Artists: Mike Stockings
Haverhill, Suffolk, UK
What year did you start tattooing?
How did you get into tattooing?
I got into tattooing around the time I left school. I was trying to find a job in art, though I never actually studied it at school. I knew a lot of guys in bands who were getting tattooed, so I had seen a lot of their tattoos fresh and started noticing this form of art as a career route. I started drawing tattoo-based designs for people and it all started from there!
What was your first shop experience like?
My first experience in a shop was through some of my friends getting tattooed. Looking back at it now, it wasn’t very good, but it was all I knew of tattooing at the time! The owner of the shop was very wannabe renegade biker; he was very rude and dealt with drugs, so at the time that’s what I thought tattooing was all about. It all changed when I started buying tattoo magazines and saw photos of some real tattoos by real tattoo artists. I took the magazines to the shop and soon realized the guy I was running around with wasn’t the real deal and never would be.
What brought you to Legacy Ink?
I own Legacy Ink; I opened it nearly three years ago now. It started off as a very small shop just for me, and then over the three years it’s expanded to the shop it is today. I had to open my own place, and quick. No one was looking for people to work in their shop and I got stuck in a horrible place where I thought I couldn’t fulfill my dream to work in a tattoo shop. So I went and created it for myself close to home. And even though it’s in the dick end of nowhere, I strongly believe that if you are going to do something you have to do it well—and if you’re doing it well, no matter where you are people will come to you.
How do you describe your style?
A silly version of neotraditional.
What led you to work in a neotraditional style?
Influences from Europe, and the fact that I sucked at traditional.
How do you think traditional tattooing has evolved since it first started?
Subject matter changes all the time, especially in neotraditional. There is a lot more funky and gimmicky stuff in neotraditional these days, but it’s cool. It’s fun to tattoo, and if it’s putting a smile on a person’s face while they plow through their 9-to-5 lives, then that’s even better.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Dave Tevenal, and what’s cool is that I’m lucky to call this guy my friend. His hard work and devotion to his daughter and tattooing is on another level, even another planet. And when you meet him he’s just a normal guy, no ego, no bullshit. And I think it’s hard to meet people like that these days.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Every tattoo. I have always tattooed everything that walks through the door because I feel that if people trust you enough to do their tattoos, then you should give them the best tattoo you can do! I hear of a lot of people turning down work because it’s not their style, and I feel that doing that is only going to limit yourself to doing one thing.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Don’t go cheap. It costs more to fix a tattoo than it does to get a good one straightaway. Don’t rush into getting tattooed on the cheap because you think girls or guys will like you more. Everyone knows that people like people with good tattoos. So basically be patient and collect well. You will come across loads of artists you wish you could have gotten tattooed by if you didn’t let your mate blast a load of blurry, tough stickers on you.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Not anymore! It was a grim reaper, but I did one just before this interview. Now I just want to tattoo them forever.