What I got up to on lockdown, with Kirsty Sohl.
This week the Yayo blog hooks up with artist Kirsty Sohl to find out what she has been up to on lockdown. While some have found the time away from work stress busting Kirsty initially found it a real challenge; a challenge she met head on.
“On a personal level, I struggled with lockdown initially. I like being surrounded by friends and colleagues; I’m quite a social person. I like to be kept busy. Outside of tattooing, I like to weight train too. Lockdown literally took from me everything that I enjoy.”
With so much time on her hands Kirsty had to bring in measures to ensure she stayed safe and well.
“I have suffered in the past with depression and anxiety. The weight training and tattooing reduce my depressive symptoms massively, so I panicked a lot when being able to do those things were taken from me. I didn’t want to revert back to the person that I’ve worked hard to not be anymore. I decided to build a daily schedule to keep some kind of routine and normality, and I knew that it was important to include some art and weight training in to this. On a professional level I knew that I would have enough content to keep my social media presence and that my sponsors would be there to support me through these difficult times, but I knew that I would miss being able to tattoo. This is why I knew I had to find other forms of art to throw myself in to. I’ve been tattooing for 10 years and this is by far the longest period of time that I have gone without picking up my machines.”
Tattooists are a hard working bunch and Kirsty has been channelling her creative energies while on lockdown.
“I’ve been keeping busy mostly with art commissions. I have painted skate decks in the past and have always enjoyed doing that. Typically I find that I don’t have enough spare time to produce artwork other than designs for tattoos that I have booked in, so I figured that I would paint up a skate deck, post it on social media and gauge what sort of response that I got. I soon had numerous requests coming in for custom pieces. Mostly it’s been skate decks that I’ve been painting but I’ve also done a few marker drawings on paper and I’ve even had an enquiry about a custom snowboard. I also have some friends in the graffiti scene. One of my best friends is Upstart from Kent. I’ve been hitting him up a lot and he’s been showing me some graffiti techniques so that’s something else I’ve been working on in the background.”
“I’ve really enjoyed this time being able to create artwork using mediums that I typically wouldn’t have time for. So much so that I’m going to alter how I work a little when lockdown is over, to ensure that I have enough free time to continue with the skate decks and dabbling in the world of graffiti. I’ve been experimenting a lot more with colour theory which I will be able to transfer across to my tattooing and I hope to be able to bring some graffiti in to my tattooing too.”
“The piece that I’ve been most proud of so far is a commission that I did for a pastry chef from the Birmingham area. I was really pleased with how that piece worked out, mostly down to the colour blend that I did with spray paints for the background. I’m currently working on a piece for a clothing label called Stay Bold; this piece is going to be killer too.”
As lockdown begins to ease many tattooists begin to question what the new normal will look like. Kirtsy is confident the tattoo industry will survive Covis-19 but in an altered form.
“I’m not so certain that it will have long term damage, but I do think it’s going to alter the way that we work for quite a while. I’m hoping that everybody pulls through the period that we have had to be closed, financially, and that all the studios will be able to return but maybe a few will be forced to close. I really hope that isn’t the case but I know that not everybody has been able to access any form of financial support. I think the main impact is going to be on conventions. The crowds are so big at some of the larger shows and the workspace that we are given is so small and confined that there is no way we would be able to adhere to any social distancing measures, as it stands. A lot of changes would have to be made or we simply won’t see any conventions for a good while.”
“I personally feel that lockdown was essential. There was a virus spreading at a rate that our NHS would not have coped with. I lost a love one to this virus and I have friends who have too, so I feel quite strongly about lockdown; health before wealth.”
Kirsty is waiting for the green light from the Prime Minister and is busy planning her return to tattooing.
“As a studio, we have already had some long discussions about how we will work upon return. I’m lucky to be working part of my time from a private studio with an appointment only system and a lot of space between each booth. We’ve started ordering PPE in from suppliers already, and have been considering splitting the working week between artists so that half of us are in for half of the week and half for the other half of the week, to keep numbers down in the studio. My clients who were previously booked in with me will take priority and I have a waiting list of further clients who have already provided me with a deposit. They will be the next group of people to be allocated appointments. Once I have worked through those clients I will begin to take new bookings. Obviously, until the government have officially announced what measures that we will have to put in to place, it’s difficult to decide on how else to prepare.”
A final thought from the author: "I'll be honest; lock down has been tough. Between 2 jobs, home schooling my daughter and having a wife who is a community nurse its been a hectic, stress filled 11 weeks. What has kept me going is the Yayo blog and getting to talk to so many talented artists who are keeping the spirit of tattooing alive despite their studios being closed. I'd like to raise a glass to the tattoo community and say thank you to you all, for putting a smile on my face."
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