Billy Jackson is the type of tattooist who gives the industry a good name. Talented, friendly and always working to up his game, Billy is fast becoming once of the shining stars of the Yayo family. We tasked Yayo tea boy Matt Haddon-Reichardt with the job of interviewing Billy before putting the on kettle and cracking out the biscuits.
“Hey !” Comes the friendly greeting over the telephone. I explain who I am and that I’m ccalling on behalf of Yayo to conduct an interview with.
“I love Yayo’s stuff. I use a range of products from start to finish when tattooing. I use Yayo Prime throughout the tattoo and Yayo Fresh for cleaning off the ink. I then use Yayo Magic Cleansing Foam for preparation for a photo and then wrap the tattoo in Yayo guard. I also use and sell Yayo Prime and Autumn for aftercare and recommend this to all of my customers and anybody who comes into the shop.”
“Each Yayo product has its own benefits, from keeping the skin supple and healthy, to clean and protected. Yayo guard has fantastic reviews from everybody who I use it on; I wouldn’t use anything else! Everybody at Yayo is friendly and helpful, and they also promote me all the time on social media. The Yayo family take the time to come and see me at conventions, to put a face to a name. In particularly Kirk, who makes you feel part of the Yayo family.”
“I love Yayo’s stuff. I use a range of products from start to finish when tattooing."
It’s great to start the interview on such a positive note. I ask Billy to tell me a little bit about himself and his background.
“My name is Billy Jackson. I have always been artistic and started my tattoo apprenticeship at a studio in Southend in 2012; finishing in 2013. I now currently work out of Goodship 13 in Hadleigh, Essex.”
Normally I’d hop in the car and go and interview the tattooist in person but a hectic work schedule has kept me grounded at Yayo HQ so phoning Billy is the next best thing. There is a lot of bitching and back biting in the industry but since I started working for Yayo last autumn I’ve met nothing but positive and friendly tattoo artists; Billy is no exception.
I ask him what he loves and hates about the industry.
“I love giving people confidence; hearing that their tattoo from me has changed them as a person and having people who want my artwork and are accepting of the art that I can give them. I can’t really say that I have much to hate about the industry. I find it can be stressful sometimes due to social media and never letting myself switch off,” he laughs.
The UK has a long history of being at the forefront of tattooing and Billy agrees with me that despite 10 years of austerity and the chaos of Brexit UK tattooists are still top of their game.
“I think the standard of artists in the UK has always been good, but with new people coming in and new styles emerging we will hopefully stay at the top of it.”
“I love giving people confidence; hearing that their tattoo from me has changed them as a person."
I’m trying to avoid talking about Brexit yet i can’t help slipping in the question of how it will effect UK tattooing.
“To be honest I think if you really want to do guest spots abroad, you will push yourself to get out there no matter what happens with Brexit. The only aspect Brexit may have an effect on is custom coming through the door. I would like to hope that this wouldn’t affect us; as working guest spots and conventions is something that most of us aspire to do.”
As reported in last week’s blog illegal tattooing is on the rise again thanks to celebrity endorsement. From an artists perspective I ask if tougher regulation would help to keep out the scratchers and grafters.
“I think more regulations would help the industry as it would stop people who are not tattoo artists buying readily available equipment from online providers and opening shops who are not knowledgeable or trained within the industry.”
I swing the conversation back to aftercare
“Aftercare is an important aspect of healing a tattoo; in fact it’s essential. A big factor is the balance of not putting on too much aftercare product and not putting on too little; this is key to healing it right. Yayo products seem to go a long way and are perfect for healing a tattoo without any complications.”
Most established artists have seen their fair share of horror stories when it comes to being asked to cover up a tattoo. Be it a home brew scratcher job or a tattoo from an untalented tattooist Billy has seen it all.
“In general I have seen my fair share of tattoo horror stories and cover up requests; usually when people are drunk and make a wrong decision when abroad. But as a whole, the standards and industry are good, apart from the unregulated shops.”
“I think more regulations would help the industry."
Billy has an impressive collection of tattoos himself yet his thrilling body art had humble beginnings.
“My first tattoo was the generic stars from back in the early 2000s, which are now covered up. This was on my wrist when I was 19. The meaning behind my tattoos has defiantly developed seen those stars. They symbolise my love of art and my mission to collect tattoos from all different artists who I admire. The ones on my neck, face and head are the ones that I am the most proud of as they are from close friends and top artists.”
Billy’s 2:30 has just come in the shop so I wrap up my interview with my usual rounding off question: what does he have planned for the rest of 2020?
“I have a few guest spots lined up and will be working at Big North Tattoo Show in April, but hope to have done some more by the end of the year. I will be focusing on pushing what I do and getting the style that I do noticed more. I am currently working on t-shirt designs, taking customs orders for shoes/trainers and branching my talents out.”
If your thinking of getting a tattoo go and check Billy out; you won’t be disappointed.
A final thought from the author: "Like Billy says Yayo really is like being part of a tattoo family. The quality of its customer care matches the quality of its products and that's why the top artists love using them. Only a fool would take risks when healing a tattoo. Don't be a fool, use the best after care on the market; use Yayo!"
Yayo... its a family thing.