I ink therefore I am…
I wanted to start this piece with a mysterious journey but a few stops on the IGO didn’t quite fit the bill, although being pensioners’ shopping day it did feel a little bit like a ghost train. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Long Eaton wasn’t the zombie apocalypse I had been warned about when I alighted at The Green. I was however on the search for none other than the heavily tattooed gentleman whose resemblance to a flat capped Vic Reeves is more than a little uncanny.
If you cross over on Wilko’s corner and saunter down Oxford Road, tucked away in Mayfair Walk you will find a hidden talent who grew up on Imperial Road in Beeston. Daniel Roberts has been filling up sketch books from his wild imagination since he was a nipper and the manifestations from his mind are now finding themselves adorning the bodies of many local characters.
Danny opened his tattoo parlour ‘Paperhaus Tattoo’ back in 2014 after completing a three-year apprenticeship. He is not entirely sure what inspired him to tattoo in the first place other than the simple desire to ‘see his artwork on skin.’ The inspiration for his often dark characters and twisted scenes are born out of a desire to make the ordinary extraordinary, after all why wouldn’t a horse wear a pair of high heels and a rabbit be partial to eating a sandwich? He considers himself as an artist who tattoos, his artwork did come first after all. Some of his designs are currently available on t-shirts and will soon be available as prints.
When I arrived at his studio for a chat and a strong coffee, Danny was working on a piece for guy in Phoenix Arizona that he had hooked up with via Instagram. He was clearly thrilled that this guy had lots of positive things to say about his art but it was their shared love of vinyl that led to this commissioned piece. The design will be printed up on t-shirts to promote a local club night at a tiki-themed bar, a real ‘by the people for the people’ kind of design project. ‘ Afro Waltz’ by John Cameron was playing in the background as he spoke which made for a relaxed if trippy atmosphere.
As I have a gleg round Danny’s studio, a home from home. I cast an eye over the chintzy lampshade balanced on a dark wood standard lamp and eye up a soft squishy sofa underneath the tattoo flash that adorns the back wall of the waiting area, there is a distinct lack of pretention in the air. It definitely not your typical tattoo studio, it could be described hauntingly kitsch, but then Danny is not your typical tattooist. He is very candid about his first forays into art. ‘It was either that or watching black and white regional telly on the portable in our static caravan in Skegness.’ The penny arcades had no lure for the young Daniel, he much preferred ‘sketching on the back of a cornflake packet with a biro.’
As I watch intently as his busy digits sketch, I ask him how he comes up with some of his detailed designs. He picks up his comical coffee mug, in a jaunty fashion, and tells me ‘I clear my mind and it’s like a cosmic internet connection, it’s automatic how things connect and I often look at what I have drawn and ask myself “How did I think of that?” He talks about the urge to draw as that familiar ‘itch you have to scratch’ and likens his inspiration to childhood pastimes like seeing shapes in the clouds or in patterns on the pavements.
There are recurring symbols that appear in many of his drawings, a favourite being the oven ready chicken
He says he has been influenced by the works of Dali and Woodring and there is most definitely surrealism in his art. There are also recurring symbols that appear in many of his drawings, a favourite being the oven ready chicken, which has been spotted in some very compromising positions. It is the reactions to his work that Danny enjoys the most. Whether they shock, excite, humour or disgust he doesn’t mind as long as they get a response. It would be fair to say there is an innocence and sense of mischief in a lot of his works and this is quite representative of the man himself. He has most certainly got his own style and he recognises that it is not to everyone’s taste and could be considered niche.
Dan likes the idea of his artwork being framed and appreciated, we are not here forever but things like art can be owned and then passed on, keeping the legacy alive. He hopes that by putting it out there people will acknowledge it and someone will buy it and appreciate it, but then they may give it away or die and it’s this idea that you don’t know what might happen to it that intrigues him most. As I glance at the fine example of a 70s cuckoo clock, I am surprised to see that a couple of hours has floated by and I have a notebook full of my own scribbles. Dan can really make you feel right at home, you’ll never want to leave…
You will find Danny in his studio at Boutique 6, Mayfair Walk, Oxford Street, Long Eaton, NG10 1JR
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:30am–18:00pm / Saturday 10:30am–18:00