21 designers and their awesome tattoos

Russ got   additive colour (RGB) since his career passions were primarily screen-based; I got subtractive colour (CMY) because I started my career in print design.”
Tattoo artist:
Virgina Elwood, NYC Adorned, New York
11. “In some case I came with an exact plan, but for the big stuff I let the artists take my general idea, and do what they wanted,” he explains. Brian Carley
Executive creative director Carley’s first tattoo was inspired by the artist Dave McKean, who used to create the cover art for the comic book series Sandman. “My woman piece took three sittings,” Boyce recalls. Tattoo artist:
Mohawk John, Three Kings, Brooklyn, New York, USA
13. Couldn’t have one, and bring sorrow on myself.”
Tattoo artist:
Mitch Allenden, Inspirations, Leeds, UK
17. “His brief is pretty simple: I give him a body part, an animal subject matter and the rest is up to him,” she shrugs. “I started with a small one on my shoulder, and it grew from there. Done in around 10 hours.”
Tattoo artist:
Marcus, Custom Ink, Glasgow
03. “Where better to reflect your life stories and interests than on your own skin?” Once he found an artist who shared his wavelength, he gave her free rein to interpret the brief. Suffoca Boyce
“A lot of artists get tattoos for the same reason: they enjoy art, and being expressive with it,” suggests Suffoca Boyce, founder of Suffoca Clothing. “The Lion and Unicorn are from the British Passport and the Teacup symbolizes England, as she’s from St. “I like where it cuts off at my wrist; so much so, that I haven’t worn a watch since having it done six years ago,” he chuckles. The inking process took about one and a half hours in total. Tattoo artist:
Kirsten Holliday, Portland, Oregon
02. Tattoo artist:
Steve Boltz, Smith Street Tattoo, Brooklyn, New York, USA
16. Tattoo artist:
Louis Malloy, Middleton Tattoo Studio, Manchester, UK
21. “One of the pieces was inspired by John Dyer Baizley’s work,” he explains. Joshua Smith
Illustrator and designer Joshua Smith is influenced by tattoo culture, particularly from the 70s and 80s, when they were taboo – and he believes that they may become so again, with current ‘trends’ becoming ugly and dated. “One is full, with big feathered wings; the other empty with tattered, broken wings,” he explains. “It’s really addictive,” he insists, and has had six or seven different artists work on him to-date. I like black and grey, and trusted my tattoo artist to do something great, as he’s a brilliant illustrator with a great style. As an adult, Booth opted for a full Japanese-style sleeve that took six four-hour sessions, with two weeks’ healing time in between. So have a look at these awesome tattoos decorating designers bodies, and find out who was the artist behind them. Steven Bonner
“I wanted something timeless,” says designer and illustrator Steven Bonner of his impressive tattoo. Colorado-born Carson recently moved back to the States from Bath, England, where he’d lived with his wife for many years. “Mistakes add something epic to life.”
Tattoo artists:
Script tattoo: BJ Betts, Orlando, USA
Skull, snakes and roses on lower arm: Angelo, Red Letter, Tampa, Florida, USA
Top of hand: Big Sleeps, Norm Will Rise, LA, USA
Fingers: Ghost Wolf, LA, USA
20. Each piece of ink reminds me of a good chapter in my stupid existence. Tattoo artists:
Right forearm to wrist: David Allen, Chicago, USA
Lines and birds on right arm: Rich Kocis, Peace of Art Tattoo, Chicago, USA
Mountains/clouds/birds up to shoulder: Kore Flatmo, PluraBella, Cincinnati, USA
09. “That and being left with a permanent work of art on your skin.”
Tattoo artist:
Mitch Allenden, Inspirations, Leeds, UK
15. “I thought it would be weird if we were out with friends or family and I had a giant, photo-realistic portrait of my wife within eyeshot.” His solution was to use a reference shot from an odd angle, stripping back some detail to make the portrait more generic. The two arms took around 36 hours in total. “So I chose two things that have consistently appealed to me all my life: birds and skulls. 45rpm
45rpm, a Bristol-based artist and illustrator and member of the WHAT crew, believes that ‘traditional’ tattoos have the most timeless appeal, and prefers to let the artist interpret an idea in their own style. Ryan Carson
“The tattoo is for my wife, Gillian,” explains Ryan Carson, web designer, entrepreneur and CEO of Treehouse. Jon Contino
“I wanted to get a classic pin-up style image of my wife on my forearm, but I didn’t want it to look exactly like her,” remembers creative director and freelance illustrator Jon Contino. And there’s one thing on which the vast majority of designers we’ve spoken to agree: respect the artistic flair of the guy with the needle. “By the time I was old enough to get any work done, I knew I was too picky to settle on a tattoo that wouldn’t make me cringe later on.” He and his younger sister got matching tattoos, based on how they settled fights when they were younger – and most of his others also have family ties of some description. His right arm sleeve is a montage of natural imagery, such as orchids, mountains, clouds and birds. Tattoo artist:
Danny Rossiter, Studio 81, Manchester, UK
04. Jeffrey Kalmikoff
Jeffrey Kalmikoff, head of product and design at Betable, has a winged hourglass on each upper arm inspired by the Latin phrase ‘Memento Mori’ (remember death). “I wanted to get the triangular void after watching Donnie Darko. Matt Booth
Web designer and Flash developer Matt Booth was fascinated by tattoos from an early age – as a child in the 70s, he once embarrassed his mother by telling a man off on the bus for drawing on himself. “I got the first one (j) on a whim, then the next few (g, a, q) without thinking much about it.” It grew from there: every time she drew a letter frequently, it was inked onto her. Tattoo artist:
Justin Cota, Mantra Tattoo Studio, Cheltenham, UK
Designed by Ollie Munden
10. “Most of my tattoos are hidden, and I thought, what better place to have a surprising bit of ink than on top of my feet?” grins Strange. “I’m confident that the artist I’m paying will do the best job possible.”
Tattoo artist:
Three Kings Tattoo, Brooklyn, New York, USA
12. James O’Connell
After admiring the fine detail in the Hokusai Great Wave at an exhibition, O’Connell, a designer at Dinosaur, decided to get an oriental sleeve tattoo. His own ink is more individual than that: “I decided to get my kids’ names, and also the word ‘Piety’,” he recalls. Whether it starts as the ultimate showcase of a favourite artist’s work or is motivated by something deeply personal and meaningful, many creatives don’t stop at their first tattoo. Getting inked often becomes a compulsion, transforming dull skin into a walking work of art. “I really enjoy the whole process of getting tattooed; it still makes me nervous beforehand, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something great after.”
Tattoo artist:
Valerie Vargas, Frith Street Tattoo, Soho, London, UK
18. Helens, UK,” he adds. After getting his first tattoo on an impulse, and partly inspired by the movie Memento, he hasn’t looked back – and gets “the itch” every few months to get another. “I’m a bit of a nerd,” he shrugs. The Saatchi Saatchi creative director prefers to give the man with the needle relative free rein: “I’m not a tattoo artist: I don’t understand all the idiosyncrasies of the art form, so I don’t assume that I know what’s best,” he reasons. Ryan Sievert
Before he was old enough to get tattooed, designer, illustrator and photographer Ryan Sievert opted for piercings instead: “That was the best thing I could have done,” he believes. Tattoo artist:
Tim Biedron, Deluxe Tattoo, Chicago, USA (but now at Pioneer Tattoo)
19. “Marcos at Broad Street Studio tattooed my bike-based piece. “It’s the most uneconomical way of getting tattooed ever,” she smiles. “As my life moved forward as a graphic designer, getting arrows tattooed made perfect sense,” he suggests. Nigel Dennis
Tattoos, for designer and illustrator Nigel Dennis, are a permanent record of temporary feelings and states of mind. Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer
Before Facebook designer Maschmeyer met freelance letterer and illustrator Hische, he was considering an RGB tattoo. Carson Brown
A fan of simple, graphic tattoos, freelance designer and photographer Carson Brown started with a circle: “I wanted a reminder of how to live that wasn’t type, and didn’t have significant cultural meaning,” he explains. Tattoo artist:
Dav at Love, Michigan, USA
08. “It’s like collecting art from great artists, except you get to see it all day every day. His friend, accomplished tattoo illustrator Ollie Munden, designed it following a late-night iChat – and also crafted a pair of Mexican sugar skulls for the tops of his feet. Alan Wardle
Newcastle-born, London-based designer Alan Wardle is now on his second tattoo, and believes each one should have a bit of meaning behind it: “Being a North East lad, I wanted something to represent the area, the people and the memories that made me who I am today,” he explains. “Magpies are the nickname of the football team I grew up supporting, and I had to have two because of the nursery rhyme.

Updated: 19.11.2014 — 09:47