Tattooed Data Quality & Audit Officer |

44-year-old Richard Hughes is a Data Quality and Audit Officer for his local authority  in South East Wales. Richard is a researcher and part of a team that maintains and delivers helpdesk support to the authority, as he puts it “it’s as clinic and white collar as that, but, it pays.” We chatted to Richard about his extensive tattoo collection and how this fits with his career…

How long have you been in current role, how did you get there and what have you done before? I’ve only been in the role for just over a year, but before that, I was a civil servant for 20 years in various government departments both in Wales and the UK. I’m a fluent Welsh speaker so my role has taken me to various places to meet and engage with the public, including the national Welsh cultural festivals, plus the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show and many others.

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Richard’s back by Yeshe, who owns Dharma Tattoo in London

What initially drew you to tattoos? I’ve always been fascinated with tattoos, their permanent nature, the belief they were exotic and dangerous appealed to me on many levels. My mother hates them with a passion; which is probably why I like them so much! – my mother’s side of the family are all very straight laced stereotypical ‘grey’ people, whereas my dad’s side are all farmers and all a bit more daring and care free.

No one had any new tattoos though, just the ones they got on stag dos 30 years before, or in National Service. However, in school, a lad called Danny who was 14-15, had a blue ringed octopus which he got whilst abroad. It was spectacular, not like the stock Welsh dragon flash you saw in the shops, and I really got into it. I was in college in Luton between 1993 and 1996 and visited Dunstable Tattoo Expo in 1994 (I think) – different world to conventions of today. I stood out like a sore thumb.

What is your favourite tattooing style? I love Japanese art, always have from the willow pattern on our Welsh dresser and all the Japanese antiques my nan had.  I love the story and the work that has gone into it – I can identify with the Japanese work ethic.  I find it all very calming. I’m highly stressed and anxious at the best of times and it takes me to a happy place.

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Chickens by Lala Inky

How old were you when you got your first one? What was it and do you still love it? I’d been putting it off for months and years for no other reason than worrying what my folks who think, but I grew out of that bloody stupid notion and I went to Dai and Pie Tattoo in Swansea. I got a palm sized tribal dragon in red from Dai on my left shoulder. I was hooked, buzzing off the experience.  I remember some flash he had for a koi half sleeve, and loving the style, the colours.

I phoned the studio back up the next week about having more done, and Pie told me to me to fuck off and have a think about having anything more done and not rush into it. Best piece of advice I’ve ever had. Think about it, don’t rush into it. It’s covered up now but a bit of it still peeks through!

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Tattoo by Bananajims

Can you tell us about your tattoo collection There is a theme or sorts, water, fish, shells, flowers etc. I’m obsessed by chickens and everything means something, I wanted something for the wife and my daughter, so Lala (who was working from a studio in Cardiff at the time), designed the ‘poultry piece’ for me, I like it, Lala likes it and that’s all that matters. I gave up what people think about me years ago – it’s a truly liberating experience if you can master that.

This was followed by the waterfall by Lala on my left arm. Then Yeshe did me a lobster, after that I went back and had the bull and the Japanese poet, based on a woodblock carving  and he did my koi half sleeve at the Brighton Convention in 2014.  I did enter it into the competition at the end of the day  – but I was told Japanese never wins – they were right! At Brighton in 2016, Yeshe did my back in four and half hours!  I haven’t had a chance to go back and add to it, but I will.  Yeshe is such an amazing bloke, both him and his family and the extended family at the shop.

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Tattoo by Olivia Chell

Olivia Chell has a work in progress (wip) on my right forearm and Ellie Williams of Modern Body Art has two chest panels and a money toad on me, and more wip.  I also have ones from Banana Jims, who’ve I’d been corresponding with for years and Ali Baugh who did my plaice.

What sorts of reactions do your tattoos get from family and at work? My wife doesn’t really have an opinion on them but the kids love them; my boy is fascinated by them. My folks are none the wiser and that’s fine by me. I remember how Yeshe wanted me to go with him to see Aaron from Cult Classic Tattoo stand to show the koi half sleeve we did (Aaron is his friend and mentor and his views and comments on it were important to Yeshe), I was so happy I could do that for him and shows the measure of the man. I genuinely do not give a toss what people think about them, another stress relief mechanism – they’re mine, I love them.  I’ve paid good money to have them done professionally, so do one.

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Money toad by Ellie Williams

Are you allowed to have your tattoos on show when you’re working or do they have to be kept covered? When I worked on the stand for Welsh Government, my forearms weren’t done but I doubt they’d let me out in public without long sleeves or a fleece on – in saying that, nothing was said but I always covered up out of choice. Where I work now, loads of girls walking around with full sleeves! Great to see, but I’d bet they’d say something to me or anyone else. It is double standards but I get it – if you’re front of house, it’s one more thing for the neds to complain about.

Have your tattoos ever hindered your role or helped it? Never hindered me, although I had to declare them all for work!  The tattoos are a reflection of me, not the other way around, I do find them very personal and there’s a time and place to display them. I  cannot wait to finish some of the work that has been started, as I’ll be more easy to show them off, without impunity. Money is always the issue as ever – I have more money in deposits scattered across the country than I have in my bank account!

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