MIKE LOVE

1. How has your style evolved over the years? Who are the artists that you look to for inspiration?  

My style has changed a lot in the 5 years I have been tattooing, at the beginning the tattoo flash and art I created was heavily inspired by ornamental & mandala type work. At that point in my career, I just wanted to tattoo as much as possible, producing work within my capability and doing the best I could. Especially with hand poke tattooing, this is what most people were wanting and asking for.

I spent a long time really just learning my craft, studying and understanding it and this was through the form of walk ins. This was and still provides the best learning curves for me. Walk ins can be so challenging due to mass amount of mixed styles that walk through the door. Only in the past year or so, I have felt that I can be a lot more free with my work and really express how I want the pieces to look and feel, and in doing this really creating pieces that are much more unique. Tattooing is amazing as you never stop learning, and if you feel you have learnt all there is, then you should quit. Man, rather than look for inspiration, I look for energy. Regardless of what the craft of artwork is I can feel strong energy from it. It’s the passion, just the emotion inside it. This is what makes me produce more and keeps me creating no mater what the media.

2. Why do you think people are enamored with tattoo art? 

Specifically, especially with the popularity of social media, tattooed models have become increasingly popular. Why do you think this is? What is the attraction? Deep human need to change everything around us, including our own skin, or just a love of beauty? From the dawn of time people have been getting tattooed. It’s one of the oldest crafts on the planet. Wanting to mark yourself differently to everyone else or even marking yourself to belong, this is nothing new. Social media is the new factor. Social media is still new to us, we are still in the real infant years of this. It’s has changed everything. So with the attraction always being there with us from our core, naturally with making the world feel smaller with the uses of internet and apps, it’s was going to continue to grow popular and out from the underground. Wether social media’s impact on tattooing is good or bad, this is another matter. Simply I think there are now more models than ever before and people being tattooed more than ever before due to apps like Instagram.

3. In your opinion what makes a great artist and what advice do you have for beginners trying to get a foothold in such an over- saturated, fast paced industry?

If we are talking tattoo artist here, then what I think makes a great tattooer first of all is the technical aspect of actually being able to tattoo. Loving your craft and respecting it comes first of all. Putting your all into making a solid tattoo is most important. The tattoo has to heal well and stand the test of time, it’s become very fashionable to be a ‘shit tattooer’ in a generation where people just want the easier option rather than go through the rough ride of learning to tattoo which never ends. Passion is what you can’t teach, raw feeling and energy comes with you. Being able to draw can be taught. It doesn’t matter about any one else’s journey in tattooing. Just your own. You know what’s right and what's wrong, you would have heard this from many tattooers before. Don’t just settle to learn from the guy closest to your home or buy a cheap kit on eBay. Do things properly. Take time to understand why a tattoo works and looks good. Draw and paint your ass off with any medium you can get hold of. Whatever your path just fucking do it like you care. And avoid iPads at the start. It’s a great tool. But man using its features and tricks from day 1 will not help you and will not impress anyone including yourself.

 

4. Beyond tattoos and supporting other creatives, what are your passions? What do you do on vacation or your days off? What do you wish you had more time for?

Man, I love to travel. My wife and I love to see and experience all we can. It keeps us alive. Piling money isn’t me. Getting out there and seeing what’s about is me.   I don’t wish I had more time for anything else! If I want to do something then I do it and make time to do it, we only have one life! Making a solid plan with yourself and following through with it is important. You have to make yourself happy.

I have a lot of guest spots and conventions coming up this year, here in the uk and abroad. You can keep up with my travel dates through my Instagram. I have a big collaboration coming out very shortly with clothing brand Hobo Jack, which is mad exciting. There will also be a chance to win a free tattoo through these guys so keep and eye out for that!

There are a few other things in the pipe line that I can’t really disclose yet but plenty to keep busy with.

5. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I guess I was that kid who didn’t really have a dream job. I fell into this one. I just wanted to be happy. I grew up in an area where no one really was. Everyone struggled and no one was happy. I thought being rich would be the way out of this but in my adult life I found that was a lie and didn’t lead to being happy. When I finally let go of giving a fuck what everyone else thought or wanted from me, I found myself becoming a piercer and eventually a tattooer.

6. Tell us something about your personal life past or present that will blow our minds :)

I have a fear of half pealed stickers.

9. Tell us how you got into tattooing and specifically the Hand Poke technique and what hopes do you have for the future

From being a piercer i transitioned into self teaching hand poke tattooing. I was a body piercer at this point for 4 years and during this time I had seen so much badly made hand poked tattoos, which made no sense to me, as this is the origins of tattooing. I would see in books so many tattoos made by hand being so solid then look at what was being created now, and feeling crushed by it. So I decided to do something about it and think if I can even do the smallest of tattoos and do hand poke tattooing justice that it deserves, that will be my goal. So with a long ass path of self teaching it leads me to now almost 5 years on. Still learning.

Jimmy's insight

I remember the first time I came across Mike's work, I was wondering through the Brighton Tattoo Convention browsing at all the artist booth's. I stumbled up on Mike's and it really blew me away, I must have been standing there for a good ten minutes admiring his work. Unfortunately Mike wasn't at his booth so I stole a business card and stalked him for a good few months lol

Later we got talking over social media and Mike invited me and the lads up to the studio where he works. All of us had such an amazing day, Mike and the rest of the team at Black Market Tattoo were super friendly and it was easy to see why it is one of the most popular studios in the midlands area.

- James Moughtin -

@hobojimmy

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