Tucked away away under a Barber shop (my spiritual home) on Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane is my new favourite tattoo studio Velvet Underground. Velvet Underground is the creation of Roxy Velvet. Roxy wanted to create a friendly and modern tattoo studio that was owned and completely run by females. In her own words “I wanted a shop full of hot female tattooists”. Walking into the studio the first thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the shop. The smell of sanitizer and the distinctive noise of the tattoo guns gave me mixed feelings of ease at knowing the shop was clean and apprehension of the pain Roxy was about to inflict on me.
I was greeted by Lexy, the studios admin extraordinaire, who arranges appointments and is the driving force behind the organization of the shop. Lexy introduced me to the team, offered me a coffee and Haribo, (I neglected to ask if having Haribo behind the reception counter was the usual or if I was just lucky) then had me fill out all the necessary paperwork. Lexy made a friend for life when she asked me to confirm if I was over 21 years old, as anyone who looks under 21 needs to provide ID to prove they are over 18.
Roxy the Visionary of Velvet underground was tattooing a pigeon on the head of another client when I arrived, so I waited patiently for my turn. As I waited I could not help but listen to the conversations happening around me in this intimate tattoo studio. A strong sense of calm began to resonate through me, the team were so supportive of each other, and it was obvious that they really cherished their respective clients.
When it was my turn Roxy introduced herself to me and showed me the art she had been working on, a frog that she had drawn for me. The drawing was amazing, but I was a little apprehensive about the amount of black it contained. Roxy was amazingly understanding about this and suggested I choose the colours I wanted and she would combine them and minimise the amount of black. I chose several blues, greens and oranges. She then suggested we also add some yellow to bring together the blues, greens and oranges.
After applying the stencil and having me check the placement in the mirror we begun the tattooing! It was fantastic watching Roxy work and seeing the truly artistic talent that goes into creating a beautiful tattoo. I was amazed by Roxy’s tattooing style, it was light and seemed to only be uncomfortable rather than painful like I have experienced in the past.
I’m totally in love with the frog that Roxy tattooed on my arm, after taking of the bandage and washing it, only a few moments passed before I could not imagine my arm without it. Roxy really listened to what I was telling her when we talked about my tattoo design and gave me something that was better than I imagined.
If you want a new tattoo or want to get your first, head to Velvet Underground and let Roxy or one of her team sort you out.
Written by Rodney Williamson
Photos Courtesy of Velvet Underground Tattoo and Roxy Velvet
Velvet Underground Tattoo
63 Hanbury Street,
London E1 5JP