Interesting people and their interesting tattoos. Roy Robinson, the life saver.
by Matthew Haddon-Reichardt on Dec 10, 2021
Roy Robinson is a tattoo collector, metal work artist and life saver. For Yayo’s new blog series, Interesting people with Interesting Tattoos, we sent Matt Haddon-Reichardt out to meet Roy to have a chat about all things ink related, metal unicorns and working on the front line during covid.
When did you get your first tattoo?
“I got my first tattoo when I was 21 as I started to go through my body modification late compared with most people. I went to Steel City Tattoos in Sheffield as he was recommended by a friend. I decided to go with a triple Yin Yang as it is supposed to represent divine resonance. Who knows I just liked the symbol. Probably means nothing like that; but sometimes ignorance is bliss. I have had the majority of my first tattoo covered over with a Polynesian design but the triple yin yang is still in the centre.”
"The skull itself took about 6 hours and it’s the first tattoo that I have had to ask the tattooist to stop."
Run me through your tattoo collection; any favourites?
“In the past I had a biomechanical tattoo on my shoulder showing inner blood capillaries running into metal pipes, “Only the Brave” tattooed over my ass, long story, a Chinese symbol for music on the left of my chest. All of these have now been covered up.”
“Presently I have left arm, shoulder, back and chest tattoo which is a free hand design by Van Schaiks of Sheffield. He also did my right thigh. All I asked for was a cross on my left arm and he just started the gun up and off he went. Next few sessions I also had the gear sequence of a motorbike on my left leg and a shock absorber on my right calf. A bit random but I’ve been on bikes since the age of 3 so it was only a matter of time before something bike related went on my skin.”
“After those there was a bit of a gap between having work done. In 2017 I went to LA with my dad as he’s always wanted to go. One night I was in one of the Irish bars on Hollywood Blvd. speaking to Freddy Kruger and Clownalyn Monroe, again a long story, and they suggested a tattooist over the street. So off I went and ended up getting tattooed by a Hispanic ex gang member called Delmar on my left thigh. Just words on the thigh “Judge me by my actions not what you expect me to do.” After this I said I was done with tattoo’s for a while.”
The skull on your back is really impressive. Who did it and how long did it take?
“The Skull; well the Skull is a memorial piece for my late father. I know that may sound a little odd but I have always wanted a skull on me and after he passed I thought in a rather bizarre way it was fitting. I asked the tattooist if he could put my father ashes in the ink and he agreed so I always carry him around. The skull itself took about 6 hours and it’s the first tattoo that I have had to ask the tattooist to stop. Jesus it hurt but the work so far it’s fantastic. Since then I have added the redwoods across the top of my shoulder and I’m waiting to have the surround of the skull finished. Then it will be my left arm full sleeve. This will be motorcycle related. I also got a Spartan helmet tattooed on my left calf by the lady at Tattoo Clown who was wanting victims to practice on. And she did a wonderful job.”
"We go out to every kind of job from births to deaths."
Do you have a regular tattooist?
“The guy I go to now for tattoos is Hakan at Tattoo Clown in New Mills. The guys work is phenomenal and I can’t see me going to anywhere else now.”
Tell me about your job working for the ambulance service.
“I’m an Emergency Medical Technician with East Midlands Ambulance Service and have been frontline now for about 16 years. We go out to every kind of job from births to deaths. I love the variety and without sounding like a massive bell end I do like the fact that I can say I help people.”
"Front line during covid; it’s been like groundhog day since march 2020."
Do patients see your tattoos or do they stay covered up? How has your employer and the public reacted to your tattoos?
“Patients see my tattoos but only a small part of them until my sleeve is complete. They do comment, but I can honestly say I’ve never had any negative comments even from the elderly patients. When I started my tattoo journey having tattoo’s almost made you one of the select few. Now it appears you are in the minority if you don’t have tattoos. The ambulance service don’t really mind tattoos, but there would be obvious issues if your ink was discriminatory etc.”
How has it been working front line during covid?“Front line during covid; it’s been like groundhog day since march 2020. I feel more normal in a mask now than I do without one; its been rough. There have been times during the height of the pre vaccine lockdowns that everyone struggled. Constantly taking people into hospital knowing there was a very strong possibility that they would not be coming home. Having to explain to families, mothers, sons, dads and friends that they couldn’t come with them to hospital. Seeing them wave goodbye was really difficult. But this is what we do and I’d like to think we have done ok.”
Tell me about your metal work. It’s seriously impressive.
“The metal work all started off as just a present for my mum. She asked for me to make her something for Christmas so I just made some tall flowers out of metal for the garden. A few people saw these and asked if I could make some more. Then it was roses, tulips etc. So while doing these I thought I could make 3d animal heads for walls etc. And then it went nuts. So at present I do Roses, Tulips, Sunflowers, Stag heads, Unicorns, Highland Cows and of course Skulls. I’ve always loved working with metal and if I could make it into a full time business I would but at the moment it’s just a spare time hobby. I’ve had two requests for Highland Cow Sculptures from a gentleman in the US and they should be going out to him in the summer. Going to cost him a fortune to get it shipped as each one is going to weigh about 30 kg. But he wants them for his Ranch so guessing he can afford it.”
Final thoughts: "Roy knows how to take care of himself and how to heal a tattoo. Tattoo aftercare is just as important as the tattoo process itself, if you want your ink to last a lifetime. If you want the best results then use the best aftercare; use Yayo!"