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It’s all about bold traditional tattoos and positive vibes with Emma Cranston. We sat down with her to talk about tattoo culture, tattoos and her experience in the industry.

Hey! I’m Emma and I’m a tattoo artist from Oxford, UK. I started my apprenticeship in 2013 and have been tattooing ever since. I specialize in Traditional and my favorite things to tattoo are lady heads and anything circus-themed!

When and how did you know you want to become a tattoo artist?

I wanted to be a tattoo artist since I was around 14. I used to draw ships, roses and lady heads all the time and used to draw them over mine and my friends’ bodies with sharpies! It was always the ‘dream job’ and never something I thought I’d be lucky enough to do, especially as I didn’t know of any female tattoo artists. This was before Instagram so it was only when tattoo shows started coming onto TV that I realized I could do tattooing as a woman which is a crazy thought now!

What do you like most about what you do?

Hands down my favorite thing about tattooing is meeting people. I learn so much every day from everyone I tattoo and I think that has a huge impact on my views and values and keeps me open-minded and grounded. I also love the freedom tattooing gives me, I can work when I like, travel with it and I get given so much creative freedom from clients. I love working in a tattoo shop as your colleagues become your little family and it’s just the perfect laid back place to work!

What is the most challenging thing about what you do?

Admin and time management! I don’t think any creative person gets on with admin!

One challenge I sometimes get with tattooing is trying to put what’s in someone else’s head onto paper but it’s also super satisfying when you finally figure it out and it’s better than they thought it would be!

What is the most positive thing about tattoos and tattoo culture?

I love how a tattoo can completely alter the way someone sees their body, and give them a new level of confidence! I’ve had so many clients who have said they hate the way their body looks and as soon as they look in the mirror when we’re finished, they’re like “I love it I can’t wait to show it off!” Self-love to me is such an important thing and giving that to people is one of the greatest feelings ever

What is the weirdest/strangest tattoo or tattoo request you have ever had to deal with?

I get this question more than any other and I can’t answer it anymore because after working in tattoo studios for 9 years I think I’m numb to weird now!

Everyone has that one tattoo they regret getting. What’s yours?

I don’t really regret any as such, I definitely have a few I don’t like anymore and ones that aren’t done very well but I wouldn’t say I regret getting them, I liked them at the time, I just grew out of them!

What is the best advice you can give a first timer?

Don’t overthink it, get what makes you happy and do it for you and no one else. Also, be sure to research artists and find one that fits the style you want. Recommendations from family and friends are great but make sure you’ve checked their portfolio too!

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

It’s the best job ever but you do have to be tough! Make sure you can commit to an apprenticeship, lots of homework and admin! Once you get the balance right it’s such an amazing career but tattooing is definitely only 50% of the job! Work hard and it’ll pay off.

Where are you based and where can our readers get in touch if they'd like to pop in for a session?

I’m currently working at a private studio in Oxford, UK called Sōma Tattoo Studio, you can find me on Instagram and via my website.


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