Self Made – True ’Til Death Tattoo, Accrington

Welcome to a world of colour. The whole space is vibrant, friendly, exciting and stimulating to all the senses. Tattoo machines are buzzing at varying frequencies, artists and customers laugh and chat. It’s a big, open space and each wall is painted in a bold, bright colour. Expertly hand done sign writing adorns the shop front, walls and various doors and boards. Each artist has their own work station filled with detail: their paintings framed, banners that get taken out to shows, pre-drawn flash ready to be tattooed for walk in customers, custom designs on tracing paper done ready for people with appointments. Ink pots, reference books, curiosities, machines, needles, cling film, vaseline, cups of tea, Cheese Moments.

There’s no single style of tattooing here. It’s a traditional street tattoo shop where all styles are catered for. The nervous first timer can walk in and have Donald Duck tattooed on their bum, while sat next to them might be a heavily tattooed, seasoned collector having a full and fantastical back piece done. All welcome and all leaving the shop feeling invincible with their new adornment.

Richard Lazenby is shop proprietor as well as tattoo artist. He’s not always done this for a living. In his previous life he ran a successful electrical contracting company, fitting out car showrooms and other large scale projects. He had a team of employees, a large turnover and a lot of stress. After ten years in the game he was ready to reinvent himself, despite some people around him thinking he was mad to give up the day job. As we know though, if you want to make something work you have to fully commit. Take the risk, do the work. Then make others care enough to buy in to your idea, by caring enough about it yourself. There are no half measures. Being self made is not a hobby.

Richard’s grandad gave him a piece of sound business advice. “If you’re going to set up your own business, don’t expect to make any money for the first five years.” And so the graft begins. As with his electrical business Richard served his time and built up his tattoo business until it started to pay. First he set up a shop on Eccleshall Road in Sheffield called Crooked Claw and then this shop, True ’Til Death on Whalley Road in Accrington. Both shops are open and buzzing with business. The new Accrington shop recently had its official opening and HebTroCo were proud to be invited to run a pop up and play the records for the party.

At True ’Til Death Richard works alongside fellow artists Christopher Kenyon and Jim Longhurst in the open plan work space. His wife Lisa runs a piercing studio in the back of the shop two days a week. As well as working here Richard did a lot of the shop fit out himself.

Richard loves his denim, the really prized Japanese stuff, and so we were really chuffed when he bought a pair of our SuperHeavyWeight Cords. He liked them so much that he got another pair for best. He’s wearing them here paired with a 1485 Wool Jacket.

Chris Kenyon is 100% Accrington. He has a great reputation for being able to work in virtually any style. Portraits, 3-D black and grey, tribal styles, you name it. Chris designed the printed patch that is sewn onto all of our Governor trousers and jackets and that’s what he’s dressed in here in these photos.

Jim Longhurst served his apprenticeship in Richard’s shops and is now a full member of the team. Like the others he will try his hand at all styles as well as drawing up some fantastic, dark, black work. Jim famously appeared on the telly as a contestant on Mastermind wearing a pair of our moleskin trousers. His specialist subject? Black Metal. Photographed here wearing Dark navy 177 moleskins.

Like most tattooed people the first inspiration to get ink comes as a child. You see a family member or even just a random guy with tattoos and you think there look ace. They look different, they look decorated and you want to be star-like just like them. It was Richard’s uncle, who had served in the Navy and was heavily tattooed that inspired him as a kid. The tattoos came from different places around the world and marked him out as different by telling his story.

Richard often says that he feels very lucky to be doing the work he does and often thanks his customers for putting their trust in him. We think that there’s a lot more to his story than just luck.

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