Skip to content

Artist Highlight: @birdshoestattoos

Words by Taylor Anderson

Robin (@birdshoestattoos) was destined for design. With a background in graphics and a Sign Writer for a Dad, it’s no wonder he’s landed in one of the coolest independent studio’s in East London, ‘No Cure For You’. 

Splitting his time between Hackney and Bournemouth studio, ‘The Lucky Devil’, Robin reflects on the lifestyle he’s created for himself over the past 4 years, grateful for the freedom and creative outlet that comes with the territory. 

How did you discover that you wanted to be a tattoo artist? 

So, I was a graphic designer for about nine years, always wanted to get into something more illustration based. I always wanted to be a tattoo artist but I never thought it was an option. 

And then Bunny’s Tattoos offered to teach me. I kind of never looked back. Yeah, As soon as I got the opportunity to, I was drawing as much as possible, learning as much as I could and have been loving it ever since. 

I started tattooing full time about two months before lockdown. So there was obviously a large portion of work that I wasn't doing. As I was out of my apprenticeship, which is really shit. But yeah, kind of been working here ever since. Love it. I'm also now working down in Bournemouth for the Lucky Devil Tattoo, which is really nice. It's nice to be by the sea again. 

Do you remember the first tattoo you ever did? 

The first was on my good friend Matt, who's also now a tattoo artist (@rattmicetattoo).

Did you ever see the Mr. Bean the movie? So the famous painting in the film is Whistler's Mother. He basically, f*!ks up the painting, so he draws a face over the top of it. And that was the first tattoo I ever did, on my mate.

Do you remember your first tattoo?

Yeah. So I was 19, and I got my first tattoo. I remember really doing my research and finding what I loved. I got tattooed by an artist @kate_selkie in Brighton. Still love it now. I got a realism, sort of neo traditional Robin on my arm. It's quite big. Maybe not necessarily the style I’d have now, but yeah, I love it. It's who I was at the time and it's great.

How many tattoos do you have?

I actually don’t know. I’ve got like a bit of everywhere tattooed. I haven't got my back and haven't got my chest yet.

Do you have any tattoo regrets? 

No, I don't. To me, I feel like even the tattoos that I'm less excited about now, I don't regret it. It's a nice moment in time. I don't think anyone should regret tattoos unless obviously they’re just really really shit.

How would you describe your tattoo style now? 

As soon as I started I really wanted to inject the style that I like and lean towards; which is kind of mid-century cartoons, a bit of American traditional as well. I try to keep my themes and things that I’m tattooing kind of fun and silly. 

What’s your process for creating flash designs?   

I constantly find references everywhere I go, make a little note of funny little ideas. Basically I’ll give myself a brief or a massive list and I just sit down and I start drawing, try to not overthink it too much, just keep it as organic as possible. Some things come out looking terrible sometimes. 

Do you have any favourite designs?

I think one of my favourites is my friend Reece (@houseofdvey). I tattooed ‘Boys’ on his arm in rope in a western font. I loved doing that. Since tattooed him loads. I did a massive building on his back which was a massive challenge for me because it’s one of the biggest tattoos I’ve ever done and it was loads of straight lines.

If you could tattoo anyone in the world, who would it be? 

I guess somebody that I want to pick their brains on. I reckon. David Attenborough. It would be really sick to do some massive, Bird of Paradise or some or some really beautiful tropical fish or something. That’d be pretty mad.

If you weren't a tattoo artist, what would you be doing? 

I'd like to think I’d be in music in some way or the trying to pursue being a Sign Writer. I always saw myself doing something similar to what my dad did. He was a sign writer. Yeah, I think that's what I’d try to do.

How has being a tattoo artist changed your perspective?

I think it's enhanced the fact that all art is subjective. When I first became a designer, it was a bit of an eye opening experience. I realised that the creative world is a job. Initially, it freaked me out and sort of took the romance away from it a bit.

But with tattooing, I've kind of seen  the craft of it and the history of it. Having to learn different styles, not just not just one style, because that's what you want to do. So yeah, it's really, it's really made me want to learn more, which has been really nice.

If you had any advice for someone who wanted to be a tattoo artist, what would it be? 

I think for me, it's definitely important to do it because you love it. Researching different artists and seeing how different artists have done things. Yeah, it's important to be original, for me personally. So it's a tough one with so many different types. You just draw loads and love what you do and do it, basically.