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.
How 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.
How 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.