Write here, write now!

Paul LaVey the master of colour realism

by Matt Haddon-Reichardt Collaborator on Oct 25, 2019

Paul LaVey the master of colour realism

Paul LaVey is an award winning tattoo artist and a member of the Yayo Pro Team. He is fast becoming one of the biggest names in UK tattooing with his breath taking colour realism work. Paul has a real dedication to tattooing and embodies that old school spirit of respecting his craft and honoring the masters that came before him. Matt Haddon-Reichardt headed to the North East of England to meet Paul and get the low down on tattoos, trophies and Brexit.



Paul operates out of Art La Vey tattoo studio in Gateshead which is a world away from where he started nearly a decade and a half ago.

“I started scratching 14 years ago,” Paul laughs. “But I then stopped as I realised I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. What followed was a 2 year break where I didn't touch a tattoo machine. It was then that I really began to miss tattooing and I realised how badly wanted to do it.”

That was the beginning of Paul’s professional career. He started off part time and as his skills and confidence grew he made the transition from apprentice to master.

“I’ve been tattooing full time for 10 years now and I absolutely love my job; it’s the best job in the world.”

Over that decade Paul has dedicated his heart and soul to tattooing and developed a style that is head and shoulders above the run of the mill tattooists that populate the UK’s dying high streets. Paul is very modest about how his unique colour realism work evolved.

“Colour just developed naturally for me, which is really ironic as I always wanted to be like Paul Booth and Bob Tyrell and focus on black and grey. But colour just came more naturally to me though I never planned it that way.”

“I’ve been tattooing full time for 10 years now and I absolutely love my job; it’s the best job in the world.”



Tattooing has become so diverse it’s difficult to pin it down but the current popular trend is to get photo realism tattoos inspired by the hottest new TV shows and cinema releases. I ask Paul if he has a favourite TV show he likes to take inspiration from. He shrugs.

“I haven’t anything in particular that’s my favourite at the minute; it’s just great to give someone a tattoo they love.”



While tattooing is arguably enjoying a golden era, with so many good artists working hard to up their game, one event could come in a spoil the party; that event is Brexit. With the UK set to leave the European Union that would affect the ease and ability of tattooists to travel and work aboard. Paul isn’t fazed by politics.

“I actually just don’t give a shit,” he muses, “I’m sick of hearing about it, as I think many other people are. What happens, happens; why worry,” he shrugs.



A lot of the chatter between tattooists on social media concerns if 2019 is the year when tattooing peaked. Paul has a different take on the topic.

“I think tattooing peaked last year and it’s in decline more so this year. No one’s loyal in this business anymore in my experience; especially in the North East. I’ve seen people get redundancy and decide to try tattooing cause TV made it look easy,” he laughs.

“I had one scratcher say it’s easy as all we do is trace! You know tattooing has lost its identity when absolute cranks start getting equipment and setting up shop.”

“I think tattooing peaked last year and it’s in decline more so this year."



Paul is a member of the Yayo Pro team, a group of artists dedicated to tattoo excellence. He’s proud to be a member because Yayo is a product he really believes in.

“I enjoy being part of the pro team and the benefits it brings, it’s a cool family. Yayo make my favourite products to use during tattooing. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever used and believe me I’ve tried them all.  Yayo really helps keep inflammation and redness to a very minimum and my clients swear by it. In my book a happy client is the most important part of the whole tattoo process.”

"I enjoy being part of the pro team and the benefits it brings, it’s a cool family."



Paul’s skill as a tattoo artists means he is always busy whether at home or abroad. I round up the interview by asking if he has any plans for the upcoming year.

“Just to keep doing what I’m doing; to stay humble. Hopefully I’ll get out to more shows and bring home a few trophies.”

While 2020 looks like and uncertain year with Brexit hanging in the balance I know two things for certain; that Paul will be winning more trophies and generating plenty more happy customers.


A final thought from the author: "It was great to meet Paul and to hear such a skilled artist highlight what most people never appreciate about tattooing; that what you use while putting the ink in the skin is just as important as what you put on it after. Yayo products are designed to work together. Use Yayo before, during and after the tattoo to create the best looking artwork possible. Paul uses the best in the business and so should you."


Yayo... its a family thing.


 Words by Matt Haddon-Reichardt.
Images by Matt Haddon-Reichardt and Paul LaVey