Cally-Jo is a black and grey artist from the UK, currently based in North London at Lal Hardy’s infamous New Wave Tattoo. She started tattooing in 2012, and has quickly made a name for herself in the tattoo, art, and social media world. Although fairly new to tattooing, Cally-Jo seems to have easily made the transition from Fine Artist to Tattoo artist. While she apprenticed, Cally-Jo traded her drawings for custom made tattoo machines by the likes of Tim Hendricks and Xam ‘The Spaniard’, she has tattooed a number of celebrities in the music, sports and art world and has worked with the likes of Lal Hardy, Ami James, Chris Garver, Tommy Montoya and Megan Massacre. Cally’s talents were discovered by some top artists and celebrities through social media, and she has gained quite the following through sharing her extraordinary skills with the world.
What year did you start tattooing?
I did my first tattoos in 2007 when I was 18 but began tattooing in a shop in 2012
How did you get into tattooing?
My friends growing up all had tattoos and piercings and I had a friend, Ricky who had a shop in my home town and he gave me a job. I went on to do an apprenticeship with Pete Belson and then later was lucky enough to be offered a spot at Love Hate in London. I’m now juggling being a fine artist and tattooer working from home and with my favourite human Lal Hardy at New Wave in North London.
What was your first shop experience like?
The first tattoo shop I walked in to was where a friend of mine worked. I accidently walked in on a girl getting her butt tattooed, the artist threatened to throw me down the stairs if I ever walked in on him tattooing again. Luckily that wasn’t the shop I ended up in
Do you have any special training?
I went to art school for 6 years, which I think definitely gave me an advantage when starting to learn how to tattoo
What brought you to work in Black and Grey?
Some of my biggest influences work in black and grey, Bob Tyrell is hugely inspiring to me, also I think from always working in pencil it was only natural for me to transition into working in black and grey.
What are the major differences between color and b/g pieces?
I find colour to be a lot messier and I admire people who have the patience for it. I feel like black and grey is timeless, I don’t plan on having any more colour tattoos on myself.
When do you ever find yourself using color?
Usually only if I’m doing small tattoos or if the rare chance comes that I do a traditional tattoo but even then people still ask me for black and grey! I do enjoy doing colour though I definitely want to do more colour pieces in the future
What inspires you as an artist?
EVERYTHING. I get so inspired I can’t sleep at night, fashion, music, nature, travel, art galleries, other artists, sculpture, religion, the human form, everything!
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think that my tattoo style definitely reflects the style in which I draw and I feel like I already developed a way in which I like to work before tattooing so I think that’s an advantage. I’m obsessed by imagery and I’m constantly documenting my ideas so I think it helps to be so obsessed by what you love doing
What other mediums do you work in?
I almost always stick with pencil, I’ve been using pencil for years it’s my true love. I’d love to venture into the world of painting next
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I have my online webstore callyjoart.bigcartel.com so I sell my artwork and prints on the side, tattooing has opened a lot of doors for me I’ve been contacted by some huge brands like Diesel and Marshall and have had a great amount of celebrity clientele in the last year so I feel very lucky and thankful for what the tattoo world has allowed me to achieve already
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Artistically I’m in love with Chuey Quintanar‘s work, Xam of the Family business is always inspiring me, I’ve had a lot of help an encouragement from Lal Hardy, Ami James, Tim Hendricks, Bang Bang, Megan Massacre, they all inspire me and push me to succeed.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Portraits! I haven’t entered the world of portraits yet but I’m definitely wanting to take on some fun portraits, especially animal portraits.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
I always make sure that my client is 110% sure about the design they want, a lot of the time tattoos are spontaneous I make sure I discuss every option with my client and help them get an original tattoo that they’re going to love. ‘Don’t move’ is always good advice too.’
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I’d love to do some more religious inspired tattoos, mary’s, sacred hearts etc, I also really want to do an Edgar Allan Poe portrait and I think I have a victim…
How do you see the black and grey scene evolving?
I feel like more and more realistic artists are popping up and it’s really inspiring and challenging. I think that the world of social media has put everybody out there and I’m sure artists are feeling more motivated to push themselves, I hope and aim to be a part of that evolution.