Putting heart and art into his tattoos

A talent for tattoo
A talent for tattoo
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Only a select band of artists are able to say their creations are on display every day or can be seen throughout the world at any time by people from all walks of life.

Murray Robertson (45) is one of those - a talented illustrator who turned his hand to tattoos and is now expanding his portfolio with every client he works on.

“If I recognise a client on the street, I usually ask them to show me my tattoo,” laughed Murray, owner of Studio IX in La Porte Precinct, Grangemouth.

People are more than happy to show Murray their tattoos, because he always strives to do his best for them.

“You exist on your reputation in the tattoo business,” said Murray. “You’re only as good as your last tattoo and your customers are your best reference. If you do a bad job even once then word gets around.”

The Falkirk Herald visited Studio IX this week to see the master in action.

Guidelines governing tattoos are now stricter than ever in Scotland and Murray follows every one of them to the letter, showing the clients the needles he is using are new and still in their sealed packet before he begins.

“Shading is fun for me and the bigger the tattoo the better. The hard part is doing the lines - you have to get them right and be so precise. The first couple of lines are the most uncomfortable because it usually takes the body a while to get used to it.

“Everyone has different pain thresholds, but the sorest parts you can tattoo are usually your fingers, feet or elbow - anywhere there is a bone right under the skin

“You’re always learning - I think if I came into work one day and said I knew it all, that would be time to stop.”

Murray and wife Gayle, who run Studio IX together, have actually turned business away on principal on a number of occasions.

“Some ideas we know are not going to work,” she said. “So we send people away and ask them to think again. People skills are as important as being a good artist - making clients who are nervous feel more at ease.”

The couple believe tattoos can be seen as a map of your life and there are always interesting - sometimes tragic - stories behind each one.

Gayle said: “We’ve had people who have cancer who want to be tattooed because it lets them have some control back over their body after all their treatment.”

On some occasions clients with self-harming scars have asked Murray to do a tattoo to cover them up.

“They become a different person after they get the tattoo,” he said. “Instead of hiding their arm away they want to show it off. Those are some of the most rewarding tattoos to do.

“When your clients are really happy with your artwork it gives you a huge sense of satisfaction.”

One client, who has had a dozen tattoos from various artists in the past, said Murray’s sugar skull was definitely the best she had ever had and commented on his light touch that left her without any signs of redness to the skin.

Murray said: “I’ve had clients who have actually fallen asleep when I was doing their tattoo. People who have had a lot of tattoos come here and usually tell us they had their best tattoo experience and will be back.”