5 Question for Surrealism Tattoo Artist Samma Charles

Samma Charles is the Artist and owner of the Ursa Major Tattoo Studio in Oxford.

He is specialising in Colour Realism and surrealism. They also do cover up work, so get in touch with them.

We asked him 5 questions about him and his work.

Let’s get started.

Can you describe the tattoos that you do and the kind of tattoos that you like and enjoy?

I like to think that I’m a Surrealism artist. I’m a huge fan of the technical aspect of realism and I love my comics and graphic novels. My main focus is to try and bring these two things together into one piece of pretentious madness. Or just bugger that, we’ll do a bunch of Pokémon tattoos!

I do love New-School Tattoos, but something about designing them makes me want to stab someone in the neck. I wish that weren’t the case…

Have techniques changed since you started tattooing?

Ready for some pseudo-philosophical bullshit? Someone said “The most important technique is the one you haven’t mastered yet.” There’s always a new Machine, a new set up, new techniques that you want to play with, and that you want to refine. That’s what should keep you relevant, and stops you from slipping into the background. and no one should be an extra in their own lives… that’s just sad.

Wanting to be an artist as a kid, I was told at school that the only way to be an artist was to teach, there was no other way of making money in it. There was no way I was going to become a teacher.  So I went for plan B, I went to study music, two years of a diploma, a year of gigging and then a year of my degree. I dropped out… I was too busy playing music to study music and there was money. So I performed and recorded, and taught music, oh the irony.

When did you first know that you had an interest in tattooing and how long have you been tattooing?

The more I did it, the more I hated it. And one day I was getting tattooed, I had it in mind, the whole time, looking for a clever time to ask, and it came up. The artist was talking about his new shop, how he needed people he can trust, so I said “Fuck it mate, teach me.” 5 years later, here I am with my own shop, and a full house. I don’t know how this happened, or why nobody stopped me, but I guess I can’t stop now…

Any advice to people getting a tattoo for the first time?

If you’re looking to get your first tattoo, make sure you price hunt and look for the cheapest place you can find, and go somewhere easy and convenient. That way you get a really crappy tattoo and it makes the rest of us look really good.

No, don’t do that. search for an artist you like, save up, they won’t be cheap, be prepared to travel. Remember that your artist does this day in and day out, so trust them, they got you!

Before your appointment, make sure you don’t drink any alcohol the day before, and have plenty of water. This preps your skin for us. Have a good breakfast before, ‘cos if you don’t, you will pass out. Bring food and sweets with you, especially on the longer sessions, ‘cos if you don’t you will pass out, and try not to overthink it, ‘cos you will pass out. But most importantly, relax, we want you to have fun and enjoy it, cos we love our work! Well most of us do. There are some SERIOUSLY miserable bastards…

Oh, and bring a little extra, your artist will usually have an aftercare they recommend, and the studio should stock it. And trust that, the aftercare is the most important part of the tattoo, and your artist knows how to make sure their work heals best, trust them.

Talk us through a typical day

After all the usual, opening shutters, turning on lights, and fighting the printer, the day typically starts with myself shouting at Luke Daniels for being late. We clean and to as much of the set up and prep as we can before clients show up. Because we’re all super smart, we all ask our clients to come in at 11am, this is to ensure that the waiting area is carnage. Then I shout at Luke for having a fag break, already. By midday we’re all settled in and tattooing. This is where arguments about music start, usually between Luke and myself. there’ll be short breaks to eat, drink, piss and smoke, but it’s typically straight through 6-8 hours of tattooing. Once we’re all done, tattoos are photographed, dressed and ready to go, we start cleaning. Well cleaning, it’s mostly Ryan and Luke fighting, and me shouting at them to stop and clean…

Usually everyone goes home, processes their images, posts to social media, answers emails and preps for the next day.

How can you reach Samma?

You can find my work at www.facebook.com/sammacharlesart
On instagram @SammaCharles

For bookings email Samma@ursamajortattoo.com

During the month I close my books, on the 1st of each month I open my books for the 3rd month coming, i.e. I open my books on the 1st of January for March. This is just to ensure that I never have more than a 3 month waiting list.

I work out of:

Ursa Major Tattoo Studio
5 Hollow Way Oxford England
01865 773772

Thanks Samma for answering and sharing the advice for us and enjoy more of his works below!

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