INTERVIEW WITH TATTOO ARTIST AMY BILLING

INTERVIEW WITH TATTOO ARTIST AMY BILLING

“a contradiction between the past and the future"


How did you become a Tattoo artist? Did you study art?

When I was at school and sixth form I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but honestly had no idea what. It’s so hard to make a career out of art, so I went to uni and studied Fine Art in the hope of figuring out what I wanted to do. Uni sucked, I absolutely hat-ed it, so I dropped out after a year and decided to get into tattooing. It wasn’t something I’d ever even considered before that, weirdly my mum suggested it, it’s mad that I never even thought about doing it when I think about how much I love my job. I went into a local studio with a really good reputation, showed them all my artwork and they asked me to start straight away. Five years later, here we are!

What advice would you offer someone considering the industry as a career? And what would you say to young creatives trying to find their style or voice?

Draw draw draw. It’s so important to be able to draw, I can’t stress that enough. Make sure you get a proper apprenticeship in a reputa-ble studio, and be prepared to work for free for a good few months. You don’t get paid, you do a lot of cleaning, running the shop, organising bookings etc, so be prepared to be someone’s bitch until they think you are ready to start tattooing. Although it’s tough it’s SO worth it in the end. If you’re trying to find your style in the beginning I’d definitely say Instagram is where you need to be looking. Just scrolling through looking at different artists work is so inspiring, obviously you don’t want to copy anyone’s work, but it gets your brain going crazy com-ing up with new ideas. As soon as you have a new idea get it down on paper, draw that idea numerous times, changing it up slightly each time,  until you come up with something unique that you love. Your style will evolve and grow with time, that’s why it’s so important to draw constantly.

How do you think you have evolved as an artist?

Since the beginning of my apprenticeship I have always specialised in super girly pretty designs, mandalas, flowers, patterns etc, so I’d say I’ve probably most evolved as an artist in my confidence. I used to be so nervous that people would hate my designs, that they’d turn up to the appointment and not be happy with what I’d drawn for them. But now I have so much more belief in myself, I love what I draw and I feel I create better pieces when I have that confidence in my artwork.

What do tattoos and tattooing mean to you?

Of course tattoos are a form of expression, but I see it as artwork. I love how people are walking around with my artwork on their body. I always compare it to an art gallery, where only a select few people see that artwork because they make the choice to visit the gallery. My tattoos are walking around this world, and people don’t have a choice whether they see them or not, they have to see them, there-fore they’re seen by such a broader audience. It forces people who may not have an interest in tattoos to open their eyes to the idea of it. It’s also amazing that tattooing people gives them such confidence, I have so many clients who I’ve seen evolve as people whilst tattoo-ing them over a period of time, they feel more themselves the more tattoos they get.

Is there a common misconception people have about the industry that you are in?

Oh absolutely. There’s still that ridiculous stigma around tattooing, but it is definitely getting better. Some people instantly look down on me when I tell them I’m a tattoo artist as they don’t necessarily realise the art form that it is nowadays.  

Since you began tattooing have you noticed changes in the demographic profile of people getting tattooed?

Because my works very delicate and feminine I tattoo a lot of young women, I’d say the bulk of my clients are girls aged 18-25. When peo-ple think of the typical ‘tattooed person’ my clients probably don’t come to mind, but that’s what I love about it. To be honest nowadays everyone gets tattooed, I’ve tattooed men and women of all ages, it’s amazing how much more open minded people are.

What is the most memorable tattoo you’ve created?

That’s a really tough question! I’ve done some pretty sick sleeves and leg sleeves that I love, but I wouldn’t like to choose just one. I love it when clients give me creative freedom and trust me to do my own thing, so those pieces are probably the most memorable to me personally.

How would you describe your art?

I like to think it’s pretty, feminine, delicate, but I do also like to do more masculine tattoos! I like to throw in as much detail as possible, whether that be a black and grey realistic piece or a crazy head f**k of a mandala. I just love doing tattoos that are flattering to the body.

Beyond tattooing/creating art what do you really love? 

What do you wish you had more time for?I bloody love tattooing, and now I get to work alongside my boyfriend James, I really couldn’t ask for anything more. I do wish I had more time to draw pieces that aren’t tattoo related, I used to absolutely love painting and drawing. But I also absolutely love tattooing, so even if I had the time I’d probably still end up tattooing/drawing designs. I’m really sad I know, I’m just so happy with my job and my life as it is! I’d feel really guilty if I didn’t mention that I really love my doggos too. 

What is your greatest personal and professional achievement?

Definitely the shop! I’m so proud of what James and I have created, we’ve both worked so hard leading up to it and it’s so nice finally being able to work there and share the space with everyone. I’d also say a huge achievement for me was winning an award in dot-work at a convention. It wasn’t a huge convention, just a small local one, but there are so many crazy talented artists in Bournemouth I couldn’t believe I won. 

You opened an amazing new tattoo studio in the heart of Bournemouth tell us about that?

I can’t even explain how excited I am about our new studio. So my boyfriend James is one half of Hobo Jack, and we’ve always spoken about doing something together, going into business, coming up with some great idea, and I’ve always wanted my own studio. So we went for it, we decided to open a half studio, half clothing store. James has left me with crea-tive control so it’s a pretty quirky studio - we’ve got pink and green walls, neon lights and plants everywhere, it’s SO cool. We wanted a space where everyone feels totally comfortable and relaxed, and the feedback we’ve had so far has been so amazing. We offer loads of little perks, just little things to make the day as enjoyable as possible when you’re being tattooed all bloody day. The shop part of it will hopefully be open by the end of the month - so get planning your trips down to Bournemouths.


More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer   









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