A new Lincoln tattoo studio is helping to raise funds for Cancer Research with a bit of gaming fun.
Two of the three partners at the studio, Ben Horrocks and Ashley Newton, will tattoo the original 151 Pokemon just once.
Pokemon is a popular franchise run by Japanese gaming company Nintendo. It is based on a game in which the protagonist collects a variety of different creatures, each with their own moves, and can battle them with other people within the game’s universe.
There are now 718 known Pokemon (which stands for “Pocket Monsters”) in the game, but from conception in 1996 there were 151.
Of each Pokemon tattoo, costing between £30 and £50, £10 will go to Cancer Research.
Each of the Pokemon is placed on a board in the shop, and crossed off whenever someone books. Each design is only tattooed once.
“The way the Pokemon charity thing came about was a bit of weird one,” said Ashley. “Before I even met Ben at our old studio I’d seen something when someone had tattooed a couple of Pokemon, and I thought ‘I’d love to tattoo all of them.’
“It just stayed as an idea in my head and then I met Ben and his tattoo style, which he likes all the anime stuff.
“We were talking about Pokemon because we recently got into watching it and playing the games, so I told Ben about my idea, so we said we should do something here.”
“I said we’d do it for charity because it seemed like a really cool way to get people to see it. There’s 151 of them, so it’s a nice way of doing something for a good cause too.”
Already, 27 (as of October 19) Pokemon characters have been snapped up and started to be tattooed.
Ben Horrocks and Ashley Newton, alongside third partner Rebekah Hodgson, set up Between the Lines so they could do their own style and run a tattoo business with their own rules.
Before opening their own studio, the pair worked for another local business, Jay’s Ink.
Ben Horrocks said: “We didn’t fall out with anyone, we just kind of wanted to work how we want to work.
“When you work in someone else’s studio, you have to work to their rules, so you charge what they charge, and work in a way they dictate to you.
“When you’ve been tattooing a while, it becomes a very personal thing — everyone wants to work different hours and charge what they feel is fair.
“We just wanted a bit more freedom, and with all three of us owning it, there’s no rules regarding what we can and can’t tattoo or hours — if I really wanted to work at midnight for example, I can now.
“It’s also something for the future too that we all have.”
The pair have both been tattooing for four years each, completing apprenticeships within other studios.
While they prefer tattooing brightly coloured, custom designs, Ben and Ashley have slightly different styles, with Ben having a “New School” style and Ashley preferring “Neo-Traditional” work.
As well as preferring custom work, they offer a set price rather than an hourly rate.
“We try to be the friendliest we can be and put out the best quality we can. You just have to be the best you can.
“There are a couple of studios in Lincoln that we do really like and put out good work, so if someone thinks we’re a bit expensive we will recommend those other studios — we’d rather someone get a good tattoo at another studio than get a bad one at another studio. We want people to get good stuff.”
Paper versus skin
The pair also described how different it is from illustrating on paper to work on someone’s skin.
“It’s different in every way you can think of,” said Newton: “You basically have to learn to draw all over again, in a way.”
Ben added: “Another tattooist who works in Lincoln said to me once if your artwork on paper is about 8/10, as soon as you pick up a tattoo machine, it doesn’t matter how good you are but it’s going to drop down to two.
“There are so many techniques you have to learn, especially about skin.
“Skin is stretchy, so you learn to stretch the skin for lines and colours, you learn about different needles too, and the limits of the skin. Plus the technical things about tattoo machines, and how to set one up.
“Other things you have to factor is different skin types — on a very pale person, colours will show up brighter and lines will look more solid, while sun worshippers have a different type of skin.
“It’s just totally different. For a start, a piece of paper can’t move around.”
“It’s like when you use a new medium, whether it’s permanent marker or crayons, it’s different strokes for different things,” Ashley Newton added.
“One major difference with paper is you can throw it in the bin and do it again. You can’t do that with a tattoo, it’s got to be spot on first time.”
Other than their work being recognised by other well-known tattoo artists around the world, Ben said there are a few perks to the job.
He said: “You never stop learning, you should always keep progressing. We want to be the best we can be, so we always try to learn new techniques to keep up. You always find some sort of new challenge.”