Get Inked! We Find Out More About Leicester’s bespoke tattoo art studio Inkling,
With more than 25% of adults having at least one tattoo, it’s one of the biggest growing parts of the UK beauty industry so why are so many of us still so scared about making that first trip to the tattooist?
“I think the traditional tattoo experience is intimidating” says Neil Anderson, owner of the off grid, bespoke tattoo art studio Inkling, based at Leicester’s Phoenix Arts in the heart of the Cultural Quarter. “You have this mental image of biker gangs, of thrash metal blasting out and dark, smoky shops, lined with sticky folders full of old school designs with the sound of a needle buzzing away behind a closed door. And, to be fair, that is what a lot of it was like but things are very different now.”
He’s not wrong. Sat talking to Neil in the light, airy Inkling studio and you could be in an art gallery. A double height picture window let’s light stream into the open plan workroom. Original art covers the walls and Spotify plays a random, rotating playlist of 90s indie, 80’s disco, jazz, funk
and a little bit of rock for good measure.
A professional tattooist for over twenty years, he shares the space with two other artists, Katie and Michelle, both specialists in their own arenas. The atmosphere is relaxed, lighthearted, conversational and creative. Neil has combined his training in design and fine art with the traditional tattoo skills learnt during his apprenticeship with next generation seaside tattooist, Shamanic Body Art and has gained a reputation, not only for the quality of his work, but for his ability to freehand draw designs direct onto skin and create works that are truly unique and original.
“We do have traditional paper books here” he laughs, “Most people just use their phones nowadays and come in with pretty specific designs that they’ve seen and want to recreate or to use as inspiration. We will help pull together something for them based exactly on what they want.”
“We have a balanced mix of female and male clients, though it tends to fall more to the female side partially because we have two female artists here, Katie and Michelle, but also because we have quite a caring attitude towards our clients, their needs and desires. We’re all very laid back, lots of cups of tea, plenty of biscuits and laughs, whatever helps you through”
What advice would Neil give to anyone looking to get their first tattoo, start a big piece or undertake a coverup? “First thing is don’t be intimidated or led by anyone but yourself, a modern studio will undertake a consultation process for a big or bespoke piece of work to help you understand what is possible and what is involved in the process. They should make you feel comfortable with what you are getting and who is doing it. Feel free to look at their work, ask questions, don’t feel as though you have to make your mind up there and then. Some of the process grows as you go, as you learn how different artist like to work; it’s not like any other shopping experience. Check out the vibe of the studio and be openminded; you carry the memories of your experience as much as you
carry the images we introduce to your skin so it’s got to be right for you. Generally, when you find a tattooist you trust, you tend to stick with them, it’s a bit like starting a relationship, so choose wisely.
To see more of Neil’s work follow him on Instagram and Facebook- @Neilstattoos @Inklingtattoo