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Indie Of The Month: Electrik Ink Tattoo Studio

Published on: 10 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2019

by Hugh Coakley

Going into a tattoo studio was a first for me. However, Electrik Ink Tattoo Studio, on London Road opposite G Live, was a revelation and a tonic.

Electrik Ink Tattoo Studio on London Road opposite G Live.

Owner Lee Jackson like most shop owners and businessmen, is not your average chap.

Lee Jackson.

He is heavily tattooed on his arms and neck, has a nose piercing and stretched holes in his ear lobes. With his big black beard and a wicked grin, he definitely looks the part of what I imagine to be a tattooist.

But when he tells you that he is an avid cricket fan, particularly the Indian Premier League with its T20 format, is a ‘foodie’ who does his own butchering, and smokes his own cooked meats and cheeses, you have to think again.

He opened the shop 12 years ago this month and it was derelict when he took it over. Lee said: “We had many objectors to the shop, predominantly Holy Trinity Church, but Guildford council planners got quite excited about the first tattoo shop in the town centre.”

The shop does on average about three tattoos and 20 piercings a day. It also offers a laser removal service, often for people who want to lighten an existing tattoo so they can have a new one over the top of it.

Lee said that he always liked to draw. “A teacher said that I would never do anything. But I’ve been earning more than teachers for many years now.”

Luke Denton, apprentice tattooist and piercer, working on a tattoo design for his wife.

He has a full-time apprentice, Luke Denton, who does tattoos and piercings. Luke quietly worked away on his tattoo designs while I was talking to Lee, drily adding in his observations from across the room. Lee and Luke make a very good team.

I asked them about people, particularly the young, getting stuck with a permanent tattoo which may very quickly go out of fashion.

“Tattoos are not for everybody and we tell people if we think that they are making a bad choice.” said Lee. “90% of the tattoo community don’t think of it as a fashion. It’s a life choice.”

Born in Mount Alvernia (“I bet that was a shock for the nuns”), Lee also dabbles in clay pigeon shooting, sea fishing and keeps large monitor lizards at home. “One of them is over six foot” he said.

“I don’t want relationships anymore. I have my dog, Inky, and my grandchildren. He laughed. “I would be a good catch for a woman but I don’t want one.”

He has had various businesses over the years including setting up a domiciliary care company and as a sub-contractor steel fixing and erecting concrete shutters. “I have always been good at making money.”

The flexible opening hours in the sign in the window show the free spirit in both Lee and Luke.

Luke said: “I don’t like people standing outside the locked shop at 10 to 6 expecting an instant tattoo, tapping their watch and asking to come in.

“At the same time, we are very welcoming and smiley.”

“We like oddities” said Lee, pointing to the stuffed jay on the speaker behind him, and talking about his own designs. He said: “You have to love it to be a good tattooist. My whole life is a fantasy, it’s great.”

Sign in the Electrik Ink shop window showing the flexible opening times.

There are thousands of tattoo designs to choose from in the shop but you can also commission something unique from Lee who will do the design.

A tattoo design being drafted.

Lee with some bacon and a chilli covered cheese which he had smoked himself.

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