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Claire Hamill Interview...

The summer holiday season may be in full swing but there’s no down time here at IOC HQ where we are preparing for the launch of our next exciting range of bespoke art pieces. As you’ll have gathered by now, before an artist is let loose in the IOC design lab, we test their mettle with a series of quick-fire questions. Kind of like Mastermind except everyone’s specialist subject is tattooing and with a less comfortable chair. Next up is rising tattoo star Claire ‘Danger’ Hamill. Claire will be releasing three new designs with IOC including our first ever female cut pieces. Here she explains how she acquired her nickname, why she introduced a splash of colour to her IOC designs and what she would like to do to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Take it away, Claire...

First things first, why are you called ‘Danger’ and are we putting our safety at risk just by talking to you?

Ha Ha..........the only person at risk is me!!!!! I'd like people to think that I'm some kind of adrenalin junkie with superhuman abilities but the truth is I have a natural talent for falling down stairs, walking into doors and generally falling on my arse and hurting myself!

How do you think tattoos and tattoo artists are perceived by the art world in general? Does it need to change? Is it changing or has it changed since you started?

I think the perceptions are definitely changing, not just in the art world. We are Tattoo 'artists' now and I think that with the internet and social media, artists are able to show case their work and talent not just on human canvases but in other art forms as well. All my peers and 'Tattoo Artist' friends are accomplished artists in their own right and produce the most beautiful works through digital art, oils, acrylics, pens etc.... I think that’s part of it now and gone are the days where clients go to the nearest studio to their house, they research the art and seek out the artist for them.

Every artist seems to have a unique story about how they found their art form. What’s yours?

It's not that interesting! I was in my second year studying Architectural Interior design at Bournemouth University and trying to apply for work placements and realised it just wasn't for me so much to my Mothers horror, dropped out. I wanted to do something awesome and work with like-minded people so I grabbed the Yellow Pages and called every local studio asking for any work. I got an interview the following day and was offered an apprenticeship. That one day changed my life in more ways than one. I was only 20 and it wasn't until two further apprenticeships and 8 years that I started the best job in the world in the right place with great people!

With the IOC designs you were given total free reign over the design. How did you decide what to create when confronted with the completely blank page?

This was so hard, I've always drawn from a brief, whether from a client or even just asking friends and family for inspiration. A friend of mine bought me a little sketchbook at Christmas that I don't leave home without so every time anything comes to mind I jot it down. I can’t believe I never did this before as now have a ridiculous list of drawings I want to do and not just for tattoos but for me. I picked ideas/themes that I hadn't actually tattooed so it gave me a chance to show a different side. I'm a Black and Grey artist but because they were for T-shirts I wanted to use a little colour and produce something different form my tattoo work.

Is there a common theme that joins your three IOC designs and if so, was that intentional?

Lady faces and jewellery - you can’t go wrong with a pretty lady face. Who doesn't love them? And I hope that together, you can see consistencies and they look like my work!

Do you find you have similar themes or imagery that you go back to time and time again in your work?

I don’t have a formula to my work yet and I'm really trying to find my 'signature' look. I love detail, realism mixed with patterns…….black and grey, faces, nature, skulls. Too much stuff, but I'm so lucky to be asked to tattoo such a range as every day is different and I love that but ready to evolve with a more consistent design process.

Outside of tattooing, which artists in other fields inspire you?

The obvious ones... Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Mucha, and Escher. I'm totally in love with the work of Sit Haiiro, Federico Bebber and Casey Baugh. And love the beautiful works of Natalie Shau and Luis Royo. There's so many, I get lost on Instagram for hours and follow a lot more non Tattoo Artsists now.

I’m read a book recently in which a character is a tattoo artist who has no tattoos herself. Would you ever trust someone to tattoo you if they had none themselves?

I don’t think that if an artist has little or no tattoos is in anyway a reflection of their skill or capabilities. I would trust them, of course. When you choose your artist for a particular piece, you look at their work not their Facebook profile picture.

If you could tattoo anyone in the world AND choose the tattoo, who would you pick and what design?

If you asked me this a few years ago I would have said my mum but I can tick that box now so it would have to be (don't judge me!!!!)…….. Steven Tyler and I would tattoo my face on him!!!! Ha ha, I'm sure he'd love it!!!!