Danielle Rose has forged her signature style of tattooing whilst travelling throughout the UK, never staying in one place for too long. We caught up with her at One Shot Charlie’s in Stourbridge to find out a little more about her.
Danielle Rose on her apprenticeship
I’m Danielle Rose. I’m from Dundee in Scotland, UK and I have been tattooing for around four and a half years. I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen, a cherub from the film ‘True Romance’ at the top of my arm. I was at art college at the time and I hadn’t really been sure of what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to do something artistic, but I didn’t want to be an art teacher.
Once the decision was made I knew that I needed to start building a portfolio. Finding an apprenticeship was really tough and it took me about two years to get one. The artists I approached often didn’t even look at my portfolio, they’d just tell me they didn’t need an apprentice or that they already had one.
I finally got an apprenticeship in a shop in Arbroath and I was there around seven months. I was tattooing within the first week of being there, so it wasn’t really a proper apprenticeship. It was really laid back. I think it was a case of getting me started as quickly as possible to bring the money in. After doing it for seven months I decided I didn’t want to be there anymore. I knew I needed more guidance and I wanted to be somewhere stricter and where I could learn more. I went to Glasgow and Edinburgh and asked at other shops for another apprenticeship and eventually I got a job in Perth at Inkredible Kreations with Gary Wiedenhof. He pretty much re-taught me everything. That was about three and a half years ago.
My life and work on the road
I’ve been on the road doing guest spots at various studios around the UK since July 2013. I was at Inkredible Kreations for around three and a half years and found I didn’t want to stay in one shop any more, so I thought I’d do some travelling guest spots for a few months. After the first few months had passed I just kept doing it! I really enjoy the travelling and guest spot life. I think you either love it or hate it.
People often get in touch with me by email to offer guest spots and I’ll usually take them up on it, depending where it is. I try to vary where I work, so if the shop is in the same town or city where I’ve done a guest spot before then I probably won’t do it. I’ve come here to One shot Charlie’s, Stourbridge a few times as Craven (Matt Craven) is one of my best friends. It’s great working here, I really like it. I’ve also been to Sacred Electric Leeds a few times because I’m really close to those guys. Those are the two places where I do regular guest spots but I do want to travel as much as possible. I’m going back over to America and to Canada this year so I’m really looking forward to that.
I’ve had no trouble getting clients for the different places I’ve been a guest. Everywhere I go I seem to get booked up really quickly and it seems to be just getting better. The more guest spots I do the more emails I get. It’s becoming difficult to handle all of the emails I receive because it’s just me dealing with them. I get so many! I’ll be emailing twenty people at the same time, back and forth, so it can become a job in itself. Trying to keep on top of all the emails is definitely a downside to travelling so much. I feel really guilty if I’ve missed someone out. They’ll usually get back in touch three months later saying they haven’t heard back and I always feel really bad when that happens!
Doing short guest spots is fabulous as I get to see the best side of the shop. I know some shops occasionally have some drama or whatever, but I never really get to see that side because I’m only there for a short time. At a lot of the places I’ve worked, the guys in the shop put me up as well. The downside is that I don’t really have my own space. I can get a bit lost, especially if it’s a shop I haven’t been to before. I won’t know where anything is so it can take me a while to get properly settled in, so yes, I definitely do miss having my own space.
Good old Instagram
Instagram has helped me a lot with what I do. It’s helpful for speaking to other artists about doing guest spots at their shop. They see my work on Instagram and get in touch with me that way. I don’t think I could be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for Instagram.
I draw all the time, every day pretty much, using mostly inks and lots of different types of paper. When I’m travelling I use pens, like the tumble pens I don’t use watercolour or oils or anything, so not proper paints.
When I’m doing a guest spot I’ll often paint with the people there. A lot of shops have painting nights so we all get together and paint. I do try to do it as much as I can. Sometimes I’ll have no ideas and I’ll just sit there and look at it!
I’m not specifically painting or drawing with the view to it becoming a tattoo. I just paint what I like and then hope that someone will want to get it tattooed at some point. I paint flash sheets but I don’t paint them to sell them. I don’t sell that many prints or originals, I don’t think they’re good enough to sell to people.
It wasn’t until I’d left Inkredible Kreations last summer that I started to develop my own style. I took a bit of time off to travel so I had a bit more time to myself. It allowed me to work on the stuff I really wanted to do and not just produce other people’s designs.
I’m inspired a lot by cinema, older films like Dario Argento films. They’re really dark but have some really intense colours. I used to watch them a lot. I particularly like the women in those kinds of films. A lot of people do ask for similar things, like the girl heads that I do. I really like trying to do them all a bit different every time. People do ask for specific ones but I do try to make each one different. I don’t get bored of doing it.
I like doing all the stuff I’m doing now, like the black-faced girls, but I do like doing a bit of everything. It’s important to be versatile. It can be quite nice to do script sometimes or stuff I’d usually do in a shop. Since I’ve been doing guest spots I’ve just been doing stuff I really, really like. I post pictures of my paintings online quite a lot and I get messages from people asking me to tattoo those designs. It’s great!
I’ve had a lot of job offers but I don’t want to settle down anywhere just yet because I’m really enjoying travelling and learning. Of course I do get tempted to stay at certain places for a longer period of time, but I know that I want to keep travelling for a while. I might eventually settle somewhere when the time and the place are right.
I don’t think I’ll be opening my own studio either. I’d rather work for someone else; especially if it’s someone I can learn from. I’ve not been tattooing for very long so I don’t think I’m ready to have my own shop. I’d have to be the boss of people and I’d be rubbish at that!
I’m inspired by many of the artists that I’ve met along the way in my career. Loads of people inspire me. At every shop I’ve been to pretty much everyone has helped me. I’ve learnt so much by doing this and I don’t really want to stop because I want to keep on learning. My tattooing has changed a lot in the past year. I do feel it is better than it was and I definitely think that’s because I’ve been travelling and meeting people and talking to other tattooists. I never got the chance to do that before. I’ve had the best time.
Burton Ursae Minoris is amazing. I met him at the Brighton UK show. Pari Corbitt showed me his work not that long ago. It’s really something! I’ve also been inspired by Eckel, and he’s one of my favourites. I really like Sarah Carter’s stuff; she tattooed me a while ago.
I think that looking at other people’s work is important and I’m inspired a lot by other artists. When I need to draw something, like if I’m drawing a girl face or even roses, I try not to look at other people’s work as it would be easy to be accused of copying. I always try to do my own style despite the inspiration I find from other people’s work. There is a clear difference between copying and being inspired.
I have never seen anyone straight off copy or trace something I’ve done. I have seen some similar stuff but I think if people are inspired by my work then it’s a good thing. It’s really quite flattering. It’s cool seeing people taking bits that I’ve done but I’m glad that nobody has straight out copied my work. There’s nothing you can do to stop people from copying you anyway. You just have to do what you do the best you can do it. If someone was to copy my stuff I don’t think it would work anyway, because they’re not used to doing it.
I do enjoy conventions and tattoo shows, but they stress me out a little. One year I did seven shows in a row and three of those were in the same month. That put me off doing so many and so I’m only doing three this year. That’s more than enough. The shows themselves are great but it’s all the travelling and getting all your stuff there, and they’re always really hot! It can be quite intimidating at shows with the level of work on display there, but it’s definitely a good thing.
The shows are great for meeting people and networking. I loved Brighton this year. There were so many great artists in attendance. I spent the majority of the first-day tattooing so I didn’t get to see anything until the next day. I had a girl cancel on me on the Sunday so I took the chance to have a look around, see people and get some prints.
Quick-fire Q & A with Danielle Rose
Nine Mag: Sway at Sacred Electric said he was amazed at how organised and prepared you are. Is that something you make an effort to do?
Danielle Rose: I guess so. I get stressed quite easily so I try to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, especially for appointments. I try to get deposits straight away and I get as much information I can so that I can get the drawings done in advance. I’m prepared so that I don’t stress out on the day!
NM: If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be doing?
DR: I really have no idea. I don’t even know where my life was going before I got into tattooing. I would likely be something to do with art though. When I was younger I looked into doing movie special effects, such as masks and makeup and stuff. Who knows?
NM: If you were settled at a studio would you consider taking on an apprentice?
DR: I don’t think I know enough to teach someone. Perhaps if I was a lot older and had been tattooing for twenty-odd years, but definitely not anytime soon. I’d need to be full of knowledge in order to properly help someone else do what they want to do. I wouldn’t want to take someone on when I’m still learning a lot myself.
NM: Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
DR: Work hard. Paint all the time. Tattoo everything, even if you don’t necessarily like it. The hard work pays off.
NM: Is there anyone you really want to be tattooed by?
DR: Katya Krasnova in Ukraine. Her stuff is very traditional.
You can find more of Danielle’s work at https://www.instagram.com/daniellerosetattoo/