Elliott Wells is a tattoo artist with an instantly recognisable style, often featuring ornate details and warm, earthy tones. We caught up with Elliott to ask him about how he developed his style, and what we can expect to see from him at the convention…
BTC: Elliott, what got you into tattooing?
EW: Really my mum and dad got me into tattooing. My mum and dad are old 80s goths and metalheads respectively, so they’ve both got some really shit tattoos, but they had a lot of tattoos. They were getting tattooed by some old artists in Chatham and as I got older I was always around them, and then my mum met my step dad who was also heavily tattooed and it just kind of seemed right! I was always around them, I liked them. My mum had a tattoo that she would never let me see, I think it was really offensive, but she had it covered up after a few years so I never saw it but was always curious. That’s kinda how I got into liking them I suppose… and I’m shit at everything apart from art so…!
BTC: How did you take the step into tattooing?
EW: Hanging around a studio doing dogs body work, then becoming a receptionist and then eventually being taken on as an apprentice, but it took years! Years and years and years. The proper way: lunch runs, toilet cleaning, mopping, sweeping, making needles for the week – stuff that most apprentices would never have to do now!
BTC: Your style is so recognisable, how did you develop that from the beginning?
EW: Probably from not being able to draw all the things that I tattoo now, I told myself I would be able to draw them, so I just kept drawing them and drawing them and drawing them. Probably drawing them badly, probably tattooing them badly to begin with, but I kept doing it and kept doing it till I finally got good at those things. That’s sort of how I learn things – not being able to do things then I keep practicing until I can do it – no matter how many times.
BTC: You have a unique colour palette which is really striking, you can always identify if a tattoo is yours based from the colours; what drew you to that look and aesthetic?
EW: I suppose its the way the I blend my colours, I don’t like blending from one ink to another, I will always double, triple, quadruple dip into various inks as long as they’re in the same colour palette or colour tone… I very rarely use whites or anything like that, just earthy natural tones and you get really smooth natural blends, brighter colours and no under shading so everything brighter. Always bright.
BTC: How many times have you worked Brighton Convention?
EW: This will be my second year working at Brighton. Last year was my first and I visited for a number of years but this will be year number 2! Very excited. Its nice to work it as there is a lot of people there I’m already quite friendly with so its nice to see some familiar faces and just friends to hang out with and have a drink with. It’s a really relaxed show as opposed to others where its felt very regimented and like ‘I have to do this by a certain time or I’m not allowed in there with that’ – Brighton’s very relaxed.
BTC: So what have you got coming up now apart from the convention?
EW: I’ve got 3 conventions this year, I’ve got Brighton, London and Montreal, and then that’s done for the year. I won’t be doing many more guest spots from now on, I prefer to focus now just on my work, being at the studio and being at home seems to me to be more important these days. It’s nice to see friends but I can see friends on a social basis not on a work basis. Cut back a little bit and spends some time on artwork, I’ve not got a problem with that, I’m getting old.
BTC: How long have you been tattooing?
EW: I think it’s going to be coming up to 5 and half years now so not long in the grand scheme of things. but long enough… I’m 27.
BTC: Do you have any projects outside of tattooing?
EW: I’m a terrible painter, but I’m working on a sketchbook at the moment. It was going to be ready for Brighton but it won’t be now unfortunately, and hopefully it will be out for London. I hope to have some of my engraved bookmarks, and some prints to sell at Brighton but I’m very disorganized… 6 weeks? I think you’re expecting a great deal from me! you might not get anything now…