Ruth Lawless

Updated: Apr 8


How and when did you start tattooing?

I didn’t deliberately get into tattooing I was originally into corporate telecoms where I was completely miserable, one day I went to my boss and asked him to fire me, he asked me why what happened and I just told him that nothing happened I am just miserable here, he asked me what am I going to do and I had no idea I just knew I couldn’t carry on like this. So one day I went to get a piercing and saw that they are actually talking to each other, there’s music playing and the vibe is nice so I told the guy I would like to do something like this and he asked me why don’t you and as it happened they were taking piercing apprentices and I started with the piercing apprenticeship that took me two years after I qualified I realized I don’t want to do this I was in the tattoo section most of my time and that was what I was more interested in so I got an opportunity to get a tattoo apprenticeship and because I already did my piercing apprenticeship and spend most of my time in a tattoo shop I managed to complete my tattoo apprenticeship in a year.



Where are you from?

I am originally from Ireland.



Tell us about your tattoos?

I was 16 at the time when I decided to get my first tattoo there were only two tattoo shops where I was staying in Ireland so I went to the one that I knew wouldn’t ask me for my ID. So I asked the guy hey where’s the tattoos for 20pounds I’ve been saving up my pocket money and he showed me what I can get and then I asked him where I can put it to easily hide it, he said shoulder and I said let’s go and that’s basically how much thought I put into it. For me, a tattoo can just be just because you like the design and even if it has a specific meaning you




What is your favorite tattoo?

My first tattoo is still my favorite tattoo, I got a gecko and I called him Norman. So even if I get a big back piece I want there to be a gap around Norman, he must get the respect he deserves, apart from that the woman’s face on my arm with the skull and roses on the other side that I saw in a “dream”, I went to a guy called Ramos and I said let me describe the dream I had last night and he said yeah that would actually make a great tattoo. There was an actual human skull in the shop where I did my piercings so I asked them if I could take a photo instead of just downloading stuff from the Internet and he said it’s fine and then we bought some roses on the way to the tattoo shop and took photos of that and then I phoned my 3 closest friends at the time and told them I’m doing a sugar skull and what symbols they wanted to be in it, so my friend Carin said she’d be a diamond so I put that in the front, and then my other friend Kata was going to be dice as you just never know what you get with her and then my other friend Noel was 27 but actually nothing to do with South Africa as I didn’t know at the time that I was going to move to South Africa and have a 2 7 on me. He was a deliveryman and his calling card was 2 7, so people actually get a misperception about that tattoo.



Tell us about the first tattoo you did?

It was awesome, I did my first tattoo at the Dublin Tattoo Convention, that was actually while I was still busy with my piercing apprenticeship, I just said to the guys I would love to give that a try and they said yeah why don’t you so they set up their machines and stations and I asked them what am I going to do and who am I going to tattoo, so they called Rachis one of the other tattoo apprentices who have to do what he’s told So they told him to drop his trousers so I could do a tattoo, so he called his fiancé to draw a stick chicken on him that she usually draws and that’s what I tattooed and when he wasn’t watching I freehanded the date and my name and he actually put that on his website as best tattoo at the Dublin tattoo convention.



What is your favorite tattoo style?

I wouldn’t say I have a particular style that is my favorite anything solid and classic, basically timeless. So I enjoy anything from a nice soft rose to a hard free handed tribal.


What do you think about the politics in

the Industry?

I think Rock stars exist in every industry no matter where you are, whether you corporate or retail there are always going to be people who think ‘whatever of themselves, but I remember Dublin where there were about 15 good tattoo shops within walking distance of each other and only two bars where everybody hangs out so you had to get along. So if someone would come into the shop and your fully booked you’d just phone the other shops and hear if they have space, unfortunately, I haven’t experienced that in South Africa yet and I’m just hoping that changes.



Who is your roll models?

God, Then my Pastor, I get some peace and encouragement from him and then in the Industry I would say Jeff Gouge his a real innovator and he actually does oil painting also and brought something new and then I suppose Ramos as swell I learned a lot from him and he’s got a good work ethic.


Your advice to clients

Shut up and trust the artist, but before that do your research. So if you’ve done your research and you’re going to a particular artist then let them do their job, you went to them for a reason and then don’t take all your family there just to confuse you in your decision.





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