tattoo artist with Vivid Ink in Birmingham
Makarelle: When did you start your career as a tattoo artist?
Kay Aston: I’ve always been interested in art, always loved to create in my spare time. Tattooing was very different when I got my first apprenticeship at 18, I was in and out of apprenticeships for years, until I eventually found the right place for me in 2017 and have been tattooing full time since.
Makarelle: Who or what influences you?
Kay Aston: My customers mainly, I never set out with a specific style of tattooing. Through the different people I met, I developed a love of line and dot-work. I love Indian artwork and that features often in my designs.
Makarelle: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not tattooing people?
Kay Aston: Pre-covid I loved to travel and watch live music. I now have a one-year-old who keeps me pretty busy when I’m not tattooing.
Makarelle: Who is your favourite tattoo artist?
Kay Aston: It’s hard to answer as I have favourites for different reasons. Dawn from Painted Lady, as she’s so creative and fun to be around. Craig James at New Ink as he’s one of the most talented people I’ve met. Many more too.
Makarelle: How is it being a woman working in a traditionally male environment?
Kay Aston: It’s better now. Slowly, there are more and more women coming into the industry. The main reason I had such difficulty in the beginning, was that I wasn’t taken seriously in some of the male dominant studios, as a young girl trying to get into tattooing. I don’t think it’s like that now, though.
Makarelle: What has been your best moment in your career, so far?
Kay Aston: Winning 1st place dotwork and ornamental at my first Tattoo convention in Amsterdam.
Makarelle: Do you have a particular style of tattooing that you enjoy?
Kay Aston: I really enjoy tattooing flowers, Indian inspired pieces and geometric designs.
Makarelle: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Kay Aston: Hopefully still tattooing! I’ve also been working on a tattoo aftercare line which will be released shortly, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes.
Makarelle: Do you have many tattoos, and do you have a favourite?
Kay Aston: I’ve got a few. My favourite so far is a realistic Japanese leg piece, which is ongoing.
Makarelle: Thank you very much for your interview, Kay. All the best for your future!
Kay currently has a chair at Vivid Ink in the centre of Birmingham and does guest spots all over the country. She has won a number of awards globally for her work. Makarelle editor Jane Langan has known Kay for a number of years and was thrilled when she agreed to this interview. Jane's left arm sleeve is all Kay’s work.
All image rights on this page remain with Kay Aston.