This year I have been encouraging you all to meet a handful of the UK's finest tattoo apprentices and hear about their journey so far in this artistic industry.
Blogs and magazines always feature tattoo work by artists that have established themselves within both the industry and their style. But what about the tattoo artists of tomorrow - those in their first few years of growing? I thought it was important to showcase their work too, in a collection of interviews with UK tattoo apprentices.
So far I have spoken to loads of lovely peeps - Leah, Jake, Steph, Zoe and Sophie. Next up, meet Stephanie Melbourne. Steph works at The Square Tattoo Studio in Solihull (near Birmingham, UK). She has been tattooing just for a few months (which is quite unbelievable once you see the level of her work, I'm sure you'll agree - I have had three tattoos from Steph already!).
1. Tell our readers how it all started for you.
I have always had a pencil in my hand as a child, and through school I was always in the art centre. I went on to complete a Foundation Degree in illustration but I felt like it wasn't for me. I've always been interested in tattoos and to earn money/make a decent living from your artwork really appealed to me. I took my portfolio to one of the more reputable tattoo studios in my local town and luckily they took me on. I was 20 years old then.
2. What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
That first tattoo! I had been waiting for so long to tattoo skin and when I finally did, it felt surreal. When I moved studios, Ashley (Luka) threw me in at the deep end and I'm grateful for that. I did my first tattoo, on my first day, in the first hour, when I joined my new studio The Square. Ashley knew I was ready and I finally felt like my apprenticeship really began. I'm very grateful Ashley took me on as her apprentice. She helps me when I need it but also lets me learn things myself. I needed that more relaxed approach and it puts me at ease.
3. And what has been the biggest challenge?
Probably the fact that I'm a perfectionist and it's frustrating when a tattoo doesn't look how it does on paper. Beginning to tattoo is like re-learning to draw all over again. You need to know what designs work as a tattoo, as well as the technicalities of tattooing. Believe me, it's nothing like a pencil.
4. Looking back, anything you’d do differently?
Not at all. I believe everything happens for a reason and you will end up exactly where you need to be. You need to create your own good karma.
5. What goals have you set yourself?
In a year's time I just want to have gained a load more experience! I'm so early into tattooing and every tattoo is a learning curve. I am so focused and I just want keep moving forward and progressing.
6. Describe your job in three words.
Creative. Freedom. Passion.
8. Which single person have you learned the most from?
The first studio I worked at helped to open up the tattoo industry to me but Ashley gave me the opportunity to actually put needle to skin. She talked me through my first tattoo and she's given me advice and been there to help ever since. I don't hesitate to ask her any questions I have and she's there to answer them. I feel very lucky to have her as my mentor. I felt like I was holding myself back until I moved studios and that's when things really started to progress for me.
9. Thanks for your time! Anything else you want to share with Tattoodo readers?
A lot of people ask me how to get an apprenticeship and I think that the only answer is to get a portfolio together and take it around some shops. Be pro-active! But also be picky. An apprenticeship will be the foundation to your career and the better the studio, the better your experience and knowledge.