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Tal Booker

23rd January 2024

Photography, Interview & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

Tattoo artist, Tal Booker started to get recognized for his outstanding fine-line artwork while building a big clientele with familiar names such as Tom Grennan, Demi Sims, and Lauv.

Tal came in to see us for a photoshoot and a chat about falling in love with his work, legendary cartoon characters, and being comfortable with the clothes he’s in.

Hey Tal! Thanks for chatting with us today. What have you learned from 2023? 

I think what I’ve learned personally is that things pass, the good and the bad. A lot of things happened in 2023, some amazing things, and some difficult things, and they all passed.

You’re known to be a tattoo artist based in London. Your work is fun, cute, and outstanding! When did you start to learn about tattoos?

I only really started getting tattoos when I was twenty-six. I had a couple of tattoos before that, that I got  when I was seventeen or eighteen and then really fell in love with tattooing or getting tattoos when I was a bit older. I found  it to be a liberating thing to take ownership of my body and my appearance and do what I wanted with it. When I started to spend a lot of time in tattoo studios is when I got an understanding of the industry and the world of tattooing. From that point, even though I didn’t start professionally tattooing till a few years later, that’s when the seed was planted.

When I started getting tattoos, I had no vision of being a tattoo artist. I just enjoyed getting them done and it felt good. I had no foresight that it was going to be my career, it really just happened organically, with a little push from my best friend.  

Do you remember the first time you tattooed someone?

Yes, I think it was myself. I started tattooing myself because COVID-19 happened and all the tattoo studios were shut. I wasn’t ready to not get tattoos, so I bought a machine from Amazon and without any knowledge whatsoever just started tattooing myself. Then, slowly started convincing my friends to get tattoos, and to be honest with you, I think it was probably a good thing that I felt no nerves at all and that I was just having fun. It was a fun experience. Looking back on it now I should have been a bit more nervous about doing it, I really had no idea what I was doing. A lot of the job is confidence and if you start to feel nervous you’re probably not going to perform as you should and I think that’s the same with many careers, you have to back yourself because if you don’t back yourself you can’t expect somebody else to have confidence in you. So, if you have someone who’s asked you to create some art on their body, you need to have some level of confidence. I think I was quite naive at the beginning because I had too much confidence and nothing to back it up with. 

Did you always want to be a tattoo artist? Or was there another dream job you had?

My dreams in terms of work have changed and kind of grown alongside me. I never thought that being a tattoo artist was a career for me, it never came to mind. It was only when I was introduced to a few people and saw people similar to me doing the work. When I started getting tattoos, the people that were doing the tattoos were not like me. In many different ways, visually, personality-wise, it just seemed something that wasn’t for someone like me. The more I got into it and I was introduced to more people, I started to see other artists that weren’t like the artists that I’ve been tattooed by. I quickly saw myself in the position because again, I think all of these things are about representation.

You love drawing classic cartoon characters such as Tom & Jerry, Donald Duck, and many more. Is there a character that you love to draw?

For me, I would have to say Bugs Bunny and the classic Looney Tunes characters. I used to draw them as a kid and ask my Dad to draw them for me. I used to watch them on TV and I find it super nostalgic. The way those characters are drawn so simply, yet they have so much personality and character. 

Yeah! You don’t see characters like that anymore.

No, it’s not the same. They’re so simple but they hold so much weight and have so much personality. They convey emotions in very simple forms which I found interesting. What I love about tattooing them is that they’re synonymous with childhood and tattooing is such an adult thing. I love the juxtaposition of that. Taking something that was never meant to be tattooed and was only used for entertainment for kids is an interesting thing to do.

Do you have a favorite tattoo on your body?

I get asked this a lot. I like certain areas of my body, I like my hands and I love my back as a whole and my arms as a whole. I don’t see the tattoos as individuals, I see them as like a bigger piece. I love all of them because even though they don’t necessarily mean anything, the represent a feeling. I can remember exactly how I was feeling at that moment. Even if I’m not in love with them now, they always take me back to how I was feeling at that time. 

You also paint gorgeous art! Your work is colorful and always has a meaning behind it. What inspires you to create something unique?

I tend to go off of how I’m feeling. A lot of my art is inspired by my relationships. Not just romantic, but friendships and family etc, also not necessarily ones that I’m in but ones that I’ve lost or have ended. I get inspiration from being in love, or heartbroken, or how people feel about me, and also conversations with my friends. Things that I’ve been through, things that I’ve felt, or things that have ended. I create my best art when I’m sad or heartbroken and I find myself taking time away from creating art when I’m in a new relationship and when things are good, or happy because that’s when I’m least inspired. 

Your fashion sense is amazing! Who inspires you?

I’ve learnt to just wear what makes me feel good. For a long time, I didn’t really know how to express myself, but in the last few years I’ve I felt more comfortable with myself, my sexuality and who I am, and how I show up in the world. I just wear things I like and that make me feel good. I think it’s less about the clothes and more about how you’re perceived to be feeling when you wear the clothes. If you look confident and you look happy and you’re having a good time in certain clothes, that tends to stand out more than the clothes themselves. 

I just like wearing what I like, and things that make me feel good and wearing things that are a bit silly, or a bit loud, or combing that with simple wardrobe statements like nice jeans or trousers.

Lastly, what would it be if you had the opportunity to ReVamp anything? 

I was going to say ReVamp the weather because it’s fucking freezing. I would ReVamp public transport because the train strikes are a nightmare, I would ReVamp my flat, to be honest, everything can be done with a ReVamp. Everything can be ReVamped!

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