tattoo | interview with Nicola Greetham | Ultimate art | 07/10/2015

Hello Nicola Greetham! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our magazine.

Q: How did you end up being a tattoo artist? What inspired you to start this journey?
A: I qualified with a Fine Art degree in 2008 and have always drawn and painted in my spare time. My interest in art has never lapsed and I would always seem to fill sketchbooks with my work. I loved tattoos and started to get quite a collection on myself and with the help of my boyfriend I dived into the challenging field of tattooing without fear, but with excitement!

Q: Tattooing is not an easy job, like many would say... What was the hardest part in getting into this field?
A: Confidence, hard work, patience and being open to constant criticism. It's a learning curve and every tattoo is a chance to get better and better and show the world what you can achieve. The hardest part is the feeling that you're never good enough and the lack of confidence was my downfall.

- How did you learn the basic skills of tattooing? Did you apprentice? Tell me more about it.
By practicing! I taught myself everything I know and it has only been through practice that I have learnt what works well and what doesn't. I feel I have gained my own individual style and skills through my work and quickly engaged with the medium and built up from there. I started in a small studio as an apprentice but quickly moved on and upwards picking up new skills and becoming better. I've worked up to where I am now through determination and hard work.

 Q: As a beginner, were you afraid to put ink on someone's skin? How was the first experience with tattooing? Do you remember?
A: Yes! Very nervous, but you have to believe in yourself and focus. If you want to do it, you have to start at the very bottom and work up. It does take a long time but it's so worth it and the rewards are endless. The sense of achievement is so valuable to me. You need to be confident and not be nervous. My first experience was on my boyfriend and was surprisingly successful. It gave me the passion and the drive to do more and more!

Q: Your drawings are awesome. How much do drawing skills pay a big role when it comes to (creative) tattooing?
A: A lot! Yes you can have quite basic drawing skills but to be able to achieve high quality tattoos I believe a good understanding of line work, different shades, blending, values, hues, composition and design are essential.

- Tell me more about the making process. Do you first draw some sketches and then working on the final design?
I approach most tattoos the same, obviously cover ups are an exception as you have to work around what is already on the skin. In terms of fresh designs I will map out on paper the composition of what I want to include in the image, then draw the individual sections out to the size required and then make a final line drawing of all the components put together. If it needs a shaded version, I will make a copy and shade the image with colored pencils. This way the customer can easily see the final result of the tattoo.


Q: Being a tattoo artist requires great patience. How do you manage the busy schedule during the week? Are you always supportive to your client's idea, or there are some negotiations in a while?

- Any funny experiences with the customers? :)
A: I always prioritise and that's the key. If someone comes to me requiring a design but doesn't want the tattoo started for a month or so I concentrate on the ones that can start as soon as possible. I spend every evening with my boyfriend designing, drawing and enhancing my designs based on my clients needs. Sometimes I do change it up and decide what may look better but I will always communicate this to the client so they are aware and understand what would look better as a tattoo. There are some ideas that would not work so I give my input and we come up with a mutual design. I am always supportive of my clients ideas and will always listen to what they require, coupled with what I think makes for an amazing tattoo.

Q: UK is well know for underground and alternative scene, what's the opinion about tattoos nowadays?
A: Tattoos have gone from being crude and for being for people who want to be different and stand out from the crowd to being more culturally accepted. Nowadays I think a tattoo has more artistic value. Credit goes to various celebrities who have been inked and many people follow in their footsteps and I believe that they are more accepted now than ever.
A properly designed tattoo accentuates the human form and it is becoming not only sexy to have tattoos but it is also an expression of someone's character and for those who have an attraction to the art form which they want to express and show off on their body.

Q: What would be the "dream" piece that you want to put on someone's skin?
A: I have various pieces I want to tattoo, all black and grey, quite dark, sexy and gothic. There's a few portraits I'd love to do too - Marilyn Manson in his Mobscene phase being one of them.

Q: You work in many tattoo styles, do you have any favorite?
A: Yes definitely, I seem to have found black and grey realism a style a truly enjoy. I could tattoo for hours getting the right blends and shades and I tend to use white quite a lot in my work. Too much can spoil a piece so it's a challenge to get just the right balance. Realistic black and grey, definitely my favorite.

Q: My readers would be definitely interested in getting in touch with you, so please add your contact info here, such as email, online profile, studio address etc.

Instagram - @colatherockstar
Facebook -
Website -
Studio - 309, Prestwick Road, South Oxhey, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD19 6UT

Q: Do you have any plans for the near feature?
A: Near future plans include continuing to push myself and create new and exciting artwork. It's the only way to improve and I hope that people appreciate the work I do.

- What would you say to beginners?
The advice I would give to beginners is draw, draw, draw! You can never draw too much, whether it be simple line work, stencils or complicated and detailed drawings.Just keep at it and eventually you will succeed.You will take a few knocks and there will be times when you want to give up but it's all about hard work.And if you want to succeed you'll push through and it will all be worth it!