoos is that my body is a constant work in progress. I like being able to add to my aesthetic over time, and mark moments forever. My tattoos are a mix of the deeply sentimental, traditional flash and the downright dumb. I'm a walking contradiction and that suits me just fine."

Thank you so much, Faridah! It is an absolute pleasure to have you on the blog!

Follow her on Instagram @tendervegan

Friday, June 24, 2016

The collectors: Jaime, USA

"Hello! My name is Jaime and I have lived in Michigan my whole life. I do marketing work for a local commercial real estate company and in my free time I really like to make embroidery patches by hand based on tattoo flash. I love this project you’re doing, and the idea behind it. Any platform for women to express themselves is an A+ in my book. Girl power!

When I got my first tattoo I wasn’t super into tattoos, and I always thought they had to have some super personal meaning to them. A little later in life a friend I’d had since middle school (Alex Boyko, who I have about 25 tattoos from now) started making traditional tattoos, and I started getting work by him more and more often. Through him I met my boyfriend, Brandon, who really showed me a whole world of tattooists that I never knew existed. I was instantly hooked on the culture and the community. I would say my love for artwork in general sparked my interest, and the fact that I could collect art from all my favorite artists and keep it with me forever.

My decision to get my first tattoo was very spur of the moment. I was sixteen, and just wanted something. Like I said, I always thought tattoos had to have some personal meaning, and I loved literature and I loved elephants, so I got an elephant calligram. It’s half blasted over now, and will hopefully be fully covered soon. Back then I never thought I’d become a collector, I don’t think I even knew that was something people did. 

Overall view of Jaime's colorful legs

I’ve gotten most of my tattoos in the past three years, and I found out about all the artists I have work by through the internet & through suggestions via Brandon or artists I already have been tattooed by. There is such a strong tattoo community on Instagram, and that has definitely aided me in curating my collection. I normally try to choose a design that I think the artist would specifically enjoy doing. As for placement, I just put them where I have room. As of now I only have tattoos on my legs, save for one on my stomach and one on my back. My arms are bare for the time being. It normally doesn’t take much planning, aside from travel planning.

So far I have tattoos from Josh Adams, Jeremy Ross Armstrong, Mike Aul, Tyler Baker, Eric Von Bartholomaus, Matt Bivetto, Alex Boyko, Kori Brown, Craig Chazen, Greg Christian, Chip Douglas, Cole Dunn, Tomas Garcia, Henry Hablak, Max Kuhn, Akira Latanzio, Amelia Martin, Jen Munford, Eli Quinters, DJ Rose, Robert Ryan, Ivan Soyars, Josh Stephens, Ryan Stout, Frank William, Leo Zulueta, Joe Nickley, and Lowercase J

I would have to say my favorite tattoo is the tribal on my foot done by Leo Zulueta. Leo has the best, most positive energy, just being around him is blissful. He has the best stories to tell. Aside from just getting to enjoy his presence. Spiral Tattoo is also one of the most comfortable shops I’ve ever been in, such a great atmosphere. Close second would be the heart vessel I have from DJ Rose or the sacred heart from Thomas Garcia (it’s really hard to choose ok!!).

Tribal tattoo by Leo Zulueta

At the moment my only planned tattoo is being done in May by Joe Chatt. There are sooo many artists I want tattoos from, some of them being Chad Koeplinger, Chriss Dettmer, Walter Mcdonald, Dawn Cooke, Jeff Zuck, Adam Shrewsbury, Chad Hunt, Josh Mason, Tomek Szumiec, Dan Santoro, Andrew Stickler, Koji Ichimaru, Jared Leathers, Lee Knight, Holly Ellis, Mario Desa, and just wayyy too many more to name!

I get inspiration mostly from tattoo books. I love all the Hardy Marks Publications a lot. Cindy Ray is a huge source of inspiration, anyone who says chest tattoos aren’t feminine need look no further than her to be disproven. I also love looking at all the photos of the tattoo community that Dianne Mansfield posts. She has seen so much and I’m so grateful to have her share that with us all! There are so many influential people in the community.

Being a tattooed woman definitely affects my everyday life, and more so than my tattooed male counterpart. People seem to walk right by him to ask me about my tattoos, to touch them, to ask me about my “tights.” As a woman, society already feels that my body is public property and I feel that the public holds my tattooed body to different standards than men’s. Usually the comments I receive are harmless and positive, and I usually don’t notice dirty looks until Brandon points them out to me. I don’t let it bother me or lead me to cover up. Once a woman came up to me at the grocery store and told me she liked my socks, to which I replied “thank you!”. At work I always wear black tights, but everyone I work with is aware of my collection. I’m constantly asked about them even though nobody sees them. As for my family, my mother isn’t super enthusiastic about my tattoos and is constantly begging that the most recent be the last, but it hasn’t affected our relationship at all. 

The super cool tattoo-inspired embroidery patches made by Jaime

I feel more and more confident in myself each time I get a tattoo. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be confident without my tattoos, but who wouldn’t love looking at beautiful artwork by their favorite artists on themselves every day? 

I would say the thing I love most about tattoos is the people they have led me to meet. I am forever grateful to know the people I have met through collecting, and all of the people I will meet in the future."

Thank you so much, Jaime! I'm so happy to have you on the blog <3

For more, follow Jaime on Instagram @condolore

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The collectors: Carolyn Schoerner, USA

All of the times I've read the interviews of the women I've featured on the blog, my love for tattoos has been reassured. And thanks to this project, I met Carolyn. She wanted me to know the story behind her tattoo sleeve, and what a wonderful surprise it was. I feel so lucky and honored that she wanted to share it on my blog, and I'm sure all of you will love to read this moving story about tattoos and friendship.

"My name is Carolyn Schoerner and I am a freelance ballet dancer along with the director of a nonprofit called Books for All. I publish artists books solely with artists with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.

As a ballet dancer it was a bit rebellious of me to get my first tattoo. I had always been the traditional bunhead and never even did something like dye my hair. But I was in college and taking a break from dancing and as my friend was getting one I decided to get a tiny little dancer I used to always draw on my hip. It was so small and I ended up covering it up. It was about 12 years ago. I had no intention of getting anymore, but then ended up getting a side piece in of an Egon Schiele drawing that I loved. It never really occurred to me to seek out artists to do original work on me, I just knew so little about tattoos. After that piece I decided I was completely done.

It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I decided to get a small little lock heart on my arm (my first real visible tattoo) because my maiden name is Lockhart. It was through this that I ended up dating the artist who did it. The relationship wasn’t very great, but he knew Sue Jeiven and the whole crew at East River Tattoo and introduced me to them. The shop was on my way home from work, so I started stopping in there frequently to say hi to Sue because she just had this amazing energy about her. We would watch Soul Train videos and try to imitate them in the shop and it just felt like home. It was also around this time that we learned that Sue had breast cancer. A lot was going on and I decided I wanted to get a tattoo to honor my grandparents and decided to have Sue do it. It was small and on my back - a tree with two love birds. Next I had her do a portrait of my late dog smoking a pipe and wearing a derby hat. I was hooked!

Tattoos by Sue Jeiven

Over the course of six months Sue and I rapidly became best friends. I would just hang out at East River Tattoo during most of my free time and then started to become more interested in other artists such as Liam Sparkes, Maxime Buchi, and Mark Cross. I started to get the itch to get more work. But I still stuck with Sue. I felt so comfortable with her and it felt like a real bonding experience. So the next thing that I got and it is my favorite tattoo of all time is a woman inside a tiger’s head. Sue would draw flash sheets and just give them to me every time I would come in. I saw this and it immediately reminded me of the struggle she was going through. It looked hopeful yet scary and I knew I had to get it. It said “Fight the Good Fight”, but once I told Sue that I wanted it, she said it was her version of the pink ribbon. At this point I still did not have any intention of getting a full sleeve, but wanted it in a prominent place where everyone could see it.

All tattoos by Sue Jeiven

It wasn’t until that summer when Sue had major surgery, and I was sitting with her while she was recovering, and we were talking about tattoos and her wishes that she said she never had done a full sleeve on anyone with work that she really wanted to do. She said people usually already had some work on the arm or it was stuff she wasn’t as into. So it was then and there that I decided to give her my whole left arm. Life is short, I didn’t know how long she would be around and I thought I have to do this now.

So over the course of the years she has created the most beautiful sleeve. Each piece I can remember exactly what we talked about, were going through, laughing about, and the pure joy of getting to spend this time with her. Sometimes she draws something and says, “you have to get this!” and I do, and other times I will wake up and think, “oh I want a goat,” and I text her and she is just as excited about it as I am. She has created an artwork of memories for me from silly things like a palm tree that says "vacation" to a heart for my dog when he passed away almost three years ago. Every time I look at my arm I laugh, smile, and feel so honored to wear her art.

Tattoos on Carolyn's sleeve by Sue Jeiven

I think this project has made our relationship even stronger. Just through the amount of time I get to spend with her and those sessions of just talking about dogs and the silliest things that no one else in the world would get, to real serious issues that turn into an amazing therapy session. I never really believed in the idea of having one person as your best friend, but now I totally do. She is my soulmate.

Carolyn's sleeve by Sue Jeiven // Carolyn and Sue

I also have work by Liam Sparkes, Mark Cross, Spider Sinclair, Rob Banks, and Jessi Preston (she did a friendship tattoo on Sue and me of a horse with a horseshoe). I actually have gotten all my tattoos in New York, except for one, at East River Tattoo. That place feels like home. I really want a tattoo from Mike Adams, Alexis Hepburn, Christian Lanouette, and Jenna Bouma, and many many more. My right arm still needs work but that is the one that I am collecting other people’s work on. Most of the time Sue will text and say that a guest artist has an opening or cancellation and that I should come in. So I’ll run to Greenpoint and pick something from the artist’s flash and get a spur of the moment tattoo, and I love it!

On her right arm, Carolyn collects pieces from other tattoo artists // Horseshoe by Jessi Preston

At first my family was hesitant about me getting so much work done but now they totally accept it, and I think even like it. Since I work in the art world it hasn’t had much of an impact on my work life, but it is very interesting with ballet. I have been mostly doing my own work lately, but other things I do I usually have to wear long sleeves. I think its beautiful seeing the arms move in graceful ways with the tattoos.

One thing I did not expect was the amount of attention I would get from strangers because of having so many tattoos. Everyone makes comments, some sweet and very welcomed, others I could do without. There is this assumption that since you have tattoos that you should want to talk about them to every stranger and that I do not like. However, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

This process of getting tattoos, and especially from Sue, has been the most amazing experience. I have met people who will be friends for life and I feel very honored to wear such amazing pieces."

Thank you so much, Carolyn!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The collectors: Ashley Adams, USA

It is with great pleasure that I bring to you an interview with the lovely Ashley Adams. Tattoos are such a meaningful part of her life, I'm sure all of you will be fascinated by her testimonialas well as by the beautiful pieces that adorn her bodyand relate to her love for tattoos.

"My name is Ashley. I'm 26 years old and live on a farm in Maryland with my husband, Mike and pup, Jack.

I'm not sure how I first got into tattoos exactly. Growing up I loved punk and hardcore, and was pretty involved in the music scene at that time. I remember going to shows, seeing people with beautiful tattoos and thinking I would eventually have some too. I was always finding ways to "express myself" and eventually I think tattoos just became a part of the equation.

My first tattoo was a small "forget me knot" on my finger. It was a friendship tattoo, and a small reminder to not forget things. I think I may have been twenty years old at the time. I always knew I wanted to eventually have a collection of tattoos, but I didn't rush out right at eighteen. I waited until I was sure of what I wanted, and luckily it's prevented me from having any tattoos that I really regret.

Several tattoos by Antonio Roque

I don't feel that my tattoo collection has much rhyme or reason, however they all go together in some way. I usually choose the artists because I feel drawn to their work. I feel that anyone can simulate or replicate a style or tattoo, but only few can really evoke an actual feeling or unique style in their work. My inspiration for tattoos usually comes from the past. I have an immense amount of respect for the tattooers who really paved the way for modern tattooing. I like to reference a lot of classic imagery, wether it be from old flash, or from an old painting, book, postcard, etc. As far as placement goes, I just like to put things where they fit best. If it flows with the body or won't look too odd when I'm bending a limb then it works. I don't plan on having my chest or face tattooed- I just like the way they look bare. I do plan on having the tops of my hands tattooed, once I feel truly successful being self employed, as a gift to myself. 

I've been tattooed by Antonio Roque, Christian DiMenna, Gary Royal, Christian Peters, Alexis Hepburn, Heather Bailey, Ivan Antonyshev, Joshua Solomon, and of course by my husband, Mike Adams. I may be missing a few but I'm currently wearing long sleeves and pants. I'm basing this list off of memory and if I forgot someone it was not intentional. 

Ashley's favorite tattoo of her pup Jack

My favorite tattoo of all time is a very small portrait of our dog, Jack. This tattoo was done by my husband.

I met Mike about five or six years ago, when he was doing a guest spot at Thicker Than Water in NYC. I was living in New York at the time and he was living in Michigan, where he had a private studio. I had emailed him about getting tattooed and of course he was already fully booked. Months went by and I suddenly got an email out of the blue, he had a cancellation! Of course I jumped at the chance to get tattooed by him. He did a tattoo of a Maryland blue crab on my right leg. Maryland is famous for blue crabs, and it's my home state so I had always wanted to get this as a tattoo. I was just waiting for the right person to do it, and I'm glad it was him. We didn't hit it off, we didn't flirt, actually I think we barely even spoke during the appointment. Several years went by and eventually we reconnected on Instagram. One day we realized we had a lot in common, and began to chat a little. Suddenly a little became a lot and I couldn't get enough! We decided to get dinner one night and the rest is history. We were quickly engaged and got married a few months later. I'd like to thank the person who cancelled on him for that day in December years ago, because if it weren't for that person I may have never gone on a date with Mike a few years later. 

Being married to a tattoo artist... well it is definitely interesting. He has to travel quite a bit, and I try to go with him as much as I can, but I've been spending the past year or so turning my side hustle into my full time gig. I have always loved sewing, and I make handmade bags, clutches, wallets, etc. It truly is my passion and getting to share that with other people is amazing. We also have an elderly dog at home, so I skip out on a lot of trips in order to take care of our little pup. Mike is definitely a perfectionist (as most tattooers are) and I'm sure it's nerve wracking to tattoo your wife. The tattoos that he has done on me have so much sentimental value, and are just totally irreplaceable. It's a testament to our life together, to the memories we've made, and the journey we're on together.

Ashley getting tattooed by Mike Adams // Ashley and Mike's marriage

Ashley's tattoos done by her husband Mike

Some artists I hope to be tattooed by in the future are Dave Halsey, Danielle Rose, Jenna Bouma, Arianna Fusini, Zach Nelligan, Harriet Heath, Jack Ankersen, Rachel Hauer, Chris Fernandez, Justin Olivier, Florian Santus, and a lot more. Didn't even realize how many people I'd like to be tattooed by until I started forming this list! Unfortunately many of them are international artists so I need to start traveling more I guess.

The next tattoo I'll be getting is from Myra Oh at the tattoo convention in Scranton, PA in a few weeks. She's so talented and I really admire her style, I'm looking forward to getting a piece from her. I'd also like to finish my back tattoo this year, with Antonio Roque. He is easily one of my favorite tattooers. He is extremely talented, but also a great person and very humble. He has done many of my other tattoos and it has been quite an awesome journey over the past few years. I plan to get some other smaller tattoos from him in the future once we've completed my back. Some other future projects include finishing my right arm, which will all be tattoos from Mike Adams (although I had a few preexisting tattoos on that arm when we began the project). I think overall I will be sticking to somewhat traditional tattoo styles, although I love Japanese style tattoos.

Tattoos by Heather Bailey, Ivan Antonyshev and Alexis Hepburn

My everyday life has definitely been affected by being tattooed. I've had people grab me in public, startle me, cat call me, etc. One of the most defining moments that I can remember was after I had my back outlined. I was sitting in a cubicle (I used to work a 9 to 5 in an office atmosphere) and a male coworker grabbed the back/neck of my shirt and pulled it all the way back so he could see inside- to "look at my tattoo". I felt absolutely violated. In what scenario would that have been alright? You wouldn't peer down a woman's shirt who wasn't tattooed so why is it suddenly justified because you're "looking at a tattoo"? It isn't any different. I've had a lot of unnecessary conversations about my tattoos while I'm trying to do basic tasks like get an oil change, go to the bank, etc. Sometimes I feel like I can't go through a normal task without someone wanting to discuss the tattoos (even if I'm wearing long sleeves and you can barely see any of them). I realize many people would say "Why get tattoos if you don't want the attention?" I didn't get tattooed to gain any attention. I got tattooed because I love art. I love tattoos. I love supporting tattooers and their work. I love the confidence getting tattooed has given me, but I don't love the people trying to touch me, grab me, yell at me, etc.

Collection of leg tattoos // Back piece by Antonio Roque

Being tattooed has changed my life completely. Although of course I am just a normal person like everyone else, I have found an extraordinary confidence through my tattoos. I had been in several emotionally and mentally abusive relationships in the past, and found my self esteem just totally depleted. I hated my body and the way I looked. I felt worthless. Over time, and through a lot of self care and with the help of tattoos I felt like I was taking control of my own body, of my own skin. I felt comfortable in my skin for the first time in years. Every time I get tattooed I feel more beautiful, and more confident. 

Thank you so much for thinking of me for your blog, Heloisa! I enjoyed the opportunity to share some of my experiences. I hope that you all have enjoyed reading what I had to say. Feel free to follow me on my personal instagram @a.e.adams or check out my vintage and handmade shop @adamstradingco. Thanks!"


Thank you so much, Ashley!