Meet a handful of the UK's finest tattoo apprentices and hear about their artistic journey so far in the industry.
Blogs and magazines always feature tattoo work by the biggest and best - the guys that have been doing this for decades and have established themselves within the industry and with their style...
But what about the tattoo artists of tomorrow - the artists in their first few years of learning and growing?
I thought it was important to showcase their work too, in a series of interviews with UK tattoo apprentices.
Meet the third tattooist in this interview series... Zoe Fraser. Zoe works at The Tattooed Arms in Lincoln and has been tattooing for 1 year.
1. Tell our readers how it all started for you.
I always studied art through school and college, then continued to study illustration at university. I was always interested in tattoos, being a collector of them myself and always being surrounded by those who have them.
I looked up to a lot of tattooist as artists before even thinking about their medium...
"...the fact that a tattoo is permanently on someone just made it more beautiful to me."
I looked for an apprenticeship within the industry for quite some time before I actually had the opportunity. Through being in the right place at the right time I approached the guys at The Tattooed Arms, showing them a portfolio of my artwork and they kindly gave me the amazing opportunity to join their team.
Having a strong portfolio of art to show the guys and building up the confidence to talk about my work proudly was a big step into getting to where I am now. I also started a Facebook page where I took commissions for work before starting my apprenticeship - this also helped me start building a client base.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
I love getting to tattoo big pieces. Working on a piece that requires a few sittings is always so rewarding to see the finished product. Also just to see how happy your work can make a customer feel.
I'd also say getting to work alongside the team at The Tattooed Arms, seeing all the artists' different styles and techniques and being welcomed into the studio with open arms to learn the trade.
Buying your first machine is a pretty good feeling, too.
"There is a lot to learn within the trade and I don't think I'll ever stop learning..."
3. And what has been the biggest challenge?
I feel like there are quite a lot of challenges within the job really. For a start, getting the hang of working on different areas of the body or with different skin types can be a challenge in itself. It looks easier than it is!
Then learning different techniques and finding the right way of working for me. Also learning how to fix machines is also a big challenge. Coils are very temperamental sometimes!
There is a lot to learn within the trade and I don't think I'll ever stop learning. I like to challenge myself.
"I couldn't be happier with where I am today..."
4. Looking back, anything you’d do differently?
I don't think so. I was lucky enough to join a team that I love working with every day - it came at the right time for me and I couldn't be happier with where I am today.
5. What goals have you set yourself?
To progress more within my work and to hone in on some of the main styles of tattooing I enjoy doing. I want to study those styles more in depth and put that knowledge into practice with my own twists.
I'd also love to go to more conventions and visit more artists around the UK this year and build my own collection of art.
6. Describe your job in three words.
Creativity, passion, beauty.
7. Which three artists do you look up to the most?
Other than the obvious choice of the guys I work with within my studio, if I really had to pick only three I'd say: Mitch Allenden, Matt Webb and Sadee Glover. But I look up to so many more!
8. Which single person have you learnt the most from?
I'd definitely have to say my main mentor within our studio, Alex Stark. He's always there to answer a question if I need him, or to help me with my machines. Also also specialises in quite a few different styles so it's always fun to watch him and learn how his techniques differ from style to style. I've also learnt a lot from working alongside and watching our other artists within the studio.
"I can't wait for what the future holds..."
9. Thanks for your time, Zoe!
No worries, thanks for this opportunity! The industry is a hard one to get started in, but with a lot of hard work and determination if it's something you really want, it will work out.
Like I said, it takes a lot of hard work. You have to be dedicated and willing to put the time in. I can say it is such a rewarding job but it takes up all my time. Luckily, I'm OK with that and I can't wait for what the future holds.