Tattooing from home

September 24th, 2011 - leave a comment

So your mates got a tattoo machine from ebay and your thinking you can get a cheap tattoo from him at his house? this may give you serious problems further down the line, tattooing takes years to master under the tuition of someone who knows what they are doing, so being able to pick up a machine and tattoo good work is pretty much impossible. your mates may tell you “ahh their wicked at art” and “he did a great tattoo on me” but the fact of the matter is your friends and family will always tell you what your doing is great, get online and look at some really good work, because in this day and age there is no excuse for poor work. But its not just the possibility of sub standard work you need to worry about but the risk of catching something that could really affect your health and cause a serious long term illness. Aids has never been transmitted through a tattoo needle though hepatitis C most certainly has and it a real threat.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood,  if an infected person has been tattooed and the equipment, instruments and area have not been cleaned properly then there is a risk. An infected person blood can enter the body through penetrating the skin with a tattoo needle, I know what you are thinking.
“But! But! He changed the needles, I saw him do it”
It does not matter. It doesn’t have to be from a needle or the tube. The infected blood could be on the table, spray bottle or any surface and Hepatitis-C lives up to 4 days outside the body. Proper tattoo studios have to be registered with their local council, to be able to operate the council inspects the premises and all sterilisation equipment, this ensures the general public who are getting tattooed are safe.

So if you or your mate or a family member are going to get tattooed in a mates kitchen think again, get educated and share your knowledge, and when you get tattooed check that EVERYTHING is new, clean and sterile!

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Ten a Penny

June 16th, 2011 - leave a comment

It has been a little while since I have posted a blog, this is partly due to my travelling and moving around so much and also in part to the monthly article I now write for skin deep magazine which takes up much of my free time while I am not tattooing or painting. Anyway thanks to those of you that have been reading these and take the time to post and send me emails.

So over the past few months of travelling I have worked at many shops and each new city I come to one thing is coming more and more to my attention, the amount of new tattoo shops opening up.

When I pick up a magazine there seems to be two or here adverts every month for new shops looking for artists, first thought you may think this is good as tattooing is becoming more mainstream its becoming more successful. Well I don’t think this is true. Any tom dick or harry can open a shop without any qualifications or artistic merit, as long as they are registered with the local council. And what’s more a lot of respect is disappearing from the industry because of this. People seem to do an apprenticeship for six months then leave and open their own studio and get their own apprentice. They are not working hard or paying their dues they are not respecting the artist who took the time to teach them.

Every artist thinks its their god given right to open their own studio, however if your working for the right person there should be no need to, if your working for cool people in a creative and fun environment why would you want to? This is a double edged sword, there are a lot of studios owned by people who simply don’t give a shit, they want to make money they give their artists shit deals, don’t treat them fairly or with respect, they don’t look after them.

I hear so many people complain about the amount of new studios opening the answer in my eyes is simple, if you want someone to work hard for you and stay loyal treat the people who work for you fairly, treat them with respect and look after them.

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we are losing london

April 29th, 2011 - leave a comment

London and the uk are sliding down a hole, a hole that is killing your freedom or choice and is also harming our economy.
As more and more corporate chain stores open on our once characteristic streets the walls are closing in on the choice that you have in which you buy and in what you want. These massive corporations can afford to undercut locally owned and operated and is killing off their competition.
“Ok so this isn’t so bad” you think they are cheap and they do everything I need, WRONG, these huge monster stores select what they want to stock on their shelves, they make their own products which they sell cheaper, so you stop buying your favourite coffee because the own brand coffee is much cheaper, however as soon as everyone does this they will stop stocking your other coffee, when you wake up to the fact that their own coffee is not only bland and tasteless but is also exploiting the people who produce it for them its too late, you have lost your freedom of choice, you are being bullied by a big corporation.
Butchers, bakers, fruit and veg stalls may cost you a few quid more but you are putting money back into our already desperate economy, you are getting real freedom of choice and you are buying from people who are knowledgeable in their field, sure its not as convenient but do you really want convenience over quality?
So go to your butcher and ask him questions, discover a cut of meat you didn’t know was tasty, go to the baker and discover that fresh locally baked bread, go to the greengrocer and buy Fresh IN SEASON produce that will taste great, and go support that local coffee shop and buy some of their freshly made cakes.
Go shopping and talk to your community, get to know people and make where you live sociable and vibrant! You have the power to stop Britain becoming an urban wasteland or retail parks and monster super market warehouses!
Don’t become a zombie OPEN YOUR EYES

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Cashing in and Cashing out

April 7th, 2011 12 Gratefully received comments

with the explosion of tattooing and its mainstream success there are becoming more and more people involved in the industry who don’t tattoo and are simply cashing in on the industry which us artists love and cherish. new studios are opening at an unbelievable rate and the UK convention scene now has some 26 conventions up and down the country. a lot of these shows are put on by people ‘outside’ the tattoo industry, event promoters organising events for a quick buck in an over saturated market.
this will result in either shows becoming quieter and quieter an some of the small shows ceasing to continue and the larger more corporate shows continuing, good shows will always draw artists and punters, not every show is important or relevant to moving tattooing forward as an art form, conventions should show off tattooing but at the same time have its best interests at heart giving back to the industry an helping improve the publics perception of things like hygiene, sterilization and cross contamination. maybe eventually the public will learn to be more discerning, but i think it will be the artists working that will be fighting the good fight to educate and teach the public.

will this over exposure lead to a dilution in the quality of work? with so many spaces to fill and other conventions to compete with some of the smaller shows sell artist booths for a price and don’t ask for a local council certificate or check the quality of the artists work meaning anyone can get a booth an tattoo at there shows. Getting tattooed at a convention is not a sure bet you will get some awesome artwork, so this leads to the un educated members of the public getting shoddy work done. the bottom line is always check portfolios, get to know an artists work and make sure they are capable of doing what you want them to tattoo, even at conventions!

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A new year rolls in

February 7th, 2011 - leave a comment

wow! we are only six weeks into the new year and i can’t believe how fast it is rolling by already, i have been extremely busy firstly we drove 8000km in three weeks across Australia from the west to the east coast, i am now busy writing a monthly article for skin deep magazine, i know lots of you have seen it an emailed me thankyou very much for all your support and kind words, this is taking up lots of my free time at the moment as i dart around the place checking out artists and tattoo studios around Australia. i worked my first international tattoo convention it was extremely busy for me all weekend and i sold a lot of flash, paintings sketchbooks and some t-shirts which was totally rad and i have had a bunch of bookings afterwards which is awesome because that doesn’t happen that much in the UK. I also took a day off to get tattooed by Steve Byrne, which was awesome.

Im now doing a guestspot at Happy Dayze tattoo in Lilydale which is 40 minutes out of the city, the guys down there are totally laid back and cool, its a great shop to work in so come get some work while im in town!

Keeping yourself busy and having lots of projects on the go always creates more oppertunitys for you, word of mouth is the best advertisement for a tattooer, your only as good as your last tattoo! so keep on giving it 110% doors will keep opening and people will keep coming back for more!

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Craigy lee’s christmas message 2010

December 15th, 2010 3 Gratefully received comments

“why are you so lucky?” is a sentence I seem to hear a lot, ok true things seem to work out for me but the truth is I am not lucky. You put in what you get out of life and I work damn hard at what I do. I put one hundred and ten percent into almost everything I do in life. this is my philosophy:

“do not worry about the past for you cannot change it and dwelling on such things can consume a mans mind, the future is set from the path you walk today and therefore will worry about itself, so live for today, be the best person you can be and maybe you can abate in the knowledge that you did the best you could”

you have the power to change everything in your life, you alone and no one else, if you don’t help yourself who else is going to? If an opportunity arises take it, if a door opens walk through it, you can achieve anything you want to if you put your mind to it and work your hardest, my long neglected girlfriend India will tell you how many nights she sits watching tv alone while I am finishing a painting or a design for a customer.

“Ohh your so lucky being able to go travelling” its not luck, I made a choice to drop all my material possesions book a flight and leave, I worked damn hard to save money to be able to afford it, and I will work damn hard while I’m away to support it. Too many people get sucked into to the circle of life, doing a job that is ok, going home to their ok flat, with their ok girlfriend thye met at school, goin out drinking in the same places that are ok and why? Because you are too comfortable to look outside the box, you have become your parents, small town syndrome has struck you down and made you part of a cycle. Similar to a conveyer belt in a factory that pumps out the same thing school-job-girl-house-kids-retire-die it is a mediocre existence, you have the power to do what you want to, but the further down the production line you get the more closed vision your sight becomes. You loose sight of your dreams, your ambitions, your want to travel, experience and learn things from new cultures!

Follow your heart while you are young enough to do so, there is nothing worse then being old and living with regrets and unfulfilled desires. If you want to do something do it! Make the effort, work that extra shift for money to afford it and take that chance while you can!

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copied tattoo flash!

November 20th, 2010 6 Gratefully received comments

wherever i go across the world, i always try and stop in the local tattoo shops check out the portfolios and generally have a nose around. there is one thing that usually is pretty similar in every single shop, and that is tattoo flash.
It always amazes me that no matter where i am in the world, London, France, New York, Australia most shops have the same flash, you can browse their folders, flip through their displays or simply look on the walls and in most shops you will see early Bob Tyrell, Paul Booth, Coop and Boog designs staring back at you. and a large percentage of this flash are not original sets but copied bootlegged flash.

Jenny Clarke designs published a letter earlier this year in 2 of the UKs leading magazines about how they are cracking down on copied flash and prosecuting people who are using it in their studios.
Artists who create flash often have a lot to say about people using their designs and tattooing them, another article i read online was discussing the fact that a studio had tattooed a design from another artists flash, the artist in question said it was copyrighted, however the design had been published in a few magazines in the flash sections, and was readily available on the internet. truth is in this day and age alot of people use the internet and magazines to find tattoo designs so if you have a problem with people using your designs it is simple don’t publish it or put it where its readily available for anyone to use!

now artists who draw and design sets of flash put a lot of time and effort into thinking up those designs, drawing them and painting them, and deserve to make money from their endeavours. however you will never be able to stop the bootleggers, but the bootleggers can sell that flash to a much bigger clientel then the artist selling it at conventions and on their website, unless they are an already established world famous artist.

If Bob Tyrell, Paul Booth and Coop didn’t have their flash in tattoo shops in almost every country in the world, would they have become as well known and successful? would they have made such a name for themselves? Probably yes, these figures have helped move tattooing forward and contributed to what it is today. However having that flash out there across the world must certainly help!

So next time you go to a convention and you see some flash you like by an up and coming artist buy a set, help the industry move forward again, it will be cheaper if you buy it direct from the artist and the money is going straight back to them. and also if you do one tattoo from that set then it has paid for itself. Also apprentices sell flash to be able to make mopney from their non paying apprenticeships, so help them and help the future of tattooing!

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Painting tattoo flash

November 6th, 2010 13 Gratefully received comments

Flash 101

I have recently been getting lots of emails and facebook messages from  people asking about how to paint flash, what they should paint and what I use.

So I thought it maybe useful to some of you guys to write a blog about how I draw and layout my flash sheets. So hopefully this will be useful to some of you that have emailed and asked me about helping you on facebook etc. I will never help or tell people how to tattoo! Get an apprenticeship do it the right way! But I will always help people with drawing and design questions, get good at drawing because if you can’t do it on paper you won’t be able to do it on the skin!

I always do my flash in watercolour because I enjoy working with it most  and I’m really comfortable using it. But use whatever you want, some artists use prisma colour pencils I bought a new set of flash from Ian of reading this year and the whole set is fine liner with pencil shading and it looks fantastic!  There is no set number for a set of flash but most sets you can buy are between 4 and 10 sheets a3 size, I like to do 5 or 6 in a set, I think it’s a nice number.

So the biggest battle when doing a set of flash isn’t actually painting it and drawing it but thinking up the designs and ideas you are going to do on it! The first set of flash I did as an apprentice was basically all the best designs and ideas from my sketchbook redrawn and painted.

To start with I sketch out loads of ideas and designs in my sketchbook, just with pencil, I usually draw it really rough and light to get the composition and shape right then I will go over it harden up areas and define the shape, once that is done I will go over the final design with a fine liner pen usually a 0.5 or 0.8

For my first set I did a colour “mock up” version of all the designs so I knew how I was going to do the shading and colour each design, I didn’t want to mess up one design and have to throw the whole sheet in the bin. TAKE YOUR TIME AND GET IT RIGHT!

When I have enough designs or think I have enough designs I will photocopy the line drawings and think about the layout and composition.  Its good to see all the designs rather then just a pages worth, then you can play around with the whole set rather then each page at a time. You may find one design fits in with the rest of the designs but doesn’t work on a single page but if you swap it over with another design it will fit right in.

Remember composition of your flash is just as important as good designs! when doing the layout I sometimes resize some designs on the photocopier so they flow better.

Now that you have the layout done trace the designs onto your final sheet, I always use a good watercolour paper because I do my flash in watercolour. Remember if your going to do watercolour flash trace your designs with a waterproof fine liner!!!!!!

Once you have all the line work done then get on with colouring them, whatever your chosen medium may be. As I said before I do mine in watercolour for tips on watercolour painting read my previous blogs. If you like how watercolour looks but it is a bit daunting for you try watercolour pencils to start with. i always paint the whole sheet in black and grey then i add the colour. Remember always work light to dark, you can always add more but you can’t take away! Once I have finished the painting I coffee stain the background, I have two different shades that I mixed up myself, first go over with the lighter mix then just before its dry go over with the darker one. Thats it, have fun!

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Tattoo portfolios

October 11th, 2010 3 Gratefully received comments

A strong portfolio of work is probably the most important thing to have when you are hunting for a tattoo apprenticeship.

Lots of people come into the shop with books and folders showing their work asking advice and hoping to get their foot in the door, in reality about one in ten actually have anything worth looking at.

Bring in a nice full sketchbook of drawings and designs. So many people come in with one sketchbook that is half full, bring in two or three bursting with your ideas and designs.

Present it nicely if you have paintings and artwork on loose paper put it into a folder and bring it along with your sketchbooks.

Don’t limit yourself, draw lots of different things, different styles and use different mediums.

Don’t just show your best work, its good to see sketches line drawings and unfinished work, it gives a better idea of what you are capable of and the process in which you do things.

Stand out from the crowd. If you don’t think your work is your best or is just ok, don’t go show it off until your happy with it and its good, there are so many people looking to be an apprentice you need to be better then all of them, don’t waste artists time by showing them stuff your not happy with. Don’t say “that’s old” and don’t say “that’s not finished” show them stuff you are proud of!

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tattoo apprentiships

September 6th, 2010 2 Gratefully received comments

So if you read my blogs you know how I feel about tattoo kits!­

If you want to learn to tattoo do it the right way and get an apprentiship at a studio. Here are a few pointers on getting your foot in the door.

Ok most importantly don’t email, facebook or myspace shops, this is lame, if you can’t be bothered to go into a studio and speak to them they won’t be bothered with you!

Have a good portfolio, if your portfolio is killer you will impress people and sooner or later you will find a shop that will take you on. If your being told your portfolio is not strong then work harder at it!

Learn to take constructive criticism, listen to what artists tell you take what they say and apply it.

Be prepared to work from the bottom, ok so there are a lot of shops that take advantage of apprentices, but be prepared to sweep and mop floors, make tea and many other things to help the work load of the studio easier.

Expect to work for a long time for nothing, tattooing is something that takes a lot of time and patience to learn, so don’t expect to make money as an apprentice, the most you can expect is for your travel to be covered in some cases. While I was an apprentice I worked the breakfast shift at mcdonalds, I then finished showered and drove to the studio to do a full day there. It takes dedication!

Be loyal and respect the artist teaching you, don’t tattoo at home to try and get ahead, respect their judgement for when your ready. Listen wand watch a lot and take everything on board.

You have to give your life to this to get really good, and the more you put in the more you get out! People sometimes ask why am I so lucky? Im not lucky I just work damn hard, if you work hard doors will open for you!

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