MISSBISH Artist Series | Hand-Poke Tattoos by Grace Neutral
You might be familiar with the buzzing vibrations of a typical tattoo gun. When you choose to get tattooed by London-based tattoo artist Grace Neutral, you'll hardly hear a noise. That's because she's chosen to master a traditional hand-poke tattoo method — rather, it's the method that chose her.
The 29-year-old British tattoo artist also hosts Viceland's series "Pins and Needles," where Neutral explores the globe in search of the people who use needles and ink as a form of self-expression. In this MISSBISH Artist series, we talk to Grace Neutral about being a female tattooer in a male-dominated industry, her tattooing style, and why she chooses to tattoo with other talented BISHes.
Let’s talk about your journey to becoming a world-renowned tattoo artist. How did you get started?
I started tattooing eight years ago. I'm self-taught and have worked in the industry for over a decade. I have always been a creative; my mum is a creative and she always encouraged me to push myself with my art.
What’s it like being a female tattoo artist in a male-dominated industry?
I feel like I'm tattooing at a time where women have a lot more power in the industry than they used to. It was still hard at the beginning with people (some men in particular) because they didn’t believe I could do it, but it made me all the more determined to succeed. But I feel women are flourishing in the industry as artists and we are taking the wheel in so many ways. I think this scares some guys in the industry, but I also know a lot of guys who embrace the female energy flooding into the tattoo community.
How would you describe your tattooing style to someone who’s not familiar with it?
Well, my technique is hand-poke so I don't use a machine to tattoo. I use a needle that I fasten to a nice bit of wood with some adhesive bandage. As far as my style, I mainly do large-scale pattern work and geometry. I like to push myself with my work trying to create new things with texture and size.
What can someone expect when they come to you for a hand-poked tattoo?
I hope when people come to get tattooed they feel relaxed and have a really fun time. The aim of the game is to create beautiful art on people in a calming environment that's full of laughter and good vibes!
What initially interested you in the hand-poked style vs. tattooing with a gun?
I'm not sure really. I guess you can say hand-poke found me. It was something I tried when I was working in a studio with some friends, and I just fell in love with the whole process.
Your shop’s in London, but do you have plans to travel elsewhere to tattoo this year?
I have my HQ in London, but I'm always traveling because that's how I keep my creativity fresh! I'll be in LA this year working for a few months, and I also think Australia and New Zealand are in the cards too.
Why is it important for you to tattoo with other bad*ss, talented women?
Because I always want to be surrounded by people who keep me on my toes, challenge me, and inspire me.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in pursuing careers as tattoo artists?
We are women and we can do anything we put our minds to, so my advice would be to remind them of that. There is no one unique way to break into this industry. Each person is different, and so will their journey of getting into tattooing. The only thing everyone needs to be is hungry to succeed. If you're hungry enough, you will have no problems.