To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we caught up with one of our favourite tattoo artists whose hand poked tattoo designs we love but who has also inspired us in other ways. Read below to find out a bit more about what it's like to be a female tattoo artist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into tattooing/design?
My real names Keely but my tattoo nickname is Pooky, aka Pooky Pokes.
I specialise in hand poked tattoos which I self taught myself after doing my tattoo apprenticeship.
When I was a kid, my mum used to have friends that were tattooed and I instantly became fascinated by it all. I remember going into old school tattoo studios where the walls were covered in flash. I was instantly hooked!
At the age of 15 I got a job as a receptionist in a studio and that was my first experience in the biz.
Years later I was actually fortunate enough to be asked to do an apprenticeship. I knew a few tattooists and was in college studying art so it all just kinda happened.
"When I was a kid, my mum used to have friends that were tattooed, and I instantly became fascinated by it all."
Have you ever faced any challenges being a woman in your industry?
The apprenticeship I had was a very old school method. The tattooist I was learning from was basically a sexist bully.
He’d make sexual or sexist remarks and belittle me in front of customers.
I did learn stuff but I was also mentally scarred from that whole experience.
In later years I found it hard to get taken seriously sometimes.
I’ve had guys walk into the studio and ignore me because they want to speak with a male artist.
What’s your favourite tattoo style?
For me I love traditional and neo traditional bold colour pieces. Most of my arms and legs are covered with bold line work.
To tattoo - I like doing quite minimalist pieces, I love poking moons and stars...I usually always find a way to sneak them into designs!
What’s your favourite tattoo and why?
I find this question so difficult!
I’ve managed to get tattooed by some of my favourite artists over time and love them all!
But I guess my palms are probably one of my favourite, but ask me tomorrow I might say something different!
What would you tell your younger self about being a tattoo artist?
Don’t spend so much energy trying to play into the stereotypical tattooist role.
You don’t have to be mean and aggressive! Be yourself, be caring and be kind.
"You don't have to be mean and aggressive! Be yourself, be caring and be kind."
What do you think women should do more of?
• Stand up for ourselves.
• Stand up for our sisters.
• Be kind to yourself.
• Love your body.
• See how beautiful you are and shine!
What is one challenge that you are proud of overcoming?
This time last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy.
It was a challenge I never thought I’d never have to go through. I never would have expected I’d be strong enough to cope with all the treatment and deal with the mental trauma that comes with it all.
But I still managed to smile and stay positive and Although I have all these physical scars and my body looks completely different I can truly appreciate how strong my body has been. I’ll love every scar for playing their part in saving me. I was fortunate I found the lump early enough, I cannot stress how important it is to check your boobs (and pecs!) Early detection really can save lives.
To support Keely in her fundraising activities, we asked her to design some International Women's Day t-shirts for us to raise awareness around breast cancer.
For every International Women's Day t-shirt sold we donated £10 to Breast Cancer Now charity and managed to raise an amazing £2,060 in total!
You can see more of Keely’s work on Instagram here - @pookypokes @pookys_page
And please remember ... keep feelin' yourself 🤘