What I got up to on lockdown with Peter John Reynolds and Gary Chase
As part of an ongoing series, writer Matt Haddon-Reichardt has been interviewing members of the Yayo team to find out what they have been doing while on lockdown. This week the artwork of Peter John Reynolds and Gary Chase.
Peter John Reynolds has been keeping busy during lockdown.
"As I say I love to do my own artwork outside the tattoo industry."
"I've been busy airbrushing personally with portrait work from clients from the shop I've also I've done some bikes in the time of lockdown. As I say I love to do my own artwork outside the tattoo industry. So having the time to do that has been nice and I will be doing a lot more after lockdown. I don't think Covid with effect tattooing in the long term for established shops but may be for new shops that have not long operated."
Away from his art peter is getting his studio ready to reopen.
"Has lockdown been a good idea? Well I think that is a personal view really. For me I think as long as you conduct your business the right way it should not effect you too much as your clients trust you and will always come back. Preparing for lockdown to be over started soon after it started. The shop has been kitted out with all the necessary PPE and screens so as soon as were able to open again we will be fully prepared."
"Has lockdown been a good idea? Well I think that is a personal view really.
Gary Chase has also been busy and lockdown has given him a chance to reflect on tattooing, art and lief in general.
“Lockdown has been a real mix of emotions for me; I'm definitely seeing both sides of a lot of arguments. I mean for example the 80% payout grant is so generous of the government, but taking it from three years of books over just the last one was a little tongue in cheek. Obviously as you earn more you spend more, you take contracts and finance to your ability to earn, so although it has been nice to get something it's definitely been expensive paying for things I'd usually be able to afford now, that I would not afford say three years ago. We've also had difficulty with the fact we claim for one of my step kids but pay for both and obviously need a three bed house although entitled to two. So again has been difficult in that aspect to not be eligible with UC for what you actually pay while being told I can't go work for personal finances. Work however is set to explode going back so I think our books will deffo recover real quick.”
“Now for the positive side; I've loved the time off. I've been a workaholic since I was about 12 and I was really worried how I was going to cope not working as that usually helps me mentally to fulfil my purpose in life I guess, having a reason to get up out of bed. Feel like I'm investing into my life as well tattooing and a general love of the job and my work team. It's really giving me time to reflect on my life and realize how much I neglect myself. Never having time to complete out of work tasks or feeling stressed with time constraints. Definitely needed some R&R and the weather's been beautiful too.”
While many tattooist have indulged in art while on lockdown Gary has had a more relaxed approach.
“This probably sounds awful to say but I've done fuck all art wise. I've dabbled in my iPad just trying to keep my hand on it as this new tech is still really new to me so I don't want to relearn over again. Otherwise I've done loads of work on my motorcycle. Built my snakes a new rack for them to stay in. All things I've been meaning to get around to or doing in instalments. I've actually become a little garden proud which is totally not the usual me; I'd happily live in concrete before all this. At the start of lockdown I did try to start a little art movement to support the NHS by selling some t-shirts with pin up style nurse with all profit going to NHS which overnight got a massive following but didn't really seem to go anywhere once I started trying to arrange actual orders from people. But I'm not discouraged, the NHS could always do with help so even if this winds up being a longer term thing to support NHS even put of lockdown I'd be happy as they work so hard all year round.”
Like many of us Gary has used lockdown as a period of self reflection and come out a stronger person.
“This has been a wakeup call to make more time for myself. So going back I am even tempting the idea of trying to work a more restricted hour pattern to somewhat maintain this quality of life but get the balance right with earnings too. Maybe try selling more t shirts and prints gradually. We'll see! I had a lot of fun drawing the nurse for the NHS t-shirts, and when some people pointed out that it could be seen as sexualising nurses I decided to also sexualize paramedics with a Jason Mamoa style paramedic.”
With lockdown easing across Europe tattooists are getting ready for the deluge of customers.
“If this lockdown has proven anything it's that people care less about their health than wanting to get out, I think most people are getting so sick of it now they're willing to risk their lives to have fun. I don't think tattooing will register any different in their heads. I mean we're a very clean environment, and although it's airborne I feel tattooists understand probably as well as healthcare the importance of cross contamination which will severely reduce risks. We’re also going to start on a more cautious level offering only half days max to limit not only time with client but also the healing while their immune system is at risk. I definitely think lockdown was essential. I don't feel it has been done correctly however.”
While Gary his enjoyed lockdown he thinks it could have been handled better by the UK government.
“In my opinion there should have been tighter measures to really clamp down on this and solve it as soon as possible. They made too many excuses to leave the house which means on the whole I've seen a lot of people just making up their excuse to be out and carry in doing whatever they want to do rather than "have to do". I feel stores should have a collection system right now rather than letting people in touching everything. Basically I think we should have had a stricter lockdown but for a shorter period of time.”
For Gary reopening is a mixed bag of emotions.
“How am I preparing to reopen? By panicking! As much as I love tattooing and can't wait to get back, the idea of going from 0-100mph overnight is terrifying me! We've had to move 4 months of clients around while dealing with 4 months more of people thinking about tattoos and while completing that 8 months we'll then need to catch up on the 8 months of more requests. I reckon Christmas season will stabilise catching up on it. But in the meantime jumping back into being on the clients watch than my own after 4 months of pacing life to my own schedule is no doubt got to be crossing the mind of more tattooists than just myself.”
A final thought from the author: "Its great to see so many tattooists using their down time to make fantastic art. Many people are selling prints, t-shirts and taking commissions so if you want to support the industry get buying their stuff. We all need to work together to keep tattooing alive and well during lockdown."
Yayo, be part of the family!
Yayo and NHS England