Tattoo Medway

Published: 06 April, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 127, November, 2005

Start of the next story! The second studio, TATTOO MEDWAY LTD, located in Gillingham High St. About 4 miles from MEDWAY TATTOO & PIERCING CENTRE, opened in spring 2001. Another long series of trials and tribulations.  This time I decided to let the landlord convert the shop, to my design, and I would pay him back over 3 years. I should have realized the work crew were cowboys of the worst kind sooner, but you know how it is! They half did almost everything, and the only things they did complete, they did wrong! Doors didn’t close, sinks leaked, everything just about was bodged, while maintaining a cheeky chatty chappie kind of humour throughout. Bodgit and Scarper was the name of the game, and I am still fixing things they ‘made’. Like the shower plinth surround they made from MDF and painted (like all the wood and MDF) with a gloss and emulsion paint mixed together and slopped on liberally. Within 6 months it had turned into a stinking rotten sponge! Water dripped off the light fittings, shelves fell off, plumbing and roofs leaked, walls cracked, I vowed ‘never again!

We assembled another team for the new studio, headed up by the young tattoo artist Justin Nacey. He is still with us, although about to go travelling soon. The rest of the original team didn’t last very long, mostly because they had their heads up their arses. Various piercers and artists came and went for varied reasons along the years. One artist said to Justin, when he asked about a certain machine and needle set up ‘I am sorry but I can’t trust you with that information.’ Can you believe the arrogance of it? Good people are very hard to find, and when you do find them its hard to keep them. Reception staff can make or break a studio, in my opinion. We have all come across front desk staff with bad attitudes. I try to instil in them that most customers are a bit scared when they come in for a first tattoo or piercing, even the 6ft Para from the army base down the road. I’ve found that this fear can come across as either aggression or meekness in the customer, and you have to look beyond that attitude. This is why I prefer female reception staff, they are more intuitive, and can turn aggression, rather than return it and escalate the problem.


I attended an APT seminar in Amsterdam a few years ago, and in one lecture we were reminded that to most people, we who work in tattoo and piercing studios are a scary looking bunch, covered in visible tattoos, and with various bits of metal, wood or plastic things in assorted holes!  We sometimes forget this, because this is our normal!


I digress. The team we have had in Gillingham for a few years now has worked very well together; Justin Nacey and Ben Sked bounce ideas off each other all the time and are different enough to make it all very interesting. 

I like the banter and chat you get between the artists in an open studio environment. I think it relaxes the customers and enhances their experience.


Ben Sked is from Canada, although born in UK. He specializes in dragons and general Japanese styles and designs, and has a good laid back attitude to his work and life in general. He is currently getting work done on himself by Wido De Marval, and Nicole Lowe, both Japanese influenced pieces. 


Justin’s area of special interest is geometric pattern work, and dot work. He has a few hand tapped dot work pieces by Cory Ferguson from Enlightened Art in Canada, and extensive patterns on his legs from Zed Le Head. He has asked me to write that although he is going travelling soon, he will be back some time!

The resident piercer at Tattoo Medway is Marc, and although he is young, he has a very good knowledge of piercing, as he was trained by Alex Catchpole who used to work for us in Medway Tattoo & Piercing Centre.


On reception duty we have Bex, Sally and Hayley. Hayley has just started a tattoo apprenticeship with Ray Hunt at Medway Tattoo & Piercing Centre.


I think all in all we achieved what we set out to do, and made a clean, modern studio with a relaxed happy face, turning out good honest high quality work.


We would all like to say a big hi and thank you to all of our friends and customers.





I’m Ben, I’m 37 years old and I’ve been tattooing for about 20 years. I was born in Hemel Hempstead in Herts but  moved to Canada when I was young and that’s where I grew up, only moving back to the UK in 2003 and starting here in Jan 2004.


I suppose I ought to tell you a bit about my history, as I said I have been tattooing for about 20 years but only professionally since the early to mid 90’s. I got my first professional machines in 1991, before that I used to work with home-made machines and by hand poke. I only gave into tattooing completely in 1998 and I can honestly say it was the best decision of my life. Since that time I have been very lucky and have met, got to know and worked for some really open tattooists who have helped and encouraged me and for which I will be forever grateful. Two people in particular are Jay Wozceik at Addictive tattooing in London Ontario, Canada and Trevor Law from Ink Fix in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.


Since I started Tattooing and before moving back to England I worked at 3 studios in Ontario, Canada. Artistic tattooing in London, Ontario, Red Dragon in Sudbury, Ontario and Eyes of the World who are also in Sudbury, Ontario.


I have many influences in art, both tattoo artists and conventional artists, these include such people as Geiger, Alex Gray, Dali, Monet, Craig Driscole, Mike Austin, Philip Leu and Shige to name but a few.


Outside tattooing I’ve been playing music for 30 years, I also do a lot of reading of such things as philosophy, political science and religion. I also am into climbing, snorkeling, camping and fishing. I also have a 7 year-old daughter who I miss dearly, I love you nova. 





I’m Justin, 29 years old and I’m a self-taught artist. I’ve gained loads of experience by constantly re-evaluating myself and by working with other artists. I extensively tattooed myself to get to grips with the basics of tattooing.  


I got my first tattoo equipment and I proceeded to tattoo my father and myself with it. It was a rotary machine and I still use rotary machines today. They are not the easiest machines to start with as unlike conventional coil machines there is no give in a rotary, if you get it wrong you end up carving the person you’re supposed to be tattooing. I now own a variety of different machines, 4 rotary’s and a host of coil machines. I like experimenting, particularly with different needle set ups, armature bars and machine settings.


I’m really into geometric patterns and dot work and I have been tattooed by Xed le Head and Cory Ferguson who are both pushing the boundaries in this style. I want to learn both of these styles and also want to learn to tattoo by hand. I’ve been to Thailand twice and I am really inspired by the Asian artwork. I’ve really enjoyed my time working here but I want to travel to gain more experience and hopefully broaden my horizons. To this end I’m actually leaving Tattoo Medway in November and heading off to Spain, hopefully to work.





I’m Dan Chambers and I have been working in studios for a little under 2 years. I am currently the body piercer here at Tattoo Medway. I became interested in bodyart early on when I was still at school and began to call studios looking for work and training, unfortunately at the age of 16, places weren’t very keen to take me on. I’m happy to say that persistence has paid off and I now work in a top studio around artists whose work is inspiring. I continue to look for a tattoo apprenticeship and take in as much knowledge as possible from working in the environment. In the future I plan to travel to America and Europe and visit artists such as Hernandez, Punko and Adam Barton who are all big influences for me.  






I have always been drawn to tattoo’s but the real passion started when I first started getting tattooed myself, meeting the people and seeing what actually goes on in this colourful world that all tattooed people are part of.


I’ve been lucky because I have been able to work in this world for the past 4 years, I was in the right place at the right time and just happened to be about when Medway tattoo in Rochester were looking for a new receptionist and I started working there. Then about a year later this shop opened and I side stepped over to here and have been here ever since.


One day I hope to apprentice with the studio as a tattoo artist and in the meantime I’m doing what I was advised to when I first said about it, listen, look and draw, draw, draw. Most of my inspiration comes from the people I work with and just dealing with tattooing on a daily basis.


I personally love bold colour and new school style work but I also like the softer more feminine style work that flows with the body. I eat, sleep and breath tattoos, it’s my passion and it’s now starting to get really interesting… I’m looking forward to my forthcoming journey in this industry.



Skin Deep 127 1 November 2005 127