Read about the inner workings of a tattoo artist’s mind with London and Shrewsbury-based creative, Luke Jinks.
What is your tattoo style?
New York City, aka The Big Apple. It’s the city that never sleeps.
How would you describe yourself?
I'm living a 1960s life while in a modern world. It's a bloody nightmare.
Fun fact about you?
I once went to a pork scratching taster night at the local social club.
Nacho Eterno and Max Kuhn.
“I get satisfaction from going to work each day and creating something. Each day is different; you never really tattoo the same design twice. It’s great to work with your hands and see something go from rough sketch to a final design.”
What does your creative process look like?
I do a lot of my rough sketches on the train. I travel a fair bit so it makes good use of the time. I only use paper. When I have an idea, I make a quick thumbnail or write it down in a notepad. I’m not the most organized, so I often stumble across things I did years ago. I like having a body of work that goes from rough sketches to paintings. I love tactile things that you can hold. The idea of a single piece of original art. If only one copy exists, it adds magic to it.
How did you get into tattooing?
I started getting tattooed a fair bit when I was at university. I studied illustration at Bristol UWE. I loved illustration, but felt it was turning more digital which didn’t really interest me. I always liked making things with my hands and found that creative process very satisfying. The combination of the two led me to tattooing. I found the history behind tattooing fascinating. After studying, I put together my portfolio with hundreds of painted and drawn designs. I went to a shop in Birmingham and Rachel Baldwin took a look at my work. They didn’t have room, but she kindly passed my details to her partner Nick Baldwin at a shop in Coventry. He offered me an apprenticeship, showed me the ropes and the rest is history.
What does tattooing mean to you?
I get satisfaction from going to work each day and creating something. Each day is different; you never really tattoo the same design twice. It’s great to work with your hands and see something go from rough sketch to a final design. Compared to other forms of art like painting it can be quicker; the tattoo process generally only takes a few hours.
If you weren’t a tattoo artist what would you be?
I would love to be a gardener, carpenter, potter or a painter. Anything where you make something with your hands would be grand. Owning an antique shop would also be a dream.
What are your influences? I draw a lot of inspiration from folk and Indian art. My favorite artwork is ‘Tippoo's Tiger’ at the V&A Museum. It’s a life-size music box of a tiger killing a British soldier commissioned by Sultan Tipu in the 18th century to show his bravery in battling the British. I was fascinated by the tiger when I first saw it back when I moved to London nine years ago. A lot of my work depicts battles between a man and animal - usually with the animal winning. I like the idea of the underdog winning over adversity. Basically the plot of every Jason Statham film. I get ideas for tattoos from all over though. I recently did a design inspired by ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea,’ a book I was reading to my daughter at the time, and I thought it would make a cracking tattoo.
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“A lot of my work depicts battles between man and animal, usually with the animal winning. I like the idea of the underdog winning over adversity.”
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Favorite tattoo artist?
I really like Nacho Eterno, he does amazing folk art paintings. I also love Max Kuhn. His art is often about travel and a romantic vision of America.
Have you evolved as a tattoo artist?
I used to worry about what other folks were doing but as I got older, I don’t get caught up in what’s going on or what people think. As long you’re busy and enjoying it, it’s all good. I don’t look at my phone much and that’s helped my work a lot. I tend to draw a lot of stuff without any references even, it gives a bit more of a feel to a piece.
What are your thoughts on tattoo removal?
Do what makes you happy. If you don’t like a tattoo, get rid of it.
Do you have any tattoos you no longer love? Have you ever removed or covered them up
I’m getting one removed on my forearm. There wasn’t too much wrong with it, but I wasn’t crazy about the design and it’s in a prime spot. I decided to get something else there instead.
What tips would you give someone getting a tattoo?
Think about it. Base it on design, not just sentiment. Good design will always be what makes a tattoo stand the test of time. Don’t follow trends and get something you want based off your own taste so it lasts. Try to think how a tattoo will age. Everyone has seen the old boys down the pub with a blue and green panther on their forearm - these designs are still readable after a lifetime of working in the sun due to simplicity. Tattoos spread over time and become less readable so get a design that will look good in 50 years not just the day it’s done. Also don’t get tattooed drunk in Magaluf. Chances are, you'll regret it.