I first discovered Abbie’s tattoos within the pages of Things & Ink and I’ve been following along with her work on Instagram ever since. From cute to scary, geeky to nature-inspired, her tattoos artfully cover a wide range of subject matter, all in her distinctive style. She began tattooing for a few years already and has already made a huge name for herself. Today Abbie’s been kind enough to answer my questions for Tattoo Talk and share more about her journey to becoming a renowned tattooist.
How long have you been tattooing?
My apprenticeship began summer 2011, tattooed my first real person early 2012.
How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
I was such a goody two shoes that I waited until I was 18. I went with a few alternative guys who were getting tattooed at the time and rushed into having some typical “emo” stars on my hip!
Do you have a favourite tattoo of your own (ie. in your collection, not that you’ve tattooed)?
My favourite tattoo is my whole left arm by my amazingly talented friend Annie Frenzel. This tattoo captured and documents true love in all kinds of special ways for me. A couple that uncannily resembles me and my fella; he proposed to me the day before I got the tattoo! I have a heart locket on my hand, a frog prince, and swan princess (which has a friendship jewel containing Mine & Annie’s initials). There’s also a special tin from the French film “love me if you dare” which pretty much sums up the craziness of love! I’m a sucker for a crazy love story!
How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I was on holiday by the East Yorkshire Coast and decided upon a tattoo! The artist and I got on really well and he joked about wanting a girl apprentice, the next day I hounded him a little and he gave me a chance to do a few drawings and eventually gave in. I lived in a caravan on a cliff edge for a few months which was hilarious – terrifying weather conditions! But being in a seaside town I couldn’t handle the seasonal lows, I like being busy, and so decided to move on. There was a vacancy at Cock A Snook, Newcastle, a studio I admired so much, and a friend said go for it – I have such little confidence but that push changed my life. I got the job, my knees buckled and I ended up with the dream job so soon into my career. I then found love…haha…and ended up following my heart to work in Peterborough… It’s cliched but I really do follow my heart.
Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
I was such an artistic toddler – drawing on my mums walls in permanent pens and painting with food! I was always academic but my love for art took me onward to Fine Art at University in Lincoln. That was when I found myself painting lots and getting more tattooed. Every time I met up with my best friend from uni we would get tattoos together and it was one of those sessions where I ended up meeting the guy that gave me a chance to be a part of this amazing industry.
How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
When I got my first tattoo it was chosen from a design on a wall and I didn’t even know the artist’s name! That sounds crazy now! I’m such a tattoo snob now – I mean I prefer to collect tattoos by people/artists whom I respect, admire or have a close relationship with. I think getting tattoos should also be positive experience – I’d rather have a not so perfect tattoo by the nicest person in the world, than the best tattoo by someone who is rude/impatient etc. I try to treat all my customers as I would want to be treated.
How would you describe your style of tattooing?
My style fluctuates constantly, I use multiple contrasting line weights and have a certain colour palette that certainly gives me a recognisable style! Many have said its quite neo-traditional but I’m not sure, it can border on new school in ways – to me it’s just my style so to me it’s illustrative! I usually take on board my clients ideas to get a personality and context for a piece and run with it throwing all sorts of quirky things in the mix.
Who or what influences your work?
I’m influenced by life quite literally. I take photos of flowers/roses I see on walks to work, patterns on fabric I see in charity shops, and vintage kitschy items artwork posters etc! I love drawing up geeky designs that are based on TV and films too! Instagram is a massive influence too; opening up a world of inspirational artists. These ladies inspired me most in the beginning- Annie Frenzel, Guen Douglas, Dawnii Fantana – they keep me pushing myself and I’m so grateful to them!