Shane McCauley (photographer),
Melanie Rud (writer)
El Wood (not to be confused with Elle Woods from Legally Blonde—not that you would know that anyway) is so pretty and has such great ink that after gracing our “My First Ink” column, INKED readers demanded to see more of her. “My first tattoo was featured in INKED when I was 18. It was a half sleeve, a Japanese-influenced design by James Woodford that represented growth,” the British babe says. We couldn’t ignore your letters and e-mails—and we made her an INKED Girl.
Since you last saw her two years ago, the new pieces she’s collected are largely a result of her job as a receptionist and assistant at Frith Street Tattoo, one of London’s premier shops. Many of them come from the shop’s artists, including Valerie Vargas, who created a new half sleeve for Wood just days after this photo shoot (perchance another encore is in order). Wood’s favorites are the ones that come to her spontaneously, like the roses on her back by Tutti Serra. “I just woke up one morning and thought it was a beautiful idea,” she says. “My spontaneous pieces always come out the best.”
So where can you find El when she’s not at Frith Street? “I sit around in my pj’s reading comics full of boobs and blood,” she says nonchalantly. “I love the gory stuff.” As a former makeup artist, she’d love nothing more than working on the set of a horror movie. “Special effects makeup is my passion, and I’m way better at doing that than making people look pretty,” she says. But don’t be fooled—despite her penchant for blood and guts, she also enjoys more…let’s call them ladylike…activities. “Nothing beats having a cup of tea while taking a hot bath—nothing!”
It’s during teatime that Wood contemplates how she’ll finish her current pieces. Nothing new until the existing ones are finished, because “I need to be sensible about getting new ones. There’s not enough space on my body.” And while we’re back on the subject of her ink, it’s confession time: “That first tattoo that was in INKED? It was a little bit of a white lie. My real first tattoo was a rose and hearts I got on my forearm when I was 15. I regret it a little, but oh well—I have one shit tattoo. You live and learn, right?”