HOW MANY ARTISTS DO YOU FOLLOW TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAY? I LOVE DISCOVERING TALENT, ESPECIALLY LOCAL TALENTS, BETH VOLTAGE IS CERTAINLY A TREAT. AS A HIGHLY SKILLED TATTOOIST AND ARTIST I WANTED TO KNOW A LITTLE MORE BEHIND THE WORK.
Quick coffee break one Saturday morning, Beth stopped by to chat with me about her style, tattooing as well as inspirations, and a subtle push to support local creatives.
My first question, do you do?
Beth: I'm an artist, a tattooist.
And is there a particular arts style?
I actually love doing everything. I love drawing more than anything. I love painting and that's really about it. I do photography a lot as well but that's just kind of like a side thing, not so much a...
Another creative outlet.
Yeah, so I do more film than digital.
Do you think you have a particular style?
Not really. I kind of just like to do everything.
At what point did you start doing - like is tattooing just because there's only so many professional outlets for artists or...
Well, I've always been fascinated by it, more than anything. Like, when we were kids there was a tattoo shop near - you know Maitland? With the cinema, next to it there used to be a tattoo shop. We used to go to the cinemas. We all passed it to go to the kebabs, you could just smell it and the noise. I don't know what it was. I just liked it. I loved it. I thought it was such a fascinating thing. I love old traditional style tattoos and it's just something that I like. So, I wanted to go in that direction. I'm getting there but it's just taking time.
Is it very different to drawing? I don't have any tattoos.
Do you see yourself being covered?
Yeah, I do. I definitely do. I definitely do, covered neck to ankles. I'd never get hand tattoos or feet tattoos.
What about your face?
No, no way.
What are the key inspirations that you draw upon?
I love Japanese culture. I've always been fascinated by it. Just how they love - it's like the superstition kind of thing. I just love it. It's weird.
It's not weird.
It's like the ramen noodles. They dedicate themselves to perfecting the perfect ramen noodle. Every day, they'll wake up at 3 in the morning or 2 in the morning and they'll just practice, for their whole life. It's just bizarre.
I find that crazy to think that an 80-year-old is going, "No, it's not perfect."
Yeah, it's crazy. It's how they perfect things.
I don't think we have the same sort of sense of achievement.
I notice on your brand, you've got a lot of sketches. Do you take people's enquiries to do specific stuff?
I do commercial stuff now and then. Not a lot. I used to do it a lot. I post it sometimes if I really like it and they really like. I go, "Let's post it." I do a lot of tattoo commissions and everything.
How does that work? Do people message you and go, "I like your style. Can you draw something like this?"
Yeah, mostly. They usually send their reference and I say, "I'm not going to copy that. I'm going to have to take inspiration from that and then do it my own style," and they love that because that's why they're contacting me, because they like my style. But they like this thing and they want to...
Where did art start for you other than walking past a tattoo studio? Are all your memories pencil or pen?
I kind of just grew up being arty. Always have. My parents always encouraged it. So, we painted, we drew and did all that stuff. Just as I hit about 12, it started to get a bit more serious. That's what I really wanted to do.
And I took - because when I was a kid, I really wanted to be a florist more than anything. I just loved floristry and I took that and went, "Oh, I'm going to draw," and now I'm starting to draw flowers. It's just all a bit mix really. I have a very creative mind.
I imagine tattooing is a hard one because you really don't want to make a mistake on someone else's skin.
You'd be surprised how many people just don't care.
You'd be very surprised. I haven't tattooed many people yet, but I've had people go, "I just don't care how shit it is, just tattoo me." I'm like, "What?" They do not care. They just want ink on their skin and I'm very like no, it's got to be perfect.
Is it like hairdressing? A lot more people are kind of renting a chair?
Yeah, you could do that. A lot of places do that. Not a lot but, you know, whoever wants to come in and work and you get along with me and others. That's how it works really. You can have select artists for that month, so like one that's visiting. So, a lot of artists from Australia do go to England or America and they go to shops for a month or two. They're like a special artist there.
You build up a following like any other artist and go, "Hey, I'm going to be in LA for 3 months?"
Yeah, and then they go, "Oh shit, we want you in here for a month or a week." It's very popular in England. They do that over there.
what kind of artists do you follow yourself and take a lot of reference from?
Inspo and my friends? The number one person I've followed since I was a kid was Grace Neutral, that tattoo artist from England. She is just nuts. I've loved her since I looked at her. I was like, "Oh my god, I love this chick. I love her stuff. I love who she is." She's a big inspiration when it comes to my stuff.
Locally? Ellie Little. She does my art and I look up to her a lot. She's from the Hub Collective in Bolton Street. I just love her stuff. I love her. She's a great artist. I look up to her.
Where do you hang out when you're not tattooing?
Yeah, I just like painting in my spare time at home or I love the beach. The beach is a big inspo thing. It's like I'm originally from Maitland and I moved to Newcastle a few years ago because I love the beach. I just like going there on an evening and seeing the cargo ships and stuff. I just love Newcastle.
Is there anything else we should know?
I don't know.
Find your shit.
Find my shit. Give me a like. Support local artists.
We like the way she thinks. Follow Beth on the ‘Gram @bethvoltage and shop at www.bethvoltage.bigcartel.com if you know what is good for you.