What's it going to look like when you're 50?

I could actually hear my mother's voice in my ear as I wandered towards Dreamhands Tattoo on K'road, dodging the dried vomit and bubble gum gracing the pavement, wide eyed and innocent. Because I hang out at tattoo studios all. the. time. 

"What's it going to look like in 50 years? What will your future employer think? (considering it's me, probably that I'm pretty great but need to calm down on the split second extreme hair cut decisions) Do you even know what's in tattoo ink? What kind of chemicals are you injecting into your skin? (That's actually an excellent point... more research needed, ignoring it for now because it can't possibly be worse consuming the sorts of food I do on a regular basis (read: poor quality cheeseburgers)).

All of these valid points of which I am choosing to ignore as I stumble up the stairs to the studio. Ain't no thing, I do this all the time.

So it turns out, tattooists are pretty great people, and damn talented artists.

The man I came to see, Tritoan Ly, is booked out for the next three months and for good reason. Tri's a talented dude. 

This is just the outline - it takes hours, and crazy amounts of concentration to get to the finished product. You'd hope so too, you're stuck with whatever that finished product is. 

I've always thought about tattoos from a pain perspective, but when you spend a little time around these guys, you start to realise that your pain is irrelevant. It's all about the artwork. I can kind of see how these things get addictive (soz mum).

Tri has some pretty cool guns too - my favourite was one from the states that apparently is the best you can get. I don't know much about tattooing but I'll believe it because it's really pretty and I'm shallow.

I also wandered around and met some of the other tattooists. The above hand and vintage moustached boxer belong to Toby King. Toby tattoos all sorts, but his real talent is in surrealist art, both tattooed and on paper.

He also apparently was once the proud owner of his own little waxed pointy moustache, so obviously was the right guy for this particular job.

These rather talented hands belong to Steve Dallas. Steve's over from the UK and is a temporary member of the Dreamhands crew - according to Insta, he'll also be at the Tattoo and Arts Festival in a few weeks time, so if you're heading that way, make some room on your skin.

He also has an incredibly photogenic back of the head.

My first foray into a tattoo studio was pretty successful and such a cool place to get to photograph. It also definitely won't be my last. Because my appointment with Tri is on December 17th.

Don't tell my mum.

Sarah Starkey