Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Toni Moore

toni1Toni Moore, 28, Bristol, South West, Forever Bound (Private Studio)

I was initially drawn to the diversity of Toni’s work .Whether it’s a colourful Disney character, a realistic portrait, or a large blackwork piece, every tattoo she makes is artfully executed and beautiful. Today she’s sharing her own experiences as a tattooist and how she went from being an apprentice to opening her own studio earlier this year.

How long have you been tattooing?
Nearly 7 years

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
16, black and grey dragon on my back. which has since been laserd and covered.

Do you have a favourite tattoo of your own (ie. in your collection, not that you’ve tattooed)?
I love all of them for different reasons, although completeing my backpiece was a good time and one of my favourite tattoos due to the hard work that went into it. I originally had a large piece covering most of my back  (the dragon) which I had lasered and covered. Matt Diaf from the Jolie Rouge in London did an amazing job and I’m so happy with it.

toni3How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I got myself an old skool style apprentiship just after my 20th birthday, in a seaside town in North Devon. The studio was called 14tattooing. I worked my ass off for two years, properly starting at the bottom and learning how to run a studio and work reception.
Once I started tattooing I was offered a job at Modern Body Art in Birmingham and was lucky enough to work alongside one of my favourite artists, Jo Harrison. This was a really important time in my career and I got to work with and learn from some incredible artists.
I then traveld down to Bath, to be closer to home, where I worked for 4 years. I took a bit of time out and worked part-time in a studio called Imperial Tattoo with a great bunch of guys who were really supportive in what I wanted to do…..And earlier this year I decided to open my own shop in Bristol, which has been open for about a month and is where I am currently based.

Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
Drawing has always been my thing, and the only thing I’m any good at.

How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
I love it even more now than I ever have. It’s hard work and consumes more of my time than I originally thought it would but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s my life.

toni2How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I don’t really feel that I have a style. I like to be able to do a little of everything. A lot of my favourite tattooists can put their hand to most styles and I love that. I really enjoy putting lots of detail into a piece – lots of tiny lines, layering colours, getting as much into a piece as I can. I also have a huge passion for lettering.

Who or what influences your work?
There are so many talented artists out there at the moment: Jeff Gogue, Victor Chil, Big Meas, and Jason Butcher are just a few. And I’m lucky enough to live in such a great city and be influenced by some incredible local artists, such at Chris Guest (Bristol) and Tom Bagshaw (Bath).

I’m really loving having my own shop too, with all my trinkets and treats on the walls to inspire me everyday.

Thank you so much, Toni! Your work is so wonderful and it’s so wonderful to hear how far you’ve come.

To see more of Toni’s beautiful tattoos, take a look at her portfolio and you can keep up with her most recent pieces on Instagram.

Love, gossamer wings, & butterfly kisses,
signature

The Expat Diaries: Let’s talk about money.

IMG_4254It’s the thing I hear over and over again: “I’d love to move abroad, but I could never afford it.”

There’s no doubt that the beginning of any expat journey takes a significant infusion of cash, but I’m here to tell you it’s probably not the insurmountable amount you think it is.

Of course, depending on where you’re moving to and the class of visa you’re applying for, your costs will vary. You can easily get information about visa fees and cost of living with some quick Googling.

I’m living in England with a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, which only costs £180. Anything more long-term is inevitably going  to cost more.

One of the stipulations of this visa is that you have £1800 (around $3,300 Canadian) in savings before you apply. This is to make sure you can support yourself when you arrive and start looking for a job. But let me be clear: £1800 is not going to get you very far in London.

I saved up £2700 to have an extra buffer and was still surprised by how quickly it drained from my bank account. Finding a flat requires paying your first month’s rent + a month’s deposit and there are usually agency involved as well. Plus  you need to factor in transport, food, startup items like bedding and toiletries, plus a little extra so that you can actually enjoy the city you’ve moved to! And once you do get a job, it could be a few weeks before you see your first pay cheque. So my suggestion would be to sock away enough money for a couple of month’s, plus the deposit on your flat, if you can.

When you add it all up, it might seem like an impossible amount of money. Truth be told, I’d never accumulated that much money in my life and I wasn’t even sure I could do it.

But if you want this bad enough, you make the sacrifices and you figure it out. You get creative. You make it work.

IMG_4281I was lucky to be able to move back in with my mom rent-free. In truth, it was hard not to feel like I was taking a step back. I’d gone from having my own apartment in Toronto and than galavanting across Europe to living at my mom’s house in my hometown. But I remembered why I was doing it. Saving hundreds of dollars on rent every month meant that my savings kept growing steadily.

Moving home might not be an option for everyone. It might take you longer than the 10 months it took me to save up for your move.

But just start by figuring out how much you need to save and then work backwards to figure out how you’re going to get there. Are there expenses you can cut back on? Can you get an evening or weekend job for a few months? Do you own anything you can sell (you’re going to need to purge belongings before you move anyway)? Every day challenge yourself to think of new ways you can make or save money. Could you start selling your art? What if you gave up your daily Starbucks habit?

Commit to making it happen and you’ll figure out a way.

It was hard wiring my savings to my new English bank account and watching it get halved by the exchange rate.

I felt really tense about money when I first moved here. My job hunt was slow-going and I was in constant fear that I’d have to move home due to lack of funds before I found one. I was stressed about even making basic purchases, but also wanted to make the most of my time in London in case I didn’t have long.

But the money didn’t run out. Within a month I found a job with an organisation that I adore and since then I’ve been promoted twice! Which is another great reminder to lean into the uncertainty. Trust that it’s all going to work out. You’ll find a way.

Love, pink piggy panks, & silver dollars,
signature

How to Make Your Own Metallic Vases

vases1I only discovered Indigo’s blog, Spikes and Stardust, quite recently after she reached out to me via email. I was instantly drawn to her positive outlook and her articles about magic and creativity. Today she’s taking over the reins at The Laughing Medusa to share a simple and inexpensive DIY for making cute metallic vases.

Hello, lovely! I’m Indigo from Spikes and Stardust and today I wanted to share with you how I made my own modern glass vases — and you can too! As a working college student, I don’t have a ton of money to play with when it comes to furnishing where I live during the school year. That’s why I decided, instead of buying expensive modern vases for flowers, I would make my own. This project is super simple, and only takes an afternoon to complete.

What you’ll need:
heartglass bottles (I used one vodka bottle, one lemonade bottle, and one Italian soda bottle)
heartpainter’s tape
heartspray paint
heartpaper bag

vases3First you’ll need to get the labels off your bottles, if you have any. The best way to do this is to fill your sink with warm water and soap and place your bottles inside. Let them soak for 1-3 hours to loosen the glue that keeps the labels attached to the glass. After a few hours, pull them out of the water and remove the labels. If you have any sticky residue left, use Goo Gone to remove it.

vases4Next, tape the part of your bottles that you don’t want to be painted. For a modern look I decided to paint the bottom halves of each bottle, so I taped the heck out of the top to make sure no paint ended up where I didn’t want it.

vases5Take your bottles outside, or somewhere you can spray paint safely. Cut your paper bag so it’s as large and flat as it can go and place it underneath where you want to paint.

Now comes the fun part! Shake your spray paint can and start painting. Make sure you hold the can a few inches away from the surface of your bottle and move in strokes to ensure you get an even coating.

vases6Once all of your bottles are painted, it’s time to wait for them to dry. Mine were dry in just a couple of hours, but make sure you read the paint bottle to see the recommended drying times.

And now, in just an afternoon, you have beautiful new modern vases. I hope you enjoyed making them as much as I did, and that you love using them in your space!

Thanks, Indigo! I love how simple and beautiful these vases are. I can’t wait to make some of my town to hold my weekly flower market purchases.

Love, pink peonies, & sprinkle-covered cupcakes,
signature

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Lyzi Unwin

01Lyzi Unwin, 26, Waitress & Blogger

Being Little is once of my absolute favourite blogs. Lyzi does a wonderful job of intertwining posts on serious topics like mental health with beautifully styled outfits and gorgeous lifestyle posts. It’s also no secret that she has an amazing collection tattoos. You can often see them peaking out from underneath her adorable dresses, but today she’s here to give us a more up-close and personal look at her ink, while sharing her thoughts on tattoos.

How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it?
I think I was about 19, and it was the outline to the cats on my back. Since then their shape has been slightly modified, and they’ve been coloured in (with a few added extras!)

How many tattoos do you have now?
I now have 11 tattoos dotted around my body. 

04What are your thoughts on tattoo regret? Have you ever had any?
To be honest, there are a couple that I wish I’d thought through a little better, or just waited a little longer before I got them done. It’s unlikely that I’d ever get rid of them though, as they tell a story and represent a certain time in my life. 

03LyziDo you think tattoos need to have a special meaning or can they be purely aesthetic?
They can be either – it’s totally a personal preference. For me, I like to have some meaning behind my tattoos. If it’s going to be etched into my skin forever, I want it to stand for something important, or to remind me of something or someone.

07Do you have a favourite tattoo? What’s the story behind it?
I have two, and they’re both my most recent ones! The tattoo on my right arm is in memory of my Grandad, who used to play the trumpet. I got it done 10 years after he passed away, by one of my dearest friends who I met the same year my Grandad died. It was really special for me to have this tattooed by him.
Oli also did the tattoo on my thigh – various flowers and one of my favourite Bukowski quotes, “you have to die a few times before you can really live”. It’s yet to be coloured in, but it’s already amazing.
You can find more of his work on http://instagram.com/pops138#

0609Are there any artists you’re yearning to get work from?
Definitely! I love Rebecca Vincent‘s delicate dot work and would love something floral from her. I also really love Marcin Surowiec‘s unusual style but that would mean having to travel a little farther afield!

Thank you so much, Lyzi! You’re such a beautiful woman inside and out, and I really enjoyed getting a closer look at the gorgeous artwork decorating your skin.

If you haven’t checked out Being Little already, I insist you do so right away – you won’t regret it. And you can also follow along with Lyzi’s adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

Love, chocolate kisses, & bouquets of wildflowers,
signature

The Expat Diaries: Diving into Online Dating

IMG_0819I’m not one to write about the intimate details of my love life, and I’m not about to start. But after being asked a few times recently about my adventures in online dating, I decided to chat about it today, as it was definitely motivated by new expat lifestyle.

I went on two dates with guys I met off the Internet in my first year of university before I swore off online dating ‘forever.’ Not because the dates were terrible, but I felt a bit weird ‘shopping’ for a date. And my social circle quickly expanded through the people I met at school. So when I did date, it was people I met through friends or during nights out.

Fast forward to last November. I’d been living in London for a month. I found myself newly single and my fantasies of being swept off my feet by Prince Harry weren’t coming to fruition (the jerk!)

I hardly knew anyone in this city and my social life was somewhat lacking. After a night at home binge-watching trashy TV and eating my way through an entire bag of crisps, I clicked over to PlentyOfFish and decided to set up a profile.

If you want to induce instant existential panic, present yourself with a blank screen where you’re expected to describe yourself in a way that appeals to potential suitors. I typed and deleted, typed and deleted for a little bit before finally hitting publish.

I left my profile up for about a week. I chatted with a couple of guys who seemed interesting, but was put off by the sheer number of crude messages, dick pics, and one particularly horrifying video I was sent. When the person I was planning to go on a date with ended up going in the direction of being over-the-top forward and sent messages that made me squeamish, I deleted my profile.

I was ready to give up on the idea of online dating altogether when a friend encouraged me to give OkCupid ago, insisting that this site’s users were generally more interesting.

I set up a profile and did find that the ratio of creepy to normal messages was lower. I ended up chatting with a few interesting people and by the end of the month I’d agreed to meet up with someone for drinks.

The day in question arrived and I started to get cold feet. I wasn’t so much nervous as much as I just didn’t want to go. I’d had a long day working from home and had convinced myself that I’d have a horrible time. But I thought it would be terribly rude of me to cancel the day of, so without evening fixing my hair or changing out of my slouchy trousers I headed over to the pub we’d agreed to meet at.

IMG_0820And guess what?

I had a great time!

We drank beer and chatted about books and films and the places where we grew up and the cities we love. We went to a bar nearby and danced until the wee hours of the morning  before doubling on his bikes to have drinks beside the canal.

Did we fall madly in love and live happily ever after? Well, no. Our second date made it pretty clear that there wasn’t any real chemistry between us. But it was the push I needed to dive headfirst into online dating.

And so December became a marathon of first dates.

I even went on a date with another Canadian on Christmas Eve. It was a bit dull, but led me to discover my favourite divey East London pub.

And on New Year’s Eve, when both of our evenings went belly up, I met up with a guy I’d been chatting with for a 3am stroll (in hindsight, that probably wasn’t a very safe idea).

Although there were no outright disasters, I wasn’t meeting anyone I particularly clicked with. There were very few second dates and when one did result in a stint of casual dating, things fizzled out pretty quickly.

I looked at it all as one big social experiment. I enjoyed meeting new people. Visiting places I’d never been. Carefully considering how I’d phrase various awkward encounters if they made it into my memoirs.

And last month I deactivated my profile completely. I met someone so charming that he’s made me want to give up nights spent trolling guys’ profiles and deleting countless “bb wats up?” messages (and they say romance is dead!)

So take heart, between all of the dick pics, the elaborate but totally creepy chat-up lines, and the utter bores, the good’uns are out there.

Many of my friends were surprised that I tried the online dating route. A few have said it’s something they’d never consider (out of shyness or finding it generally off-putting).

But if you’re the new girl in town and aren’t sure how to meet new people, why not give online dating a chance?

Maybe you’ll meet a new friend. Maybe you’ll discover your new favourite restaurant. Maybe you’ll just collect a couple of good stories to laugh about with your friends.

But why not just let it all be part of the adventure?

Have you got any online dating stories of your own? I’d love to hear!

Love, champagne cocktails, & late-night dance parties,
signature