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Respecting Reinvention With Lil Red

My friends have enough similarities and just enough differences that we get on like a house

on fire. It’s a dreamy equilibrium of characters. One of our similarities is our tattoos. We don’t all have the same tattoo, or even the same style. But, one person is responsible for nearly all of them.

- Lil Red (Amy Clark).

The range of her work is incredible. From our small sample size, she’s done everything

from fine-line lighthouses and floral designs, to graffiti of adapted Kendrick Lamar bars and Louis Vuitton printed assault rifles. Everyone’s completely aware of the stigma surrounding tattoos, but an interesting branch of this is the stigmatisation from within the culture itself. Inter-artist judgement is something that will always be in and around any creative practice – some more than others. Ultimately, your work is your baby and if someone says your child’s ugly, your blood is bound to boil. That is a feature intrinsic to every artistic channel.

The irony of this in the context of tattooing stands out to me. The craft has evolved so far

from the view that anyone with tattoos was a drunk, a sailor or a drunken sailor. In this moment, I know more people with a tattoo than without. The cultural significance of it now, compared to 10 or 20 years ago, is huge. But even as the art has progressed in regards to society, there is still a divide within the artists. When I discussed this with Amy, she appreciated the idea that committing yourself to a style shows a certain dedication and discipline, but for her, those values come through in her commitment to her ever-expanding style. It is something artists have been lauded


You could look at the discography of the late Mac Miller, who went from K.I.D.S to The

Divine Feminine, Swimming and Circles. His work progressed from traditional hip-hop samples from a youthful perspective to his later collections which are infused with an array of genres and speak completely openly about mature topics about his life and struggles. If you listened to thirty seconds of each, you’d be able to tell the difference without dissecting the lyrics. It is blatant. Neither is better or worse. It is entirely subjective.

I have always had a huge amount of respect for artists that accept the fact that their style is

not fully formed yet. It is never finished and it never will be. We put new artists on a pedestal and rightly so, but the willingness to respect reinvention is a virtue. Amy is only 21, but having this openness to change is a huge strength and she has already shown that her value is in the quality of her art, not its respect to the boundaries of a style or era. She is currently plying her trade at Shy Bairns in Gateshead and from January she’ll be joining Sugar Rush Studio in Headingley too.

Check out more of Josh's work HERE.


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