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From the studio's inception in 2003 it was the focus of some unwanted attention from some of those in the industry who did not approve of new blood moving in and opening up shop. As they say 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger1 and the studio survived some bad luck and (with hindsight) bad business decisions. Instead of getting involved in the drama, the guys at the studio focussed on the reason they opened the shop: To make good tattoos.

Ironically, the very people who sought to crush Blood Brothers at the start are probably the reason that the studio itself emerged as a close-knit family of hard-working tattooists and is such an easy-going and relaxed environment. Less than a minute after walking into the studio Jim4 (the founder and driving force behind the studio) had already offered me a cup of tea and 1 was invited to enjoy the well-worn and comfortable sofa in the waiting area. It's this kind of welcome That makes you feel more like you've walked into someone's home than a business.

After years of keeping quiet Jim4 also feels now is a good time to finally tell HIS side of story to the readers of Skin Deep. "From the start we met resistance, having not followed the traditional route of spending 15 years slaving for someone else, saving our pennies and eventually opening own shop. After the banks baulked at the idea of giving a loan to a tattooist I was lucky enough to have the support of my mum who re-mortgaged her house to provide me with a loan for the capital. We started out offering piercing as well, but soon decided it was better to stick to what we knew best and built a good team with JJ Dallas (of Bugs and Angelic Hell fame), Wez4 came in full-time and Luci Lou {from Brazil).

Unfortunately my business partner (whom hadn'l invested a single penny into the business) wasn't as dedicated as the rest of us and soon the partnership was in trouble. After I confronted him and he agreed to walk away he turned on us and started trying to play our friends against each other to destroy the business. Anyone who knows me knows that Blood Brothers was opened to be a family affair and run as a custom studio, not a money printing machine. Malicious threats were made to have the shop raided by the police and it all came down to upset egos and greed. I think of my team as my family, full of fun and full of life and not an attitude in sight!".

As you would expect an experience like this either makes or breaks you, there is no doubt about how Jim4 has taken it, "I feel our work speaks for itself, the quality shines through. We've been here for over 6 years so we must be doing something right!"

It wasn't all bad news, during all this, Wez4 built a reputation for producing daring New School Designs and Jay Jay Dallas battled his artistic demons and emerged with a unique style that has given him an enviable waiting list of people willing to wait to get some of his work on them. Mike Owl had been working with the Blood Brothers guys and was picking

THE SHOP IS DESCRIBED AS DOWN TO EARTH, HOWEVER WE CAN GET A LITTLE ROWDY, BUT I'M SURE SOME CUSTOMERS JUST COME HERE NOT JUST TO GET TATTOOED BUT TO HEAR MORE OF OUR CRAZY STORIES!

120 HOLLOWAT ROAD, HOLLOWAY. LONDON, H7 SJE TELL: 0207619 0345 BLOOODBROTHERS [email protected] WWW.MTSPACE.COM/ BLOOBBEOTHEBSTATTOOLTD

up many tips and tricks; eventually coming into his ewn as his skills and confidence grew. It seemed Blood Brothers had survived the impossible. But the excitement wasn't over, as Jim4 explains," After many conventions the Blood Brothers family extended to Sweden where JJ and Wez were hit by the love bug and found themselves Swedish beauties. Blood Brothers found a sister shop in Sweden called Blue Bird and artists from both shops started to go backwards-and-forwards, inspiring each other along the way."

Nick Whybrow (from Immortal Ink} joined the family and was able to offer brilliant Japanese designs alongside the other artist's work, AniT.a Carroll, an Aussie punk, has (to quote Jim4) "the tough job of keeping everyone organised and inline". On top of all this, they have regular guests from their sister shop, including the award winning Johanna Thor and Gunnar coming over on a regular basis to tattoo the lucky customers.

It is nearly ten years since Jim4 started tattooing and it looks like he has no intention of slowing down; they are currently gutting the garden at the rear in preparation for some Spring-time events and are planning a huge party at the Purple Turtle in Camden. He is still involved in helping local stroke and 3

Purple Turtle Tattoo
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It's clear why people should come to Blood Brothers, apart from the tattoos; it's an open plan studio where the staff and customers can feel comfortable. As Anita says, "You can have a cuppa and a chat while you wait for your appointment. Mike and Nick play-fight like real siblings and the stereo pumps out music that you want to hear, not what supposed to be 'cool'. Our artists have their own specialties and no two tattoos

IT'S NOT THE HOLLYWOOD LIFESTYLE YOU SEE ON TV, IT IS HARD WORK FOR THOSE WHO CARE, BUT ITS THOSE THAT CARE THAT LAST

epilepsy charities by providing artwork that is sold at auction, and says he has something in the pipelines to help our girls arid boys in the forces. He also intends to have a working holiday guesting in Sweden during 2010, and JJ and Johanna are flying out to work the convention in South Africa too. Everyone at the studio enjoys attending conventions, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Blood Brothers name at, a few more in 2010,

we design are ever the same. People here are always joking and laughing".

Wez4 sums it up in his own way, "The shop is described as down to earth, however we can get a little rowdy, but I'm sure some customers just come here not just to get tattooed, but to hear more of our crazy stories! We always aimed to make the place feel like a customer can just walk in, get a coffee, get the in-jokes and feel like they should be here. Since we aren't stressed, you get the best work we can do as we are focussed on that and not on drama". Johanna nods in agreement adding, "These guys are happy people with their hearts in the right place, not an attitude in sight. This is probably why Bluebird and Blood Brothers have such a good relationship, as we are so alike".

The work ethic of the studio is to always give the customer the best they can, and to admit when you think another artist is better suited to their needs. The team that Jim4 has assembled means that there is always someone in the studio who specialises in what you are looking for.

The diverse interests of the tattooists has attracted a variety of clients, Wez4's involvement in metal and thrash lias led him to tattoo a lot of people in the metal scene including Nicolas from Lock-Up and Luca from Ted Maul. Mike Owl admits to having, "a massive obsession with guns and playing airsoft", Nick admits to being "embarrassingly rubbish at skateboarding in my spare time", JJ enjoys travel and Johanna enjoys everything from graffiti to inventing.

The guys at Blood Brothers were happy to indulge me in the usual questions about getting your first tattoo, what they think of where the industry is going and to even give some advise to people who are thinking of becoming tattooists themselves.

"Work hard to put together a good portfolio of designs, artwork and drawings and then take it to show artists who you think are awesome", recommends Nick, "Don't be

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Tattoo Designs and Becoming a Tattoo Artist

Tattoo Designs and Becoming a Tattoo Artist

If you have any interest in possibly becoming a tattoo artist, this book will give you an inside look. Even if you don't want to become a tattoo artist, it will still give you an inside look at the profession.

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