What I got up to on lockdown. Yayo interviews the enigmatic David Trowell.
Covid 19 has been tough on the tattoo community forcing businesses to shut and artists to down tools. For the past few weeks Yayo has been investigating what its artist have been getting up to during lockdown. This week Yayo asked blog writer Matt Haddon-Reichardt to interview the superbly talented David Trowell.
Sat at home interviewing people by Skype isn’t my idea of a good time. But needs must and with the Covid crisis ye to abate, we all need to do our bit. As ever I start my interview with David by asking the bone basics.
“I have been tattooing for 10 years now. I kind of took the chancers way in and bought a kit on line and practiced on grapefruit and on to my friends to begin with. When I was around 19 I originally asked a local tattoo studio for an apprenticeship but they were quite rude in their response which put me off and made me doubt whether I could pursue a career in tattooing. It wasn’t until I was 30 that I decided if I don’t try now I never will and a lot of hard work later it’s starting to pay off.”
"I’ve really missed being at the studio; it's my comfort zone."
I’ve been writing for the tattoo industry for over 8 years and at the core of every talented artist portfolio is good old hard work. It’s not an industry where the breaks come easy and things have only got tougher since the coronavirus struck. Like many David is itching to get back to work.
“Yeah I've been waiting to get back to it for a long time now. I’ve really missed being at the studio; it's my comfort zone. I was totally knocked back by the latest government update as I was certain we would be back by July 4th. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer. Luckily I have a big room to myself which I have recently redecorated and deep cleaned. I have plenty of PPE in place and all the necessary sanitation so I'm good to go.”
It seems crazy that pubs and hair dressers can open, but not tattoo studios. After all the industry has some of the best hygiene standards and practices in the world. It’s been a frustrating time for tattooists and tattoo enthusiasts and David has been trying to fill the down time the best he can.
“I've been trying to keep myself occupied with designs and drawing. I've done a few commissions which I'm grateful for. I've really enjoyed spending time with my daughter and we have been doing our own art projects together, which has been a lot of fun.”
“I would say that I am mostly proud of the hard work that I have put in to tattooing without having a proper apprenticeship."
At a time like this it’s important to focus on the positives and I ask David what he is most proud of as a successful and respected tattoo artist.
“I would say that I am mostly proud of the hard work that I have put in to tattooing without having a proper apprenticeship. I took a hell of a lot of knock backs but I didn’t give up. I'm also proud when I see how happy my clients are with my work which makes me realise just how lucky I am to have a job that I love so much.”
Looking through the images David shared its clear he has a great eye for art. The natural world has been a huge influence on his tattooing.
“I specialise in black and grey realism. I love portraits and animals. When I was young I would constantly be doing pencil drawings of people and animals, so I think it has followed me into tattooing.”
"I plan to cover up a lot of it but I have found that the older I have got the more it hurts!”
Like most tattooists David has a tattoo collection of his own. I ask him to run me through it and I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of the work.
“I have three portraits on me; my daughter on my hand, my mum on my arm and my granddad on my leg. These I would say are my favourites. I have two sleeves made up of a lot of random things. I have a lot of questionable tribal that I had done in my younger days when it was cool. I even a big tribal piece on my belly which has got a lot bigger over the years! I started a back piece about 6 years ago of a lion with geometric patterns around it but still need to get that finished. I have two traditional style pieces on my neck; a rose and a ship with a swallow. I also have some Japanese pieces on my legs that are not the best. I plan to cover up a lot of it but I have found that the older I have got the more it hurts!”
Davis is also proud to be part of the Yayo family and finds the products are second to none.
“When I first used the Yayo butters I knew I was on to a winner. They are so smooth on the skin and reduce redness throughout the tattoo process. And when I've given them to my clients along with the soap they have always healed perfectly. I love the variety of butters they offer as I have choices for different skin types. Their range if products are simply superb and that’s a fact; I’m not just saying that. I am proud to be part of the team. I also love the rebranding and I’m looking forward to stocking up ready for when we can open our doors once more.”
"Also getting back to a routine I think is important to me because this lockdown has really tested me some of the time!”
Hopefully Boris and his band of merry men will announce soon when tattooing will be exiting limbo and that artists can get back to work. David is chomping at the bit to fire up his tattoo machine.
“I plan to get straight back into it with possibly working 6 days a week so I can slowly catch up. I'm looking forward to continue projects I've started and catching up with my amazing clients. Also getting back to a routine I think is important to me because this lockdown has really tested me some of the time!”
A final thought from the author: "As of writing the news has been announced that tattoo studios in England can reopen on Monday the 13th of July. this will be my last post about what you lovely Yayo family members got up to on lockdown. Well done everyone, for surviving the chaos!."
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