What I got up to on lockdown. Yayo talks to the man with a plan Geoff Chapman.
Geoff Chapman is a passionate tattooist and just loves Yayo products. He’s been busy during lockdown and can’t wait to get back to tattooing. Yayo sent out roving reporter Matt Haddon-Reichardt to have a (virtual) chat with Geoff and get the lowdown on his lockdown antics.
“I first discovered Yayo from a post put up by Andy Murphy. I had been looking into some aftercare products to stock in my shop and liked the idea of the all natural ingredients. Don’t get me wrong I’m not vegan or anything, but totally get the benefits of the natural ingredients. I started off by sending a message to Andy who then got me in contact with the boss man himself Mr Kirk Diggler. I ordered some of all the products to try them and quickly had a few favourites.”
Like many in the Yayo camp Geoff has found the brands range of products, have really elevated his tattooing.
“The Green was my favourite; smells clean and clinical. And I also like the Prime; I found them all to be very easily applied and fantastic at healing the tattoo. I am a massive fan of the Guard and I have had amazing results and use it on all my clients. I’m a sponsored artist from very early on in Yayo's journey and wouldn't use any other products.”
"Don’t get me wrong I’m not vegan or anything, but totally get the benefits of the natural ingredients."
Geoff has been in the trade for well over a decade and is still as passionate as ever.
“I've had my own studio for 16 years now. I had thought about it a long time before that but never really done anything about it. I used to work security, behind the cameras, so especially on nightshift I had plenty of spare time which I always used to draw. Other staff members always said did I ever think of tattooing; but again brushed it off. I’ve always been drawing; all through school I always had a pencil handy. I even drew all over the back of my GCSE maths paper. Let’s just say that didn't go down to well!”
“Anyway after I left security went on to driving lorries for a scaffolding firm and there was a lot of time waiting on cranes; so out comes the sharpies. Let's say my high viz and hard hat were not so plain so again when I was chatting to people out came the conversation about tattooing. I was approached by one of the lads who said he tattooed a bit on the side and that he could help put me in contact with a few lads in the industry. After talking to a few other guys and breaking the golden rule of buying a machine and supplies, I tried my hand at it. I know this is frowned on a lot but hey, that’s how it went. I quickly got a load of mates asking me to do this and that and before long I was doing more tattooing than driving; so something had to give. So I borrowed some money and signed for a lease on a small property in town. I’ve since moved closer to the town center but have been in town 16 years."
Geoff has tried to keep positive and busy during lockdown. Like the rest of the industry he is keen to get back to work but in the mean time he has been doing his bit for charity.
“Up until the lockdown tattooing was my full time employment. I don't think anybody saw this coming as bad as it did. Personally I think the hoops we have to jump through with environmental health services puts us right up there with some of the safest and cleanest industries. I can't understand why we've been left to the end before we can open again. Anyway this is the longest I've been out of work my entire life, so during lockdown I've been volunteering with The Volunteer Bikers Group, Northern Ireland. My wife works for the NHS on the front line and was getting a delivery of PPE and well it arrived by bike. I was intrigued so I contacted some of the volunteers. I went through all the relevant screening and started doing deliveries for them: it could be anything from perceptions, to PPE and delivered anywhere. But that's whats kept me busy; well that and trying to get the shop ready to open again."
"Onwards and upwards! As Bear Grills says: adapt, improvise and overcome."
Tattooing move from the back street to the high street has made many old school inkers regret the decline of the good old days. Geoff feels that tattooing's popularity is what will save it from a Covid induced crisis.
"Tattooing is very mainstream now and it has certainly moved on from the underground. It was always seen as bikers thing and convicts getting ink but I've tattooed everyone: doctors, solicitors, police offers; the list goes on. I don't think its going anywhere soon, yes the pandemic will certainly change things and change how we operate but I don't think it will stop us. Onwards and upwards! As Bear Grills says: adapt, improvise and overcome."
One thing that Geoff doesn't think will be making a return anytime soon, is the popularity of flash designs.
"To be honest I was never a fan of the flash."
"To be honest I was never a fan of the flash. I have no flash up in my shop at all and never have. I'd rather people came to me with a rough idea of what they want and let me put something together for them. That way it keeps each day different and I find if you've flash up then you end up doing the same thing over and over. Don't get wrong there's nothing wrong with keeping it traditional, it is what a good majority like, its just not form me."
A final thought from the author: "Its been really cool to catch up with the Yayo tribe and find out what they have been getting up to on lockdown. Its humbling to talk to artists like Geoff who are giving something back to their communities. Until studios reopen, there will be more tales from lockdown city. Keep strong and stick with the family."
Yayo, be part of the family!
Yayo and NHS England