A new tattoo parlour in the city has a quarter of women at the helm. We hear from each of them as to how their business and partnership came about.
How long have you all been tattooing?
I’ve been tattooing for more than 20 years.
How long does it take to learn the skills needed to do it professionally?
It’s very hard to say, it’s very personal. Today is definitely easier compared back to the days when I started, the equipment for tattooing was very different, no disposable grips, no disposable needles ready to use too! You had to buy single needles in the size that you preferred, long taped or not and solder the needles together, then clean them in ultrasound bath and then finally sterilise them, I was spending every Monday getting needles ready for my mentor and I for the week, grips were only in steel, thin as a cigarette and the tattoo machines very heavy, so definitely not easy to work with. It’s funny, as looking back is like seeing the prehistoric, mesozoic eras of tattooing, it’s beautiful if you think that this handcrafted art is constantly evolving.
Where did you hone your craft?
I started working as apprentice when I was 16 years old, I was studying graphic design and working as apprentice in a tattoo studio in Milan in the afternoons. I started tattooing almost 2 years later in the ’96.
How did Girls Don’t Cry come about? Had you all worked together before?
Well I guess it’s happened because was supposed to happen, different circumstances and reasons brought us to think about leaving the shop where we’ve been working for years and we found that opening our own space and keeping working together was a good idea. The name came up after our opening, it took a while to figure out the right name that was representing the four of us, but when we found it, we knew straight away that it was perfect and it felt right for everyone. We’ve been all working together, I’ve been working with Agne for 4 years Niamh for 3 years and Lucy around 2.
How would you describe your individual style?
I do neotraditional tattoos. I love working on floral/faunal themes in full colour, creating designs for my customers and blending muted tones is what I like to do most of my days.
Tattooing has blown up globally in the last few years and that has created a lot of competition and opportunity in the market. What’s your approach for Girls Don’t Cry and making sure you stand out from all the others?
Yes it’s true, tattooing has blown up globally, with good and bad things coming out from it, but personally I think is great, it gives the chance to everyone to be inspired by so many different people, styles, etc. I guess we just to do our own work in the best way we can, loving what we do, taking time to create our designs, taking care of our clients and trying to do better each day. Our studio is a deep dive in an artistic and relaxed environment, I guess working with these principles and with different styles from each other, makes our strength.
How has it been setting up a new studio in the middle of this global challenge?
I think it was meant to be, this global pandemic changed a lot of people’s reality, creating a lot of suffering but at the same time creating opportunities for people to rebuild themselves, reconsidering the importance of being happy and satisfied with the time spent on the daily basis.
We are currently closed, in the middle of the second lockdown for this country, we can’t wait to be back to work with our customers and we miss our work and space already.
Any advice you would give others considering carving their own paths and creating their own luck?
Work hard, draw as much as you can, stay humble, stay true, knock all the doors of tattoo studios with a portfolio, hoping to get an apprenticeship or suggestions and opinions on your work.
Who are your tattoo inspirations/who are you inspired by?
These days I wouldn’t call them tattoo heroes, but artists around the world that inspire me every day, like Makkala Rose (work pictured), Chris Green, Sneakymitch, Brian Povak and many others, but looking back at many years ago, I could call tattoo heroes Filip Leu, Guy Aitchison, Lyle Tuttle and many others, that are in my opinion absolute masters of the tattoo history evolution.
What are the main tracks blasting the GDC stereo at the moment?
We play different music genres, usually we play something soft/chill/trippy, sometimes ’80s that can help us to concentrate and that help clients to relax and enjoy their time with us.
Who are your individual female idols and if Girls Don’t Cry was one woman who would it be?
Sojourner Truth, African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, born into slavery but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826, devoting her life for civil rights. Aretha Franklin, for her powerful and magic voice, absolute queen of soul. Two female painters: Leonora Carrington for her surrealistic vision and Lee Krasner for her courageous abstract expressionism.
Leonora Carrington: Self-Portrait (Inn of the Dawn Horse), 1938
18 Eustace Street, Dublin 2 (currently closed under level 5 lockdown restrictions)
words: Richard Seabrooke
photos: Gary Cullen