Meet The Artist: Georgina Hawkes

Sunday, 8 April 2018

I am a massive fan of tattoos and have over 40 individual pieces including a full sleeve and a back piece. I have been tattooed by a handful of different artists over the years but the girl I always go back to is Georgina Hawkes.

Gee is such a kind, welcoming artist that makes you feel at ease as soon as you step into the studio. You can currently find her at Deaths Door in Brighton, and I had a chat with Gee about how she got into tattooing, discovering her style, tips for anyone interested in the industry, and her biggest achievements to date.


How long have you been tattooing and how did you get into it?
I've been tattooing for 4 years now - It's gone insanely quickly and to be honest, I still feel like a proper baby in the industry! I actually got into tattooing through my Dad! He's been tattooing for about 15 years now and has his own studio in Lancing, Buzz Tattoo, which is where I was located previous to where I am in Brighton now. I'd left college with pretty good grades (other than failing Art due to not getting on with my art tutor) and University was never something that appealed to me so I went straight into full time work doing whatever was available to earn some money to enjoy my days off. After 6 years in retail and toying with becoming a makeup artist and also training to be a personal trainer, my dad offered me an apprenticeship with him in his studio. To be completely honest, tattooing actually wasn't something I ever saw a career in but I was at a point where if I'd have turned him down, I know I'd have kicked myself for never trying! Luckily it's turned out to be more than I ever could have expected or wanted from a job and I'm eternally grateful to my Dad for giving me such a life changing opportunity!

When I first met you, you still had the term ‘apprentice’ in your Instagram bio although your work was beyond anything I’d seen professionals do! Did you find it hard to have confidence in your work to move past that “beginner” title? If so, why do you think that was? 
This is funny because if I hadn't tattooed you that day and gone for a drink with you in The White Rabbit afterwards, I'd probably still have apprentice in my bio to this day! So thankyou for making me remove it there and then and telling me I needed to accept the fact I'd moved on from beginner status! I did find it extremely difficult to accept the fact I was no longer apprenticing and I still, to this day, do not hold myself up there with any of the artists I admire and look up to - to be honest I don't think I ever will! I think that within this industry there is ALWAYS room to improve, develop and refine your work and I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to seeing every flaw in something I do - I always want to improve and grow, I think it would be detrimental to your own work if one day you just said, 'right, I'm done now, I've learnt everything I can and I'm at the top of my game' - how are you ever going to feel driven or inspired to create better and more beautiful work?!

Your style has changed over the years and you seem to have now found a niche that suits your talent. Did you envision going into blackwork / floral / ornamental when you started out, or did you have a completely different/open idea about where you’d end up? 
When I first started out I actually saw myself going down a much more neotraditional colourful route with tattooing - I think to some extent your client base ends up changing and refining your style for you! I remember the first mandala and black work flowers I ever did, I remember how much I loved doing them but also how it wasn't something I'd ever been drawn to designing, and after posting a photo of that piece of work I had multiple girls contact me for work similar. It kind of just went from there and before I knew it I got to a stage where I could draw flowers daily and I couldn't be happier about it now!

You’ve built quite a name for yourself and a high demand in people wanting to be tattooed by you, do you find the pressure of “being your own boss” too much at times? 
It can be incredibly overwhelming - It's just as well I adore my job because it has definitely taken over every aspect of my life! It's taken until now for me to build some kind of manageable routine with the work load, but I'm eternally grateful that so many people want to get tattooed by me! I think people have this idea that 'being your own boss' is an amazing thing, and it definitely does have it's perks, but for the most part it's a lot of self motivation and I definitely don't know what a 'day off' is any more! I'm happy with things the way they are though and wouldn't change it for the world - I finally have a career in a creative field, something I was told wasn't possible by multiple teachers at my school - it's so good to prove them wrong!

Could you show us some of your favourite pieces you’ve done?
I'm so lucky that I get to choose so many beautiful pieces to tattoo so 5 of my most recent favourites are one, two, three, four and five.

What have been some of your best / favoured achievements and opportunities you’ve had from tattooing?
This is so cheesey, SO cheesey, but honestly, one of my favourite opportunities that this job gives me is the chance to meet so many incredible people - I might never have met Jayde if it wasn't for tattooing her initially! Swiftly moving on from that though before I get properly soppy and rambly haha... I think one of the most amazing (and scariest!) opportunities I've been given off the back of tattooing was the chance to work with Rimmel - I still can't believe it happened! I'm incredibly proud of myself for doing something way out of my comfort zone and it's still overwhelming to think I got to work with one of my favourite teenage make up brands!

@geehawkestattoo
If you could tattoo anyone in the world, who would it be?
Obviously Lynn Gunn from PVRIS (true love), Hayley Williams from Paramore, Dita Von Teese and about a hundred youtubers that I follow haha! To name a few - Jamie Genevieve, Shannon Beveridge, Cammie, Rose and Rosie!, Jenna Marbles, Megsquats, Grace from Gracefituk - I honestly follow so many girls I'd love to tattoo just due to the fact they inspire me everyday!

And if you could be tattooed by anyone in the world, who would that be? Who are some of your favourite artists / inspirations? 
I would absolutely love to be tattooed by Rebecca Vincent, she's a huge inspiration to me and I adore every piece of work she creates! I also love Jack Peppiette, Georgina Liliane, Sophia Baughn and loads more - It's hard to create a list because every artist I follow on Instagram inspires me in one way or another, whether it's the work they produce, their relationships with their client base or just their general work ethic - they definitely push me to become a better artist in the long run.

Do you have any advice to anyone interested in being a tattoo artist? What are your three rules to working in the industry? 
I think my main piece of advice to anyone wanting to become a tattoo artist would just be - prepare to make tattooing pretty much your whole life haha! It sounds extreme but I think you truly have to adore this job to do it and stick to it - I spend 8/9 hours at work tattooing every day and another 3/4 hours of drawing pretty much every day along side doing emails/messages/bookings. When I lay it out like that and reading back on it, it definitely sounds like a lot but I think because I love what I do, it never feels too much like work! I'd say my personal three rules, (this doesn't apply for everyone I'm sure!), for tattooing would be:

1. Your client base is SO important! Those clients are the reason you have a job and they should never be taken for granted. Every time I open my books for appointments, I feel absolutely awful that I can never book everyone in as I just don't have enough hours in my life but I'm just so grateful that so many people are even interested in my work in the first place!

2. Try and be as organised as possible - I've found a routine to keep on top of drawing so that 9 times out of 10 I'll have a drawing ready to show the client as soon as they get to the studio and I will always try and be prompt with timings of appointments. I think with being your own boss it's easy to get slack but at the end of the day you're providing a service and you should keep your client and their needs in the front of your mind.

3. Give yourself a break! I did periods of working 6 days a week, long hours, little to no breaks and alongside that, trying to keep on top of the admin side of things caused my anxiety to peak and it put myself in a pretty bad mental health state. Taking an extra day off so that I consistently have Sunday and Monday to myself and also learning to say 'no' to things that cause too much internal stress have been a life saver for me. Never take your own health or well being for granted - I noticed my work slipping too when I wasn't in a good frame of mind so it's so good to feel I have finally reached a bit of a work/life balance... sort of anyway! 

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time? 
When it comes to work, I'd like to be as consistently happy in my job as I am now! Maybe a few more conventions and guest spots under my belt, maybe create more merchandise and branch off into a slightly different creative field alongside tattooing? I'm not too sure yet! To be honest, I don't like to think too long in advance or it just stresses me out haha!

Would you like to comment?

Get more nice stuff in your inbox!

@JYDMRA