This month I was interviewed by French blogger Stefayako. She published the final blog, in French, over on her own website.
Paris-born Stef started her blog in November 2015 with the mission of sharing, opening minds and breaking prejudices about tattoos. “Tattoos are, above all, a way to express oneself,” she says. “They are more and more popular but still misunderstood. Each person has his own vision of tattoo culture and that’s the real wealth.”
For those non-French speaking Inkluded followers who were interested in reading my own answers and finding out more about our brand, I thought I’d publish them here for you to read in English.
Thank you Stefayako for letting me share my blogging journey!
S: Hello Beccy, can you introduce yourself?
B: Hi my name is Beccy and I’m from the UK. I’m a freelancer blogger and a large portion of the writing I do is with regards to tattoos!
I run my own blog called Inkluded which has been in existence for about two and a half years now. It’s a place for tattoo interviews, inspiration, advice, news and guides.
I also contribute to Skin Deep which is a tattoo magazine here in England. I write features and I have a monthly column in which I like to philosophise about the art of tattoos.
There are so many topics to explore – why do we get tattoos? What is their history? Why do we get cover-ups? Do we ever regret our tattoos? What do others think about our tattoos and should we care? My ramblings could go on forever!
S: You began as a blogger and you’re now a business woman with a team, a website and a shop. How did it all happened?
B: Inkluded is a one-man band in terms of the logistics! I always say ‘we’ (force of habit) but the ‘we’ is just me! People get in contact now and then to write something for the blog but 99% of the time, it’s my own words.
I launched Inkluded when I was living and working in London – for the last decade I’ve worked in marketing for theatres and at the time I was in a fun (but stressful) job in our city centre.
Like many people who hit a certain age, I started to think about where my career was headed and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’d always wanted to be a writer from a young age – I love literature, magazines, poetry and had written for little publications in the past when I’d been at University.
One night when I was being all philosophical about life and work (which happens a lot!), my mum said ‘why don’t you start a blog about something you care about?’. I had maybe 10 tattoos at this point, and I felt that the industry lacked online places of information. It was a no brainer. I went home and stayed up all night creating the Inkluded website and the rest was history.
There has been so much to write about and explore but I still feel like Inkluded is a baby and there are so many things I want to do with it in the future. In the last couple of years we’ve created a tattoo zine and some other merchandise designed by tattooists.
We curated a tattoo art exhibition in 2015 which was a big highlight too – Inkluded has always been about showcasing tattooists as artists, educating the non-tattooed about the realities of the industry. I don’t know if it’s the same in France but here there are a lot of misconceptions and misrepresentations of people with tattoos – in the media especially.
S: So, Inkluded is now considered as a brand and a community?
B: Yes we are! A few months into our launch I branded us as a ‘community’ because one day I suddenly realised that’s what we had become.
The tattoo industry is such an amazing place, filled with exceptional art, but at times it can also seem alienating, often elitist and many that are new to it, can feel that they aren’t part of the ‘cliques’. I’ve been part of the tattoo world for years now but even I still feel excluded from many of those cliques that exist!
There are some who think that tattooing should be something closed, underground, selective, not for everyone. Because tattoos have become so popular there are many great artists who want to try and retain those elements of ‘closed-ness’, which I do understand completely.
I think because I am from an arts background, I struggle to have that mindset. I have always worked for funded organisations that have the aims of making art accessible and inclusive, so I subconsciously have this attitude with tattoos, too. Hence the brand name, ‘Inkluded’ / ‘included’.
I didn’t want anyone to ever feel that tattooing wasn’t for them because they weren’t ‘cool’ enough or part of any existing groups. Inkluded brings loads of different people to be part of a community that doesn’t judge or intimidate.
Our followers range hugely in terms of age, gender, background – we have a large portion of fans who have no tattoos at all but just want to find out more! We welcome everyone.
S: I know you’re actually running for the UK Blogs Awards 2017 for ‘Arts & Culture’, how do you feel about that?
B: I am so excited about this! Never in a million years did I think I would get through to the final. A friend at work saw the awards online and told me I should enter. I did, and then it was up to our community to vote for us, and they did! We got into the top 8 in terms of votes received meaning we now go through to the final with 7 other arts blogs. The winner will be announced at the ceremony in April.
It’s really a big step for us to be included, because there really aren’t many other good tattoos blogs out there, when you consider how many there are in other categories like ‘beauty’ and ‘fashion’ – yet tattoos are so popular. Being part of the awards is amazing because it shows we’re being included in other communities just like we invite people to be part of ours. Lots of love going on, basically (insert heart emojis!).
S: What are your inspirations?
B: Gosh what a big question. Erm, in terms of articles I write I am never stuck for inspiration. I have a to-do-list of things I want to blog about that’s about 17 pages long and I am not exaggerating.
I get my inspiration from two main places I suppose. Firstly, social media. Not very exciting but that’s the world we live in, and actually being part of those accounts and sites is how I am able to be part of the tattoo community even though I am just sat on my couch at home. I can be part of discussion, debate, see what’s happening in tattoo studios all over the world.
But the second point is even more important, and that’s immersing yourself physically in those communities. Getting tattooed by artists and speaking to them about ideas for articles, this is where a load of my ideas come from, just actually going out and being involved in the day-to-day, seeing how artists work, how they manage clients, create art.
This may offend some but I will say it – there are some tattoo bloggers and writers out there who have little or no tattoos. They write about the industry from afar without making any effort to actually physically getting close to it, and I think this you can tell when you read their writing – they don’t 100% know what they are talking about. You can never FULLY understand something if you only interact with it digitally, it’s not the same as making those connections and relationships in person.
In terms of other inspirations for my writing (and tattoos), I’m inspired by nature, music and films.
S: You have a great tattoo collection, how many do you have now?
B: I have never been able to answer this question but actually recently I attempted to count my tattoo collection on Inkluded. It was last year and I counted 40 different tattoos by 21 artists. I think now it’s probably at about 50 tattoos!
There are so many people I want to be tattooed by (another 17 page list in my notebook – ha!) and I do have lots of room left so I’m excited to see what the future holds. Like most, I got a lot of tattoos early on before I was truly absorbed in the industry, so I’m having a couple of re-works, and have had cover-ups in the past. When you’re exposed to the world’s best tattoo art all day, every day, it’s hard to not over-analyse your own work. I have to just keep trying to look forward instead of back, and pass my advice and experiences on to others.
S: What can we wish for you, for the future?
B: At the moment, tattoo writing takes up 90% of my time but probably about 5% of my income – I have lots of other part-time and freelance jobs that I do on the side in order to be a proper adult! My absolute dream would be to do this full-time. I have lots of idea for things I want to pursue and just feel so incredibly grateful to be where I am now. I have to not be impatient, you can never wish for these things to happen overnight!
For the future, I just wish to continue on the same path – meeting new tattooists, showcasing their work, and making some amazing new friends along the way. I’d love to be able to travel in the future too – tell some international tattoo tales from overseas.
Talking about the tattoo scene in the UK barely even touches the surface when it comes to how many amazing stories and histories there are out there to tell. As I said, that 17 page to-do-list can’t sit in my notebook forever, so at the moment I’m reaching out to other tattoo magazine and blogs too, to try and share my writing elsewhere.
My main goal is always to try and tell tattoo stories to a wide audience, so it’s sometimes good to move away from Inkluded and share inspiration with readers who maybe haven’t heard about tattoos before. I started the blog originally because I had a passion for tattoos, and I’ll just always continue trying to share that passion with others.
Words: Stefayako and Beccy Rimmer
Photos: Lewis David Photography