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Saturday, 25 April 2015

TATTOOS: Part two interview with Sion, editor Skin Deep Magazine

You should have seen part one of this interview with Sion last week, were we talked tattoos and tattoo culture. 

This week, because Sion has so many great things to say I've  got part two of my interview with him, all about his fascinating work life.

You are the Editor for Skin Deep magazine, so I have to ask you some questions on that, mostly because I am super nosey!

Tell us about an average day at the Skin Deep office?

As expected, there is no average day! The biggest surprise to most people is that I don’t work in the office - I would hate that and so would everybody else. I work at home with my dog (though he’s not very helpful). 

The day starts with a lot of coffee, an internet radio station called The Raven (that is honestly a coincidence - they’re based in Dakota) and standing around in the kitchen sorting out email on my phone. 

Some days there’s a lot of email traffic and some days (sometimes for a few days at a time) I’ll not look at all if I have to write something. As the day progresses, the music gets louder but generally it starts about 8.30am and ends about 2am and I stuff it with as much as I can. 

At a rough guess I would say tattoo gets at least ten hours of that - seven days a week. I try to respond to everybody because this stuff means a lot to people - it’s only fair and right to do so. There are requests from radio shows, papers, apprentices, artists, models, mag readers… and somehow, it all works out just fine, 13 issues a year! That’s my job and I love it. 

If you’re reading this, have sent me an email and I haven’t replied yet, when I last counted I was getting about 900 emails a week, so  err… sorry…. I will get there! 

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Aside from finding an artist that makes my heart sing, the travel. It’s etched into my psyche to love trains, planes, airport lounges and watching the world turn. 

There’s usually something tattoo related at the end as a bonus (and when customs people find out what you do for a living, they like to roll their sleeves up and show you their ink more often than not) - I have become very good at handling delays and Acts of God too because there’s always something to write about if you look closely enough. 

To be honest, I don’t even look at it as a job anymore, it’s become a very big part of me and to try to separate myself from it would be foolish and a complete waste of time. 

Biggest achievement whilst working at Skin Deep?

Good timing with the question! I never thought I would be the editor at the 200th issue, nor the 20th birthday issue - and as I write this… the 21st birthday issue is next. Those are milestones for an important magazine. 

Issue 200 was the best selling issue of all time and that was a big deal for me because you never know if what you’re saying is what anybody wants to hear. I take nothing for granted from one issue to the next and treat every one like it’s the first time somebody will pick it up (which it probably is). 

That’s good way to work isn’t it? People should work like that with everything in life because it’s over in the blink of an eye. All that considered, I guess my biggest achievement is that I’m still doing it and haven’t even scratched the surface of what I want to say yet.

Advice for aspiring tattooists?

Well… I’ve said this a million times already in my life and it applies here too. If you want to be a vet or a dentist, go to university. If you want to be an artist (or a writer as I normally apply it), get the hell on with it. You will not “find yourself” at big school - you’ll only find what you want to do and where you fit in by drawing every day and never being satisfied. It’s an awful way to live but that’s what it takes and if you’re lucky you’ll learn to love treating yourself this way. 

Learn how to strip down a machine and rebuild it with your eyes shut. 
Know your equipment - and know your craft. 
It all seems pretty common sense - anybody can learn to tattoo but not everybody can tattoo well… and even fewer tattoo great. 
There are fewer still who can keep it up. 
Choose which you want to be and do that for the rest of your life or “find what you love and let it kill you”. 

And lastly, some bits about you: 



Favourite food?

Mexican. I dig how you can fold the same thing a dozen different ways and come up with a different meal. Genius.

Favourite film? 

The Wicker Man (1973 original… not that Nick Cage thing from a while back). If you want to come more up to date, del Toro works for me every time, Daniel Craig as 007 is The Bomb and I can do the LOTR trilogy back to back no problem - but as the years go by, I always come back to The Wicker Man. It reminds me of home.

Favourite animal? 

That’s a harder question than it should be. I’m very animalistic. Bears. Lions. Horses. But being as he hangs out with me everyday, my dog Hector.

Pet hate? 

The internet but it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship.

Biggest achievement? 

Staying alive.

If you weren't the Editor for Skin Deep, what would you do instead?

Well… I’m busy writing non-tattoo things all the time. Rock music was my first love and the mistress never lets me forget it. Is this a good time to say go here: sionsmith.co.uk - because that will answer any and all questions you have on this subject. So the real answer is, I do them anyway - five hours sleep a night is enough for anybody, it just takes practice. Somewhere in fantasy-land, I want to write a few episodes of Doctor Who but let’s just leave that fact hanging in the air.

Dream holiday destination, money no object? 

I have fallen in love with the mountains of Colorado. Hook, line and sinker. Leave me there by myself with a stack of empty notebooks and I’ll be fine for months on end.

Any parting words?

Turn off the TV. It is the enemy. Fact.
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