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Blackpool has long been recognised as the hen and stag capital of the UK, breeding a culture of back-alley tattooing and even underage inking. If you’re a local, it’s pretty clear which shops are the ones to avoid if you want to leave with your skin intact – the most obvious ones to avoid being those donning signs where ‘tattoo’ is spelled incorrectly…

While our town’s reputation has been besmirched in the past, change is afoot. As a regular in the ink seat myself, I’m constantly in awe of the incredible creativity and innovation happening in the Blackpool tattoo scene. Young women in particular are giving seaside tattooing a new lease of life, driving the craft forward with quality, care and creativity.

Tattooing isn’t an easy field to break into, especially in small towns where studios with time to dedicate to apprentices are limited. I wanted to find out what inspired Hannah Nickson, owner of Lucidity Tattoo in Cleveleys to get into it in the first place and where it all started.

“This is a tough one because I think there were a lot of things that influenced me to become a tattoo artist,” she says, explaining that she was exposed to tattoos from a young age. “My dad is heavily tattooed – not that you can make them out anymore – and it was always the first thing I noticed about people.”

This, paired with her passion for art, which was also encouraged and supported by her parents, made tattooing an obvious choice for Hannah who was encouraged by the emergence of high-profile female tattoo artists.

“When I was a teenager, I’d get home from school to watch Kat Von D on LA Ink and think, look at this cool woman putting her art on people’s skin! Until that point, I’d never even considered it to be a job a woman could do, especially in Blackpool where the majority of artists were big burly men. That really planted a seed that maybe tattooing was something I could do too.”

Now in her mid-20s, Hannah grew up in the Noughties alongside the rise of social media. With platforms like Instagram and YouTube booming and making space for tattoo artists to showcase their work. 

“Until social media came along, I think there was definitely a stereotype about who can or can’t be a tattoo artist, and this online community completely changed that. It also allowed me to see all of these different styles and to follow other people’s journeys which I found really inspiring.”

Blackpool’s reputation hasn’t always been the best when it comes to tattooing, but thanks to stricter laws and efforts from local studios to make a difference, things have come a long way. Hannah has worked in a few different shops and is now the proud owner of Lucidity Tattoo, a beautifully quaint studio based in Cleveleys town centre.

“I love living and tattooing here, but it was definitely tough at the beginning,” she says. “When I first got started, it was a lot of stag-dos and not much else: very much Blackpool Tower on the bum cheek kind of tattooing.”

Fast forward a few years and Hannah started to come into her own as a tattoo artist – discovering her own style and exploring her creativity. 

“If you’d asked me if I had plans to move to a bigger city a few years back, I’d definitely have said yes. But I really love working on the outskirts in Cleveleys and I’ve established an amazing base of clients, plus some incredible friendships too. I love it here!”

Studio
Hannah's Welcoming Studio

During lockdown, a wave of women came forward to expose misogyny, sexual harassment, and racism in tattooing – dubbed by Vice as a ‘reckoning’ for the industry. A vocal feminist, Hannah welcomes the opportunity to challenge sexism within the industry.

“As a woman aspiring to become a tattoo artist, I did feel that I had to work twice as hard to prove I was committed and serious about the craft. Inappropriate things happened to me too – in one instance I thought I was getting a job but instead the person offering to mentor me wanted something else entirely. I was shocked by the revelations in 2020 but also unsurprised, and I think this exposure needed to happen in order to make change possible.”

One of the main reasons she became a tattoo artist was to connect with people in a positive way, Hannah explains.

“I used tattooing as a way of covering my own self-harm scars, something that completely transformed my confidence. I’m always eager to help my clients do the same and connecting on such a vulnerable level requires a safe, open and comfortable environment. No matter what the circumstances, nobody should be given the space to abuse their position of power.”

Hannah primarily describes her style as delicate blackwork, and she loves exploring the potential of what can be achieved with just one pot of ink. She’s completed some weird and wonderful tattoos over the years. Some of the highlights include a space walrus, a burner phone, and even an award-winning stoner chameleon. 

With plans to showcase her work at this year’s seaside Tatcon and ambitions to launch a co-working space for Blackpool’s freelance creatives, Hannah is fast establishing herself as one among a growing number of women who are injecting new life into Blackpool’s increasingly vibrant ink scene. 

You can follow Hannah on Instagram or find her at Lucidity Tattoo.

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Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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