Gemma Hawkins Tattoo - Q&A
To celebrate our upcoming capsule collection in collaboration with Gemma Hawkins we have decided to dive deep into the guts of the tattoo world and let you all find out about the woman behind the tattoo gun! Keep reading to see the questions we were eager to ask Gemma and what her responses were - you can shop the Gemma Hawkins x Face Clothing collection from this Friday 27th September, so be sure to turn on your Instagram notifications so that you don't miss anything!
When did you start tattooing?
I started my tattoo journey 5 years ago, for the first year I just watched and practised on fake skin. I’d say I’ve been a full time tattoo artist for 3 and a half years.
What were your main reasons behind your choice to become a tattoo artist?
I never really thought about a career as a tattoo artist, I always watched LA ink but that’s about it! After finishing a BTEC in Art and Design I started to realise that further education wasn’t for me, and that getting a job in the artist industry was gonna be hard. One evening, a friend of mine phoned me and told me his tattoo artist was looking for an apprentice. He had showed him my artwork and the apprenticeship was basically mine if I wanted it. And that’s where it all began. I started the apprenticeship because it would have been silly to turn it down, but at the same time I started a job as a Graphic Designer. I think it soon became clear that working in a job that was behind a computer wasn’t for me, and with having the tattoo world at my finger tips I just started to fall more and more for it.
Who are your tattoo/art inspirations?
Over the years they come and go, it’s kind of a weird one with me because I don’t think you would necessarily see much influence of the artists work I like in my tattooing style. I follow predominantly traditional style artists but I can’t help but create things with lots of detail myself. When I discovered tattoo art I first found Jemma Jones and Hannah Pixie Snowdon. I loved having two female tattoo artists look up to. One makes traditional and one makes dotwork.
There are a lot of things that inspire me outside of tattooing, like nature and flowers. These are the things that personally make me happy, so it’s good to create things from real life experiences, like memories or photos from National Trusts! Music has also inspired me a lot. I’ve created illustrations in the past after having listened to new albums and imagery appearing in my head! Slaves, Basement and Turnover being a few.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
So I just recently opened my own private studio, that’s not something I was really thinking would happen yet. But sometimes things just develop and happen. In 10 years I see myself working in a bigger tattoo studio and surrounding myself with more like minded people and artists - whether that’s my own place or not. It would be nice to be involved in more artistic outlets and not just tattooing. I just love creating and it would be nice to make some more free time for that. Apart from that I don’t really have long term plans as I just live as things come and go to be honest. I’m a strong believer in trusting the universe’s path.
What are your thoughts/feelings on being a woman in the industry? Have you ever felt that its helped you or hindered you in any way?
I’m not sure if being a female has really affected me much in this industry. There was already a lot of women in the tattoo world at the point of me starting. Maybe the only thing that I’ve noticed from customers responses is they may think that a female tattooist is less intimidating and more gentle? So therefore could help me get more new & younger customers, or people who have been nervous for a while to get something done, they seem more at ease. I definitely believe I have been treated differently due to being a woman, but I’m not pin pointing that on the tattoo industry, rather just the people I have met.
How do you approach designing tattoos for your customers?
I like to design tattoos on the day of the appointment, I love just seeing what flows out of my brain on the day. I’ve found I work best this way. A customer will tell me their size, placement and most of the time send photo references of their ideas upon booking the appointment. I’m quite lucky that some people just trust me so much now that they can just say what they want and where and let me do my own thing. That does add a lot more nerves (excitement) for me to whether they will like the design when them come in for their appointment, but also gives me the freedom to try and think differently.
What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies or interests?
I love the practice of yoga. With my studio being such a bright, calming place I’ll often do some after my working day. I actually started this to help with back problems in the future. But I have genuinely discovered that yoga isn’t just on the mat, it helps me in other aspects of my day to day life. Another hobby I enjoy is walking and the outdoors, the fresh air is the best thing ever. And considering I love the freedom and open space of the outdoors, I do love a gig. Watching live music is always something I look forward to!
What is your current style of tattooing? Has this changed since you first started out?
My current style of tattooing is dotwork / blackwork. Some elements can be quite bold, some quite delicate. Like most artists you tend to keep trying different things, it could be something subtle every week. Seeing things healed always helps with your progress too.
I’ve always been a ‘pen work’ style illustrator, starting with biros years and years ago and I think that has just developed in the the black dotwork style of tattooing. I like to try and mix it all together. 5 years ago when I started I pretty much started tattooing every style going. It was a great way to learn about myself and my own ‘natural’ skills.
Best/Worst things about your job?
The freedom is great, and the past year or two I’ve had the opportunity to go travelling with this job. I get to work in different studios, in different cities - lots of chances to meet new people and make new friends! I've had some experiences too that weren’t so great during my career so far but they’ve only helped me to grow and be where I am today. All in all I think having a creative mind means it never rests. There can be A LOT of work. I still haven’t decided if that’s a good or a bad thing!
What is the best way to get in contact with you/make a booking?
I take booking by email only at email@example.com. You can see all my work on Instagram and Facebook but I only take bookings through email. I always put my email address on every post I make!
Make sure to go over and follow Gemma's tattoo Instagram page @gemmahawkinstattoo and check out some of her sick work below!
The Face Clothing UK team - Jess, Joe and Cal.