Outside the box

Solo Spotlight: Grace Reed

Last week we caught up with Grace Reed. Grace is a tattoo artist who has been working in Brighton for the last 4 years. She gave us an insight into her life as a tattoo artist and how she got there.


How did you get into tattooing? 

I got into tattooing in a really random way. I went to get a tattoo, this little guy here *points to tattoo*. Literally got speaking to the guy in the shop about doing art, and I was doing my A-levels at the time. He basically was like ‘Do you wanna tattoo?’. And I hadn’t really thought about tattooing. And yeah he just offered me and apprenticeship and the rest is history.


What’s some advice you give for someone that wants to go into tattooing?

Some advice I would give for an aspiring tattoo artist would be, just to keep drawing. The best thing you can do in an apprenticeship is just draw, draw and draw. It will really help you to develop your style and you’ll just be able to pick your favourites and develop that way.


What’s one of the main struggles about getting into tattooing? 

One of the main struggles about getting into tattoo and being a part of this industry is probably that it’s so swamped right now. It’s quite a saturated community, which is so fine but getting apprenticeships is so hard because most people can’t take them on anymore.


What’s your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite thing about tattooing is actually like… One I get to make my art on people, which is amazing and people really give themselves to you. But I think the thing I love the most about this job is the day-to-day connections you make. It’s a proper exchange of energy. So when you’re tattooing you’ll learn so much about people’s lives. I tattoo predominantly women; I get to meet so many amazing women. I just think it’s such a nice part and privilege of my job.


If anything, what do you hate most about tattooing?

The thing I hate most about tattooing is probably more an industry thing than an individual thing. It’s quite money driven. It shouldn’t be about trying to make money in your pocket. It should be about really enjoying art. Wanting to give something to someone that they are going to cherish for the rest of their lives. Know your worth 100%, but don’t make it so inaccessible to someone that they can’t enjoy it. Everyone should be able to enjoy and be comfortable getting tattooed. The whole point of it should be like, let’s make some cool art. Let’s just chill and hang.


What’s your favourite tattoo that you’ve done?

My favourite tattoo that I think I’ve done to date is probably my best friends back piece. It’s an eagle, and it’s got a snake running through it and it’s proper traditional. It’s just a really nice feeling when you give your best friend something you’re really proud of.


What’s your favourite tattoo on yourself?

It’s the word ‘Underground’. *Pointing to tattoo* You can kind of see it there. It was a really old 80s film called Labrinth and David Bowie is the main guy. And I share a birthday with him. And I was just obsessed with David Bowie as a kid. And there’s a song in it called Underground. As a little girl I used to sing it so hard, with so much passion. So I got the word Underground. But everyone thinks it’s for the London tubes. And I’m like no… it’s for David Bowie.


What’s your best tattoo story?

My best tattoo story… the memory that sticks out the most is probably when I did my first ever ‘tour tattoo’. It was with the Easy Life boys. It was when they came to Brighton. They were meant to come down to the studio. For some reason they thought it was a good idea for me to go to the venue. I was tattooing of this couch. It was so funny seeing them all be like “Oh you get this, and you get this” and really being impulsive. Two of the boys actually ended tattooing their names on each other’s bums. I’ve never had that cross over of industries before. Which was really nice, it felt like I’d made it a little bit when I did that. It was really cool.


Where will you be in 5 years’ time Grace?

I actually don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years. Which is not a me thing to say. I love end goals, and I feel like opening this studio was a little box ticked.  I don’t think I want to set any expectations work wise. Knowing who I am when I get to thirty would be nice.


What’s your go to coffee order?

My hot coffee would be a flat white with oat milk. But really, iced latte…always. And I love a syrup, got such a sweet tooth. So a bit of vanilla.. a bit of caramel, yeah that’s my thing.


You have your coffee… then what?

Once I’ve had my coffee, I usually need it in the morning because it’s usually a work day but I have to be careful with the shakes with tattooing. But I actually really like coffee before going out. If you have a little bit of coffee before you go out I always feel like it gives me that little boost. If you feel a bit inwards and you’re about to go out with your pals just have little coffee and you feel like you can chat to everyone.


Check out Grace's Instagram to see her work here.

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