So where do I begin? How do I best convey to you who I am?
I was always a dreamer, a bright young kid, full of big ideas and with a vivid imagination. As a young child I fully immersed myself in the world of Ladybird Books and adaptations of The Grimm Brothers’ fairytales, stories made easy to digest with page after page of incredible oil paintings of far off lands, giants, witches and heroes.
These stories, and in particular the pictures themselves, had a huge influence on my imagination that directly fed into my creativity. It wasn’t long before I was doodling and scribbling on just about anything I could find.
Born in 1974 I was very much a child of the late 70s/80s. I had full access to one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, the Television, my window to another world. It was a golden age for Children’s TV, just about anything could, and would, be turned into a cartoon or TV show . Just around the corner was the introduction of videotape. I quickly became a child of the video generation soaking up everything I could get my hands on, and not just English TV, but the huge influx of shows imported from the USA, classic shows, everything from Mr Ben to the Mr Men, Sesame Street to Rainbow, Scooby Doo to Danger Mouse , Batman to He Man and the Masters Of The Universe, Wonder Woman to Transformers… I was truly spoilt for choice. Then of course there was the ‘big screen’, cinema, with writers, producers and directors reaching a high watermark with action packed blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Gremlins and Back To the Future. As I grew older my tastes evolved and although I never left these childish delights behind I soon made room for one of my favourite genres of film that I discovered through the double features that were regularly shown in the comfort of my own living room, films that were made by our very own home grown studio Hammer Horror.
This captivated my adolescent brain, and both this and my growing passion for an eclectic taste in music formed my identity. During these years I fell in love with the rebellious and visual way tattooed people were seen and it wasn’t long until I was making a trip to the other side of the city I called my home, Bristol, to see a tattooist myself and initiate myself into the tattoo tribe .
I left school with the highest level grade for art and design and followed this with and A level course in foundation art and film including stints acting and working in all aspects of theatre before finally settling on an degree course in sequential illustration (comic book art and story boarding).
Upon leaving college I drifted, the UK was a hard place to find work in the world of storyboarding or comic book art. Instead I took on regular jobs which I found soul destroying! In my time off I’d draw draw draw but there was no outlet for my creativity. So I started creating designs that I would take to various tattoo artists and get them to ink me. If some film studio or publisher didn’t want my work then I’d cover myself in it. Then it dawned on me. Looking back it was always there, I was just too blind to see it, perhaps I could carve a career as a tattoo artist myself! The tattoo industry had started to change and I had already started to connect with these sometimes strange, seemingly unapproachable, people and I began to see more and more of myself in them. After a spell of living in London I upped sticks and moved to Manchester which is where I got my first break. Nick and Lauren Caroll were in the early days of their shop, Sharp Art Studios, they must of seen something in me and took me on as their apprentice. The first time I put needle to skin, apart from there nerves and sweat, it felt like I had finally found my vocation in life. I got a good grounding there and quickly learnt the basics to tattooing safely… Nine months later I moved back to the South West and only then did I really start to understand what it was like to tattoo, gradually moving from from butterflies and script until I felt confident enough to tattoo my own designs.
Three years laters it’s all starting to sink in. I don’t know if I’ve found a style yet, the same influences that I grew up with are very much there and I certainly am at the beginning of what will hopefully be a long career. All I know is a deep set need to keep doing this, to keep learning, to improve and to ultimately do the best work I can do. Travel, knowledge and taking the tattoo art up a level are where I’m at right now. It’s been a crazy journey so far and now with Sophie Boon and the rest of the gang at Black Tulip in Taunton I finally feel at home.
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