Crazy Like a Fox - Drew Le Fox

Published: 26 February, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 222, March, 2013

I asked Drew how his day had been. I knew he had already had a client, so I was curious to know how it went. “I loved today. It was ace; an ace client. Really spiritual, really well travelled, meaningful. Not only that, my friend, but I think I might be getting back with my girlfriend!”

And so began my conversation with Drew, a conversation that would reveal a humble and compassionate man at the top of his game.

“Look, we could do this interview nice and clean, or you could hear the real side of me.” He had me hooked. “The real side of you please, Drew,” I responded immediately. And so he began…

“I started tattooing with an ex of mine from a few years ago (Drew has been tattooing for four years). This girl that I started tattooing with, I lost. We had it all, but I think working with your girlfriend is a tough thing to do, so when we split it was pretty tragic for me. It was tough trying to get over her and to keep the studio going at the same time. I ended up growing 44 cannabis plants on the third floor of the studio for some odd reason and got raided, but then I picked myself back up again. And then this girl, called Edie, came into my life and my jaw just dropped. She has been everything to me eversince and I dedicate all my work to her. She is an amazing and beautiful person.

“The studio I run resides in Louth, Lincolnshire. I live above the studio. It’s been through one hell of a journey, since we’ve known each other. I was working in a rock clothing store, and I was studying Japanese artwork. I’ve actually always been into art. I would say it started from dreams I had when I was really young; I was about four years old and I started having dreams that I was going over water and I’d be coming over this ship and I’d see these bits of jewellery, and I started to draw them when I was awake. My dad told me that he would come into my room to find it scattered with drawings.

Apparently I was drawing a lot of Viking ships (Drew is a quarter Norwegian). I was the kid at school that used to draw on people. I was also in the army, and when I had time off I used to paint and draw. The soldiers would ask me to design tattoos for them, so it’s always been there.

“I was in a heavy metal band for a while, but it went downhill. I met up with a French guy when I was down on my luck in a bar. Basically, he picked me up off my feet. He was a pick-up artist… my real name is Andrew Potts. He said that from now on, when we go out, you are no longer ‘Potts who works at Currys’, you need a name. You need to be able to snap out of this boring person and have an alter ego. But I didn’t know what I wanted to call myself. So he told me I was cunning like a fox, and so came Le Fox Method (the name of the tattoo shop too). It was a name that just stuck.

“I’m obsessed with Japanese art. I collect swords; I train with Japanese weapons; I practice a lot of different types of martial arts. This tattooist said to me once that my art was great, but that I wouldn’t be able to do it as a tattoo, as it was too detailed.

But, in my mind, if someone tells me I can’t do something, I’ll endeavour to prove them wrong. That day, my mate came around and told me he’d just bought a tattoo machine on eBay and I asked if I could have a go. I went around to his house and started tattooing myself. The second I picked up the machine I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I will always remember this feeling of holding this crumby Chinese tattoo machine and just knowing. And I just kept pestering my mate to do it some more.

“Anyway, eventually I got a machine for myself, and started tattooing my legs. I only did tattoos that I knew I could do. So I was doing a lot of outlines, and colour-packing. I was living with my brother at the time, and I set up a very clean studio in the place. I was unemployed at the time, and basically people started to say that I was doing very good and neat work. I was doing cherry blossoms and things like that. Then, out of the blue, this criminal dude from Manchester told me he wanted me to do a Japanese sleeve. At the time I’d only been tattooing for about six months, but he really wanted it.

He filmed it being done too. Then he got all these other bloody psychos in, but they were loving it! It was crazy – I’m talking about the kinds of people that would take your kneecaps if you mess about with them!”

Eventually, Drew came to the decision that he didn’t want to carry on working from his flat, and chose to open up his own place instead. After going through the authorities, he was eventually able to open up his own tattoo shop, Le Fox Method. At the time there was only one other tattoo shop in Louth that had been going for about 15 years, and shortly after Le Fox Method opened, the other closed down.

“Louth is beautiful; it got voted Britain’s most beautiful market town recently and I’m on the oldest street in the town. There is a really nice feeling in this building (which is over 200 years old). Just recently I blew all the money I had on doing the studio up. This was when tattooing really saved me from the partying side of my personality. I’ve knocked all that on the head now, and now the studio really is the talk of the town.

“I remember once that I was looking through a tattoo magazine when I saw a tattoo by Thomas Hooper and suddenly saw the light in black work. Now, I’m into history, I’m into antiques. I’m into that Eastern spiritual stuff, and Thomas Hooper just opened my eyes to the possibilities within tattooing. I saw that he was using a stunning tattoo machine, and I just closed the shop for three days because I decided I wasn’t going to tattoo again until I had one of those machines! After lots of obsessive searching, I eventually found out what it was; it was a Roy Richardson rotary. I wrote to him and he was incredible. He sent me a machine, and not only was that the moment that my tattoo career really began, but it was the moment where I finally had that mentor-type figure in my life, and that was Roy Richardson. We have established an incredible friendship since then; he has made me believe in myself as a tattoo artist and as a person. When I first met him, it was a genuine honour. And his tattoo machines really are something else.

“There is something in me that keeps me up at night and keeps me drawing obsessively, waking up and working on my days off, working until my eyes are dry. In my mind I’m thinking about some exploding mandala, constantly looking at the patterns, even if I’m in the middle of a conversation with somebody. Their words are blurred out, and all I can see are patterns exploding in my mind.

I remember meditating recently at a yoga session, and when I came out of it everyone had already gone. I had no idea the session was over!”

Drew’s work is defined by beautifully rendered complex patterns; the mandalas have a spiritual and meditative quality that are essentially an extension of Drew’s ever-evolving mind. While I was speaking with Drew, I was actually looking through photos of his tattoos at the same time, and it all began to make sense. Here is a guy who has not only made it his life’s choice to tattoo, but has also made it his life’s choice to constantly be exploring the limits of the mind, and as a consequence, the limits of tattooing. His work is constantly shifting and taking on new forms.

As we drew the conversation to a close, Drew wanted to finish it off by thanking a few people. “I want to thank my family, my friends, and my clients. I know Thomas Hooper doesn’t know me, but I want to thank him; also Xed le Head. I want to thank all the people that inspire me. I want to thank Roy Richardson and Edie Fox, because without them I wouldn’t be experiencing this beautiful life.”

Le Fox Method Ink

13 New Street
01507 201369


Text: Tom Abbott; Photography: Drew