Meet Gill Apple – creative in every sense of the word, but a tattoo artist at heart, which is soon to become a full-time career. Gill packed up home in sunny South Africa five years ago and found herself some 9,000 kilometers away under the grey sky of London. Despite escaping every winter, she’s still here every time the dreaded cold season passes.
It was in a small town called Vereeinging, just south of Jo’burg, where Gill grew up – often climbing trees to look over the big city for her first perspective of the wider world. She met some fascinating people there: artists, goths, punks, skinheads, drug dealers. It had a strong subculture where everyone belonged – a little Camden. Some of her fondest memories were created in a bar nearby called Rafterz where some great musicians began careers. Rafterz never closed, so Gill and her friends never left. Between periods of studying and unemployment, they would all gravitate there, listening to alternative music, playing pool, jumping off the balcony when they finally headed home.
When Gill’s not tattooing, she’s reading books on Hindu philosophy by the great Sages. Currently, she’s got The World Within the Mind on her bedside table. The books she reads, as well as the diverse selection of music in her collection, tend to relate to another world – much different from everyday life. These things remind her that there’s more than work and money. Ramdom fact relating to both music and another world: Gill plans to have “Return to Sender” by Elvis, played at her funeral. In her free time, she paints and draws emotions, currently focussed on a series called “Study in Happiness” where all of the pictures are ironically sad.
She also writes poems like this on that never rhyme:
‘Push the splints of your disillusion into me
Deep into the earth
Over which fire, water and air find entrapment and redemption
Give to me the very essence of being
The secrets some dare tell
Blow the soul of a weeping willow around what i despise
move me to the foot of a forthcoming end
for i failed to hold the sun
when i could no longer see’
Gill’s London lies mainly in Camden, but on a night out you might catch her dancing the night away anonymously, lost in her daydreams at Slimelight (Isllington) or Electric Dreams (a regular club night at The Purple Turtle in Camden or The London Stone in the City). If you meet her there, she will play up the dream and tell you stories about a life that is not her own. Meet her in daylight, she will tell the truth. For this week’s London Art Spot, Gill’s shared a bit of that truth as you just read and shows off some of her tattoo designs:
LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
GA: London to me is busy and bursting at the seams with a contradiction of cultures and experiences; it has a million little worlds inside it. Where you move around in it defines how your life will unfold. At times I feel like a voyeur. This strange sense of feeling isolated within one of the busiest places in the world inspires me to draw and create my emotions. When I create, I am interacting and documenting my time here. I can most vividly remember how I felt in a certain moment when I look at something I’ve created. Obviously, being in a very creative city forces you to push the boundaries.
LLO: How long have you been tattooing?
GA: 4 years
LLO: Which London-based tattoo artists do you most admire?
GA: Kamil Mocet – I love his bold designs; they remind me of oil paintings
LLO: Best London tattoo studio?
GA: Evil From the Needle
LLO: Which design are you most proud of and why?
GA: I guess my newest design – the arm piece on myself. It is a freehand design with red flowers and grey wash backgrounds. The colours work well together and the design flows. But having said that, every piece I do I always see areas I can improve. I’m still in search of perfection…
LLO: Describe your style.
GA: Art noveau, organic. I love the flowing freehand designs, patterns that weave and flow. I love using only black or a few bold colours offset with grey shading. Flowers are my current ‘theme’, I guess, with Japanese backdrops or pattern work.
LLO: How do you see your art fitting into your future?
GA: In the future I plan to only tattoo and create art pieces, so to answer your question, art will be my life in the future (right after I quit my day job).
LLO: What obstacles would you face to get into the business of tattooing full time?
GA: Mostly getting the capital and confidence to say ‘right thats it, I’m opening up my own shop’. I believe most obstacles are self-created, that we are our own obstacles to success.
LLO: How do people get in touch with you if they’re interested in your work?
GA: Mail me – firstname.lastname@example.org
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