I’ve been tattooing for about seven years now. I got my apprenticeship in 2010, and after about a year I started as a tattoo artist. Before my tattooing career, I studied fashion and art design. I have to admit it was quite tough to become a professional tattooist. In the beginning, I had a full-time job as a waitress as well, so I had to work really long hours. But still, it was definitely worth it.
I kind of started with traditional tattooing style. I suppose it was just the way I drew since I’ve always liked quite heavy lines and so on. During the years, my style developed into this girlish sort of traditional and glittery work that I nowadays do.
I started adding glittery style into my tattoos about four or five years ago. I guess it started when I did a mermaid tattoo on my customer’s skin and wanted it to be shimmery. I ended up developing the same style and now I can’t even do a tattoo without adding some glittery look in it. It would just feel weird!
I currently work at Jolie Rouge Tattoo Studio (link) quite near King’s Cross, London. I’m pretty lucky to meet people all over the world at my work. I get lots of customers from America, and a lot of people from England, of course. London is an amazing city – people work and live there, but no-one really seems to be from there. I feel super lucky as so many of customers are happy to travel to London, it’s a great place to be!
Most of my own tattoos are cats. I think the whole cat thing was originally from my mum and her love for cats.
I lost my mum last year, and it was basically mental health problems that finally got the better of her. I’ve done some charity work for a mental health charity called MIND (link), since they helped my mum a lot during her illness. I arranged a charity day for my mum’s memory last year, in 2017. Basically, I and my colleagues at Jolie Rouge did flash tattoos of cats. It was an amazing day with lots of customers queuing out the door. Other tattooists/artists contributed too with art work, prints and even donated tattoo sessions. We raised nearly 10,000 pounds and gave it to MIND.
Mental health issues still have a big stigma, and I want to raise awareness of them by my own actions. People need to talk about their problems because mental health issues can really destroy lives.
My mum and dad tattooed their names on my leg. These are my most meaningful tattoos.
I also have lots of tattoos that are just pretty or funny pictures. I suppose they are on my skin just because they have funny, personal meanings for me.
I used to have eight chickens when I lived in Essex. They had their own big space in the garden and they were happy.
I still find tattooing hard and I’m constantly learning new things, it definitely challenges me daily. I feel very grateful to have a career I love so much, but I’ll never be 100% happy or content with my works, that’s what drives us! It’s wonderful to see that people want to get my drawings on their skin. For me, tattooing is the best job in the world.
See more Keely’s tattoo art on Instagram: @keelyglitters!