I had my first legitimate adventure in the Tattoo Race Truck at the weekend. Having used twenty pounds worth of diesel in the first three weeks of working: It was time to fill the fuel tank, switch to full stealth mode and see what this Travelling Tattoo Studio can really do?

The week leading up to my adventure was not without its own excitement. I caught up with an old customer who has a passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As with many of my customers he travels with his work. When he is in the country he likes to get something done and dusted in one session.

Having already put an eagle across his chest plate, shoulder and upper back. Done over multiple sessions over a period of months. He decided to add a Lion in a similar style to the rib cage. This meant that I had to try, for the first time, the chair modification that allows me to lay the client down. To say I was apprehensive was an understatement. The chair, as always, did everything asked of it and both my customer and I were comfortable and ready to roll.

It was when the needles entered the skin that it became clear that my customer had already rolled. Only 48 hours previously on the jiu jitsu mats. It was the first time that he had done so in a year. In the past this guy has literally folded my arm up my back, more than once  when we used to train together. So I was suitably sympathetic and felt my own rib pain from laughter. We had started the outline so we had to get it finished.

To add insult to his injury he is also a coffee drinker, so he was full of caffeine.

Planning on getting tattooed on the rib cage? Coffee and caffeine are not your friend. Don’t quote me on the exact science, but from what I understand; caffeine stimulates the pain receptors. What I do know as a fact: My customer who cuts out caffeine completely, at least seven days before her tattoo sitting, can sit under the needle for ever.

If you are planning on a rib cage tattoo, prepare. Prepare as if you were training for a test of endurance. Drink plenty of water the week before your tattoo. Get some good quality sleep preferably before midnight and treat yourself well. Take these measures and your ribcage tattoo will be less painful.

Three days after the outline: A completely rested customer returned. The shading was finished in no time at all.  We do have more to go on this one and still have to bring the two pieces into one.

Hopefully we will be working together into the summer months. I have a feeling that we will be fining some reasonably ridiculous places to park the Travelling Tattoo Studio and do some more work whilst having good fun.

Sometimes Tattooing can be a serious business, it is not just fun and games. I am doing life saving work here. Another customer safe from drowning is all in a days work.

Most old school tattoos were born out of the maritime world, according to seafaring traditions a pig tattooed on one foot and a rooster on the other would keep a sailor safe from drowning.

Pigs and chickens were often carried on deck in wooden pens. In a shipwreck the pens would often wash ashore with the other debris from the ship. Pigs and chickens were at times the only survivors of ship wrecks. Another explanation was that having a pig and chicken tattoo would guarantee that a sailor eats well as he carries his hams and eggs with him at all times.

One variation was to have a tattoo of a pig on the left knee and a rooster (cock) on the right foot signified “Pig on the knee, safety at sea. A cock on the right, never lose a fight.” I have also heard of the chicken tattoo placed below the knee used as an x-rated  bar bet ” I bet my cock hangs below my knee”

*rolls up trouser leg, wins bet*

Time to enter Stealth mode: The Travelling Tattoo Studio was locked, loaded and aimed in a direction. It was driven in that direction for many hours, I could have been lost, it could have been a long way. A Valentino Rossi sleeve awaited me along with good conversation and a hot cup of coffee. The scenery was stunning and the air was fresh. No sights were seen and no pictures taken. We started some artwork instead.

This was the acid test. The Travelling Tattoo Studio works, but what about the hotel?

Fast forward to Sunday morning. Well rested and then up early, having walked and showered. It was time for Match of the day on the TV and the kettle on the stove. I have just a short walk to my freshly cleaned and set up studio.

This sleeve has been ongoing for a while now, we catch up very rarely, maybe once a year. This has a lot of history, it was actually signed by Valentino Rossi himself and inked before it was washed. True story, the video exists. We had good sessions and filled some space with some of the VR46 logo’s.

The Travelling Tattoo Studio ran like a dream on the way home, I spent most of the journey daydreaming of my many plans for the exterior of the truck. I came to the conclusion that this project may well see me through to the end of my tattooing days.



That does not mean that there is no room for expansion. I am already planning the next van build. I cannot be the only tattoo artist who likes working alone in his/her own surroundings, without being tied to a 9 to 5 workstation. Many desire to own their own tattoo studio and I believe I can offer the opportunity to do so.

I believe that I have designed something, in the Travelling Tattoo Studio, that not only works but ticks every box on a Tattooers list. It is far better than any building that I have viewed to either lease or buy. Far cleaner as well. Security and “repairs” are affordable yet understandable. Even for the layman. Then there is the freedom, the wonderful wonderful freedom.

You never know. One day we may hold an “On the Road Tattoo convention”. It will feature a fleet of VW Crafters, lined up and ready to roll. It could happen, stranger things have.

Don’t Get Left Behind!

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