So I was lucky enough to get to speak to Nikole (who was super nice), and this is how it went:
Could you give us the background of Good Times Tattoo? What were your thoughts when you got it set up, what were the designs behind it?
We have been open for a year now. But when I opened it I wanted to have something just a bit different, something a bit more private, that’s why it’s on the first floor, I didn’t want anything street level. I wanted something with a lot of windows, high ceilings. Really pretty things, the walls are based around some of my favourite bars, and restaurants and night clubs. I always collect interesting things, I’d just go to boot fairs and markets and eBay. I just put all that shit up, everywhere I guess.
How do you pick the tattoo artists who work here? Are they mainly friends and people you have worked with for a long time?
All the artists who work here are all friends, people I’ve worked with some time or another. Except for Nick, I have never worked with him before, but we’ve always been friends. But everyone else are kinda like my best mates, and they’ve been my best mates for years, and we’ve sorta hung out, when I got the job it was natural for it to happen I guess.
Do you take walk ins?
If somebody walks in and nobody is doing anything we can fit them in, yeh.
Usually how long is the waiting list?
It depends on which artist. It could be one week or it could be a year or two.
Is it a year or two for you?
It’s about a year, 8 months. If it’s something that really interests me and I really really want to do, then obviously I don’t wait…
What sort of tattoos do you like to do, what’s your style?
At the moment I do mostly Japanese, Indian, Tibetan and just really pretty things, big and bold. Yeh, I do pretty things. I’m trying to change, it’s really hard because when you start doing one thing everyone wants you to do that and it’s really hard to move on from that. So at the moment I’m trying to do things that are a bit different, I’m really into doing scenery at the moment, just pure scenery, like a Japanese painting. Something that you won’t expect to be tattooed. Just trying to keep myself interested at the moment.
Could you summarize quickly the other tattoo artists and what their styles are.
Saira, she does sorta old school, a lot of Henna sorta Indian pattern work which she’s really into at the moment because she has been doing old school for years. She’s doing all these amazing patterns.
Jamie, she’s a really good all rounder, she does really good old school, Japanese really good, American style tattoos. She does everything really really well.
Piotrek, he’s a polish guy and he does amazing realistic portraits and kind of creepy skulls that morph into things. Really quite surreal drawings and his work is just amazing, you watch him and you go ‘how do you do it?!’
Nick does really good, it’s so clean it’s just ridiculous, it’s so perfect. He does really good old school and Japanese.
And then I’ve got Danny and he does tribal, he does really good writing actually, I think his writing is my favourite thing that he does.
And then I have a couple of other guys that just come and guest.
What do you think makes a good tattoo? Are there any restrictions?
No, you just want a tattoo that actually enhances your body really. So you want it to work with your muscle flow, so if you have something in between two muscles, say you got something really small and you put it in between your deltoid and your biceps there, if you put it in the middle there, it is obviously not going to look good. So you want the right placement so that it work wells with the body, and something that is going to last, something that is semi bold, doesn’t have to be very bold.
My personal choice of a good tattoo, for big pieces, something that you can see from across from the room, it’s not too confusing. Sometimes a lot less is more. Don’t try to cram too many things into one piece.
Try to keep it simply, and then it will last you forever, because it is obviously going to be there forever, so you don’t want too many things over crowding it and just really clear and good lines.
What are your thoughts on UV tattoos or white tattoos?
I don’t do UV tattoo because I heard the ink could be carcinogenic, so it could be cancerous. I’ve never used it, I don’t know what the ink is like nowadays, this is like years ago.
I have done white tattoos, some people it can look good on where it actually looks white, some people it just doesn’t work at all where it looks like a scar. You know, it’s a personal preference, I’d rather not do it myself, because I just don’t think it lasts as long, but if it is what people want, it’s what they want.
What advice would you give to someone getting their first tattoo?
Research what you want, because your tattoo is going to be there forever and you’re going to grow up. Don’t just get something when you’re young that isn’t going to age well with you, get something that will be timeless.
Research your artist, make sure you feel comfortable with them, make sure the place is clean and that their work is good. You don’t just go into any place or the first tattoo place you come across. You can go around three or four of them, as many shops as you like. Just see where you feel comfortable, what the work is like and what the atmosphere is like.
What is your typical sort of customer?
My typical customer is just normal people.
Just anyone? Asking for small tattoos or big tattoos?
It could be anything, like last week I tattooed a friend’s niece, she was 19, just a young girl. I also had this 60 year old man, it’s such a wide range. It’s honestly absolutely anybody, I’ve had guys walk in that have almost full body but you wouldn’t actually know by the way they dress, you wouldn’t even know they had one tattoo.
What is the best way to look after a tattoo? What is the best aftercare?
Usually we wrap it up in cling film after we’ve tattooed it. So you have got to wash it really really well, and you just let it dry, pat it dry. I usually let it dry out for the first day, I don’t put any cream on it. then you use Bepanthen, which is like a nappy rash cream, or a mild lotion, I love coco butter. Sometimes I might use Bepanthen for the first could of days, and then afterward I use coco butter. And you just put cream on it once or twice a day, don’t pick it, don’t scratch it.
Yeh, you can put sun protection on it whilst it’s healing, but after it’s healed I use coco butter with 15+ everyday, so I always put sunscreen on everyday anyway. You can’t swim whilst it’s healing.
One reader has asked whether you can tattoo over scars, whether it would cover up properly?
Yes, you can tattoo over scars, but they need to be over one to two years old, because even though it looks like it’s healed, your skin is still doing stuff underneath. The more time you give it to heal the better. It can be really successful, if you’ve got like really bad burns or something or stretch marks. Stretch marks are tricky because the skin is quite thin and then it’s normal and then it’s thin, so the artist needs to be very careful. But with burns or scars it really takes your eye away from it.
Where is the most painful place to get a tattoo?
Wherever you think it hurts, it hurts. It depends, everybody’s different. Sternum is very painful, all around your kidneys, all your soft bits really. Under your arms, inner thighs, bums are very painful, feet are painful, stomach is painful.
Pretty much everywhere! Things that don’t hurt are your arms and legs, haha. I didn’t think my chest hurt that much, but if you went to the middle, the sternum, that’s nasty.
There’s always a problem with age people stretch a bit, is there one area of the body that doesn’t stretch as much.
I guess it’s a personal thing, everybody’s skin will age differently. When you get older, your skin will sag in different places as your mates skin. The thing is I guess when you are tattooed and you’re older you just don’t really give a shit anyway, it’s not really something you’re going to get worried about is your sagging tattoo, I think you’re more worried about your sagging skin!
147 Curtain Road,
number: +44 (0) 20 7739 2438
Monday – Saturday: 12-7pm