The black and grey wizard. Yayo interviews the indomitable Adam Peers.
Being a tattoo artist in 2020 is a lot more complicated than it looks. Not only do you have to be a top draw artist, an expert in infection control and health and safety but also a social media guru and business expert. Throw into the mix juggling a work life balance, while trying to further your career, along with running a studio in post lockdown Britain and its far from the rock and roll lifestyle you see on the TV. Yayo sent out blog writer Matt Haddon-Reichardt to meet Adam Peers and find out what it takes to be a success.
Tattooing isn’t really about tattooing, for 90% of the tattooists I speak to. Ts really all about art.
“I’ve always been interested in art and drawing from an early age. Mainly because my dad is an amazing artist,” explains Adam.
“I would upload my drawings and designs to Facebook, friends and family commented saying I need to use it to my advantage. Then one of my friends said I should start looking into tattooing, I thought it wouldn’t be a viable career choice being self employed but I started looking into it. I had interviews with a few tattoo shops, one in which I met Lee Kennedy who later opened his own shop and took me on as an apprentice. That’s how it all started for me.”
“My work has definitely changed for the better since lockdown."
Lockdown has been hard work and many people have lost their businesses or jobs. For some though, its been a chance to rest, regroup and reassess. Adam falls into the latter camp.
“My work has defiantly changed for the better since lockdown; sometimes you don’t get much time to yourself or any time to refresh, with having to constantly draw up designs and sometimes working 6 days a week. The break has been good. It has been nice spending the time with family and I want to come back better than I was before.”
While Adam enjoyed the downtime it wasn’t without its stresses.
“I think it was the right move that we were one of the last shops to open due to the close contact with clients. But it does suck for everyone, especially with bills to pay and I had only recently opened my own shop so it was really bad timing.”
“If financial support wasn’t offered again during another lockdown, I can’t imagine many businesses lasting at all."
While every tattooist I have spoken to seems happy to be back at work the threat of another lockdown and spiralling recession weighs heavy on the industry. Without another round of government backed financial support UK tattooing would be teetering on a the edge.
“If financial support wasn’t offered again during another lockdown, I can’t imagine many businesses lasting at all. I’ve been lucky with the fact that all of my clients have been very understanding with rebooking them back in.”
That is one of the major positives I have taken from lockdown, the support customers have given their artists. It’s a cliché but tattooing feels less like a business and more like a family. I ask Adam what he has been tattooing since coming back to work.
“Since being back in the studio I’ve been tattooing mostly black and grey work. I find I have been enjoying tattooing even more since coming back to work. I’ve tattooed a variety of things such as a smoking tiki mask on a hand, an RAF pilot with planes and scenery on the calf and Poison Ivy from the DC Gotham TV series. Some pretty cool stuff to be honest.”
As interesting as what artists work on is the work on their bodies. I ask Adam to run me through his own tattoo collection.
“Well my first tattoo was on my chest; it was a full chest piece. It is a couple of old fashioned pistols in black and grey with red roses around them and thorns. At the moment I need to have my full back coloured in. I have got a Medusa portrait on my back in a neo traditional style with roses and snakes flowing through it. It was tattooed by Josh Jeffery who is a really talented artist. I am also in the middle of having my full arm done by Dom Brown in which I am having a dark themed sleeve in black and grey including a skull, cathedral, bat, fox and possibly an owl as well. Dom also great at tattooing.”
"I also want to get some photos up to show off the studio as it has been fully renovated, it was previously a mobility scooter shop.”
As you can see from from the pictures, Adam is a really talented guy. If you are interested in getting tattooed by him he works at and owns Black Kraken Ink in Willenhall.
“I currently work on my own, as we have just opened, but I will be advertising for artists soon to work with me. I also want to get some photos up to show off the studio as it has been fully renovated, it was previously a mobility scooter shop.”
As ever I round up with asking what Adam has planned for the rest of 2020 if lockdown stays lifted.
“My plans for 2020 are to progress as much as possible in the tattoo industry. I want to push myself and make sure I’m putting my work out there for the public and potential clients to see.”
With what I’ve seen Adam has every chance of becoming one of the best of the best.
A final thought from the author: "Tattoo studies have come out of the blocks and given it both barrels. Its great to see the industry bouncing back so strong and I can't wait to get in the tattoo chair and feel the hot buzz of a needle in my skin. Of course I'll be using Yayo to heal my tattoo. Why wouldn't I? if you want the best results, then use the best aftercare products on the market; use Yayo!"
Yayo, be part of the family!
Images by Adam Peers, Yayo and NHS England