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Cotswold tattoos: The boom in body art

PUBLISHED: 12:07 07 August 2018

Tattoo artist Amanda West

Tattoo artist Amanda West

© Thousand Word Media

The Cotswold lady behind you in the queue at Waitrose or the gentlemen in tweed and red trousers might be hiding a secret. As body art becomes ever more popular we take a look at what lies beneath

Amanda West – tattoo artist

“Some people have tattoos which represent a time, or personal story, that is relevant to their life. Some people get tattoos that represent their interests. I have chosen the tattoos I have for all these reasons, over the years. Music influenced me a lot originally; pictures that remind me of unusual times in my life and also, simply, for the images themselves. Lots of my tattoos are there simply because I find those particular colours and shapes pleasing to look at. For example, I love pheasants; they’re beautiful, so a couple of pieces I have are pheasant related.

Tattoo artist Amanda West working on client Charlotte BallTattoo artist Amanda West working on client Charlotte Ball

I really enjoy tattooing. My clients mean a lot to me and are brilliant people. I give them as much of my time as I can. It’s important to me to care about the pieces I design and tattoo on people. Firstly because I want happy clients, and secondly because I want to enjoy every single tattoo, to make sure that I put all my efforts into making it as good as I can. This way, I feel like I am fully investing in my reputation as well as the client. Meeting all these different people and exchanging stories, while tattooing, is such a fun and enriching thing to do each day. I feel very lucky in my career. It is hard work and sometimes it beats the hell out of me, because of how much of my personal time this job consumes, but I love it too much to let that stop me. For me, the rewards outweigh everything else.”

Charlotte Ball, a civil servant, with her back tattoo that took 26 hours to complete. Charlotte Ball, a civil servant, with her back tattoo that took 26 hours to complete.

Property contractor husband Liam Kay and Cheltenham entrepreneur and Beau Amis Hair & Beauty owner Gemma KayProperty contractor husband Liam Kay and Cheltenham entrepreneur and Beau Amis Hair & Beauty owner Gemma Kay

Gemma Kay – owns and runs Beau Amis Hairdressing in Montpellier

“I’ve always gone against the grain, ever since I was at school, and have always liked to be a bit different. I have a couple of quotes which mean something to me – they’re things that have been told to me over the years – but most of my tattoos are vintage designs...pearls, flowers and even a vintage hand mirror. I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong era! I had always wanted tattoos, but people said that they can make you look quite ‘butch’, so I wanted to make sure they were feminine. Luckily for me, I can get away with it in my job as it’s very much about accessorising yourself, and I feel now I can be a bit braver about showing who I really am.”

Gemma Kay's first tattoo on her neckGemma Kay's first tattoo on her neck

Liam Kay – property contractor

“My tattoo is evolution-based; it’s something that interests me, with my love of science. Many people have tribal or biblical quotes when they’re not particularly religious, so I thought something portraying Darwin and the origin of the species would be a bit different. I think it’s unique.”

Liam Kay's ongoing origin of the species tattoo featuring DarwinLiam Kay's ongoing origin of the species tattoo featuring Darwin

Nigel – ex-army/police force/Royal protection officer

Former soldier, retired Police Royal bodyguard now personal security consultant Nigel's tattoo collection, which he has had to hide during the latter period of his careerFormer soldier, retired Police Royal bodyguard now personal security consultant Nigel's tattoo collection, which he has had to hide during the latter period of his career

“Pretty much the whole top half of my body is inked, but all of them can be covered with a short-sleeved shirt. I was a Royal bodyguard and protected most of the Royal family as an armed protection officer. People still frown a little on tattoos, but it’s almost become the norm now; there are very few people who don’t have them. I’ve carried a firearm for Queen and country for the last 35 years; I joined the army at a very young age and did 30 years in the police, too. I have a quote that Winston Churchill adopted: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” It suited me perfectly, having been a protection officer for the last 15 years of my police career, and an armed counter-terrorism officer for the whole of my career with the police.

Many of my tattoos are cover-ups of very old ones; as trends have changed over the last 30 years – going from full colour to black and greys. Photo-realism is a popular trend now, and they can even make tattoos look three-dimensional. A Polish lady called Daria, based at Kinky Angels in Tewkesbury, does my tattoos – she’s got a masters degree in art and is absolutely fantastic. Tattoos are a very addictive thing, so I probably will continue; it’s just a matter of where now!”

Former soldier, retired Police Royal bodyguard now personal security consultant Nigel's tattoo collection, which he has had to hide during the latter period of his careerFormer soldier, retired Police Royal bodyguard now personal security consultant Nigel's tattoo collection, which he has had to hide during the latter period of his career

Ben Thompson – student mechanical engineer

Student mechanical engineer Ben Thompson with his retro traditional blade through rose tattooStudent mechanical engineer Ben Thompson with his retro traditional blade through rose tattoo

“A tattoo is something I’ve always wanted. I did this design myself – first I found inspiration on the web and then did the finer detailing. I went for a traditional design as it’s my preference; I like the colour and style. I am planning to have other tattoos, but don’t have the money for it right now – that’s the only problem, they are quite expensive! The pain isn’t too bad at all; it’s only when it’s been going on for a few hours that it can become a bit draining. I use Dean Eberhardt at Black Letter Tattoo in Gloucester – he’s very good.”

Student mechanical engineer Ben Thompson with his retro traditional blade through rose tattooStudent mechanical engineer Ben Thompson with his retro traditional blade through rose tattoo

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