Interview with Abbie Johnston |

Down a sheltered side street dotted with little coffee shops and small businesses sits Studio 58 in Carlisle, Cumbria. It is here in this quaint little part of the city that tattoo artist Abbie Johnston creates stunning blackwork tattoos. Her work often features a dark or spooky twist on nature and animals; she has also ventured further into the realm of witchcraft inspired tattoos, so many of her designs have a generally witchy feel to them.

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‘Witchy tattoos’ can be anything from a bubbling cauldron to a simple sage bundle and they are becoming increasingly popular. You don’t have to be a witch to get a witchcraft inspired tattoo and while to many people they may have great meaning, to others the aesthetic is simply just really appreciated. That’s what makes Abbie’s more witchy designs so wonderful to me, they appeal to so many people aesthetically and they celebrate the craft at the same time. As a practicing Wiccan myself and a lover of all things spooky It’s hard not to love Abbie’s designs alongside her respect and admiration for the world of witchcraft.

I decided to chat a bit more with Abbie about her career, artistic influences and her opinions on witchcraft and Wicca in both her work and her personal life too…

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How long have you been tattooing and what led to you becoming a tattoo artist? I’ve been tattooing for five years now. I’ve been interested in tattooing since my early teens but never really thought I’d get into it due to how hard the industry is to break into. I decided to study illustration at university first and build my drawing skills and then I just went for an apprenticeship and got it! I was quite lucky in terms of getting into tattooing but at the same time I worked my ass off.

Where do you get your inspiration from and what influences you? I’m heavily inspired by nature. I grew up on a little farm, so I was surrounded by woodlands and wild animals which have always fascinated me and I think it’s just translated into my work. I also love scouring charity shops for books on birds, animals and flowers because they give me endless inspiration.

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How would you define your style? I always find that quite hard to answer, I’d say dot work blackwork with a gothic illustrative twist

What is your favourite subject to tattoo? Definitely birds, I don’t even know why I just have some weird connection to them, I’m a bit of a crazy bird lady.

How did you become interested in creating witchcraft inspired tattoos?  What are your thoughts on them and their popularity? I just find the whole subject matter fascinating, I have a lot of books on witchcraft and Wicca and it just crept slowly into my drawings. I love the way it translates and can transform a cute subject matter into something more dark and interesting. I also really love the way it’s becoming more popular in tattooing; people are getting interested in it and being influenced by it just like me. Today’s society is a lot more accepting and I think this has helped allow people to become more confident in expressing themselves.

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Do you have any personal interest in witchcraft or Wicca that feeds into your work? I wouldn’t consider myself a witch or a Wiccan but I do get a lot of inspiration from it, the way I dress, the things I like. I just love how connected the whole subject is to nature which is the main reason I was drawn to it. I know a lot about it but there’s a lot more out there to learn and draw inspiration from.

What has been your favourite witchcraft inspired tattoo to design and why I loved doing a piece which was essentially a woodland witch gang, incorporating my love of animals and spookiness my two favourite things to do!

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Do you have any projects, upcoming guest spots or conventions you can tell us about? This year I’ll be working at Big North Tattoo Show in Newcastle and Tatcon Blackpool so far, with some potential other spots to be announced! I’m also currently selling prints to raise money for Badger Trust UK!

Words: Lucy Edwards, a 20-year-old tattooed university student, cat mum and trying-new-things enthusiast. You’ll most likely find Lucy posting about mental health awareness and self-acceptance on her Instagram.

Photo of Abbie: Korin Thomson

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