Draconian Tattoo

Published: 28 July, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 120, April, 2005

It was at the 3rd Durham tattoo party that I managed to catch up with the guys from Draconian Tattoo. I arranged to head up to the wilds of Scotland to find out what they had been up to since our last meeting over 7 years ago. 

 

I arrived in the North of Scotland, Aberdeen to be precise, early one Saturday morning and headed for the shop. The studio is located in the heart of Aberdeen, and offers a warm and friendly atmosphere to all who enter. I chose to visit them on a Saturday so that I could talk to some of the loyal Draconian customers and find out what it is that keeps bringing them back for more!

 

Draconian Tattoo has been on the go for around 9 years and is run by best mates Stix and Kev. The minute I walked into their studio I was greeted by John, the receptionist, at first you could be forgiven for being intimidated by John, he is larger than life with an addiction to facial piercings! However I was made to feel completely at ease with offers of tea and coffee and a comfy seat! The studio is a far cry from the seedy, dark images conjured up in olden days when you mentioned a tattoo parlour; this is a studio in every sense of the word. Stix and Kev are both big fantasy art fans and the studio is crammed full of art books for their customers to source inspiration. They collect flash from all over the world, Stix told me that he never goes to an overseas convention without picking up at least one new set of designs. They both feel that you can never have too many designs to choose from, and this is certainly the case. The walls are covered in flash and photographs of their very impressive work, and one wall boasts a gigantic dragon that it seems that many Draconians had a hand in.  There is a friendly banter that goes on in the shop, which gives it an atmosphere that you don’t find in many shops. Stix and Kev are both movie fans and the shelves are packed with figures from all the horrors; it is definitely true that boys don’t grow up – their toys just get bigger and more expensive! When they are not tattooing they spend many hours working on their cars, and Kev is working towards his first bike, when I asked him what he fancied he told me in a second, ‘A Harley of course – what else is there!’

 

As I sat there I noticed that many of their customers pop in just to say hello and have a cuppa. As Kev said ‘our customers are not merely customers – when someone trusts you with their skin, it is more than business it is personal, when they come in they don’t just want to chat about tattoos’ It was refreshing to spend time with them and see that there were no egos here just a couple of guys doing what they love. 

 

Like many of you I wanted to find out how the guys got started in the wonderful world of tattooing?

 

Stix and Kev first met when they were 6 years old and have been the best of friends ever since. It was Stix’s uncle that got them interested in tattooing, as an artist himself BJ used to look after them, and they would sit for hours watching him, both the guys used to do drawings for BJ, but it was Stix who was the first one to pick up a machine. He recalls; ‘one day my uncle did an outline on one of his customers and gave me the chance to shade it in, he did not need to ask me twice! From then I was hooked, I did my first solo tattoo on my mate Leo it was really scary but I got such a buzz from it, it cant have been all that bad as me and Leo are still mates and he has not asked me to cover it up yet!’

 

Stix continued tattooing from that day, working as a printer through the day and tattooing from his home at night, with Kev doing all the drawings and carbons. Stix never let up though; every day he pestered Kev to start tattooing. Kev remembers, ‘ one night I had done a set up as usual and Stix just handed me the machine and said ‘on you go then’ and walked out of the room, I must have gone mad but I just went for it! It was amazing, I remember it to this day it was a skull with flames on a guy called Dave and I am still tattooing him to this day!’

 

It was back in 1996 that Stix and Kev opened Draconian Tattoo, back then it was only the second tattoo studio in the city and was busy from the word go. It was at that point that I had to ask them why the name ‘Draconian’, if you look it up in the dictionary it means harsh or severe!. Kev told me that the studio started out as Dragonian Tattoo, which is a combination of Dragon and Stix’s first name, but at their first outing to a tattoo show in England they were announced as Draconian, and the name stuck. At that point Kev added that they are Draconian in name not in nature.

 

Stix is a self confessed fan of black and grey, and especially enjoys fantasy work, looking through his photo albums you can see why the guy is famous for it. I met one of his customers who has a Vietnam War scene on his back and I was more than a little impressed to find out that it was his first tattoo. He told me he had thought for years about what to get, then after coming into the studio and looking through Stix’s many reference books they had decided on a back piece made up of 5 photographs of scenes from the Vietnam War. This piece has to be seen to be believed, the attention to detail in quite amazing. They are planning his next piece as we speak – watch this space...

 

Kev says that he leans more towards colour work, and he is never happier than when he is working on an old school piece. He is also renound for his free hand work, give that boy a skin marker and it seems he can draw anything from Maori to Celtic. He has just completed a Celtic back piece which he freely admits he used a stencil for. ‘It was great to get the opportunity to do such a big piece of Celtic though it did give me nightmares making sure all my over and unders were correct!’ I saw what he meant when I met Scott the man who gave his back so freely to Kev. Scott came to Draconian, like many, on recommendation and admits that he is a ‘Kev Fan’ and will not look elsewhere, they are already planning his next piece. As we sat and spoke over coffee, Kev told me that he has just booked a customer for his first session on a full body suit in freehand Maori – which I am sure you will see in the magazines in the not to distant future.

 

The variety of work available for me to look at was excellent and I have to thank all the Draconians for coming down to the studio and making me feel like one of the family. I was especially pleased to meet the Borg Twins, no really, they are twins and their surname IS Borg! They both had Borg tattooed on their arms by Kev in a graffiti style – now tattooing the Borg is a claim to fame! One of Stix’s infamous black and grey masterpieces was also on hand; Kirsten one of Stix’s regulars has a Royo back piece that is simply spectacular. Stix’s admits is was one of his more challenging pieces to date ‘the bodice on the woman was a challenge to try and get it to look see through, but hopefully Kirsten is pleased with the result.’ Kirsten is more than pleased she is planning another Royo piece and admits that now she has found Stix she won’t be going anywhere else for her ink.

 

So what does the future hold for the guys – well both are quick to admit that they never stop learning Kev and Stix both agree that not a day goes by that they don’t learn something new about tattooing. ‘It is a never ending learning process, I think the day that one of us says that we know it all is the day that we need a smack!’ Stix, Kev and John make a great team at Draconian and their customers cant praise them highly enough. Many of them that I spoke to say it is not just the excellent artwork that keeps them coming back but the warm and friendly atmosphere. John is always happy to offer advice and friendly chat and keeps you topped up with tea and coffee. The guys are hoping that in the near future they can open a bigger studio in Aberdeen but for now they are happy where they are. Stix’s partner has just had a baby boy and Kev’s partner has recently had a baby girl, so it looks like the future of Draconian Tattoo is guaranteed! 

 

I would like to thank the guys once again for a fabulous day, and to all the Draconians, thank you for coming down and showing me your work. I look forward to seeing what the guys are going to do in the future; one thing you can be certain of is that it will be impressive.

 

You can find them at 

Draconian Tattoo Studio

605 George Street 

Aberdeen 

AB25 3YH

01224-633201

Credits

Words: Amy Lochhead Photography: Shelby Adams

Related

Magazines: 
Skin Deep 120 1 April 2005 120
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