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May The Fourth Be With You – Star Wars Tattoos

Leia & Han. I love. I know.

You’re a girl. You can’t like Star Wars!” was frustratingly something I heard often from other children when I was little.

Happily my parents disagreed, and both my Brother and I grew up on a healthy diet of Star Wars. I’m also glad to be of an age where I was young enough to love the Ewoks (I don’t care if they look like little bears on crack, they’re my bitey furry friends!) Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure always had me wishing my curls were blonde or that I had a snazzy white headband like Cindel too. And the Droids cartoon was an absolute classic.

I still love the films and was so excited to to see the new one had such a strong female lead with the character of Rey.

And yes though The Force Awakens may be derivative of A New Hope, that doesn’t make it any less of a fun film, and also, what feels like an apology to fans and a promise that this trilogy of films will not be like the prequels.

So, here we are another May The Fourth, and what better way to get your geek on this Star Wars Day then with a round up of some fantastic Star Wars tattoos – all of which have been created by several highly talented lady tattooers! And if you’re on Instagram and love tattoos, be sure to show your support and follow these artists as well!

Star Wars Tattoos

A photo posted by Suspiria (@suspirialand) on

A photo posted by Jenn Siegfried (@jenderella) on

A photo posted by Sadee Glover (@sadee_glover) on

A photo posted by Tara Timoon (@taratimoon) on

A photo posted by Rizza Boo (@rizza_boo) on

A photo posted by Annie Frenzel (@anniefrenzel) on

And for some killer Star Wars inspired flash, be sure to checkout Parlor Tattoo Prints (the artwork pictured at the top of this post of Leia & Han is from there) by the talented Quyen Dinh!

Art & Culture Tattoos

Killer Style, Crazy Love: The Rock N Roll Bride Life

Rock n Roll Bride Kat Williams

[This interview was originally published on Tattoo Hero, sadly Tattoo Hero is no longer; so over the next little bit I’ll be reposting a few articles from the Tattoo Hero Blog in order that they might live on elsewhere] 

An Interview with Kat of Rock N Roll Bride

Blogging, Brides & Tattoos – Rock N Roll Bride is dead cool.

Whether you’re looking for wedding inspiration, expert advice on blogging, or running your own business, Kat Williams‘ blog is the definitive go to.

Initially starting out as an outlet to chronicle her own adventures in matrimony, Rock N Roll Bride has since become the sorely needed breath of fresh of air in the wedding industry for many women about to wed – be they ‘Punk Rock Girls’ or ‘Glamour Girls’ (and lets be honest, many of us would identify as both).

Kat curates with care and detail on Rock N Roll Bride some of the most beautiful and unique weddings around, breaking free of traditional modes to celebrate the individual.

Witty, glamorous and well inked – Kat Williams is also one of the brains behind the Blogcademy, a blogging workshop that has been taking the world by storm, selling out classes across the globe. Continue Reading


Toys, Tattoos & Playing Santa

Toys, Tattoos & Playing Santa

[This article was originally published on Tattoo Hero]

Ben Ackerman has been tattooing for over ten years – a talented award winning artist, once upon a time skateboarder, and avid axe thrower, he’s also a Secret Santa, helping to collect and donate toys every year for the Toronto Toy Mountain campaign.

Ben, who also happens to be one of my tattoo artists, sat down with me to discuss toys, tattoos and the charitable efforts of tattoo artists in the community.

From his interest in art to the strong sense of community within the tattoo industry, Ackerman was naturally drawn to tattooing and references the first time he saw Steve Moore’s work as an influential moment. Moore’s work blew his mind then and still does now almost 14 years later.

Tattoos By Ben from Tamir Moscovici on Vimeo.

Ben’s tattoos are full of bold lines and bright luscious colours, often the subject matter focused on animals and portraits of epic proportions. His bespoke work is done out of his Toronto studio in Liberty Village. With high ceilings, large windows and as the solo artist & owner working out of his aptly named Tattoos By Ben studio, the vibe is laid back and relaxing.

Tattoo Artist Ben Ackerman at work Continue Reading


The Women Of NIX – Top Tattoo Artists

Teneile Napoli tattooing

Even in an industry considered once on the fringes of society, women tattoo artists were not always the most welcome of members. I always found this so strange – I suppose I naively assumed given the creative nature of tattooing that all would be accepted if they had a true love for the craft.

But like anything, this wasn’t the case, and it’s taken some time for the contributions of female artists to be recognized. For myself, art is art – and I’ve wonderful experiences of being tattooed by both men and women.

It’s wonderful to see that people are now being appreciated for the quality of their work regardless of gender, as witnessed by the international acclaim for Teneile Napoli’s tattoos.

Teneile Napoli tattoosI recently had the chance to speak with the inspiring and talented Teneile Napoli – artist and owner of Garage Ink, an all-female tattoo shop in Queensland, Australia. Napoli will be one of more than 45 women tattooing at this weekends Northern Ink Xposure in Toronto.

Tattoo by Teneile Napoli“It’s fantastic to see more women becoming tattoo artists, but it’s no different than most industries around the world,” says Teneile, who specializes in dark and realistic fantasy tattoos. “The ladies are stepping up and its beautiful to see more and more women empowering and supporting each other.”

With a powerhouse of female talent working alongside her at Garage Ink, I ask if she has any advice for other young women looking to pursue a career as a Tattoo Artist –

“If you want this for all the right reasons you can’t fail. Don’t let what they say hurt you, just take it on board, learn from everything and have love and respect for every aspect of our industry. Never take for granted how lucky we are to do what we love every day. You need to work, you need passion and most of all you need love for yourself and for those around you.”

As the world of tattooing adjusts to more inclusive and accepting of women, the very art itself is evolving says Teneile.

“Women or men, we are seeing the industry change because of the quality of the art that is being done. More and more of the most amazing artists in the world are becoming tattoo artists. The art itself has come so far.”

Among the many strong women artists joining Teneile at NIX are several personal favourites.

The Women of NIX: Attending Tattoo Artists to Check Out

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Erin Chance

Erin Chance | InstagramUnkindness Art, Richmond, VA, USA.

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Iris Lys

Iris Lys | Instagram | MTL Tattoo, Montreal, PQ, CANADA

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Val McBain

Val McBain | Instagram | Motor City Tattoo, Oshawa, ON, CANADA

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Jesso Lange

Jesso Lange | Instagram | Imperious Rex Tattoo, Citrus Heights CA, USA.

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Muriel de Mai

Muriel de Mai | Instagram | Tatouage Royal, Montreal, PQ, CANADA

Tattoo Artists at NIX - Teresa Sharpe

Teresa Sharpe | InstagramStudio 13 Tattoo, Fort Wayne, IN, USA

And for more incredible work by female tattoo artists, I highly recommend Betty Rose’s most excellent Lady Tattooers!

Image Credits: Respective Artists – Teneile Napoli, Erin Chance, Iris LysVal McBain, Jesso LangeMuriel de Mai, Teresa Sharpe.


5 Tips For Getting Tattooed At A Convention

NIX 2015 Toronto Tattoo Show

One of my favourite Tattoo Conventions kicks off this weekend in Toronto – and that’s the Northern Ink Xposure (NIX). In it’s 17th year, NIX has long showcased the talents of some of the worlds best tattoo artists and this year is no exception.

Conventions are a great way for collectors to pick up work by artists that don’t reside in their city, and also from artists whose books are normally filled up for months. Often attending Artists will have flash pieces designed specifically for tattooing during the convention.

Last year I got tattooed by Hilary Jane during the Northern Ink Xposure, and since then have acquired several additional pieces during other conventions.

So if you’re thinking about getting tattooed at a convention like NIX, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your convention experience!

Tattoo Convention - Tattooed Legs

1. Find Out In Advance Which Tattoo Artists Are Attending.

With any large convention like the Northern Ink Xposure, it can be hard to know where to start sometimes. Luckily, the NIX site lists all the attending Tattoo Artists. Time to get your creep on and do some research in advance! Though many artists have professional portfolios available online, don’t neglect to have a look through their Instagram accounts! These are often more frequently updated, and it’s an easy way to get an overview of an artists range of work.

2. Try To Book A Tattoo Artist In Advance Or Go Early To The Convention.

Some Tattoo Artists will take bookings in advance, so if there’s an artist you’d love to get work done by, drop them an email! It can’t hurt, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t hear back as many will be inundated with messages leading up to a convention.

And while some artists will book ahead of NIX, some prefer in the spirit of a convention to take walk up’s at the show itself. In this case, it’s useful to go early and have a wander round to check out artist books and work in person.

3. Don’t Settle.

This is a big one – just because you’re at a tattoo convention doesn’t mean you *HAVE TO* get a tattoo. I know, I know – you hear the machines buzzing and tattoos are seriously addictive. But if you don’t find a piece you love or the right artist with time available don’t settle. Pick up some killer art prints or merch instead from an artist you adore!

4. Eat Before You Get Tattooed.

Dude. Do not get tattooed on an empty stomach. For reals. And no, coffee does not count as breakfast. Go get an awesome burrito or something before hand. You don’t want to tap out in the middle of a convention. It’s a different experience from getting tattooed in a shop – there’s a lot more noise, people walking around, a variety of distractions, and it can get warm with all those bodies in a room. SO EAT. And bring some water with you and easy to consume snacks to help you through.

5. Cash Is King & Tip Your Artist!

This may seem like a no brainer, but often this is something many tattoo newbs take for granted. Your artist will most likely be taking cash payments only. No Interac & certainly no Visa for the most part. People can be shy when questions of cost and money come up, but ask. Know in advance exactly how much your piece will cost and what payment methods your Tattoo Artist is able to accept at the convention. And most importantly – tip your artist! Whether a bottle of Jack Daniels or an extra $50 – it’s up to you what and how much, but it’s generally good form to tip your artist.

Getting Tattooed At A ConventionWHAT: Northern Ink Xposure (NIX), Toronto’s largest tattoo & lifestyle/culture show
WHERE: Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
WHEN: Friday June 19th, – Sunday, June 21st

NORTHERN INK XPOSURE (NIX) ONLINE: NIX Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Image Credits: NIX, and Dalje.


Do You Want More Tattoos In Future?

Tattoo Artist drawings

The other week I did an interview for Tattoo Talk on Sarah’s super awesome blog The Laughing Medusa. I often have tattoos on the brain but the question of tattoo regret posed by Sarah had me thinking further on the subject.

Often when discussing tattoos and how to decide on a piece, focus is given on the longevity of a tattoo design – will you still love it in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years time etc.

This is a major thing to factor in and think about before you get something tattooed, absolutely.

But what about overall cohesiveness? And what do I mean by this?

Well, when I set out to get my first tattoo I was totally focused on just that. At the time, I never gave much thought to the question – Do you want more tattoos in future?

Like many people, after my first tattoo I was hooked and began collecting. I added pieces here & there until I realized that *yes*, I really wanted to be quite heavily tattooed.

Do You Want More Tattoos In Future - Octopus Tattoo SelfieEveryone is different and there is no right or wrong with how you choose to collect or what you choose to put on your body.

My friend Diana who rocks some pretty incredible large pieces (uhm hello Edgar Allan Poe leg sleeve), once referred to collectors that get one off pieces that don’t connect as “pinboards“. Which accurately conveys the idea of separate individual work on a body I feel. Getting one off pieces can be a great way to collect from a multitude of artists from around the world. A tattoo completed in a single session makes it easier to get something from an Artist at a convention that doesn’t live near you, or if you’ve traveled far yourself.

It can also be friendlier on the wallet, in the sense that you’re not locked into a long term financial investment. Sleeves aren’t cheap and take time. Mine for example, took more than 8 three hour sessions over the course of a 3 year period.

You need to consider whether you like a pinboard style to your tattoos or if you want large bodies of work.

Traditional Tattoos connected with star motifAnd this isn’t to say that individual tattoos can’t connect or be connected. Often you see traditional work for example tied together with the use of wee stars, or other motifs.

So with that said, besides thinking about an individual design, you should also give some thought on whether you’d like more tattoos in future.

Do You Want More Tattoos In Future?

If you answered YES! or even Maybe? to this, before you run off to get your first tattoo think a little bit more on it.

A few questions to ask yourself:

❤ What styles are you drawn to? (Blackwork, Bold & Bright Colour, Traditional, Neotraditional)
❤ Do you want a uniform style and look to all your tattoos?
❤ Do you think you might want large pieces in future? (full sleeves, back piece, chest piece etc.)
❤ If you want large pieces later on, will the tattoo you’re getting be in the way? Or is it easily incorporated into a larger piece? (For example I had a Jolly Roger skull on my forearm which the hugely talented Ben Ackerman was able to incorporate into my pirate sleeve.)

These are a few things I wish I’d thought about more before I started collecting.

Had I given more thought to further tattoos, I probably would have made some different decisions, nothing drastic but it would have saved having to get some things covered up or re-worked. As it is, I’m a bit of a mish-mash. Both my arms will be singular pieces, and I’ve decided I’m totally fine with my right leg being a “pinboard”.

Ultimately – it’s your body, and a patchwork of pieces can be just as beautiful and meaningful as large works, but it doesn’t hurt to give it some thought in advance and make a decision that’s right for you!

Music Tattoos

Music Geek Tattoos

Music geek tattoos

Growing up in the Ottawa suburbs I used to watch MuchMusic pretty religiously. I still have a few VHS tapes kicking around from back in the day when I would tape videos off the television, VCR locked and loaded, ready to hit record when one came on I liked. A sort of visual mixtape really.

My introduction to a lot of music early on was through Much, particularly The Wedge hosted by Simon Evans and Sook Yin Lee, it was an absolute goldmine in the 90’s for Grunge and Alternative music.

It was on Much that I first saw Adam Ant, probably during one of their 80’s retro throwback weekends.

‘Stand and Deliver’ was unlike anything my little Doc Marten wearing, thrift store clad self had ever seen before. And while my Reality Bites cohorts killed themselves laughing at the campness of it all, I was absolutely mesmerized. The Dandy Highwayman had me hooked.

Adam Ant's TattoosAdam Ant performing at the O2 in London, UKYears passed, my Adam Ant collection grew and I moved to the UK where Adam and the Ants were still relatively well known, even if by some on just on ‘fancy dress‘ sort of level. It was here where I met my good friend Emma and finally got to see Adam Ant in concert.

Emma on the tube with Adam Ant concert ticketsI’d been throwing about the idea for years of getting a music related tattoo but nothing stuck with me. Passing ideas ranged from the cover art on the Smashing Pumpkin’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album to Robert Smith’s Boys Don’t Cry silhouette to something NIN related. And while I still love all those musicians, I’m glad I waited till I was certain what the perfect music geek tattoo was for me.

Post Punk girls in front of an Adam Ant gig posterWhen I decided to move back to Canada from the UK, as a last hurrah together my friend Emma and I decided to get matching ‘Jolly Roger’ tattoos. The piece was so perfect on many levels, representative of all I loved about London and my friends there. The city is an absolute musical paradise, Punks, Post Punks, New Romantics, Goths and Death Rock kids knocking about Camden, Angel Islington and clubs in Soho. The vibrancy of different scenes, and the crazy energy of Adam and the Ants with their decadent theatricality rooted in punk and the Kings Road.

Tattooed Post Punk GirlsAnd hey. Pirates. Who doesn’t love a good skull n crossbones?

The design – a skull in a pirate hat with crossed flintlock pistols and a wee black heart, artwork used by Adam and the Ants in the 80’s.

Adam Ant music geek tattoosAs for having matching tattoos, I wrote a piece for Tattoo Hero last year on that subject – The Ties That Bind: My Matching Ink Story.

Both Emma and I have incorporated our Adam Ant tattoos into full sleeves since getting the original piece. We were tattooed at Evil from the Needle in Camden Town by Dave Byrant, after an absolutely surreal encounter with Amy Winehouse who walked by Emma’s car while we were blasting music from her “Back to Black” album.

My boyfriend Jeff also has music geek tattoos. And while he rolls his eyes a bit at his first tattoo now (the Led Zeppelin symbols on his back) because of the ubiquitousness of them, the placement is great and they’re executed well. His love for Zeppelin hasn’t faded and the tattoos still hold meaning for him.

The four symbols are a hugely popular music tattoo for people to get, and it’s not surprising given the popularity of Zeppelin, but I also think it’s due in part to the classic design of the symbols.

Led Zeppelin four symbols music geek tattoosThe four symbols came about in the wake of poor reviews from Zeppelin III. For the next album Page decided it would officially be untitled, using symbols to represent each band member instead. These symbols appeared in the records inner sleeve and subsequently would result in some fans referring to the fourth Zeppelin album as “the Four Symbols”.

The four symbols are:

Guitarist Jimmy Page – ZoSo, a symbol designed by Page with roots purportedly going back to a 1557 symbol for Saturn used by Gerolamo Cardano. Page has been resolute in not revealing what the symbol means, and to this day it’s uncertain as to its true origin or meaning.
Bassist John Paul Jones – a single circle intersecting with a a triquetra, chosen from Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs.
Drummer John Bonham – three interlocking rings, also from Koch’s Book of Signs (and upside down they also happen to be the logo for Ballentine beer).
Singer Robert Plant – a circle with a feather in the centre, his own design.

There’s no definitive order to the symbols, though you’ll generally see them in the order listed above. I asked Jeff why ‘zoso’ wasn’t first for his tattoo, and quite simply he wanted Plant’s symbol first. The tattoo was done by James Sroga of Dead City Studios in North Bay, Ontario, Canada well over 14 years ago now.

The other music geek tattoo Jeff has is the Radio Birdman symbol on his forearm, tattooed at New Tribe in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Radio Birdman tattooRadio Birdman was one of the first Australian punks bands on the scene in the 70’s and are quite frankly fantastic.

The logo was originally designed by singer Deniz Tek, who was trying to develop a symbol for himself. When he formed Radio Birdman (awesomely named so after a misheard Stooges lyric), the symbol came along. With a professional graphic artist in the band – Warwick Gilbert. it was finally used for Radio Birdman after modifications by Gilbert.

Radio Birdman

If you’re considering a music geek tattoo we really love ours, and absolutely no regrets.

As with any tattoo – think it over well first. Music tastes can change, so you really need to know yourself well.

As to future plans for more music geek tattoos I know Jeff’s mulling over the artwork from the Beta Band’s Three E.P’s, and I’m seriously considering a piece inspired by artist Stephanie Pepper’s rendition of Adam Ant as a Dandy Highwayman.

If you were to get a music geek tattoo, what do you think it would be of?


5 Tattoo Mistakes You Won’t Want To Make

moonphase tattoo

This June I was back in Toronto to check out NIX – the Northern Ink Xposure and get tattooed by the fantastic Hilary Jane Petersen. Despite attending numerous tattoo conventions over the years around the globe, it was the first time I was getting work done at a show.

It was an interesting experience to get tattooed in the middle of a bustling convention with non stop people passing by. Overall it was a pretty calm despite how busy it was, and I found it gave me some time to think as Hilary quietly sang while she worked on my piece.

I’ve been getting tattooed now for the past 14 years, and will likely be getting tattooed 14 years from now too. That’s not to say I haven’t made some tattoo mistakes along the way! In hindsight these are 5 tattoo mistakes I wouldn’t repeat, and definitely 5 tattoo mistakes you won’t want to make in the first place!

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Art & Culture Tattoos

Flash – The Work of Jessica Harrison

Jessica Harrison flash

Originally from St Bees, Cumbria in the North West of England, Edinburgh based artist Jessica Harrison’s work is absolutely captivating.

Having studied sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art, she continued onto an MFA and a PhD in sculpture. Harrison’s reimagining of ceramic figurines brings new life to objects which for many are common place – set dressing for a quintessential Granny’s mantlepiece.

Her work first caught the attention of many with a fascinating series of gory, eviscerated ceramic ladies – altering mass produced figurines to really make you pause and reflect on their meaning.

And Harrison’s latest series of ceramic ladies continues to delight with beautifully detailed tattoo flash added to the figurines.

painted ladies Jessica HarrisonJessica Harrison ceramic painted ladyceramic tattooed lady Jessica HarrisonTattooed ceramic lady by Jessica Harrisontattooed figurine

If you happen to be lucky enough to find yourself in Paris this month, you can catch the Painted Ladies as part of Harrison’s exhibition ‘Flash’ on at the Galerie L.J. till June 26th.

IMAGE CREDIT: Jessica Harrison.

Musings & Life Tattoos

Tattoos In The Workplace

Haute Tattoos Vogue

The past little while has been pretty busy. I’ve been juggling my full time job, blogging, and working with Tattoo Hero in the evenings and weekends.

It’s been interesting rocking both corporate and startup life simultaneously. As of late I’ve been feeling a bit split up, like I have a secret identity. And the fact that I’m wearing Clark Kent-esque glasses now is only adding to the effect.

With news in Ottawa that three Convention Centre Employees were locked out from work because they refused to hide their tattoos under long sleeves, had the Tattoo Hero team springing into action.

Our official stance – the ability to do ones job is not dependent on an individuals physical appearance. And that the focus should be on ones performance, not their tattoos.

Steven Meisel Vogue Italia - Tattoo Patterns

The open letter we wrote from Tattoo Hero to the Ottawa Convention Centre on Locked Out Tattooed Employees was picked up by local media and seems to have resonated with many in the tattoo community. Our co-founder Steve Tannahill did the rounds of interviews with CBC Ottawa Morning, Metro Ottawa and The Ottawa Citizen giving voice to our thoughts on the matter.

Unfortunately, the Ottawa Convention Centre are standing their ground on the issue.

Because of these recent events I’ve been thinking a lot about tattoos in the workplace, and how I personally handle this being quite heavily tattooed myself. For years I’ve had the luxury of working in very creative, open environments in large cities – usually within the dotcom industry and always as part of a MarCom team.

For the most part I have not been client/customer facing, with the exception of working in a record store at one point, where if anything my tattoos were a positive in that role.

I have though had to conduct business and attend meetings with people from all walks of life though, from dealing with vendors to reporting to senior exec teams and COO’s, often with my tattoos visible.

Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 2007

And in all that time, my tattoos were never an issue in the workplace.

In fact, when I started at Disney for the first few months I covered up only for the team I worked with to tease me for doing so when it was discovered I had tattoos.

It’s disheartening then, but not surprising that there still exists such a stigma surrounding tattoos and whether an inked individual can be considered “professional”, when I’ve experienced a career for the most part free from this.

Haute Couture Tattoos

I remember asking the question “What are your thoughts on whether a person should hide their tattoos when coming in for an interview?” of Doug Tetzner, Shopify’s head of talent acquisition last summer during one of the lightening talks held by HackerYou.

Tetzner’s response: Don’t hide them. Shopify are interested in the individual as a whole – tattoos and all.

It was an incredibly refreshing viewpoint to hear, especially from an HR head. Shopify, sadly are not the norm, but change comes through small wins. And if an expanding and renowned company like Shopify are progressive in their hiring and work environment it’s a step in the right direction that will help to bring change to other places of work.

And myself? Do I go into interviews with my sleeve or chest tattoos visible? My nose ring in?

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