We all know Tattoos and Music go hand in hand, from musicians sporting some great ink to having pictures of your favourite artists tattooed onto you, the link is obvious. Here at the Flag we love our tattoos almost as much as we love our metal so when the opportunity came up to chat to one of the UK’s most talented young artists we hoisted the anchor and made our way to the lovely Stacey Fitchett.
TBF: Hi Stacey welcome to The Black Flag, can you tell us a bit about you and what you do?
SF: My name is Stacey & I am a 24 year old female Tattoo Artist from Hastings, East sussex and I am working out of Hawk & Rose Tattoo Studio. I specialize in Portrait and realism tattoos in Black & Grey. I did my first portrait tattoo 1 year ago in January 2013 and I have not looked back.
TBF: What’s your earliest memories of being an artist?
SF: Probably primary school age, I used to do a lot of drawing at school and with my friends after school. Mostly doodles but I was always drawing something.
TBF: Have you always had an artistic eye or have you had to develop it?
SF: I feel like I am naturally artistic, I pick things up very easily. However I have recently moved away from the drawing side of art and developed more into Photoshop work. I find it’s a really fun way to make custom designs for my tattooing and really enjoy the process. Especially where I like realism, I get the real photos to use in the design to keep the realism element as close as possible when transferring the design into a tattoo.
TBF: When did you begin your relationship with tattoos?
SF: My Mum has always had tattoos since before I was born so they have always been a part of my life. Originally I didn’t want tattoos (according to my Mum) I apparently announced one day I was never having any.
Although 30+ tattoos now say other wise! I first started getting curious about tattoos when I was 16/17 and went into a tattoo shop for the first time with my Mum, although I still wasn’t that keen.
TBF: What made the art form appeal to you?
SF: At first I was just curious about them, I wasn’t really interested at all in doing them. I was just playing with the idea of getting a small one myself. I never for one minute dreamed I would ever be where I am now.
TBF: When did you decide you were gonna be a tattoo artist?
SF: I decided to try and get into the industry when I was late 17. I was at college studying Art, but I just wasn’t enjoying it.
I’ve always believed art should express itself differently for everyone and at college they wanted everyone to do exactly the same as each other. No two artists are the same so this was very annoying to me. I wanted to leave so I started thinking of artist jobs I might like to do. Tattooing came on my list and I started researching.
TBF: How did you start?
SF:I managed to get myself an apprenticeship in a tattoo shop in my area. I was there for just over 2 years.
TBF: Can you remember the first tattoo you gave someone?
SF: The first tattoo I did was on my Mum once I was at the tattoo shop. It was a tiny rose with a butterfly. I also added my name and the year to mark when I started.
TBF: Have you tattooed yourself?
SF: Yes, I have tattooed a few small pieces on myself during my learning process but recently I have tattooed Edward Scissorhands & Bane (batman dark knight rises) on my own leg (see pictures).
TBF: Do you have a ‘style’ you prefer?
SF: I prefer the portrait & realism style work in Black & Grey. I really enjoy myself when I get to tattoo in that style and that is what I am aiming to get well known for doing so that I can spend most of my time tattooing what I love.
TBF: How did you develop it and what influenced it?
SF: I was bored of all the flash work, basic designs and feeling held back by people. So when I
started working at Hawk & Rose Tattoo I was able to be myself more and gain some personal confidence. After I was there a while and settled I decided to push myself to improve and be what/who I wanted to be. I decided to choose a style that was very challenging to tattoo and also no one else around my area does, therefore seperating me from other artists in the area and to be known for the portrait style.
TBF: Do you have a piece you are most proud of?
SF: Hmm.. I have never been a confident person so usually I am very hard on myself and criticise my own work a lot, where and how I can improve. That to me is a good thing as I am always pushing myself to get better and better. Recently though there are a couple of pieces I am proud I have done…
The ‘Slash’ one being my favorite portrait to date.
Also I really love the Skull and Rose piece. The original art for the Skull piece is a painting by Glen Preece (@glenpreece on Instagram) who’s work I absolutely love! I asked his permission to tattoo this piece on one of my customers and was so thrilled when he said yes!
I do love my Edward Scissorhand’s & Bane I did on myself, I think the expression on people’s faces when you tell them is quite amusing haha!
TBF: Have you had many weird requests? What tops the list?
SF: I have only ever had 1 serious weird request (if we forget all the drunk ones who we turn away). There was a woman wanting a tattoo of a penis on her shoulder with a nail stabbed through it. Needless to say I refused to do the tattoo. She really was a lovely woman but not an appropriate tattoo in my opinion.
TBF: When someone asks for something you know won’t look right how do you go about swaying them the other way?
SF: I explain to them the reason why it won’t look right and have a chat with them about alternative ideas until we are both happy with the design. I believe that both the tattoo artist should be happy that the design will look right to represent their name and also that the customer is 100% happy with the design that will be on them for life.
TBF? What is the biggest influence on peoples choice of design?
SF: I personally see a lot of images off of Google. The usual rose with swirls on the ribs and recently a lot of infinity symbols. They seem to go in phases of popularity. People also seem to be copying celebrity tattoos too.
TBF: Are you seeing any changes since programs like “Miami Ink”?
SF: I started around the time those programmes were released so I can’t really say. But we have had loads of people trying to do tattooing just because of the programmes. People applying for apprenticeships can only name the artists on tv, they have done no other research. Which to me shows they aren’t really that interested.
TBF: Would you say tattoos are becoming more accepted socially these days?
SF: Since my mum was younger yes. She was called a Devil in the street and more just for having them when she was 21. These days it is a lot more acceptable and I hope it continues even more.
TBF: And how about tattoos in the workplace?
SF: Obviously for me I can have what I want done haha! And I love it!
Personally I don’t have a problem being served by anyone with tattoos. I understand people not wanting to employ anyone with rude/offensive tattoos. But other than that I don’t see a problem. Most people these days have a tattoo. It’s not harming anyone, employers need to see past the tattoos, it doesn’t affect a persons working skills.
TBF: Where do you see the culture of tattooing going in the future?
SF: As the industry population in increasing to the point where there are too many tattoo shops that aren’t good and too many home scratchers, I think the industry will grow but possibly loose value on decent art. They need to bring in some basic skill level test as there are too many shops messing people’s bodies up. There also needs to be bigger fines on home tattooing in my opinion.
TBF: Any advice for aspiring tattooists?
SF: It is a hard industry to get into. So you have to fight for a place by making your drawings wow the artists when you take your portfolio in. Listen to their critique and improve! Don’t have an attitude when they say no, just better yourself and try again. Also don’t expect it to be an easy life, this job is AMAZING but so so stressful. However I wouldn’t change it for the world!
TBF: How about those looking to get their first piece done?
SF: If you are wanting your first tattoo I would say to 100% RESEARCH your artist PROPERLY!!! Don’t just look at one shop in your area, look at them all and compare the quality of the work. Also bare in mind the style of tattoo you would like and which Artist would suit it best.
TBF: Do you do any other art?
SF: I occasionally draw and I have painted in the past. Now however I don’t really get time to do anything that isn’t work related so I don’t get time to draw often BUT as my job is arty I get to live what I enjoy almost everyday.
TBF: What does 2014 hold for you?
SF: This year I am working my first 2 tattoo conventions! I am so excited to be expanding. Details and updates of these can be found on my facebook page! I am also planning on trying to get into magazines this year.
TBF: Lastly, where can people see your work and how do they contact you?
My facebook work page is most often updated on photos of my work and any other information needed, it is also where I am most easily contactable via inbox.
Also via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call: 01424 436000
Our thanks to Stacey Fitchett for taking the time out of what I know is a very hectic schedule to have a chat with us. If you want to have some of this amazing work on your skin then make sure you get in touch, and as she is a local girl expect to see The Mighty Machine Steve getting some work done soon.