What drew you to hand poking rather than tattooing with a machine? My husband uses a very noisy heavy machine so I was always found it quite intimidating and wasn’t really interested in learning. It was when I saw Jenna Bouma (@slowerblack) tattoo that I thought I wanted to learn. I thought it was such a calm and natural way to apply a tattoo. I’ve always loved to draw, paint and sew, so this felt like another medium I’d like to try that could suit my style of artwork.
So I was very lucky that Jenna helped me and shared a few secrets she’d learnt over the many years she had been doing it.
What inspires and influences your tattoos? So many things; artwork, jewellery, fabrics, anything ornamental. I love old book covers, and illustrators like Jessie M Kng, Aubrey Beardsley, Maurice Pillar Verneuil , Virginia Frances Sterrett and Harry Clarke. I love Japanese fabric patterns, Indian wood block prints, Egyptian jewellery and Skandanavian folk art.
I do look at indigenous tribal artwork and tattoo designs like Indian, Berber, Native American which definitely has had influence on my work. However I try not to reference something cultural too directly unless there is a personal connection for the person I’m tattooing.
Do you think working in an predominately female tattoo shop influences your work? FF is not exclusively female, however the fact that we are mainly female, non-binary and very inclusive means I can work in a relaxed friendly unintimidating atmosphere. The fact everyone is supportive and shares advise and knowledge, means I’ve been able to progress and grow as an artist.
What do you love to tattoo and draw and what would you like to do more of? What kind of designs get you excited? I love to draw for the body, like jewellery. To decorate a wrist or neckline or ankle etc. Usually starting with focal point like a talisman or symbol like a moon, lotus or eye, which have strong symbolism such as protection, strength or luck.
Then decorate with beading from there. Which is why I use a lot of dots, to represent beading, also to soften a solid line and also the practicality of it being hand poked. It also reminds me of tin punching, almost like you’re punching the skin. The sun and moon feature heavily as they are such strong meaningful symbols. I love tattooing hands, I think because it’s the perfect size to fill the space and our hands are always on show. However I’d love to do much larger pieces, like a leg piece I did recently.
Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? I try to never tattoo the same thing twice which means I am constantly drawing and producing new designs. Clients have the option to chose from flash (pre-drawn designs) however usually the flash is a starting point to which I then adapt to suit the chosen placement on the body. I then work together with the client, to finalise the design.
I don’t tend to take commissions unless the idea is inspiring, something that will suit the aesthetic of my work and translate into a nice tattoo.
How long have you been tattooing? How did you get into the industry? I’ve only been tattooing professionally for four years. I came into it relatively late in my artistic career. I used to manage an art gallery in east London, which I did for over 10 years. It was when I left to have our daughter, that I started tattooing. I didn’t take the traditional apprenticeship route, I was very lucky to have my husband and very good friends like Jenna and Grace Neutral guide and advise me.
If you could do anything differently in your career what would it be and why? Nothing. Everything I have done previously has brought me to where I am now, and has influenced my work. I have a huge appreciation and respect for the industry and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such if it.
If you weren’t a tattooer what would you be? I would definitely have looked into jewellery design. Whether I’d have been any good at it I have no idea! From recently working on a collaboration with jeweller Sarah Boodi (@boodi_jewellery) I’ve had an insight into how hard it can be!
Can you tell us about your own tattoo collection, does this reflect the tattoos you create? A lot of my tattoos are hand poked and by women which wasn’t a conscious decision. But yes, most reflect my taste in tattoos and therefore a similar style to mine.
How does tattooing and tattoos make you feel? I find it really therapeutic and feel very lucky to be able to make a living from something I love so much. I’m so grateful to all the people that support me creatively and it still blows my mind that people want me to tattoo them!
If you’re not already make sure to follow Beth on Instagram for more beautiful tattoos.