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Artist Highlight: Sammi @s.a.d.designs

Words by Adam Jolley
Artist Highlight: Sammi @s.a.d.designs

It's hard to believe Sammi @s.a.d.designs has only been tattooing a year, such is the quality of her art. We recently caught up to find out if being an artist is living up to expectations.

Hey Sammi, could we get a quick intro?

Hi! My name’s Sammi known on the internets as S.A.D. Designs (@s.a.d.designs). I currently work out of the gorgeous studio that is Stories & Ink Falmouth, located in the heart of Cornwall. I have been tattooing just over a year now! It was my first birthday the other week! It’s been a crazy ride, and not a very straightforward one…

Sammi recently celebrated her first year as a tattoo artist. Pic @s.a.d.designs

How did you learn to tattoo?

I had, shall we say, an unconventional journey. I started an apprenticeship and managed to get my foot in the door in a very, now over-saturated industry, so I class myself as very lucky. I’ve been at a couple studios and knew that they weren’t quite right for me. Then I saw an advertisement for Stories & Ink and the rest is history. Now I’ve found my tattoo family and class myself lucky to be part of Stories & Ink’s brand and first ever tattoo studio.

Can you tell us a bit about your style?

Style wise, oof! Where do I begin! I love doing EVERYTHING! Like I said, I have only been tattooing a year so I don’t want to pigeon hole myself just yet as I want to try all the styles. At the moment I’m very drawn to soft, black and grey stipple tattoos hinting more towards realism, Traditional and Neo-Traditional. Neo-Traditional, in my mind is such a gorgeous style with these lush, muted down colours… have a google! And then give me a message if you’re down for a sweet Neo trad tatt ;).

TattooTattoo by s.a.d.designs

Is being a tattoo artist what you thought it'd be like?

I’ve wanted to be a tattoo artist since I was 14 years old, so honestly for me, it’s a dream come true, sometimes I still have to pinch myself! Saying that, it is ALOT more than people think. I have people message me asking for advice on portfolios, how I got into tattooing and the best way they can get into the industry. I never say ‘don’t do it’ because fuck that! It’s the best job ever! BUT you need to be in it for the right reasons.

The way the tattoo industry has gone, you can’t just be a tattoo artist anymore… you have to be a social media manager, a receptionist (if the studio you work at doesn’t have one), a photographer, a videographer, a bookie (keeping track of your books)… like I said it’s a lot. Also, it’s like working in hospitality, you have to be social and make sure your customer feels safe and comfortable constantly, not to mention the tattooing part on top of all that!

Tattoo artist Sammi @s.a.d.designs

When people use the quote "it’s not a commitment it’s a lifestyle" - that is the best way to put it. If you’re serious about tattooing and it’s your dream job, say goodbye to your social life, at least for a bit while you’re making a name for yourself. You finish a day, you come home, you draw, maybe study, fill that gorgeous sponge of a brain with infinite knowledge. In this industry you are constantly learning and evolving, that’s one of my favourite things, the never ending evolution of you as an artist!

I know my answer sounds very negative, but it’s not! Like I said it’s the best job ever and I wouldn’t change it for the world! But I think the people wanting to get into tattooing need to know the behind the scenes of how much work it is. You have to have a bloody thick skin and persistence for this job.

What type of work are you looking to take on / do more of?

I would love to get into doing some bigger pieces, including back pieces or free-hand pieces. I love big projects, I find them so fun! Plus you get to know your client a lot more, sometimes it feels like you’re just chilling with a friend. That’s one thing I love about this industry, I’ve met so many amazing interesting people that I now class as good friends.

If you had one piece of tattoo aftercare advice to give?

Honestly, just listen to your artist! And if you have any concerns or questions after your tattoo, reach out to your artist and don’t be scared to ask questions.

Ok, next up a couple of getting-to-know you questions. First, what's your own favourite tattoo?

I can’t pick a favourite tattoo, it changes everyday honestly, I love all of them. My most meaningful ones are a smiley and a sad face, these are for one of my best friends I lost from cancer last year… but a lot of my tattoos aren’t that deep and most of them don’t have meaning. I just pick a pretty piece of art and want it on my body forever!

Where is your best place to eat?

My favourite place to eat, in Falmouth anyway is probably RoBo. Us girls at the studio sometimes go for an end of week meal there. But if I’m wanting something a little more greasy the beef quesadilla from Bookoo’s is honestly SO GOOD. I’m now salivating!

Stories & Ink Falmouth studio

What's something people don't know about you?

Some things people don’t know about me… I used to train in and sing opera, I listen to classical music (when it’s not metal), I can play the guitar and I’m scared of chickens!

...Totally understandable, chicken feet are gross!

And finally, who do you find inspirational?

My inspiration is my granny, she sadly passed away last year. I got all of my artist genes and drive from her. She was always interested in my sketchbooks and work when I was studying art for 6 years and when I came in with a new tattoo she didn’t frown but wanted a closer look (even if they weren’t her cup of tea), bless her. Everything I do artistically is for her, to thank her for opening me up to creativity and believing in me and my art.

For those reading, we strongly urge you to go check out Sammi's work. And Sammi, how can people book a tattoo with you?

At the moment, I do all my bookings through social media, on Instagram, either directly through me or the studio get contacted.

For more info about the Falmouth studio and to book, follow @storiesandinkfalmouth.