Since Nick Brace is no longer an apprentice and PJ now has to do his own cleaning, he decided it was about time he took on a new apprentice… An apprentice that has spent the last 6 months learning his craft, finessing his skills and pushing his artistic abilities to new realms. Oh, and also mopping lots of floors.

His name is Kamen Whymark and we thought what better way to introduce him to the world than a random Q&A session.Kamen on his throne

PJ – “What is your end goal after your apprenticeship?”

As obvious as it sounds, I want to be a well established and respected tattoo artist. I want to know the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts of the industry and be an expert in my field. If I’m going to do something I am all or nothing so this isn’t something that I take lightly and I do want to be the best. Eventually it would be great to head up my own shop and if we could expand it as part of Rising Phoenix that would be really cool.

– “What do you want to achieve by the end of 2016?”

I want to be confident setting up and using machines independently, having tattooed more people with a variety of designs and trying new methods and styles. I would love to have my first paying customer before the years out.

AJ – “How have you found changing canvases, from painting to skin?”

It has been difficult, more so than most people would imagine. Its not as simple as just being able to draw on someones skin and although it helps already being artistic, its a whole new method of application and its very much like starting from scratch. (Excuse the pun).

– “Do you think you have found your calling?”

Absolutely. This has been my dream job for as long as I can remember but for certain reasons that we don’t need to go into I just never thought I would get this opportunity especially with someone so well respected in the industry as well as a good friend. I can safely say this is where I belong.

Kamen's Flash: Never Forget

Ali – “Whats surprised you most about the industry?”

I think the most surprising thing is almost how separate it feels from the ‘normal’ world. Its still a business and has to be run so but its like a whole other world when you go to these conventions and meet people that a lot of ‘normal’ people wouldn’t even give a chance to running businesses and achieving great things. Its definitely my kind of world.

“If you could be tattooed by one artist in the world who would it be and why?”

As cliche as it may sound I would get tattooed by Kat Von D; having grown up watching shows like Miami ink and always having a fascination with tattoos, she is someone who first jumped out at me for her black and grey work and portraits. There are a lot of artists who’s artwork I love but I wouldn’t have on my body – I would love to get a big portrait of my sister done and I think she would be the one I would want to do it.

Nick – “What style have you found most difficult to get to grips with and why?”

I think so far traditional Japanese tattoos have definitely been the hardest for me; I really like the subject matter and enjoy drawing things like dragons and Hannya masks but tying it all together in a legible design and keeping with the rules you have to follow with this style was quite difficult to get used to.

Kamen's Sketches: Japanese

– “How many times a day is it socially acceptable to listen to Yelawolf?”


As many times as PJ requests it.

Martin – “Do you feel this is a job or a lifestyle?”

I would definitely say a lifestyle; you have to be fully committed to succeed in this job, if you’re not than you wont go very far. Even at this early stage I find myself being conscious of what may affect my work in my personal life and I am always doodling and looking for reference everywhere.

Kamen's Sketches: A selection

Nik – “What inspiration do you take from each of the members of staff?”

PJ has shown me that you can create something from nothing if you work hard enough; from tattooing part time in his spare time to owning his own shop and being a well respected artist in the industry, he has put in some serious work and that is inspiring for someone like me and keeps me focused.

Nik is very business minded and hard working in other areas, keeping the shop running smoothly. Its the small jobs that you would probably overlook initially that keep the shop and the artists ticking over and the clients coming in. She showed me the other side of tattooing which is just as important, if not more so, than being a good artist.

Knowing Nick before he started his apprenticeship and then seeing him develop and learn over the years shows me that I too can do the same thing. He has put in a lot of work and really grown and is now tattooing full time so it makes it seem a lot more achievable.

Martin made a big step by moving up from Eastbourne to work at Rising Phoenix which links back to his question; this is a lifestyle. He wanted to change his environment and work with other artists that he respected so took a big step and has grown as a person and artist since doing so.

Kamen's Sketches: Clock, Cup & Gentlemen

AJ is very versatile and hardworking, I often see him staying late to finish work and please his customer, his range of artistry is vast and he often has a lot of tough tattoos but always pulls them out the bag. I think his work ethic is inspiring and you can tell he does it for his family which I really admire.

Ali is extremely knowledgable about the industry and tools he uses which shows me a real love for his craft and commitment to this lifestyle which makes me want to be just as knowledgeable as I feel it is very important to know as much as you can about what you are doing and what you are using to be able to do it at the best of your ability.

The thing I notice most with Holli is the rapport that she builds with her clients, she always makes time for them and stays late if needs be, making them feel valued and looked after. Everyone that she tattoos seems to have a personal relationship with her which I think is very comforting and important in keeping a strong and loyal client base. It’s all about pleasing your customer and leaving them happy with your work. 

Holli – If you could shadow any artist in the world for a day who would it be and why? 

I would have to say Steve Butcher, I just think his work is phenomenal and it would be an honour to watch him work his magic. His realism is unbelievable and if I could get a little insight into that and how he works it would be incredible. He also seems like a pretty cool guy so would be great to hear about his time in the industry and kick it for the day. 

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