Clare Lupino bespoke tattoos
Wear your heart on your sleeve, reveal a little of your soul and have artist, Clare Lupino design a unique tattoo just for your body.
|With a First Class honours degree in Contemporary Art and over two decades of experience as an artist, Clare Lupino has a commitment to creativity. She understands how visual language works and knows how to work with your ideas and experiences, bringing them dramatically into reality. Clare believes her tattoos have the power to help us reach our full potential and gain insights into our individual destiny.
Clare will encourage you to expand your tattoo design ideas into something truly original and dynamic that expresses who you are. Far from being random body adornments, tattoos are totems, symbols, representations and rites of passage; they are codes to be deciphered by those who wish to take the time to truly know us.
“As I began to study Art,” says Clare, “it became increasingly important to express who I wanted to be, not what I wanted to be in this world. My sense of self defines my work practice. I still make jewellery to commission but I wanted to create more time for other projects – I’m writing a book, I’m making perfume and I’m tattooing as well.”
Clare had her first tattoo as an Art Student at Nottingham University, when she was in her late teens. She was a fan of New Model Army and the punk poet Joolz and admired the intricate Celtic knotwork tattoos they were adorned with. She found out they were by renowned British Tattooist, Micky Sharpz and booked an appointment at his Birmingham studio. She was fascinated by the process, but for Clare, becoming a tattooist herself was unexpected (“though coming to expect the unexpected becomes a done deal for an artist; you see the synchronicity of life”, says Clare):
One day in 1994, whilst working for the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust at Dean Clough in Halifax, a huge pallet with an estimated weight of half a tonne, fell from about 15 feet and landed on Clare’s head. She suffered from Post Traumatic Stress and was a long time recovering her sense of self. At the time of the accident, Clare was also working as a Lecturer in the Theory of Art at Bradford College but all of that was about to change. Clare’s emergence into the field of body ink followed shortly after the conclusion of a 5-year long court case – she purchased her tattoo equipment – including two custom-made machines by Micky Sharpz – with her compensation, seeking an apprenticeship with tattooist Chris Barber, at The Golden Apple studio in Worcester.
“He agreed to give me a chance to prove myself,” says Clare, “so I turned up after hours at the studio one evening, quietly confident in my natural drawing abilities but anticipating some expert guidance. Chris then rolled up his trouser leg and showed me several random lines and patches of shading on his inner left leg, explaining that every tattooist had to start somewhere and their own leg was the easiest place. He then explained the procedure, sat me down in the chair, squeezed some pigments out into a palette, handed me a machine and said he was off to the pub over the road! He said he’d see me in a couple of hours and then he’d be able to let me know if he would offer me an apprenticeship!” When he returned, Clare had completed her first tattoo – a free-hand drawing of a passion flower on her leg – and the rest is history!
“Despite comment misconceptions, tattoos are not ‘forever’”, says Clare, “ they are just for the body – perhaps a vehicle for us to express something of our eternal selves whilst we are on the journey. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination: there are some great tattooists out there now – working from all sorts of references – abstract paintings, collage, traditional sailor flash and delicate botanical pieces – the days of the old-school blurry blue outlines are over – and then there’s micro-dermal pigmentation – women are having their eyebrows permanently drawn in a series of lines as fine as hairs. I am getting more requests from women especially who don’t want a heavy black outline around everything and I can suggest techniques which pay homage to watercolours or soft-edged illustrations. I have also been trained in the advanced technique of Japanese Water Shading where the skin is flooded by gradual subtle washes of light colour.”
The tattooing process starts with a half an hour consultation, where clients are encouraged to bring along their ideas. Clare starts to sketch as they talk, refining and honing a series of drawings until the design works perfectly. That’s the painless bit over and done with – although Clare is very reassuring about the actual tattooing process, allowing first-time clients to experience just a 2mm line to get used to it – “a tattoo need only sit less than a millimetre under the skin, so it’s really not too bad at all” she says, “though there are horror stories because some untrained ‘scratchers’ can tend to believe that in order to make the tattoo permanent, they must go much deeper – I’ve seen the evidence so many times during cover-ups. In fact, most people who then go on to experience my tattoos are amazed that it hasn’t hurt nearly as much as the first time, though a four hour session can feel a bit peaky towards the end!”
Because Clare’s work is freehand, she can work with the contours of your body so there is a natural ‘ebb and flow’ to the design – this really is a bespoke tattooing service – and there will never be another tattoo like the last one. “It’s remarkable – astounding even – that every human being ever born to this planet is totally unique,” comments Clare, “and for me, it’s important to reflect that concept in a totally unique tattoo.”
Clare is adept at cover-up work. “Life takes many twists and turns,” she acknowledges, “and sometimes we want to make changes – having a tattoo that no longer sits comfortably with who we are becoming is a drag on our self-confidence”. Clients come to me feeling so despondent about a badly drawn, or misplaced tattoo (so many people out there can’t draw very well – they slap a transfer on and tattoo over it, often with disastrous results). Sometimes, clients are embarrassed about the subject matter (yes, their mother was right, it was ‘just a phase’!). There’s no need to feel like that – a large percentage of my work is custom cover-up tattooing – it’s such a transformative process, from the moment I start free-handing a new design over and around the old one to the finished piece. I love making that happen for people! At the end of the session, they are so happy and talking about showing off their tattoo, sometimes for the first time in decades!”
Clare is usually pretty booked up in advance so she has decided to focus on a mainly female client-base – she really enjoy creating delicate flowers, exotic birds, ethereal feathers; things with an organic, natural flow and energy. “There are certain tattoos that I just would not want to do – if you want a Bulldog, a Winnie-The-Poo or a Smurf doing something obscene, I’m not the tattooist for you! I have to feel a kinship with the concept – strictly no devils! ”
Based in Hebden Bridge, Clare’s studio is a Health Registered sterile studio environment, in compliance with all local authority byelaws.