Tattoo artists on the pieces NEVER to get amid boom in demand

Someone having a tattoo done at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Someone having a tattoo done at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

People couldn't wait to get back on the benches of tattoo parlours across the city after 13 months of lockdown-induced closures. 

Norwich's Cold Iron Tattoo Studio owners Nicola and Shane Grady were hit with 200 enquiries within the first couple hours of opening back in April this year.

Nicola and Shane Grady, co-owners of Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Nicola and Shane Grady, co-owners of Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

And the insatiable demand is yet to yield, with studios as busy as they were before the pandemic — if not more so.

Nicola Grady explained: "It's been crazily busy, though I admit that's a great problem to have.

"I don't know whether it's the pandemic making people more spontaneous, but we've had so many requests.

"A lot of the time people want memorial tattoos because they've lost people during Covid, or designs they've seen trending on TikTok during lockdown."

Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden


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Mr Grady echoed his partner. He said: "Norwich has always been into its tattoos. 

"I think we're something like the fourth most accessible city in the world to get tattooed in, just behind Vegas.

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"I think that's because we're socially accepting of people and less judgemental."

With regards to piercings, Mr Grady said more people were coming in off the street to get their nose and ears pierced as a "spur of the moment" decision.

He said: "We're getting more people ringing us up on a morning and saying: 'I fancy getting my nose pierced today, have you got any slots?'"

The scenes unfolding at Cold Iron are replicated at Rude Boy Tattoo Studio in Orford Place.

Rude Boy tattoo studio staff, left to right: Carl Green, Abbie Frost, Darren Casey and Imogen Casey

Rude Boy tattoo studio staff, left to right: Carl Green, Abbie Frost, Darren Casey and Imogen Casey - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Tattooist Carl Green, who has been in the job for 15 years, said he thought the post-pandemic rush to get pierced and tattooed was a craving for normality.

He added: "People have been waiting for so long they were absolutely desperate to come back. They couldn't wait.

"I think a lot of customers just had an epiphany in lockdown. They wanted their life back and wanted to do what they could do before, without restrictions. We're the one thing you can't get online.

Carl Green said Rude Boy studios had been packed since the parlour opened again in April

Carl Green said Rude Boy studios had been packed since the parlour opened again in April - Credit: Sarah Burgess

"We've had to open a second piercing room just to keep up with demand."

  • The tattoos you should NEVER get

Spontaneity is all well and good when it comes to tattoos, but that doesn't mean you should satisfy your every whim, the artists added.

In fact, there are some tattoos the professionals recommend avoiding at all costs.

For the Grady's, the big no-go is names of partners or dates of anniversaries.

Sharni Hooker finishing a client's tattoo

Sharni Hooker from Rude Boy studios finishing a client's tattoo - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Mr Grady said: "The amount of 18-year-olds we get wanting the name of their girlfriend of three months is ridiculous.

"One guy came in once asking for 'Lauren' on his neck. A few months later we had to write 'Ralph' above it as a quick-fix after they broke up."

The other thing they recommend avoiding is tattoos on the neck, face and hands — at least initially.

Hand tattoos, they explained, are liable to disappearing quite quickly and are never a good idea, while neck and face tattoos are fine, but a very visible statement for someone new to the tat game.

Mr Grady explained: "These are the things you work up to."

Have you had to have a quick-fix tattoo cover up? Email sarah.burgess1@archant.co.uk

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