Louis Molloy, celebrity tattooist and star of TV programme London Ink, is currently showcasing his world famous tattoo artwork at the Generation Pop Art Gallery in Manchester.Louis Molloy first rose to nationwide prominence when he created David Beckham’s ‘Guardian Angel’ tattoo and has since worked with numerous celebrities from TV stars and musicians to sportsmen Theo Walcott, Freddie Flintoff and Ricky Hatton, from his acclaimed Manchester Tattoo Studio.
We caught up with Lou for a chat at the launch of his show:
I walked in to your studio over 10 years ago and you were already well established and award winning, what was it for you that made tattooing so appealing?
Well back in the old days of Manchester tattooing was seen as quite a bad-ass thing, hanging around in the underground market, it was the outsiders, people that were more outsiders than the “regular” outsiders, and that gave a sense of belonging, if that makes sense? It was the camaraderie of it all, that’s what attracted me.
So if that was the attraction to the lifestyle, the people, the idea of it all, what in your mind was the moment that tattooing itself became the prominent feature?
Wow…. It was Record Sleeves actually that gave me that turning point. Staring at the cover of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” by Elton John and I just thought, that’s me, I can do that, and do it well.
Well that certainly turned out to be the case, as I mentioned you were well known already in the tattoo world, since then there was Beckham and the Angel. But what do you think was your personal career defining moment?
Well, no one thing really, I think for me I just like to keep going, keep improving my work and working on my illustration. Take this for example (points to outline sketch of a dragon hanging on the gallery wall) This is a 3D illustration with no shading, it’s taken me 3 years to develop that style, and that’s what defines my work, for me that’s an achievement.
It really is, that is a fantastic piece. Drawing ability like that, pure tattoo talent and dedication has taken you into a new role recently, more of a mentor and teacher figure, how do you find that?
Haha, well I once tried to do a free seminar on drawing, opened it up, put out adverts, to try and teach, show people what I do, for free…. 4 people turned up. Sometimes it’s so difficult to help people improve.
Tattooing now seems, to me, slightly different, across the board it varies massively from place to place but your studio features books on art, MC Escher, HR Geiger etc – instead of stocking tattoo magazines and flash books, have you noticed anything in studios recently?
To be honest, and no disrespect to any tattooists out there, but I don’t recognise the industry any more, you’ve got people there who just use other peoples work, you’ve got skilled artists giving people tattoos with no shelf life. How can you give someone a beautiful delicate and intricate tattoo, knowing it will look like shit in 5 years? It seems to have lost its way a little.