It’s been a long hard road, but UK tattooing is back up and running. While the new normal is far from normal, at least tattoo collectors and artists can get their fix. Yayo sent out office word smith Matt Haddon-Reichardt to catch up with the exceptionally talented Dave Griff to get the lowdown on life, the universe and of course tattooing.
Dave has been with Yayo since the early days and is proud to be a sponsored artist.
“I first discovered Yayo’s products through social media. This was years ago back when it was actually called ‘Sigma’ and loved the products from the start. I’ve used them from then on in and I have seen Yayo expand as a company and expand its product line, becoming bigger and better. Its great to have witnessed the range grow into the ‘Yayo’ brand we know today.”
“I use pretty much every product Yayo make, to be honest."
I ask if Dave has any favourite products amongst the range.
“I use pretty much every product Yayo make, to be honest. I think my favourites being the Yayo clean tattoo butter, Yayo clear tattoo butter and the Yayo guard.”
Dave has not only been with the company since the early days he has steadily worked up the ranks.
“I started as just a satisfied customer and was then asked to be part of the support team before being approached to become a sponsored artist which I proudly accepted.”
Dave’s story with the tattoo industry is one of hard work and subsequent gains. Unlike many modern artists, who are self taught, Dave went down the established route of a traditional apprenticeship.
“I have always had a keen interest in art and have drawn from a young age. This ended up leading me to seeking out an apprenticeship to which I fulfilled for a few years before working my way up to becoming a full time artist. I then went onto open my own studio and haven’t looked back since.”
“The thing I love most about tattooing is being able to have my love for art and creativity become my full time job."
Like many tattooists it was a passion for art that attracted Dave to the industry.
“The thing I love most about tattooing is being able to have my love for art and creativity become my full time job, not everyone gets the opportunity to turn something they love into a full time career and I am humbled to have been able to do this especially being able to specialise in realism which has always been a firm favourite of mine.”
“Absolutely tattooing can survive."
Tattooing may have survived the first wave of Covid-19 but if we have another wave over the winter, can the industry survive another lockdown. Dave is optimistic about tattooing's future.
“Absolutely tattooing can survive, it is more popular than ever and keeps continuing to rise in popularity. Obviously Covid put things on hold for a while but the customer enquiries kept coming in which is obviously very reassuring given the uncertainty the world faced with the Covid pandemic. We have amazing customers that always keep our spirits high so coping with the situation was thankfully a positive experience for me.”
For many a break away from the industry was more stressful than a fully booked appointment book. Dave managed to take the lockdown in his stride and was constructive with his use of down time. I ask if he managed to indulge in any art projects outside of tattooing.
“At the start of lockdown I did a few drawings but to be totally honest I used the time off as an opportunity to spend valuable time off with my family. Outside of tattooing I love creating and listening to music, drawing, spending time with my family and travelling. Obviously lockdown put a hold on the travelling.”
I always like to talk about artists goals but Dave has a much more relaxed approach to his work.
“I have no particular set ‘goal’ as such but I strive to continue to always improve my work and push my own boundaries; I enjoy the process of growth and development. I have been looking into doing some guest spots and conventions in other countries; I have a particular interest in working in South East Asia. It’s a part of the world that really appeals to me. I want to get back to travelling so that’s definitely going to happen when the Covid situation is better and I look forward to that.”
Now Dave has been back working for a good few weeks I round up by asking him if there is anything in particular he really wants to tattoo.
“As for anything I would really like to tattoo I’m super lucky that most of my existing bookings are really cool ideas that I love to tattoo. I would definitely love to do more Buddha pieces though! I have quite a few ongoing sleeves and other big pieces that I’m looking forward to completing and I will be putting more designs together of things I’d love to do. Fingers crossed I’ll hopefully be doing some of those in the near future too.”
A final thought from the author: "What has struck me about tattooing, during the Covid-19 crisis, is how loyal customers are. I've seen people giving out deposits, purchasing gift cards, buying art and making future bookings; all to support their favourite tattoo artists. You don't get this kind of loyalty in many industries and it warms the cockles of my heart to see such compassion, kindness and generosity. Just remember if you want the best results from your new tattoo then use the best tattoo products on the market; use Yayo!"
Yayo, be part of the family!
Images by Dave Griff, M H-R, Yayo and NHS England