Interview with Tattooist Ell Torres |

Ell Torres is a 31-year-old tattoo artist based at the Gold Room Tattoo (formerly Dock Street Tattoos) on Crown Street in Leeds UK. We chat to Ell about her love for all things vintage horror and her tattooing style…

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When did you start tattooing and what made you want to join the industry? I started an apprenticeship in 2009, as a single mum I worked another job at the same time to keep the bills paid as most apprenticeships are not paid. Although I was within a studio I wouldn’t say I was given much guidance, looking back I was probably more of a glorified (and unpaid) receptionist but it got my foot in the door so I kept going. Tattooing was something I wanted to get into since I was 18, although I was always interested in tattooing and was tattooed myself it wasn’t as popular back then as it is now (especially for females) I guess it just never crossed my mind as an option when leaving school.

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What did you do before? Did you study art? I studied art and design straight from school and went straight to university to study textiles and surface pattern design I enjoyed fashion mostly. I loved college but struggled with jumping through hoops at uni, someone mentioned my work was very tattoo inspired so it was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I left uni in my second year and started working full time. I found an apprentishship around three years later, a year after my son was born. It’s been a struggle and it’s taken a lot of hard work but it’s what I wanted to do and it’s been worth it so far.

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How would you describe your style? Which do you love tattooing more colour or blackwork?  I find it difficult to describe my tattooing style as I guess it’s just naturally evolved. I do like to dabble in a few different styles, I guess it’s always very vintage and retro inspired. From films, posters, comic books, botanical illustrations from flowers to animals, I tend to do a lot of planchettes and vintage horror and spooky inspired images. I can sway toward neo trad, comic, realism and ornate depending on what the subject is. Although I’d say my work preference is colour, I’m happy to work with both black and grey or colour.

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What inspires you? Are there any artists you admire? I really enjoy b movies and retro/vintage horror along with other genres particurly directors such as Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro and Rob Zombie. In terms of art and artists whom inspire me I love Mexican folk art, J H Lynch, Vladimir Trenchikoff, Edward Hopper, art nouveau, Renaissance, gothic, vintage advertisement posters and movie related art from horror to Cuban travel etc. – the list goes on!

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I admire many tattoo artists although I particularly enjoy the work of Teresa Sharpe, Onnie O’Leary, Adam White and Alex Wright. But it’s safe to say I work with some incredible artists at my current studio who all inspire me everyday with their talent – Sneaky Mitch, Rich Wells, Abbie Williams and Sam Rivers.

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Do you have any guestspots or conventions planned? I have never done a guest spot before but it’s something I’m considering, although I’m a bit of a home bird. But I will be working at the Scottish Tattoo Convention this year for the second time and possibly the Leeds Tattoo Convention both of which I always enjoy.

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