‘’As long as I can remember I loved creating things artistically but was also big into music. I think they go hand in hand. Age 9 I got my first guitar and just wanted to learn rock and roll songs with chords but did some classical too.
But age 17, I saved up and bought myself a bass guitar and that's when I realized how much fun it was to play that.’’
Naomi Smith Born in London now resides in Auckland and is currently at the The Tattooed Heart, on K Road with her Partner Benjamin Raddatz. Since 2011 she has been working in New Zealand with her distinct artistic style, but her journey began much earlier ….
‘’I've been tattooing since 2005. I went to art school and when I was there, was getting tattooed at a shop New Skool Tattoos, Surrey. I wanted to learn and loved the traditional western style and Japanese tattoos, so asked the boss how I would go about it....he said just to draw learn how to paint flash, watch him work and come be shop help (with cleaning, answering phone etc.) I got my first machine and started doing small designs on myself, friends, and family, then when I could start doing small walk in jobs that was great.
‘’I still enjoy and always look to the masters of traditional western and Japanese tattooing. The designs are strong and powerful, and if they're tattooed with power, they will look good for years to come. Tattooing and music are very similar in that you need to know the roots of where designs or riffs come from in order to put your own spin on things. Plus, you always have to have good music playing in the shop like you have to have good designs on the walls.
I like to learn different styles of tattoos, but realism tattoos are something I would not do. There are many brilliant artists that can do that!
‘’Ian Flower was my mentor up until I moved to New Zealand but have been taught so much by others. Greg Orie from Dragon Tattoo in Eindhoven when I spent some time at his shop 2010. And also, Benjamin my partner is my biggest influence and teacher as we share so much of our lives tattooing and painting together, as well as raising our daughter.
‘’A lot of my inspiration for tattoos comes from music. Heavy metal mainly (Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Type O Negative, Carnivore, Obituary, Kiss). Sometimes songs give me ideas for a design or just spear me on through a painting or tattoo. I think it’s the repetition of riffs and the heaviness that is hypnotic sometimes. Inspiration usually comes from non-tattoo related times, just taking a break and seeing the world with some freshness.
‘’Tattooing has given me a great gift that has enabled me to travel and tattoo with some great people and make great friends. I have been to California, The Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand from tattooing and made great memories. One of my most memorable trips was to Sacramento and Pismo beach during 4th July celebrations, that was a crazy busy weekend over there!
‘’I played bass in an all-female UKHC band. We were called Bitchslap, then due to conflict we formed with a new singer and became Back Stab between 2004-2009. We recorded 2 EPs and got to play shows with some great bands like Knuckledust. We disbanded due to it being a big commitment and I found it hard to tattoo and rehearse/play shows.
‘’I think tattooing and music go hand in hand, especially heavy music or even Blues. It's a culture people are drawn to because its raw and real and can make you feel like a bad ass or rebel. Tattooing was a subculture that needed to be sought for like looking for good Metal/Punk/Hardcore bands to listen to before the accessibility of the internet. It is definitely the rebelliousness and artistic expression that brings music and Tattooing together.
‘’Music has influenced some paintings I have done... I did a few large paintings of Ozzy, Pete Steele, DimeBag Daryl and Rob Halford with a Japanese style influence. I also really love doing Kiss related art as they can be put into many tattoo designs. When I'm painting, I'll usually listen to Kiss, Carnivore/Type O, Sleep, Rory Gallagher, to name a few...
When requested I'll do commissions paintings, but mostly if I make a nice painting, I will make prints and sell those (unless someone wants to buy the original). Benjamin and I have our own Fine Art Print company The Neon Rose Print Co. We reproduce other artists as well as our own artwork in Giclée quality.
Yes, I think my Type O obsession is still pretty healthy, but I still need a tattoo for the love of Pete. And still gutted I never got to see them play live.
Instagram: @ naomi_smith_tattoo