If you are looking for something pretty and practical for your studio these armrests by Greg Holmes might be just the thing. Greg is pulling out all the stops to create custom armrests, each with a unique style tailored to the artist. It’s another great example of a non-tattooist who has worked closely with tattooists to get it right.
Interview – Ben Lakin
Photography – Greg Holmes
How did you end up making armrests for tattooers?
About five years ago a good friend introduced me to a newly-opened shop called Timeless Tradition. I started going there regularly and became good friends with the owner, Andy Dykes. As I have been a fabricator and welder since leaving school, Andy eventually asked me if I could make him a good quality, heavy-duty and sturdy armrest and the challenge began! He was fed up with buying armrests that were flimsy and didn’t last. I knew that I could make something sturdy as hell and also put in custom touches that would add that little bit extra.
What inspired you to do the more interesting custom armrests rather than the plain ones everyone else does?
I like to keep things interesting for myself. If I was making the same pieces over and over, I’d definitely get bored with it. It’s a real challenge making designs that are different to anything else that I can stand back and be proud of. The custom parts are usually the pads and bases rather than the mechanisms so I’ve not come across any requests I couldn’t accommodate yet.
Was the Star Wars armrest you made for Chris Jones a request or something you wanted to build?
I had already made the base plate and posted it on Instagram. Chris thought it was badass so he ordered one, requesting a few custom extras with the height adjusters being Storm Trooper Heads. I thought that idea was a stroke of genius so was happy to have a go, but it was a bit of a challenge trying to get them to fit. The Storm Trooper pieces raised a huge amount of interest. I knew they’d be popular but wasn’t expecting the response to be so big.
I’m currently working on a Boba Fett piece with auto-CAD genius Steve Miller. The base is triple layered and a real pain to get right. I know it will look amazing when we’re finished, though.
What are some of the most interesting pieces you’ve done?
My most outrageous design was the rack and pinion armrest I made last year. I have never seen anything remotely similar out there. I put a prototype on display at the Sheffield Tattoo Show. It got people talking so I was happy.
I once welded a thick chain into the shape of an anchor. The idea was to make a rigid armrest. But when it was finished it weighed more than me, so that one was scrapped.
My favourite was a ship’s wheel base that I sandblasted and left out in the weather for weeks to completely rust. After it had been dried and lacquered, I added a black pad with rusted diamond stitching. I thought the finished piece was amazing.
At the end of the day, I make armrests and so they need to work. Practicality is key. Making them look cool is the fun bit but that shouldn’t replace how the armrests function.
How long does each armrest take to make?
It depends on a lot of things; the complexity of the design, whether the prototype works and if I’m happy with the sizing and the overall look of the product. If things have to be tinkered with, or if the original idea isn’t practical, or the powder coating or finishing aren’t what I have in my mind, then I have to start over and rethink. Sometimes it can take weeks, sometimes it can be months, but I need to be completely happy with it.
Do you have a basic price or is everything pretty custom?
Prices are usually custom. They vary with things such as the design process, what goes into the production, and the complexity of the pads and stitching. And of course, the overall time invested.
Do you have any other projects planned for tattooing?
Not just yet. I’m really enjoying making the armrests and have loads of new ideas to try. I’m also working on designs for portable armrests and massage tables so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy at the minute.
Have you ever had any desire to learn to tattoo?
I’d love to but I can’t even draw a banana. I try to be the best at what I do. That’s why I’ll stay away from tattooing.