Blaze of Glory - Toni Moore of Broad Street Tattoo

Published: 31 May, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 199, May, 2011

In the quest to find young, inspiring and inspired artists, we come across many who fit the bill but one name keeps coming up over and over again. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Toni Moore:

To the readers that don’t know, you have only been tattooing for 3 short years, can you tell me how you started? 

"I first started my apprenticeship in 2006, in a studio situated in North Devon, called 14 Tattooing. It was, what I’d call, a really old school apprenticeship. I made endless cups of tea, learnt to make needles, scrubbed everything from top to bottom and took care of everything on reception, from taking phone calls to ordering stock. I did this for about 18 months before I was allowed to start tattooing. It was super hard work and frustrating at times but I now totally understand that I had to prove myself. I then started off tattooing myself, Chalky (my boss) and anyone willing to let me practice. I was only tattooing maybe once a week, whenever the shop was quiet or in my own time after work. 

It was awesome how many people had the confidence in me to let me practice on them and I greatly appreciate them for it. January 2008 was when I first started to tattoo paying customers. I was basically doing all flash work, little flowers and Chinese symbols. But I do think this is defiantly the best way to learn. You can concentrate on lining and colouring, whilst finishing a tight tattoo, instead of being overwhelmed with a huge custom piece where you don’t know where to start!

I moved to Bath Spa about a year and a half ago now and I am totally in love with the place. I work at Broad Street studio which is an exciting new studio situated right in the heart of the city. We are a custom studio and the three of us cover pretty much all styles. Fil Norman co-owns the studio and has done some amazing dot and black work. He’s been doing the iron cross on my palm, and going to be doing a dot work flower design on the tops of my collar bone.  Marcos Attwood came to work at the studio last summer and he does some sick old school work."

So how long have you actually been drawing then? Was that always the endgame?

"I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. It’s something that I have always loved doing. I find I get too bored doing anything else, and I always end picking up a pencil and sketching something new.Art was the only thing I was interested in at school too, and I also went on to college to study art and design at A level. I decided not to go to university as art at that level doesn’t tend to be about your artist ability, it’s about analysing and understanding. I hated it and just wanted to draw and paint cool shit without explaining it or having to justify myself.

I also knew by then that I wanted to become a tattoo artist and there is obviously no degree at university for that. So I decided to get a full time job and try to find an apprenticeship.I worked a lot of crap jobs when I was younger, but I knew it wouldn’t be forever and if you want something bad enough you will make it happen. I was still drawing in my free time. And worked hard to try and find an apprenticeship. Thankfully it all paid off a couple years later and I got my opportunity."

So what kind of advice would you give anyone who is in the same boat as you - do you have any wise words to pass on? 

"Like I said, if you want something badly enough you can make it happen, but you have to work, and work hard for it! You can’t expect things to be handed to you on a plate, and anything in life that’s worth having, is worth working hard for! Just don’t give up and always listen to advice, good or bad."

In your short career as a tattooist you are already well known and sought after, where can people hope to catch you over the year, are you doing any conventions or guest spots? 

"Well, I’m at Tattoo Jam in August. I may also be doing a couple of guest spots later this year, so keep checking the website (www.broadstreetstudio.co.uk) for more info, but I love going to conventions whether I’m working them or not. I would love to work the London Convention one day too. Milan is also a great convention and I’ve been lucky enough to work there over the past few years. I’d love to travel and travel to some more abroad over the next few years as there are loads of good ones."

So can you tell me about any exciting pieces your working on now? 

"I have so many awesome pieces that I’m working on at the moment. My customers are really pushing me with new ideas and concepts and helping me to explore new avenues in my work.I have nearly come to the end of my first back piece, which has been so much fun. Kris is a great customer to work with. He comes in with great ideas and totally lets you do what you want with it. He can also sit like a rock and doesn’t complain at all. I’m really excited to finish it in the next session. It’s a traditional inspired piece, but with more of a new school feel - it’s also really bright. I’m doing a big pin up in collaboration with Marcos Attwood, (who also works in Broad Street) on a Lucky Vegas style sleeve, which I can’t wait to work on again. It’s pushing me to work a little more old school than I normally would, but it’s a lot fun."

You’ve built up quite a collection of your own too I see... 

"I’ve been so lucky to get tattooed by the artists that I have. Tim Kern being my favourite. He did my chest piece and recently finished my evil Japanese ghost lady on my leg. I am always mesmerised by the way he works, he’s such a perfectionist. As soon as one piece is finished I’m already sorting out the next with him, and can’t wait for piece number three. I’ve also been tattooed by Jason Butcher who did my throat and my armpit, Jo Harrison did my right sleeve, knuckles and the diamond on my front. Matt Difa did the pin ups on my thigh and the outside of my left forearm. He is also going to be doing another one as part of a full back piece on me.

I’m having a lot of lasering done on my back before we start, but am super excited about getting it done with him. I’ve also been tattooed by Dan Marshall, Jimmy Litwalk, Derek Noble, Wez4, Denis Pase, Fil Norman, Marcos Attwood and Maneko. I’m also getting tattooed by Turk this year. He will be covering some stars on my forearm which I have been getting layered for a while now. I also really want to get some more script from Maneko when he is in the UK in September - and then some from Norm, in LA later this year too."

Who is really exciting you right now? 

"There are so many amazing artists at the moment - I’m discovering more and more all the time. I’d absolutely love to get tattooed by Jeff Gogue and I really hope I can sometime soon. He’s probably the only other artist that is high on my list.  There are so many others artists I’d love to get tattooed by, but there just isn’t enough skin on me!"

Where do you get your inspiration from, who do you really look up to within the industry? 

"I’ve been really privileged to work with some amazing artists in my career so far. Obviously I learnt a lot in my time at Modern Body Art. Working with Jo (Harrison) even for a short time was awesome and she was a great inspiration. I also got to work for a few days with Tim Kern, Jeff Gogue, Derek Noble and Denis Pase whilst they were doing guest spots at MBA, which again was awesome and I learnt different things from all of them. 

Admittedly it was really intimidating as I hadn’t been tattooing long, but it was great to learn from talented artists who I really look up to. I really get inspired by people that work hard and love what they do. Music is also a massive part of my life and I take a lot of reference from it in my artwork, I recently did a Slayer piece and I’d love to do more."

Going back to your own work, what kind of style would you say that you work to, and how long did it take you to find that? Personally I think your lettering is definitely worth looking out for, is that something that you were working towards? 

"I really don’t feel like I have a style. I love tattooing so many different types of things and I don’t really want to be pigeon-holed into one type of tattooing style. I do love doing lettering and would love to do more, but I couldn’t do it day in day out. I love being challenged and trying out new things.I love going crazy with designs and putting loads of detail into things where possible, and experimenting with different colour palettes. My customers have been amazing so far and always come to me with completely different ideas which I love. 

I think it is really important as a tattooist to explore other avenues that can help you develop your skills and understanding as an artist. I brought out a sketch book early last year full of new, unused sketches that other artists could use as reference. I have a lot of different sketch books by other artists and they are a great help when you are feeling a bit uninspired or you want to look at someone else’s take on a design. I have had great feedback from it and as it’s been a year on, and I feel my artwork has progressed a lot in the past 12 months, I’m now working on my second and hoping to have it finished in May.

I’m aiming to have a lot more detailed images in this one, including lots more script. The guys from the studio and I have also decided to collaborate and create a set of flash. So keep your eyes out for this as it will be available to buy at conventions. I also like to paint, although I feel I still have so much to learn in this area. I have previously used acrylics but more recently started using oils and I was like, wow! What a totally amazing, excellent discovery! They are great fun and I’m looking forward to doing more with them. I paint and sell other things as well like canvases, vans trainers, jewellery boxes, skate decks and handbags."

Broad Street Studio

26 Broad Street,
Bath
BA1 5LW

01225 329825
info@broadstreetstudio.co.uk

Credits

Text & Photography: Gemma Bell

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