Interview with Luke Ashley |

24-year-old tattoo artist Luke Ashley tattoos out of South City Market which can be found in New Cross, London. If you’re an avid tattoo Instagramer you’ll have seen Luke’s palm tattoos that he’s now known for, we caught up with Luke to find out how it all started…

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How long have you been tattooing? How did you get into the industry? I’ve been tattooing full time for the last five or six years. I managed to get myself an apprenticeship quite young at the age of 16 in my local studio where I worked weekends and in the week around my collage schedule. I was super grateful to get my foot in the door and have a space to be amongst tattooing.

How would you describe your style? I’m not sure how I would describe my style, I’ve worked in street shops my entire life so I’m used to accommodating to what style my client is after. I think creating your personal style is one of most important things an artist has to do. But I’ve never wanted to turn my nose up to a tattoo as there are tricks to be learnt from all different styles, which can then in turn can be used across the board. My favourite thing to tattoo is definitely linework pieces and I love using different line weights in my work.

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You used to tattoo in colour, what drew you to blackwork? I still love doing colour and I still tattoo a lot of colour pieces but I’m definitely enjoying the blackwork style. Like I said I really enjoy most styles of tattooing and enjoy a challenge so am game for anything!

When did you do your first palm tattoo? Do you like tattooing palms?  I did my first palm tattoo on my friend Stu who I was working with with at the time and he just asked me to do it, witch I initially said no to because I’d heard how they would fall out and are really painful. But we did it anyway and it didn’t turn out great, I said to Stu ‘I think I was afraid to hurt you too bad’ so we did his other palm the next week and I didn’t hold back and I did it how I thought it should be done and it healed perfectly and is still super solid to this day. After that I just convinced friends to let me tattoo their palms because it was super satisfying to get it in properly and see it heal up solid.

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How do you find working on this area of the body? Everyone’s palms are different so you kinda have to get used to adapting your technique depending on the person’s palms. Like a builders hands in comparison to an office workers are going to be way more calloused and tougher to get through. But its definitely my favourite place to tattoo.

What kind of designs would you like to do? I would love to do some more double palm projects covering the entire hands and all up the fingers. I’m also looking forward to tattooing more soles of feet. I enjoy geometric and line work tattooing but I also love tattooing traditional and neo-traditional designs. As long as its a cool idea I’m into it!

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Do you have your own palms tattoos? I do. My first palm tattoo was done by Brody Polinsky. His bold lines and designs are incredible, I’m hoping to go and visit him soon to extend my current palm tattoo. I also let my friends Dash  and Stu do they’re first palm tattoos on me as they let me practise on theirs when I first started. I see my palm tattoos as really personal and look at them all the time.

Can you tell us some more about your own tattoos? The linework tattoos I have on my front and head are made by Kieran Williams. I had my first session over five years ago when I got the front started and then took a little break when we got to the top of my chest, as I wasnt sure if I wanted visable tattoos at that point. Now I am so happy with how its progressed and flowed up onto my neck and now head.
Im pretty open to the tattooist deciding what they want to do, i chose the artist for they’re style so I’m happy for them to run with it. None of my tattoos have much specific meaning to me but they are more like time stamps. I remember getting all of them and what I was doing in my life when I got them. I have one foot dedicated to friends doing little first tattoos on me, witch is always fun.

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What sorts of reactions do your tattoos get? I get a lot of positive reactions from people. Lots of times people ask if getting my head tattooed hurt and are really interested and compliment them which is nice. I’d say its 95% positive.

Does the pattern work you chose represent anything in particular? Not to me no. I originally asked for a church/cathedral but when I turned up Kieran had designed some more Thai looking designs and I was into it so thats what we did!

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Do you have any future tattoo plans for your own body? I’m trying to save the little bit of space I have left. But I reckon I’ll just get everything done pretty soon!

Do you have any travel or guestspot plans? I’m hoping to make it to Madrid this year and maybe Berlin but I haven’t made any solid plans yet. I’ll be heading back to Brighton/Hove to Nine Lives Studio and hopefully to SixtySix at some point this year too!

I’ve just started working at South City Market, it’s a brand new studio opened by Ricky Williams. It’s filled with talented artists and I’m so pleased to be a part of it. You can come find me there slamming out the palm tattoos!

Photography by LadyKaat Photography 

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