Mike Love kicks ass. Why? He’s hand-poke-tattooing all 151 Pokémon characters.
Inkluded is so thrilled to announce that we’ll be following his journey in the near future, as he takes on this beast of a challenge. On that note, I’ll shut up, and let Mike do the talking.
Gotta catch ’em all…
Who are ya?
I am Mike and I’m a hand-poke tattoo artist, which means all my work is done without the use of a machine. I specialise in bold lines, blackwork and dot-shading. I have developed a unique style influenced from traditional tattoo work. I have solely been tattooing for roughly a year, before that I was a blade-needle body-piercer for around 4 years.
For anyone that doesn’t know, what’s hand-poke?
Rather than using the traditional method of electric tattooing, where you use a machine, I simply push the pigment into the skin by hand, using the same needles as a machine. Typically you find most hand-poke artists mainly tattoo avoiding line-work, but my work embraces bold lines and heavy blackwork, which are characteristics you would normally find in a machine artist.
I am self-taught in hand-poking. As soon as I became a tattoo artist, it took over my life. I find there is a true beauty in creating a tattoo from start to finish, by hand, dot by dot. It’s a fantastic and uplifting experience for myself and my clients, plus it constantly challenges me and presents opportunities for me to further my skills and love for tattooing.
Now. Pokémon. Talk.
The Pokémon project simply started off as a single flash sheet with some of my favourite Pokémon that I wanted to tattoo. Within two days of putting this sheet up, they were all taken.
This prompted me to produce more. After speaking to clients, I got an overwhelming positive response, everybody wanted their favourite! Without wanting to do the same Pokémon twice it led me to the conclusion that I should tattoo all 151 original Pokémon and make a project out of it – The Pokémon Movement.
Pokémon is a massive part of pop culture. It’s iconic and intrinsic to a lot of people’s childhood. Plus they are so much fun to draw, tattoo and reminisce with clients about!
The goal is: tattoo all 151 original Pokémon, once… just as the old tag line goes “gotta catch ’em all”.
Which characters have you tattooed so far?
Bulbasaur, Charmander, Charmeleon, Flareon and not forgetting Pikachu.
I have a lot more drawn up and pre-booked already. It comes on a first-come first-served basis, so most clients are even booking months in advance to ensure they have their favourite one.
Are there any you’re really looking forward to doing?
Cheesy and typical as it sounds, Pikachu was always my favourite, so it was a real blast when I got to tattoo him on someone else.
Others I am really looking forward to doing are Cubone, Jigglypuff, Drowsy, Jynx and Mr Mime.
OK. If you could be any Pokémon, who would you be?
There is no explanation why.
Any plans to do anything like this again, with other character collections?
Due to the amazing response, this is something I have considered already, so possibly in the future I hope to do some video-game related projects, along with some disney collections.
What are your plans for after the project, you mentioned a book?
Yes at the end of the of the project, I plan to release a Pokédex book of all the 151 Pokémon flash along with photos of my favourite pieces and brief statements from customers relating to their chosen tattoos. At some point later this year I will also be selling my flash in the form of Pokémon cards, which will give a unique way for people who like my work to still collect their favourites.
Anything else you want to share with us?
You can find me tattooing in the midlands out of Brothers Ink – Leicester and Underground Tattoo – Tamworth every week. I solely tattoo hand-poke and welcome custom work and walk-ins as well as having a large amount of ready-to-go flash designs.
I will be guest spotting a few places across the country later this year and at Ink-In Tattoo, Marbella, Spain in October.
Words: Beccy Rimmer
Photography: Mike Love