97 North Road, Brighton. BN1 1YE T: 01273 624278 www.bluedragoiit attoo.co.uk
BLUE DRAGON TATTOO, BRIGHTON
It's a drizzly day in the seaside town of Brighton. I struggle down the street with a flailing umbrella against the torrential wind and rain and dive into an unassuming statin an unassuming street.
" ere, I stand in a small empty room with laminate floors and fresh white walls with nothing but a lonely pot plant in the way of adornments and some carefully arranged framed . images on the walls. I wait momentarily before a young guy pokes his head around the corner to greet me, and I am ushered down an impossibly tight staircase into the figurative belly of Brighton's Blue Dragon. Waiting patiently in his lair is Mick J, who reservedly and politely shakes my hand and gestures me to take a seat. He's a genial fellow, with a broad smile and faint cockney accent, a jeans and T shirt guy that you could enjoy a pint with down the local.
After ascertaining the all-important information to the all-important question (coffee or tea?), our conversation commences, A conversation that is as long and enlightening as the history the Blue Dragon itself.
Mick's interest in tattooing took hold back in 80s London. "I'm originally from sunny Walthamstow where I started off as a self-taught airbrush artist." he tells me. "My interest in tattooing started when a guy called Terry Oldham opened a tattoo studio just around the corner from me when I was 14.1 think 1 most probably went to his shop more than I went to school and for some unknown reason, after I broke his shop window he let me hang out. It was a very misspent youth," Mick lauglis nostalgically.
"There was me and a couple of friends kind of hanging out there at this weird and wonderful place full of teds, skinheads, rockers, punks, you name it, every kind of alternative walk of life. There were a lot of different cultures; it was the 80s! I played bass in a band... loosely termed, playing bass, I hung it around my neck and as far as I could stretch my arms, that was as low as I could play it! As long as I had my foot on the monitor, I was alright", we laugh inexorably as Mick fondly recalls his punk rock youth. "Then I bought an airbrush and taught myself how to use it and..." Mick's train of thought is broken by the arrival of his trusty tea. bearing apprentice, Dan. "So, the airbrushing thing kinda took off", he resumes. "Ever seen a tobacco tin with a sticker on it? I started that, 1 produced them for about 5 years tlirough a limited company".
"I was in my late 20's when I started dabbling in bands, the band was my main thing up until that point, we were called The Love Junkies", Mick grins at the thought. "I was a bit of a punk I suppose, we played in a band, and lived the lifestyle, that rock n' roll kind of tiling. It was a wonderful experience". Despite
Mick's wayward youth, he was drawn back into the world of tattooing when he opened his own art shop, just a street away from where the Blue Dragon stands today. "A wife of a friend of mine was thinking of opening a shop and she said 'whatever you do, don't go to Brighton, it's full of nutters and junkies' so I came down here
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