Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Abbie Williams AKA Horrorgirl

abbie-williams1Abbie Williams AKA Horrorgirl, 26, Lost Time, Peterborough, UK

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!

abbie-williams4Do 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!

abbie-williams5How 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.

abbie-williams2Did 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.

abbie-williams3How 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!

Thanks, Abbie!

If you like her work as much as I do, be sure to follow her on Instagram and you can drop her a line if you’d like to inquire about making an appointment.

Love, ladybirds, & mermaid waves,
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How to Make Luxurious Bath Salts

IMG_5738Now that I have an en suite bathroom with my own tub, I’ve gotten a little bit obsessed with luxurious, piping hot baths made all the more opulent with scented bath products, lots of candles, a hot mug of tea (or a cold glass of bubbly), and a good book (or a fun bathing partner!)

Splashing around in bubbles or soaking in the scents of gorgeous bath salts turn an ordinary bath into a calming indulgence that will also soothe aching muscles and moisturize tired skin. Unfortunately the good stuff usually comes with a hefty price tag, which is why I’ve taken to making my own. They’re a fraction of the price and you get to decide exactly how you want them to smell.

Custom bath salts couldn’t be easier to make and they also make a thoughtful gift. Here’s how I do it:

Ingredients
1 cup Dead Sea mineral salt*
1 cup Epsom Salts
1/2 cup Himalayan rock salt*
1/2 cup baking soda
10-15 drops of essential oils
1/4 tsp food colouring** – or to desired colour (optional)

Mix ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Pour 1/2 – 1 cup into a hot bath and give them a good swoosh to dissolve.

* You can replace either or both of these ingredients with ordinary rock salt for a less expensive alternative.
** Most supermarket food colourings have yucky ingredients like propelyne glycol, but shops like Whole Foods do have options that are completely natural.

The salts soothe tired muscles, reduce inflammation, and draw toxins out of the skin, while the baking soda softens the water and alleviates skin irritation. You can choose essential oils based on the mood you want to create or use them for their therapeutic properties. I buy almost all of mine online from Mystic Moments.  This batch was Rose Vanilla but next time I’m going to try bergamot, grapefruit, and ylang ylang – heavenly!

What do you think makes the perfect bath? Have you ever tried making your own bath salts?

Love, bubble baths, & pink champagne,
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How to Wear a Turban with Short Hair

short-hair-turbanAs much as I opt for bold patterns, bright colours, and lots of glitter, there are still colours I don’t wear because they don’t suit my look or styles I avoid for fear I can’t pull them off. I’m all for making a personal style statement and wearing clothes that suit your body, but sometimes those hard-to-style pieces just take a bit of finesse to make them work. I’m excited to introduce a new monthly series I’ll be writing in collaboration with Crown & Glory. Each month they’re sending me The Glitterati box – a monthly subscription of glittery, floral, and vintage-inspired delights – and I’ll be offering tips on ways to wear one of the pieces included in that months’ box, specifically tailored for short-haired babes.

This month each box contained a gorgeous, velvet turban. In the past I’ve admired how they look on other people, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work with my asymmetrical ‘do – shoulder-length on one side and pixie-short on the other. If you’re similarly uncertain about turbans, never fear, because I’ve got you covered no matter how short your hair. For each of these looks, start with your turban around your neck and then decide which one you want to try!

I don’t actually have enough hair for a top knot. If you’re in the same boat with medium-length hair, try this cheater technique: pull as much of your hair on top of your head and tie it into a bun with a hair elastic. Pin any loose ends up with bobby pins. If you have bangs, straighten them smooth so that they lie across your forehead. I like having a few wispy strands at the side of my face, then I just pull my turban into place. This is has become my favourite, semi-casual but sort of glam look for Sunday afternoons.

short-hair-turban-2I think a turban looks cute even with a super short pixie cut. If you’ve got any length at the back, try backcombing and spraying it around the top of your head for a bit of volume. I pinned mine into place but if yours is really short, you won’t need to. Once you’ve put your turban on, tuck any bangs or loose hairs under the turban. The result is very 1950s housewife chic.

short-hair-turban-3If you’ve got a long fringe, try styling it into messy curls with a one-inch curling iron. I like alternating the direction and the size of the curls for a slightly wild look, then just spray everything before slipping your turban on. You can also get this look with medium-length hair by pulling a section of hair forward to curl, and pinning everything else back. It’s an easy way to make wearing a turban a bit more playful.

What about you: do you have a favourite way to wear a turban? If not, do you think you’ll give one a try?

I’m so excited to announce that Sophie has generously donated turbans for 10 of the women attending our Full Moon Urban Retreat (everyone will be getting a very special gift in their goodie bag). We only have 6 tickets left, so if you’re planning to join us, be sure to book in soon!

Yours in fearless dressing,
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Photographs by Jayne Goldheart.

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Liza Musselman

Liza1 Liza Musselman, 33, BluGod Tattoos and Piercings in Toronto, Canada

I was looking through my best friend’s Instagram account when I stumbled upon Liza’s profile and was blown away by the diversity of work. I’m in awe of the mastery she has over so many different styles. And I always get so excited when a tattooist is from my other city-love – Toronto. Today she’s sharing about her journey with tattooing and what inspires her.

How long have you been tattooing?
5 years

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
My first tattoo was the kanji character for “spirit” on my lower back. I got it with my fake ID when I was 17. I’ve thought about covering it up a couple times over the years, but in the end I kept it, as it’s really what “started it all” for me and tattoos.

Liza4Do you have a favourite tattoo of your own (ie. in your collection, not that you’ve tattooed)?
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, as I love so many of my tattoos! I recently got a lower leg piece by the awesome Gary Dunn and it’s fast becoming one of my favourites. I don’t usually get tattoos with a lot of meaning behind them, but this tattoo is an ode to my childhood in rural Ontario, so it makes me smile a lot. Also it’s just a super rad piece of artwork!

Liza5How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
It had been about a year since I’d dropped out of college, and I was still unsure as to what I wanted career-wise. I’d always loved getting tattoos, the vibe in tattoo studios, and had always thought that tattooing would be an awesome job. Eventually I decided to try and make it happen, and started looking for an apprenticeship. I had a pretty rough first few years in the industry, and considered giving up more than once, but I’m so glad I stuck with it. I feel lucky every day that I get to make my living putting my art on people’s bodies.

Liza3Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
Yes, I’ve always been an artistic person. Ever since I was a little girl I loved all sorts of artistic activities, drawing especially. I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design for almost 4 years.  I took a wide variety of classes while I was there: figure drawing/painting, photography, metal fabrication, sculpture, ceramics, and jewelry making.

How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
I take getting tattooed more seriously than I used to; I think my tattoos through more than I did when I was younger. I appreciate the hard work and skill that goes into a tattoo more now that I do it myself, and therefore am more picky when it comes to who tattoos me.  However I find I now give tattooists a lot more freedom when designing my tattoos, as I know we do our best work when we have the most freedom.

Liza2How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I think I’m still figuring out what my style is! I feel I’ve been evolving a lot as a tattoo artist in the past year.  I love tattooing anything from nature, animals, plants, flowers, and also pretty ladies. Although I like working in black and grey a lot, I find myself drawn more to colour pieces lately. I really like big bold outlines and a more illustrative style.

Who or what influences your work?
I’m truly inspired by so many different tattooers, doing all different styles of tattoos, all over the world right now. I am blown away daily by the  talent that exists in the industry, and I’m constantly just trying to absorb as much visual information as I can!

Thanks, Liza! I’m looking forward to seeing more of the beautiful tattoos you create. It’s wonderful to find such a talented Canadian tattooist – and what could be more Canadian than a poutine tattoo!

Do you have a favourite of Liza’s tattoos? Are you planning any new ink soon?

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7 Ways to Bust Out of a Slump.

flowersIt’s so easy to slip into a funk. They can come out of nowhere or creep up slowly when we’re making little, almost imperceptible choices that take us out of alignment with who we are and where we want to be going. Pretty soon life seems blasé instead of magical and even the smallest obstacle can feel like a major setback.

I was in this headspace not too long ago. I was feeling uninspired by my work, uncertain about my dreams, and too many days felt tinged with sadness. I think it’s important to feel our feelings, to accept or even embrace them, but I also know that unless we take action, we’re likely to remain stuck.

I’m not sure that you can jolt yourself out of the doldrums like some people would have us believe, but the things we do every day build up for a major impact. For me, it was like waking up one day to find the clouds had cleared. I felt refreshed, joyful, and completely inspired. In case you’re facing your own period of ennui, here are the slump-busting techniques I swear by.

roller-derbyMake gratitude a daily practice.
I won a Five-Minute Journal from the lovely Jessica and since then I’ve been spending a few minutes each morning listing things I’m grateful for, deciding how I can make the day awesome, and choosing an affirmation that reflects those intentions. Then I finish the day by reflecting on everything that made it amazing and one way I’d like to have made it even better. You don’t need a special book to start a gratitude practice – any old scrap of paper will do. The magic is in starting and finishing each day giving thanks for your life – especially when you’ve got the blues and it might be harder to find that silver lining.

Exercise daily.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my funk faded away one week into a 30-day yoga challenge. I tend to avoid exercise like the plague but I’ve been feeling so good since committing to a daily yoga practice, so perhaps there is something to that science stuff after all. My mind feels clearer, I have more energy, and my body feels amazing. Plus, exercise boosts your mood by increasing the feel-good chemicals in your brain.

Get it off your chest.
I’m willing to bet that a lot our slumps are caused because we’re holding something in. How we really feel. What we really want. Who we really are. If you’re upset with something someone’s done to you, tell them. If there’s a situation you want to change, talk to someone who can help you make it happen. Keeping things in breeds resentment and a niggling feeling of anxiety. Getting it off your chest can be scary, but I promise it won’t be as bad as you think and you’ll feel better about it in the end.

Accomplish Something.
When I’ve got the blues, I feel useless. My inner critic convinces me that I’m a terrible friend, bad at my job, and that I’ll never accomplish my dreams. Pretty soon it feels like I have a never ending to-do list, but that I can’t do anything. Ticking one small thing off your to-do list will create a sense of accomplishment and help you get over that downward spiral of negative thoughts.

disneySet yourself a challenge.
Similarly, committing to my 30 Day Yoga Challenge gave me a simple goal to work on each day. I feel proud after every practice. I pat myself on the back when I go to a class even though I was tired and really didn’t feel like it. Setting yourself a simple challenge shifts your focus to something positive and gives you something fun to work towards when you’re feeling uninspired.

Prioritise fun.
It’s easy tosap the joy out of your life when everything’s work-work-work all of the time. But life is for living and if you’re not careful, you’ll just be letting it slip away. Schedule fun into your diary. Choose one thing each day to do just for the bliss of it – it can be as simple as dancing wildly to your favourite song or eating a candy bar you loved as a little kid. But make time for the bigger just-for-fun things too. Save up for that circus class. Dye your hair a crazy colour. Book a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but never had a reason to visit.

Give selflessly.
In the middle of my funk came a #lovetober prompt that really lit me up: Perform a random act of kindness. I wrote a simple note and used glittery washi tape to stick it to a park bench with a £5 note. I felt so good, even though what I had done was quite small. It filled me with glee thinking about someone stumbling on this little surprise and made me want to do more good deeds (just like Cher!) When I’m going through a rough patch, I get really wrapped up in my own head and doing something for someone else takes me out of that space and makes me feel really good. It doesn’t have to cost any more money: give up your seat on the bus, help a friend move, assist someone who needs help crossing the street, donate clothes to a charity shop. Challenge yourself to perform a random act of kindness everyday for maximum impact.

So, what about you: how have you been feeling lately? Do you have any tried-and-tested techniques for getting out of a funk?

Live brightly,
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Photographs via K. Patine, Flickr, and Disney.
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