Talented tattooist Alex Stark is not only making his mark in Lincoln – he has a date to judge the cream of this creative industry, at a special event in India.
Alex and his partner, photographer Katy-Jane Riches, can’t wait to jet off to the Indian Ink Tattoo Convention in Mumbai at the end of October, where Alex will have the tough task of choosing the winners of competitions which attract the most progressive body-artists in the world.
The invitation to judge came after Alex and Katy-Jane attended a similar event in Nepal, earlier this year.
“We’re really really excited. There will be a huge buzz. Alex will have his own booth, giving him a superb opportunity to showcase his work and we will be able to swap notes with other artists and discover the latest emerging trends,” said Katy-Jane.
Alex (29) and Katy-Jane (26), who celebrate their first year in business this month (September) are equally thrilled about the success of their “pirate pub” style store in Corporation Street.
The Tattoed Arms is not just a shrine to the art of the tattoist. It also offers piercings, sells three ranges of T-shirts - including those by local designer Rob Swain, who is behind the Golf Death brand – and the store provides picture hanging space for Lincoln-area artists.
Customers can be tattoed in a curtained-off area if they wish, whilst friends accompanying them can browse the T-shirts, check out Alex’s latest designs or simply chill out on one of the squashy sofas and listen to music.
Alex is originally from Alford and Katy-Jane is from Skegness, and they are proud of what they have achieved with their enterprise.
“When we returned to Lincolnshire from Bristol, just over a year ago, we were determined to offer people something different. Working freelance in Bristol gave Alex a fantastic opportunity to learn lots of techniques, but it was also a very competitive place, business-wise,” said Katy-Jane.
“Moving back to the county, meant we could offer people a fresh tattoo studio experience and it is also lovely to be closer to our family and friends.”
Alex’s passion for realism and stylised figurative work shines out, along with his Japanese-influenced designs, but the studio also welcomes guest artists from the UK and overseas.
“We’ve had a very good reception since opening in Lincoln. Contrary to what many people might think, we are also attracting an amazing range of customers,” said Alex.
“For instance, University students only account for about 15 per cent of our business. We have people from the age of 18 to 81, including people who might never have considered getting a tattoo and we are attracting repeat customers. I also do a lot of cover work, where I make an old tattoo “disappear” by overlaying it with a new design.”
With tattoos taking anything from a couple of hours to several sessions over two or three days to complete, it comes as little surprise to learn that Alex is booked-up months in advance.
The studio’s second, fully-experienced artist, is Peter Jusianec (booked up weeks in advance!) and its body piercer Jordan Matthews has just started doing “microdermals”. These involve placing small dermal implants under the skin.
“These are the newest and most popular form of dermal piercing and we are seeing an increasing demand for these,” added Alex.
It is also great to hear that Alex and Katy-Jane have also taken on an apprentice, Abi Robyn Tonge. She is being mentored by Alex and draws her own designs, practising tattoing on herself to improve her technique.
The growing popularity of this form of body-art, and the fact that Alex and Katy-Jane are hoping to return from the Convention at the Mumbai World Trade Centre, with lots more fantastic ideas, can only be good news.
Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Matt Corrigan said: “Lincoln has a great reputation for being home to a range of niche businesses, and they play a key role in encouraging more people to come and discover the city.
“We congratulate The Tattooed Arms on a successful first year in business and Alex, in particular, on being invited to be a judge at the Convention in Mumbai.”