I have always cared from the heart about art and tattooing, and the client's needs. Some colleagues have said i care too much! But obviously what we do is very important to the people involved, and can have a huge impact on lives. I also care about finding the right way to express the ideas - it can be a challenging process to meet in the middle and create the right magic! - so i always try to go the extra mile to make sure we get the desired result and more.
Patience and freedom with the process is highly beneficial and appreciated! but i also fully understand the need for client input and comfort, so we are always trying to find the right balance. Needs can vary greatly from project to project.
Every tattoo and art piece I do now I try to make special, and im aiming high, so always hoping to talk to the client about their likes and dislikes, and then get the support and belief to create something world class.
Art, imagination and tattoo possibilities are always changing, and I'd like to create more big pieces with impact and soul, and avoid clichés. Art not just with beauty, but character and truth
| Tattoo Procedure & Equipment
As the years go on I strive to improve my procedure, and equipment setup. Client and artist safety is paramount, and no corners are cut.
Many of the tattoo supply companies have worked hard to make tattooing a safer and more efficient process, and make things much easier for us. Preperation time & cost can be sizeable to do things the right way.
Before your tattoo, you should research your artist, studio and imagery well. Think in advance about how the tattoo will be placed ofcourse, and always try to take into account your future plans, and future tattoos. Your artist should help give you more perspective with this.
On the day of the tattoo, be well rested and eat a good meal before you come. Shave the area in question if you feel comfortable; using shaving foam, being careful not to damage the skin, and keeping it very clean. Shaving beforehand can give the skin time to settle before the tattoo starts. Don't worry at all if you don't do this.
Do not drink alcohol in the 24 hours before the tattoo.
Try not to worry or overthink anything, take your mind off, listen to some good music...whatever works for you!
At the studio we will make you feel at home. We have good facilties and a nice large area downstairs so you won't feel cramped. We ask that you remove your shoes before sitting on the tattoo chairs.
During the tattoo (or any time) you should make sure you're well hydrated! Sugar can also help people feel better.
It's nice for me to concentrate and get in the zone (especially at the start of the session), but also feel free to chat or communicate anything! I usually make conversation myself
I ofcourse use new cartridges (needles) for each client, from various manufacturers and often many different groupings to achieve the desired results. I use two rotary machines, one from industry leader Cheyenne, and a personal favourite from Bishop.
I use vegan inks from Dynamic and Eternal, always distilled water and organic medical soap.
I recently started using the various great products from Greenhouse tattoo supplies, who worked out ways to provide
eco-conscious tattoo materials, and cut out plastics and animal products.
I am also now using protective barrier film after most tattoos, which is the revolutionary new way to protect & heal the work after the tattoo has been done.
We offer good quality, vegan aftercare products in the studio.
Pain relief is not provided, but I am not against you doing whatever you need to do to get through comfortably (within reason!). Pain relief products can be recommended, and advice
on application given.
Tattoo pain can vary from barely noticeable to almost unbearable, but most people are fine until 3 or 4 hours into it! I tattoo in an efficient way and try to minimise pain to the client, although sometimes it is inevitable and we have to concentrate on doing
the job properly ofcourse. First time tattoo clients are usually pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as bad as expected.
Breaks or stopping due to pain is ok, the sessions are always flexible. On this note, it is always beneficial to not fight the pain, or fear it, to accept it and go 'with it'. Lack of resistance and a calm mood goes a long way. Tattooing can be a 'surrendering' process for the client, both in terms of that pain, and the final result. Trust and patience is needed.
After the tattoo, a short cool down period usually happens, where we can clean it up, discuss aftercare and wait for it to settle before taking some pictures. The pain usually subsides quickly, and the tattoo is only usually tender to the touch for a day or two. This can vary from person or tattoo. A good meal and rest is beneficial that night, especially after longer sessions.
For aftercare advice, see here.
I tattoo strictly over 18's only (I.D. may be required), and pregnant women are not allowed to be tattooed. If you have any health conditions or diseases, you are required to inform us beforehand, and a questionnaire is always filled out for us and the council before the session.
I am licensed to carry out tattooing at Santo Cuervo Tattoo in Stoke Newington, under Hackney council.
If you have any questions about my procedure or equipment, please don't hesitate to ask.
| Tattoo Process
Here is a note about the process for those interested, or unfamiliar with aspects of tattooing or art;
My process with custom tattoos is firstly a free consultation, either online or in person. After a personal one, online contact is often beneficial before the day to discuss the design.
To start any design work or make any appointments, a deposit is always required. This is so we can both fully commit to the project. Deposits range from £50 up to £250 per session, depending on the tattoo. The price of the deposit comes off your tattoo on the day, and design work is often free of charge/included in the tattoo rate.
Desposits are non-refundable but the date can be moved though with some notice. I'm easy going if you have special requirements or requests, or are running late, etc. I feel like the most important thing is that both parties are relaxed and positive.
To focus on projects properly, design work sometimes operates on a week by week basis (I will do the majority of the work for your design in the week leading up to the tattoo). This is normal and often the best way to manage everything, and I am very accustomed to working on these time frames (or less). A lot of the tattoos in my portfolio are designed 'on the fly', on the day...or even freehanded. For larger projects I may often work on the design periodically for weeks or months leading to the date, it all depends on the project.
Rest assured all effort and experience is applied to make sure your design and tattoo is successful...patience and belief helps the whole process flow more naturally.
Before this design though, we will talk a lot about your tastes and the options. I'll look at the design from different perspectives and try to foresee any possible problems or challenges. And from there with your support I will go ahead and design. Balance can be challenging here as your input is vital to the whole thing (sometimes a small input, sometimes large), but then there also needs to be a letting go where I explore the design and work out the best solutions. Often I will ask for more input or opinion along the way. Other times you may not see the design until the day, to make it easier to explain all the options/layers/designs.
Realistic designs are often done digitally on photoshop, so we can explore more options quicker, and change things easier...with additions or other designs being completely done on an ipad pro & apple pencil
During long tattoo sessions I aim to have short breaks every 1-2 hours to keep up concentration, hydrate and stretch! Sessions can often start or end late, again patience is highly appreciated as we have a lot to prepare, think of, and carry out. I'm always of the opinion that the most important thing is the end result, and I'm often going the extra mile or sacrificing to make it work.
After the session I will apply the neccessary dressing, and give the relevant advice both verbally and on paper. Healing can vary greatly and takes between 5 days and 3 weeks. Some dryness to the area is normal for weeks after the tattoo. For aftercare advice see here.
If you can send good quality photos when fully healed, that is much appreciated
I am very open and honest, so feel free to ask anything. I have a lot of experience in a range of styles and environments, and happy to share my perspective or opinion.
I create my best work with freedom, and I'm always trying to improve. I also value your opinions though and they are vital to this process.
I had a lot of inexperienced clients wondering how it went, so to summarise, a custom tattoo process might look like the following:
Consultation > Deposit > Date booked > Design > Consult > Tattoo
Timelapse, designing a modern Nordic Tree of Life tattoo
| Aftercare Advice
There are various ways to heal tattoos, and you will often find varying advice between artists. I will give verbal aftercare advice after the tattoo, as well as a printed copy. Following is the studio aftercare, some notes from myself, and a good list of Do's & Dont's.
The aftercare depends on which dressing is used; either with Protective sticky Tattoo film (Second Skin), or with cling film (general tattoo aftercare)...
Here are the files for each, as recommended by the studio:
Protective Tattoo Film (second skin)
Not to be confused with cling film, this new protective film is latex free, breathable, and self adhesive. It protects against dirt, germs, and friction from clothes. It's not ideal to use it for every tattoo, but it is a great aid when possible. Again, follow the relevant advice above depending on whether the protective film is used or not
Use as pure and chemical free a soap as possible, we sell a great one in the studio from mindful company TattooMed.
Always apply cream in small amounts, rubbing fully into the skin and not leaving excess on the surface. There are various creams which are suitable...
Organic coconut oil
We sell the former 2 in the studio, as well as a good soap. I don't recommend bepanthen, and you certainly shouldn't use savlon or these kind of creams.
Coconut oil can also be used after the tattoo is healed, to moisturise and make the tattoo look more fresh.
The tattoo healing varies a lot depending on the person. It usually takes 1 - 2 weeks for most of the healing to take place, and sometimes further days or weeks for all the dry skin to go and the skin to be fully healed. After the first week, the tattoo should be much easier to maintain, and harder to damage.. but you should still be mindful for a month after the tattoo has been done.
In my opinion the best way to heal your tattoo is to be well rested and drink lots of water, and not irritate it.
Certain aspects of the healing can be confusing or worrying soemtimes. If you have any questions, dont hesitate to contact me
- Listen to the artist's advice!
- Keep your tattoo clean!
- Protect it from damage
- Drink lots of water!
- Get good rest
- Use a pure, chemical-free soap
- Use a specially formulated tattoo cream, or organic coconut oil
- Use clean hands and towels
- Don't Pick, scratch, rub, itch, or touch it!
- Don't Allow into contact with pets
- Don't Swim (for 2 - 3 weeks+)
- Don't do too much strenuous physical activity or training (for 1 - 2 weeks+ if possible)
- Don't put too much cream on or too often
- Don't worry if the tattoo is a bit swollen, tender, or leaking some body fluids
- Don't allow into contact with dirt, chemicals, bacteria, or raw meat
- Don't expose to direct sunlight
Art and design always came naturally to me. Born on Michaelangelo's birthday in 1984, adopted and moved to a quiet place on the outskirts of Manchester UK, art was definitely part of the escapism. From the youngest age creating things was my passion, and almost always with a pencil. I would design very intricate things on huge paper, and later recreate my favourite characters or scenes; showing an ability beyond my years.
I had a few decent art teachers growing up who encouraged my expression, and by the time i was in my early teens i could draw almost photorealistically. Hollywood cinema, Sci-fi, games, hip hop and street culture were my main inspirations in these early years. I was always trying to create my own content too, not just consume the rest. And i was lucky enough to have a close friend or two that really exposed me to the best which media had to offer.
Moving into adulthood I mainly focused on fine art and illustration, but also studied graphic design, product design and eventually even games design. After university i didnt know what to do except that I'd rather not just be using computers, or being dictated to. I loved dark art at this time, H.R. Giger was my first really beloved artist, but i also preferred the more beautiful or poetic dark arts like with artists such as Luis Royo. This contrast intrigued me...
By chance soon after university i was offered a tattoo apprenticeship in 2008, in Preston (Priest town) North England, based on my art skills. It wasn't a world I was used to at the time, but I thought it might suit me, being more alternative and 'free', and decided to give it a go. I was before this wave of tattooers who pursued it specifically, and started in a very different kind of place. On my first day i was shown how to take apart a machine and put it back together... And the 2nd day i had to tattoo myself with it. It would be my first of many
The studio was far from ideal for my progress, but I came into tattooing at a time and place which im very thankful for. To have seen a lot of the old school way of doing things, from the foundations up. Those early years saw me battle my environment to try and do things a different way, but found a nice balance. My art interests developed, and i saw a dramatic improvement in my skills with the more intensive practice. I started tattooing around 2009 and quickly built a decent client base and portfolio.
I stayed with this first studio for 4 years, with my colleague buying the business and us designing it all our way. We later opened a new premises and went from strength to strength. I had a lot of input and also learnt a lot here about the industry and clients, eventually moving on and designing and managing a studio on my own, Freedom tattoo...where I really began to pursue my own way. My art style was being solidified, and i was more interested now in combining my usual realistic style with abstract elements, but still focused on greyscale art.
After building a great foundation there and it starting so well, I was unfulfilled. I really felt like it was time to spread my wings. I had no idea which direction to travel, but I think creative minds are best developed through life experience, and it seemed like I had to push myself if i was ever going to get close to where i wanted to be. I'd always thought about moving to a big city with lots of creative input...so I set off for london in 2015, with no set accommodation or job, completely going with the flow. I landed on my feet in Fitzrovia central London, at the now closed Soul Rise.
The last 5 years since i moved have been a whirlwind, experiencing life at several studios and meeting many amazing clients and artists (or both) from all walks of life along the way. Ive worked with some of London's most well known and respected artists, people i watched on television when i was learning, and at some prestigious studios. My life completely changed and all the amazing cultures and perspectives here rubbed off. I kept moving to keep learning, and to avoid the stagnation that I used to hate so much when I was younger.
I lived in Russia for just under a year, living, working and doing charity work with a very special Russian family, and briefly Patch Adams and the volunteers. Here I also had the pleasure of meeting some unique artists and minds. Im very grateful for the people ive met and wisdom ive learnt over the years.
After Russia i started again from scratch, unsure whether to travel or stay. My art style and focus had evolved. Now more influenced by other worlds and colours. I found my home though at Santo Cuervo, in a quiet and creative area of London, with a genuine and artistic group. Ive been there for the last year, doing things a bit differently than before... Finally having the resources and time to tattoo in a way which I think is right, and to the highest standards. Which can unfortunately be a rare situation in the industry.
I'm left handed, a deep thinker, and a perfectionist. I have one daughter and currently live in North london. Work takes up a lot of my time, and I also enjoy producing music and pursuing truth during the rest. My partner is also a tattoo artist, and we try to live a healthy positive life.
I've always had very high standards and a lot of ambition. Looking to the future I hope to define my style fully and be one of the best at what i do, and build something worthwhile, including producing more fine art. It's taken a lot of work to get to a point where this was possible, but all worthwhile in this ever growing story. I hope to contribute a lot to this quickly changing medium and culture.
Influences, Inspirations & Interests
Realistic art, realism, Gothic art, Japanese and eastern art, Neoclassical
H. R Giger, Luis Royo, Albrecht Duhrer, da Vinci, Michaelangelo
Trash polka art, Volko Merschky, Niko Hurtado, Jeff Gogue, Joshua Carlton, Thomas Carli Jarlier...Jeremy Geddes
Contemporary art, street art, graffiti, murals, stencil art, Banksy, Jean-michel Basquiat
Phillip k Dick, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Terry Gilliam
Cinema, urban culture, technology, sci-fi, and often dark or gritty subject matter.
History, nature of reality, symbolism, psychology, sociology, the subconcious, truth
Preferred Art Style / Subjects
My preferred tattoo & art style is hyperrealism combined with abstract areas, often geometry, ink splashes and watercolour or painterly effects.
I love when the image/form/'order', comes out of 'chaos'...
"I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set him free"
I love portraits, figures, statues, architecture, nature, symbolism, and thought provoking, controversial or spiritual themes and tattoos with impact.
Portraiture & figures
Statues & sculpture
Enjoying colour work more and more
Photos are edited slightly to bring out the tattoo detail and make the photo look more like it does in person. I keep editing natural and to a minimum. My general photo editing process is as follows...
- Saturation reduction to take away the red skin
- Sharpening and Gamma to show the details more like in person
- Sometimes a vignette (darker corners of the photo) for presentation, to focus on the tattoo more
The tattoos often look more impressive in person on the day, and the photos are always trying to reflect that. It can also be difficult to get good photos of tattoos with light glare, oils on the skin and swelling!
Tattoos in London are usually based at around £100 an hour and £600+ per day, for good work at reputable studios. I often go below this and I try to make a good deal for clients... For a helpful price guide at Santo Cuervo, please see here
The price includes any design work and preparation, equipment, our time and skill, and ofcourse the tattoo and any neccessary support afterwards. A lot of time and money goes into doing my work to a high standard, but I'm always trying to find the balance and often sacrificing my own time or being generous with pricing
I offer a good day session rate...as well as sizeable discounts for large projects, regular customers, and desired pieces. The rate varies depending on the project, difficulty and timescale. I am always open to compromising or working to a budget.
Payment of several deposits in advance for multiple sessions recieves a discount.
Deposits vary in price and are non-refundable, but the date can be moved with notice (before the chair rent is paid)