Provided you’re sober and thinking straight, there’s no reason that your first brush with the needle can’t be an enjoyable experience (besides the mild discomfort of actually being tattooed). I’ve toyed with the idea since my late teens, and upon meeting Marcus some years ago in a pub, I felt like I’d met someone I could trust to draw on me. 5 years on, and I’m walking down Deptford high street with money in my wallet and more than a dash of apprehension in my mind.
Having lived in the area for a good few years, I knew of the shop by word of mouth anyway, and had worked with a mutual acquaintance so I had a part-formed idea of what I was letting myself in for. I’d had more than enough time to prepare. The process lasted the best part of 6 weeks, from booking a slot and putting down a deposit, to the ink drying on my arm.
It’s worth me saying at this point that I have no artistic skill what so ever. The mechanics Marcus employed to get all the necessary information out of me to get the work done remains a mystery, but I’m willing to bet his 10+ years experience interpreting vague requests had something to do with it. And he did it all with a few emails and one conversation. Once everything is agreed, we settle on a price, and we’re ready to go.
The shop itself is a real hidden gem, bursting with all the colour and personality you’d expect of a building full of artists. The walls are covered in wrestling memorabilia, tattoo flash, art books, and the shop’s own clothing and stickers. There’s punk music playing just loud enough in the background and Marcus is chatting with shop manager Alec and fellow artist Alex. There is very little of the trendy Soho-style studio here, and if anything that makes it even better. It’s comfy, distinctly South East London, and a professional operation. My nerves didn’t melt away entirely, but by the time we got started I had partially forgotten what was about to happen. If you’re reading this in the hopes of finding out if a tattoo hurts or not, it’s an answer you’ll just have to find for yourself. What I will say is that go with the intention of seeing your booking through. If you’re in for 3 hours, prepare to sit still and be drawn on for that long.
When it comes down to it, if you’re going to get a tattoo you need to know the people doing it. There are very few things you buy for life, and a tattoo is something you really need to investigate as returns can be a little tricky.
Like every other tattoo shop, Kids Love Ink is very much the sort of place you need to put your head inside to get the feel of it, but given that they’re some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, it’s a visit worth making. They even service those less inclined to an inking, with a coffee shop two doors down called ‘The Waiting Room’. It’s a great place to fuel up before a session (highly recommended), eagerly await your much braver friend, or just sit and do some work. If you’re interested in getting something done, you can get in touch with the shop with the details at the top. If you’re not, maybe just go and have a coffee, because it’s turning into a lovely part of town.
Kids Love Ink Tattoo
138 Deptford High Street