Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Charlotte Eleanor Timmons

charlotte-timmons2Charlotte Eleanor Timmons, 26, Modern Body Art, Birmingham

Oh babes, how I’ve missed you! I’ve been without my laptop for a week after leaving my charger in Canada so I’ve had no access to my post drafts or photos. It’s felt a bit like torture not being able to properly write to you! But my charger arrived in the post yesterday, so I’ll be back to typing you love letters and sharing my adventures across the interweb. But for now, I’m excited to share the latest Tattoo Talk interview.

I discovered Charlotte’s work on Instagram and have been dreaming about having her hot air balloon painting tattooed on my leg. But until I can save up my pennies, let’s hear a bit about how she became a tattooist in the first place.

How long have you been tattooing? Since 2009

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
I was 19 and it was a rose that I had drawn myself . I have since had it removed! I know how bad that sounds!

charlotte-timmons6Do you have a favourite tattoo in your own collection?
I have too many favourites. I am lucky enough to have had some amazing artists work on me. I am totally in love with the one on my right hand, done by Andy Crystalz, maybe because its recent and I see it more than any other tattoos that I currently have!

How did you get started in tattooing?
After abandoning hope of an artistic career after not getting the grades that I wanted I was at college studying totally unrelated subjects. I went to a small tattoo convention in my town and it bought all my inspiration back and I quickly realised it was my calling!

charlotte-timmons5What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I tried for a few months handing out copies of my sketches, etc. and eventually I got an apprenticeship in a small street shop. I mostly made tea, set up the machines for the tattooists, hand stenciled designs/flash and dealt with walk-in custom. I was offered to finish my apprenticeship at a bigger shop so I moved on until I was offered a job at a shop in a better location. By that time I was a fully fledged tattooer. I spent 4 years at that shop building up my reputation before being offered a place at Modern Body Art.

Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
I have been interested in art since I was able to hold a pencil. My mother was always creative although in more textiles based media. Painting and drawing have always been a part of my life, and they’re a bigger part of it now than ever before!

charlotte-timmons1How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
My attitudes to tattoos have totally flipped over time. I was pretty much never exposed to them until I saw people who had them at college and I went out with a guy who had some! I always found them fascinating but I remember once thinking that women could have too many.

I definitely don’t think that anymore. Maybe it’s the artist speaking but every time someone says to me ‘I don’t think being covered would suit me’ I imagine what kind of tattoo style they could get covered in that would suit them. I’ve had more body issues than a lot of girls due to health conditions and at risk of sounding like a total cliche, my tattoos have radically improved my body image.

charlotte-timmons4How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I find it very difficult to label my work as just when I feel like I’ve found one style I bring new elements in, often at the request of my customers.

There are obvious neo traditional leanings in a lot of my work and I get a lot of customers that specify that they want their tattoo to look that way. But there is another direction that I am more frequently being asked to go in which is far more abstract and watercolour based, which comes more from my painting style.

charlotte-timmons3Who or what influences your work?
I think my influences are as diverse as my painting/tattooing style! And a lot of what I am inspired by can’t be seen at all in my work as a finished product. There are so so many great tattooers around that have inspired me and continue to do so that it would be impossible to list them all without feeling like I had left someone really important out. From colour realists to neo traditional artists to abstract artists; it would be easier to list if I was just into one style! Art nouveau, animals, and nature are things that have always influenced my artwork since I was a child and to be honest those are the most prominent influences even now.

Charlotte currently has lots of guest spots across the UK, including 22nd-25th September at Cherubs Tattoo Parlour in Devizes, Wiltshire and 28th-29th of November at Bold as Brass Tattoo Co in Liverpool. Keep an eye on her Instagram to see her latest work and for information about bookings. Thanks, Charlotte!

Love, hummingbirds, & neon watercolours,
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A Blogiversary Giveaway!

blog-giveaway-prizes copyI can hardly believe it, but as of today I’ve been writing The Laughing Medusa for 3 years!

So much has happened since my first post, when I was feeling hopelessly lost and in desperate need for a creative outlet that was all my own.

I’m so much more sure of who I am these days and I’ve learned that life is more magical when you learn to love yourself. I feel in control and I know I’m responsible for creating the life I want. As a result I’m happier. I have more adventures. Life is easier and richer.

This blog has grown a lot too and writing it has allowed me to learn so much and to meet so many amazing people. What started out as a hobby is quickly becoming much more and I’m really looking forward to everything I have planned for the future.

To celebrate my blogiversary and to thank you all for reading and supporting me along the way, I’m hosting a little giveaway with prizes from my truly awesome sponsors (be sure to check out their amazing shops!)

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One lucky winner will win 2 pairs of glitter ears from Crown and Glory, a large heart amethyst necklace from GalaxyRoxJewellery, 3 sets of temporary tattoos from Hello Harriet (kitties, bunnies, and puppies), 20 Polaroids & 40 mini Polaroid prints from HuggleUp, 2 packs of PopCult pencils from LaLaLand (I’m F*cking Awesome and the Blogger set), #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, and a vegan chocolate bar from Green & Black’s.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open internationally and runs for 2 weeks. You can enter daily until then. A winner will be randomly selected on 21 September 2014.

Good luck!

Love, magenta balloons, & glitter confetti,
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Crown Myself The Prince of Buzz

IMG_3295One of last year’s Birthday List items was to only buy secondhand or independently designed clothing. It’s important to me to support small brands, make sustainable fashion choices, and find unique pieces for my wardrobe. But sometimes it can be difficult to scour thrift store racks and find exactly what you need. Or to find a particular type of garment made by an independent designer, but at an affordable price. So I was excited when CamdenTown.com contacted me about collaborating.

Inspired by London’s iconic neighbourhood, their online boutique is exclusively stocked with styles made by independent designers from around the world. I like that the site curates diverse styles at affordable price points, but every item has its own unique edge.

It was difficult to make my selections, but I finally settled on a hand painted vest and leather-look rose crown. They arrived in the mail quickly and I was very impressed with the quality of both.

Here’s how I styled them for a drive to the lake with my dad.

IMG_3335IMG_3365_2IMG_3292_2IMG_3386_2I’m wearing an eyeball shirt from Pretty Disturbia (c/o CamdenTown), a skirt from Miss Selfridge, A.S. 98 sandals, a rose crown from Stephanieverafter (c/o CamdenTown), necklace and rings c/o GalaxyRoxJewellery.

We spent the day driving in my dad’s convertible, eating lunch at a beach town restaurant, and stopping in the country to take photos before meeting up with the rest of my family for a big Mexican dinner. It was such a nice way to enjoy one of these last hot, summer days.

Are you still trying to make the most of summer or are you starting to enjoy your favourite autumn traditions? I have to admit, I’m looking forward to pumpkin chai tea, apple pies, and cosy sweaters.

Love & neon pink lip prints,
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The Birthday List: Go to The Blogcademy.

The Blogcademy BerlinAround the mid-year point I decided to do some reflecting on my birthday list and to swap out any items that I’d decided I really wasn’t interested in. I completely agree with Danielle LaPorte’s writings on letting go of dreams that are no longer jiving and choosing feelings over objectives. If it doesn’t feel good and light a fire in your heart, then what’s the point? So I chose to strike off three of the goals from my list and picked new ones that I was actually excited for (you can see the amendments here).

One of these items was “Completing B-School.” I initially signed up in the winter, but after wading into the content, I decided it’s not for me. While I’m still working to create financial independence and do my own thing full-time, I’m not ready to leave the job I love and a lot of the material wasn’t well-suited for blog-based, digital entrepreneurs. I wanted an intensive learning opportunity that was aligned with my goals and plans for world domination (cue maniacal laughter).

Enter The Blogcademy.

This two-day workshop seemed like exactly what I needed to get the focus and expertise required to take my blog to the next level. I’ve been following Gala’s blog for years and her work was pivotal to my own self-love journey. All three of the headmistresses have inspired me to create a beautiful, helpful blog and it seemed like a dream come true to learn from three women who are all so uniquely talented at their crafts. So I was elated when my scholarship video was selected and I was offered a spot in their Berlin class.

the-blogcademy-berlin-2At the end of July I got in a plane and flew to Germany. I settled into my AirBnB apartment and got ready for a weekend of rigorous learning, laughter spiked conversation, intense brainstorm sessions, and constant note-taking. In between classes I gorged myself on Vietnamese food and vegan burgers, oogled colourful street art, was brought to tears by the V&A David Bowie exhibition, and caught up with old friends over beer. I absolutely adored my time in Berlin and, most importantly, left The Blogcademy bursting with inspiration and new ideas. Here are the five most important things I learned:

Have a plan. Anyone can start a blog and so most of us do it without much planning beforehand. But we accomplish more when we have a plan. This can just be a short document that outlines your mission and goals, how you’ll measure them, and how you plan to achieve them. Allow it to evolve organically, but putting some thought into this gives you something to refer to when you’re feeling lost or unfocused.

Consistency is king. Quality content is always important but if your readers can’t rely on you to be around when you say you will be, eventually they’ll stop checking in. It’s better to post less frequently but consistently, then to plan to post every day and then find yourself constantly behind. If you end up being able to post more often, this will be an extra special bonus for your readers.

the-blogcademy-berlin-4Be distinctive. Choose words that paint a detailed portrait and make people’s eyes light up. Design photo elements that make each post look undeniably like yours. Wear a statement piece that makes someone want to come over and talk to you (case in point: my new, faceted United Nude shoes from AllSole). Write posts that make people think and look at an issue from a new angle. Take photos that show off your point of view. Standing out from the crowd makes you interesting. It gives people a reason to follow you rather than the millions of other blogs out there.

Write for someone specific. Know who your reader is. What she likes. What she wants. What her hopes and dreams are. Create a vivid picture of her in your mind and write every post for this person. It’s a lot easier to write compelling content when you know who you’re trying to reach, rather than writing for everyone and creating something totally mediocre.

Create value. People are looking for content that teaches them something or helps them in some way. Your blog might provide inspiration on how to dress or instruct people on how to make amazing food, but if you’re creating something useful, you’re more likely to get people coming back for more.

the-blogcademy-berlin-3The headmistresses emphasize from the first minute of class that The Blogcademy alone is not going to make you a superstar blogger; only years of dedication can do that. But I walked away from the weekend with renewed focus, more confidence in my brand, a better understanding of how to monetize my website, and an imagination brimming with new ideas for content.

Of course it’s important to consider carefully before investing in any new venture, but I think beginner bloggers would benefit from getting so much knowledge in one place rather than learning everything through trial and error, while more seasoned bloggers can gain valuable insights on how to up their game.

If you’re planning on becoming a blogcadette, these are my tips for making the most out of your experience:

Be realistic about your expectations, but also know what you want to get out it. There’s only so much that can be covered in two days, but the headmistresses are more than willing to provide guidance about your individual situation. Come armed with questions and don’t be afraid to ask them.

the-blogcademy-berlin-5Get your blog up to scratch. Make it as good as you can before the workshop so that when you get your individual report card you’ll be getting feedback on your very best work and then you can make it even better.

Follow through and review. The Blogcademy blues are real. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with ideas, so break up what you’ve learned into actionable items and start chipping away at them one by one, day by day. And don’t forget to review your notes regularly because you’ll find new ways to implement this knowledge the more you progress.

Take advantage of the community. I love that The Blogcademy connects you with badass babes, not only in your class but around the world. There’s a private forum and monthly Google hangouts for blogcadettes, and all of the other women are so willing to provide their feedback on everything from design and content to newsletter formats and digital product ideas. One of the best things about blogging is making new friends across the globe and The Blogcademy makes it easy to become part of a community.

And of course if you have any questions about my experience, I’d be happy to answer them!

Thank you so much to Shauna, Gala, and Kat for sending me to class – it was definitely a life-changing experience.

Love, glitter ears, & rainbow confetti,
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Photos by Shell De Mar.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

space-girls“As a wise friend likes to remind me, this is a practice. You don’t go to the gym once and consider yourself done. Same here. Meditation is a practice. Working out is a practice. Loving yourself, perhaps the most important of all, is a practice.”

I’m so glad that the Self-Love Book Club read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It before we go on hiatus.

It’s such a short book – you can easily read it in a sitting or two – but it really gets at the guts of why self-love is so important and how you can start practicing it every day.

Kamal Ravikant has had an interesting life to say the least. He’s trekked to one of the highest base camps in the Himalayas, meditated with Tibetan monks in the Dalai Lama’s monastery, earned my US Army Infantry patch, walked 550 miles across Spain, lived in Paris, been the only non-black, non-woman member of the Black Women’s writers’ group, written a novel, held the hands of dying patients, and worked with some of the best people in Silicon Valley.

He’s also built hugely successful companies and nearly lost everything.

Several years ago he found himself depressed, sick, heartbroken, grief stricken, and often unable to even get out of bed.

When Kamal felt he couldn’t take it anymore, he made the decision that changed his life. He vowed to love himself.

The book outlines the very simple practices Kamal started using every day in order to do just that. Using a mantra, a meditation, and a simple question he made self-love a daily practice and saw his life open up in almost magical ways. He became healthier, happier, and more successful in all aspects of his life.

I love this book for its simplicity. Kamal’s story is inspiring but his words are also fiercely practical. By the end, you’ll have learned concrete, completely non-woo woo tools for transforming your self-love journey. I’ve been experimenting using his practice myself and have found it immensely valuable.

Have you read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Love always,
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Photograph by Julie Loen
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