The problem facing tattooists

Tattoo artist and shop owner, Jeremy Smith discusses what it’s like in the tattooing industry with Emily Paget. 

Under the skin the problem with tattoos - image 2 - jeremy tattoo

Artwork by Jeremy.

With the tattoo industry skyrocketing into popularity, with at least 1 in 5 of us sporting some new ink; local artist, Jeremy Smith puts an end to the myth that the industry is as glamorous as it appears on TV.

“They make us all look like rock stars and this is so not a rock star profession,” Jeremy points out. “Most of us, most tattooists, real tattooists are family men. They got kids at home. They work morning till evening.”

Programs such as Tattoo Fixers and Tattoos After Dark have burst onto our screens in recent years, placing the industry firmly on the map, but it has both helped and frustrated tattooists.

“Some of the cover-up shows are good because it’s showing people they don’t have to live with the shit tattoos from 20 years ago,” Jeremy explains. “People are seeing the difference between a bad and a good tattoo.

“But it makes tattooing quite a sheepish fashion thing these days. That’s a part of it that I don’t like.

“I’m a firm believer, everybody isn’t meant to have them. I wouldn’t like a world where everybody had them,” He said. “I don’t think that would make me very happy but it would make my bank account quite happy.”

Although this fashion trend is on the increase, which helps pay Jeremy’s bills, he finds it out of sync in why he chose to become a tattooist.

“When I got into tattooing, to being tattooed, we’re talking early 90s – it was expression; something that will set you aside from everyone else,” He said. “But over the last 20 years, that’s completely role-reversed. ‘You’re meant to have a tattoo, you’re 18.’

“I ink some people who I know if they were born 10 years ago or possibly 10 years ahead of now, they wouldn’t get one. They’re getting it because of where they’re at and who they’re hanging out with.”

Although Jeremy enjoyed the expression of tattoos, his passion started back in America.

“One of my best friends had become a tattooist in our teenage years, and I just pestered him until he decided he would teach me,” Jeremy laughs.

Jeremy’s passion for tattooing stemmed from his love of comic books, and despite not being able to follow his dream into the comic book industry, he pursued his love of art in tattooing.

“I drew. I was always into art,” He explains. “I wanted to pursue art so it seemed perfect and I was into them, I already collected loads of them.”

Over his time as a tattooist, he has found one of the biggest issues that faces the industry to date. This increased popularity in getting inked, also leads to a rise in untrained artists.

“Way too many people who think it’s a rock star lifestyle, go out and buy their eBay kits they’re teaching themselves how to tattoo in their house,” He said. “That’s going to be the quickest destruction of an industry that I love. It’s just too many of us. Everybody wants to be Kat Von D, even the guys!”

It’s not the competition from these artists that Jeremy is worried over, but the health risks to those getting tattooed at home.

“There’s just too many little things that the public doesn’t notice that we do to keep you guys safe when you’re getting a tattoo,” He explains. “A lot of people may have gotten a sleeve from another artist, and they think they know all about it.”

But it’s the cross-contamination that is the most important issue that untrained tattooists do not understand according to Jeremy.

“That’s no different than having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV, potentially,” Jeremy warns. “They will cause a hepatitis outbreak and if they cause a hepatitis outbreak in Hinckley, that’s going to affect my business. So that’s the problem.”

It’s not just cross-contamination that’s affecting the industry, with eBay tattoos kits could see the increase of underage tattooing.

“If you’re untrained and you’re inking someone under the age of 18, you’re hurting them,” Jeremy said. “That’s child abuse and you should be done for it.”

In the past, Jeremy has had underage customers come in with nipple piercings that have become infected; he’s had to turn them away because of their age, but has urged them to speak to the police.

“That person’s not 18, you’re not allowed to look at that,” He explains. “and the person who pierced her nipples should be done for statutory rape. It’s a minor, they’ve touched a minor’s nipples.

Under the skin the problem with tattoos - image 1 - jeremy tattoo

Artwork by Jeremy

“My rule here is, if they look under 25 you ask them for their ID, period. I’m quite stringent about that while a lot of shops aren’t; but that’s where I’m from, that’s where I learned how to tattoo.”

In America, Jeremy tells us that parlours have annual inspections from those who inspect operating theatres. Whilst in the UK, an inspection is only held when you open a parlour and is inspected by those who also inspect at tanning salons and takeaway shops.

“I find it really bizarre because you guys are strict on a lot of things in the UK but not that,” He explains. “So here, you have to trust your tattooist. But I get my machines inspected once a year, the way I’m supposed to.”

As a professional artist, Jeremy encourages all those who are thinking of getting a tattoo to ask questions regarding health and safety to their tattooist.

“Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, and if they get offended because of the questions you’re asking then they’ve got something to hide, it’s as simple as that,” He said. “People don’t ask often enough, but I like it. It shows me a raised level of awareness that’s happening and that’s good. But if I’m honest, it doesn’t happen as much as it should.”

Jeremy tattoos alongside his team at Hellcats Tattoo Parlour in Hinckley; for more information on them please visit their Facebook page or contact them on 01455 698 084.


Busker strikes it rich with record deal


Busking since the age of eighteen, Eleni Demetriou brings a ray of sunshine with her amazing voice on our streets, from Dover to Scotland making everyone happy. She talks to Sabah Abdi about her journey.

Eleni Demetriou, age 23, from Oakham first started busking at the age of eighteen. This all started after she won a singing competition at the local night club called Calico and won £10,000. This might have been a motivation for her to continue perfecting her singing skills, showing the world what a great voice she has.

“I am 18 and have a passion for performing and making music” is the first line of Eleni Demetriou’s profile description in, which is a social media site that allows actors, musicians and models to create profiles for purposes of enhancing their visibility. Eleni studied Music technology at Leicester College in the hope to pursue a career in the music industry.

Eleni’s busking engagements are very strong; it became a loving passion where she clearly says: “I love to sing so much that I couldn’t imagine not singing. I needed to find a job that let me sing whenever, regardless of the mood I am in.” Eleni describes herself as a normal person, a little outgoing with a kind heart, the character traits that have seen her through all odds to fame. Her idol is Etta James and she says “Etta James is my inspiration, from her carreer to her personal path in life, that woman was just a rock. She has been through so much and always came out stronger each time.”

When she has been asked if she ever took any singing lessons, she replied with confidence: “No singing lessons, apart from one I took few years ago because I was losing my voice a lot, but that was it.”

Eleni shines as a busker in so many places that she goes to, but Leicester remains her favourite.

Eleni is intrinsically motivated because the reason for engaging in singing is not driven by any external reward such praise or earning money. She states: “I love that I can make people happy.” This is a clear indication that she feels happy when she makes other people happy.

Eleni loves spreading happiness and gaining recognition mainly from home before venturing outside.

“I have worked in Cyprus and Spain, singing in pubs” she says. However, for busking, she goes from Dover to Scotland, she is willing to travel for her busking passion, even on cold, rainy days. Also, she does sing at weddings and private functions.

In the process of making herself happy through singing, Eleni believes in Pearl Buck’s saying that, “The secret of joy is contained in one word-excellence.” Eleni strives to achieve excellence through perfect practice with the aim of achieving excellence.” She finds motivation from Buck’s quote that knowing how to do something well is to enjoy it. She enjoys singing and her success in busking has been streamlined to a great extent.

“There is always a song that cheers me and others up.” She gives an account involving a Saturday when someone called her and told her that he has been stuck in a state of depression for a week. People in a state of depression are in dire need of something to cheer them up. Eleni did not resist. She positively responded to the person’s call.

“Hearing me sing and watching people dancing with me had lifted his mood and made him realize that he can be happy again.” Her satisfaction is making people joyful through her singing, and that is what makes her happy.

Dealing with the public is never void of memorable moments, these are always part of the journey. Some memorable moments can be good while others may be sad to recall. For Eleni, she takes all challenges and sad memories positively as part of the learning process. When asked what her most memorable moment was, she listed, “I have had a few, a touching one was when someone asked me to sing out loud and he proposed to his wife at the end! I have a few funny ones, I have been bitten, someone tried to strip me once and of course all the older people that come to dance for me!” The funniest one was when she was bitten by someone who pretended to kiss her hand but latched it. Although this was assault, she did not report the case officially to the police, but requested them to closely watch the man.

Eleni started singing as a Jazz artist but later, she ventured reggae and ska. “I sing everything from 1920s to modern; the only genre I don’t cover is rock” she clarifies.

Eleni can sing anything from Beres Hammond I Feel Good, Bob Marley Three Little Birds or Inner Circle Sweat Alalala, putting her own twist on it, to much modern type of songs such as Don’t Cha from the Pussycat Dolls. She rocks stages, but also the streets of cities to a point that her crowd don’t hesitate to dance around her, and that always put a smile on her face.

Previously, she had auditioned for the X-Factor 3 times, but she has not reached the judges house. She also applied for the voice when she was eighteen, but she never got through.

One of her greatest successes is that she got a producer. She remembers one day when she was busking in Birmingham, “A man walked passed me and gave me his card”. Although dealing with a producer is new to her, she has a good feeling about it. “He is Grammy nominated and ex musician so we work together very well.” She describes him.

Eleni says” I have signed a contract to record music with him and actually working on writing 12 tracks of an album myself.” Which she hopes will be out the end of this year. Success is actually a long journey that requires determination, discipline and patience as the critical ingredients of success, and Eleni surely has that.

Astonishing Piano Performance

MoultonHaving played piano since the age of four, Tom Moulton amazed everyone with his performance in Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre, delivering a blockbuster tune. He shared his experience with Sabah Abdi

Tom Moulton from Barwell astonished everyone in Leicester Highcross shopping centre when he belted out the tune from the blockbuster Titanic.

A Tesco van driver by day and a passionate pianist by night 22-year-old Tom Moulton from Barwell first started playing piano at the age of four.

He says: “I never took any piano lessons. I had one of those keyboard pianos made of plastic that most kids back then had. I always wanted to play, no one ever forced me to, I love and I enjoy the experience.

While shopping with his mum an afternoon in Leicester’s Highcross shopping mall, Tom saw the white piano and decided to play on it.

Tom was a tad hesitant to perform, as the shopping centre was crowded with shoppers. He began cautiously tapping on the keys and looked at his mum who was recording him. He gradually increased in confidence and delivered an amazing cover piece of ‘My heart will go on’ from Titanic, the movie.

His mum later posted the video on Facebook and ever since, Tom has received thousands of messages praising his talent. A comment by Shelly Ann Holmes read: “Gave me goose bumps, sounds amazing, now wanting to watch the movie again.”

The Mail Online also posted the video on YouTube and that attracted about 8000 views. According to the Leicester Mercury, his performance has been viewed over 150 000 times.

Since then, Tom has started his own music page on Facebook called ‘Tesco Tom Music’ which has 736 likes. He regularly posts videos where he is playing piano, or singing songs that he has practiced

He said: “I would much appreciate if everyone could share this with their friends and family, and if they could ‘Like’ my page.”

The comments that the general public left under his video on Facebook reflected how amazing and breath-taking it was to everyone that listened to it. Tom plays that tune with all his heart, it means so much to him as it is the first song he ever played in public. He said: “I haven’t played this tune in about 4 to 5 years, it felt so magical, I just hope everyone feels the same listening to this, it was the first song I have ever learnt.”

The 22 year old use to play a lot when he lived with his parents.

Tom said: “I have been contacted by so many people, telling me how much they have enjoyed it, encouraging me to start playing again.

“It is so good to have all those positive reactions.”

Tom has taught himself to play and never really learned to read music. He has a God-sent natural gift.

A natural talent, Tom can play almost everything he hears on the piano. He is at the moment learning “Hello” by Adele; and is planning to post it on his page. He says “I also have two other hobbies which are acting and horse riding.”

Tom Moulton describes himself as being a hard working individual, but also know how to have a laugh.

He said: “I have always enjoyed music from a young age as it is something I have always been surrounded with.”

The young Tom Moulton is a true inspiration to so many young adults and teenagers alike, to pursue their dreams in music.

To keep up to date with Tom Moulton’s activities go to his official facebook page; Tesco Tom Music