Inside the Tattoo Industry The Insync Insurance Podcast

Please tell us more about yourself

Georgia: Yep. My name is Georgia Sharp. I’m a professional Tattooist. I’ve been tattooing for eight years. Uh, and I have worked in about six studios, but I’m now in Liverpool; well, I’ve always been in Liverpool. I’ve worked in Rexton for a very, very brief time. But, um, I’ve been in the same studio now for six years, and I’m very, very happy there.

How did you get started in Tattooing?

Georgia: So it’s a bit of a long story. It’s not as simple as normal people’s apprenticeship stories, but I was actually offered an apprenticeship in a local tattoo shop where I’m from and where I had had all my first tattoos and Pearsons done. But I knew I wanted to get out of the area and go to uni. Um, so after getting into the Arts Institute in Bournemouth, uh, which I actually dropped out after four months. I was, I was quite depressed. Um, I visited Liverpool, I visited my best friend in Liverpool and decided to move there.

I got my degree, I did a degree in fine art, and I stumbled across a tweet from a studio in Reham. And I just thought, why not just go for it? I went along to the interview, I’m quite lucky. I got the gift of the gab, got the apprenticeship, and uh, ended up being there for 14 months. But the apprenticeship wasn’t really going anywhere, and I was treated more like the manager, which I didn’t mind cuz I was very good at it. But I was paid about one pound 20 an hour and I could not afford to keep doing that. I was, I was in my twenties, and all my earnings were going into my car in petrol.

Georgia: So I got a second apprenticeship in Liverpool. Um, I learned the basics, and then I fell pregnant. So I had to go on maternity leave early than I would’ve just because I was, it’s so uncomfortable to be pregnant and tattooing. And when um, I decided to go back to work after my little girl was old enough and before, while I was ready to bend over all day long physically, um, I went to another studio and, um, over the course of the next eight years, I, I worked in yeah, six shops, which it sounds a lot considering some of them I wasn’t there that long.

But you do have to feel it out, and if it’s not a match, it’s not a match, and you move on. But I’ve worked with lots and lots of tattooists, and they’re, most of them are friends now and colleagues and peers and we all still hang out and it’s, it’s a nice environment because everyone, well, the good ones, you support each other, you send each other work, you, you share information, advice, new products, you uh, sell each other, machines lend each other, um, equipment. It’s, it’s a nice environment to work with people that are like-minded.

Dawn: That sounds amazing. It’s always good when you, you know, are supportive of each other cuz also it’s not like you are competing completely. Everyone has their own style.

Georgia: Some studios are not very doggy dog. Yeah. I’ve worked in one, and it was, it was a very toxic environment, and it’s not nice. It, it’s so unnecessary.

What is your favourite style or tattoo you’ve done?

Georgia: So I think I’m best known for my watercolour. Um, but I also recently did a lot of fine line work, which is just thin black lines. It’s very popular with younger people. Mostly I would say, women and girls. It’s a nice gateway in it’s getting a small little tattoo, no colour, uh, easy to look after, easy to hide, which is quite common. Um, but to say what my favourite tattoo is is really hard <laugh>. Um, there are a few that stick out to me.

Um, my first ever full-colour dog portrait on an old regular of mine, and I said to him, I’ve never done this before, I’m gonna give you a discount. And they turned out unbelievable, like, so realistic and I didn’t think I had it in me. Um, also when you get to finish a sleeve, they stick out a lot. I’ve done Disney sleeves studio, Gibby sleeves, I’ve done a marble sleeve, which I would never agree to, but he was a, regular and I knew his, um, girlfriend from the nursery and it turned out brilliant. Um, but there’s one in particular tattoo, which I always go back to and it’s on a regular of mine Jill. And she is tough as nails.

Georgia: She always comes to me with great ideas and this one tattoo, which we did um, about four years ago is on her shoulder and she wanted a Pisces tattoo and she just let me have free reign, and I actually made it up on the skin as I was going. Wow. And, and it turned out stunning and I, cuz I still tattoo her regularly, it looks beautiful now as it did as the day I did it. So when I hear people say watercolour doesn’t last, colour doesn’t last, it does, you look after it, it’s applied correctly, you look after it correctly, it ages beautifully. It’s settled into her skin. So beautiful. It’s yellows, reds, turquoise, purples. It is absolutely stunning that if any, that’s what I can think of off the top of my head would be one of my favourites.

Dawn: So you mentioned obviouslyy watercolour, there’s like a bit of disparity as people say, like you were saying, oh you know, it may not last too long and stuff like that. And I’m guessing obviously aftercare is just very, very key. You do it right, and you’re, it’s beautiful for as long as you do it right sort of thing. So, um, I wanted to pick your brains really quick.

What aftercare would you recommend?

Georgia: So I would always say listen to your tattooist’s aftercare because every artist does have a different way of doing things. But the aftercare techniques that I recommend I have done myself, I do myself. So I know they’re tried and tested for anything colour. I do wet healing. So you either use something called a second skin, which goes on completely see-through and it stays on in four days.

Um, or if you’re able to keep it on longer, you keep it on longer and it then uses your body’s natural defenses to heal the tattoo from the inside out. If the tattoo’s too big for a second skin, cuz it’s basically like a a c through plaster use cling fill film, you change the cl film multiple times a day for three days. And some people say this isn’t right, but every single tattoo I have though Wet healed is still bright.

Georgia: It’s still bold, it’s gross, it is gross doing the wet healing because it’s slimy when you take the cling film off. But the most important thing is cleaning and it has to be soapy water and kitchen roll. And I recommend un fragranced soaps, nothing with perfume because it will hurt and it will just irritate the skin. And I recommend a kitchen roll because a body towel or even a towel straight out the wash will have bacteria in it or cotton and it gets stuck. You need to be able to firmly uh, pack the piece dry and then give it one or two swift wipes. Don’t wanna be rubbing it like sandpaper cuz it will feel like sandpaper, <laugh> and a few wipes. And you have to be firm with yourself with tattoos. The last set of moisturizer, it looks like little islands and you have to get rid of them because that’ll be a scab that will turn into a scab and we don’t want scabs.

If you’re getting line work, I recommend cling film or second skin for at least 24 hours. Lime work heals really quick. Lime work could heal weak colours, can take four or five weeks to heal. Um, no swimming saunas or sunbeds for four weeks. It literally rolls off my tongue because I say it that often. <laugh>, no, no submerge in a bath for at least two weeks. There’s a bath. I can’t love a bath, but it is, you’ll just sit in your own filth. Um, no touching it with dirty hands and always covering a dirty environment. It’s, it’s just how you would treat an open wound. We hope. You would hope people have common sense, but people go on holiday, people get in the sea, go in a pool, they work in an industrial kitchen or with animals or a tattoo. A lot of, um, nurses, midwives, vets cover it up. You do not know what’s in the air. And also your blood. You don’t want your blood then to contaminating things as as well. So cover it up. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dawn: Oh definitely. And I think it’s just, I think it’s when you know, with any kind of industry where you are working with possible bodily fluids, stuff like that, you’ve just gotta be so, so careful. Um, yeah. So, uh, moving on. Thank you so much for that. I’m gonna remember that for my next tattoo.

What barriers have you come across in your career so far?

Georgia: Yeah, of course. Um, to be honest, I’m a firm believer of everything happens for a reason. So I have had a bumpy journey to hear. I’ve been in studios for over ten years. Um, my first apprenticeship ended up being just not an apprenticeship and I was there for 14 months, but I learned valuable things about running a studio and working with others and working with some big, big egos and working with the public. So even though I didn’t learn to tattoo in those 14 months, I worked with amazing artists. I learned skills from watching them. I learned how to deal with awful clients. Um, I’m a bit of a people pleaser, so I like to just chat. I love a good chinwag. Sometimes my tattoo appointments run over cuz we gab the whole time. Um, but I’ve worked in hospitality, retail, childcare, uh, tattooing and you do pick up things from every job.

But I think all the bad things that have happened in my tattoo career, all the things that should have pushed me back, I’ve, I’ve gone forward with them because I take them as little lessons. I appreciate everything I, I’ve gone through and I’ve had fallings out. I’ve had like really nasty clients that’s, that’s not been for years and years. That’s when I was a junior and I think I look young, but I used to look young and people would talk to you like, you dunno what you’re doing and you just go, oh yeah, sorry, sorry, yeah, sorry, sorry.

Georgia: And it, from then I’ve learned, no, I’m gonna be firm. So I’ve got very strict policies in place, and I’m very lucky with my client base because no one questions them. Even new clients go, okay, yeah, fair enough. And I’ve worked with people that are very lenient, and people will take you for a ride if you let them. Mm. So I’ve only learned that from the bad experiences. So yeah, barriers have actually been stepping stones to get me where I am.

Dawn: Oh, that’s really amazing to hear as well. Cause obviously, you know, certain, certain things like being taught down to can be really discouraging for the confidence.

Georgia: I, I’ve been crying in the toilets with clients before, like once they’ve talked to me badly and I go, I’m just too embarrassed to still be stood there getting talked to like a little girl that that’s done something naughty. I go to the toilet, I have a cry and then go back to my work. But it is what it is. You do have to take things as lessons.

what advice do you have for apprentices or those looking to maybe begin tattooing?

Georgia: Okay, so definitely get tattoos. Get as many tattoos as you can. <laugh> and it sounds crazy, but buy as many artists in different studios as you can and get friendly with them while you’re there. Um, or paint doodle constantly using different medium pencils, and crayons, paints the iPad, teach yourself photoshop, five time drawing sessions and 20 minutes, one hour, two hours, et cetera. That will get you used to tattooing as, as fun as it may be to do a 10-hour portrait that is unbelievable to look at when you first start tattooing. You will not be doing a 10-hour tattoo.

Um, this will help you make a strong portfolio so you’re ready for the interviews. Follow as many decent shops and artists on social media as that’s where people post about offering apprenticeships. It is the, it’s the modern way of doing it. So follow everyone. I personally don’t advise on buying cheap machines, inks and needles of the internet to practice at home on yourself or on others, which is called scratching. Um, as very dangerous and could teach you bad habits.

Georgia: But then I do know plenty of artists that have started that way and now they’re some of the best in the city. So there really isn’t a right or wrong way. I just wouldn’t do it <laugh>. And at the minute, there are loads of kitchen wizards on TikTok who have bought machines off Amazon, and they’re sharing their DIY tattoos and they’re just buying guns and they’re given advice and they dunno anything. And they’re doing these hack jobs on themselves and on friends and it’s dangerous. These, these videos have hundreds and thousands of views and comments and it is really dangerous. And I always see people say, oh tattooists is a gatekeeper.

We don’t gatekeep. You could spread dangerous diseases that are incurable, not just something like H I v, um, which isn’t curable, but it’s obviously you can get to the point of not being transmittable. Hepatitis C is incurable. You could make someone very ill with ink poisoning because you have used this fake ink that has come with a £50 set. Inks are £20 a bottle most of them. So if you are getting a tattoo machine, ink, needles, wires, foot pedals and power sockets for 50 pounds when your average tattoo machine is at least 300 pounds going up to a thousand, don’t do it.

Georgia: Those things are made cheap. Um, I think do it the right way by going through a shop because the skills, techniques, tricks and advice you’ll get from working with multiple artists is invaluable and is worth working unpaid for two years or three years. It depends on the apprenticeship. Some people are on the skin within six months, but the physical point of being in a shop, seeing different skin types, different skin ages, different skin textures, seeing how people react, you know, faints, what are you supposed to do if you’re at home? Someone faints, you don’t know. You learn that seeing someone else’s quite faint, which sounds terrible, but you learn each time when something goes wrong you should be asking for advice or watching someone and learning that way. So I am old school. I do think apprenticeships are the best way forward.

Dawn: That’s understandable. And I think aswell considering how complex the actual profession is, like you were saying with different um, skin types, skin ages, you know, you might have someone that reacts, you know, you have to kind of learn on the jobs well with someone watching over to make sure that obviously if something did happen, a complication, they’re there to help you. Um, and it’s, I think it’s the same with like a lot of things like aesthetics as well. It’s not just a bam, wham bam; you’re done. You constantly have to keep training and keep working on it. I think that’s just absolutely key as well. Cause obviously, you know, with any kind of learning aspect in any sort of profession, you’ve gotta keep building up those skills, building up, the brain, you know, or hand-eye coordination.

Georgia: I’m still learning every day and I’m a professional, and I consider myself pretty successful. My client base is very loyal. Like I’m not someone that demands my clients only come to me. In fact, I’ve sent them away. Like, go to this person, go to this person. My client base, I would say 90 to 95% of my bookings each week are regulars. Yeah. And I mean I’m taking them every month, every two months and I love it because they are friends and it just becomes an easy, an easy couple of hours spent with a friend tattoo in them, <laugh>. But always learning, always, always learning. And to think that you learn it, you know, everything, which I know tattooists that are like this, they think they know everything. It’s wrong. It is so wrong. You will never do anything. Even the best artist in the world will probably learn something new every day.

Dawn: Definitely.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Georgia: Uh, no. I dunno. I don’t think so. <laugh> <laugh>,

Dawn: That’s fair enough. I mean, we’ll do what we’ll do as well; we’ll obviously include your Instagram and everything else so people can check you out in the description and obviously on our social media as well.

Georgia: Oh, fabulous. Yeah, I’m always happy to discuss prices, how long things take, how long, how things feel like I’m, I’m pretty honest with people. Um, and o if anyone’s got any questions about getting an apprenticeship or if they’re worried about their first tattoo like I’m more than happy to just chat with people in my dms or over email. Um, it’s quite a scary thing getting your first tattoo. I have tattooed 18-year-olds to 84-year-olds, and it’s always an experience to give someone their first tattoo and they always come back. They always come back.

Dawn: Oh, that’s amazing.

Georgia: I think maybe it’s me rather than <laugh> the, the need to be covered in tattoos, but maybe that’s a bit bigheaded. But I just, I love talking to people. I’m nosy. I love finding out about people <laugh>, and they say tattoo is the therapist, and I don’t mind, I don’t mind being that shoulders cry on. I’ve cried with clients before. I, I get very emotionally attached to my clients. So yeah, if anyone wants to message me, I’m more than happy to chat.

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