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How a Tattoo is Done - See Lal Hardy Famous Tattoo Artist at Work

Updated on February 26, 2018
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I've always loved creativity. In art and craftwork, I can embroider, knit, crochet, make clothes and earrings, paint, draw, and decorate.

Tatoos, Body Art and Inking - How the tattoo artist does a tattoo

This web page is all about the process of choosing, designing, transferring and executing two tattoos. They were done with the specific intention of covering up existing poor quality inking. There are lots of photos to show you what it's like to get a tattoo done.

Being curious myself, I took these photos when my friend got two new tattoos to cover up some rubbish writing on his arm done as a schoolboy prank. Oh, very funny, I don't think.

Tattoo by Lal Hardy

This is a photo of my friend's tattoo After Lal Hardy , a popular London tattoo artist, started work covering up his old tattoos
This is a photo of my friend's tattoo After Lal Hardy , a popular London tattoo artist, started work covering up his old tattoos

Have you ever wondered what it's like in the studio of a tattooist or "Inker" - how do you decide on the artwork; how does the artwork get transferred on to you

What happens next? What's the result? Watch Lal Hardy in Muswell Hill, North London, he's an expert in tattoo art.

The Background Story: Tattoos are permanent so don't trust your friends! - Tattooists come in all shapes, sizes and levels of skill

James close-up before tattoos
James close-up before tattoos

This is a close-up of the old and embarrassing tattoos before work started - see the daft schoolboy scribblings up his arm

One of my friends, James, had the most awful amateur tattoos on his arms, done by drunken teenagers back in Scotland (that's what they do for laughs up there). He considered having them removed, but this can leave scars as unsightly as the stupid writing, which fortunately had paled over the years.

I had heard that our local tattooist, Lal Hardy, was one of the best around London, and his studio was only a couple of roads away from where I live, on the borders of Muswell Hill, so we went to have a reccy.

This all took place in 1992 and I am afraid Lal Hardy looks somewhat older now - but his New Wave Tattoo Studio is still flourishing in Muswell Hill, North London, most deservedly I would say. He's a real enthusiast.

Amazon is Offering a REDUCTION on The Mammoth Book of Tattoos by Lal Hardy - All you need to know about tattoos

The Mammoth Book of Tattoos
The Mammoth Book of Tattoos

Lal Hardy, the writer, is a well known Tattoo artist and proprietor of the very popular New Wave Tattoo in North London, which he has operated since 1979. He has been tattooist to numerous rock stars and film actors. And, what's more, I know him personally.

His studio is just round the corner from where I live, so go on, buy it!


First We Discussed the Design - Then we choose a tattoo design and the design had to be drawn out

Lal Hardy outlining Tattoo
Lal Hardy outlining Tattoo

This is Lal drawing out the design before starting work on the tattoo itself

The designs looked good, and he confirmed that as the existing tattoos were fairly light in colour, he would be able to cover them over with an appropriate design.

That was good news, and so an appointment was made for a few days' time - oh yes, you couldn't just walk in and have a complex design done on the spot - it takes a bit of time to discuss and do.

We looked at loads of different designs and settled on an eagle, which was large enough to cover all the writing. It was a good choice, and James was always very happy with it.

This is Lal Tracing out his Design - He takes a lot of care doing this

Tracing the tattoo
Tracing the tattoo

The design is traced out.

By the way, have a closer look at Lal's tattooed arms.

Lal Transferring the Drawing to James's Arm - So far no pain is involved!

Lal Hardy transferring Tattoo to arms
Lal Hardy transferring Tattoo to arms

But plenty of time to think about it with apprehension

You can study Lal's arms again, to see if you love or hate his tattoos.

I wonder who did them - I mean, he couldn't have done them himself, could he?

Here is the Outline Tattoo on James's Forearm - Keep your eyes on the job, Lal - this could turn into body piercing!

Tattooist keep your eyes on the job
Tattooist keep your eyes on the job

Not much to see yet but ready to begin

Will James squeal or wince?..............Wait for it!!

If you are Squeamish, Look Away Now!

Aaaagh the needle!!!!

Just Starting the Tattoo - Needle at the ready

Tattoo needle poised
Tattoo needle poised


Not a wince, nor even a flicker of the eyelids (maybe that's why James is wearing sunglasses). Is this a man or some machine? Those men from North of the Border are tough...or is it just a case of where there's no sense there's no feeling?

Glad it's not me, anyway

Tattooing in Progress - No looking back now

Tattooing starts
Tattooing starts

Too late to change his mind! But it's beginning to take shape and look interesting

"Je regret riens", as Edith Piaff would say

Well, the Tattoo is Beginning to Look Good Now - The colours go on one at a time

tattoo by Lal Hardy in progress
tattoo by Lal Hardy in progress

But it's not nearly finished yet

Whose tattoo looks better - James's or Lal's?

The Detail of the Tattoo is Coming on Nicely - I think this body art is about half way now

Tattoo colours being added
Tattoo colours being added

Hope Lal doesn't get tired - he's been working for a long time

Still, I suppose he's insured (that's the lawyer in me talking - sorry!)

More Filling in and Detail on the Tattoo - It's taking shape now

Lal Hardy filling in tattoo colours
Lal Hardy filling in tattoo colours

I prefer James's tattoo to the somewhat crowded aspect of Lal's arm - I think it stands out better, you know, more is less and all that sort of stuff about gilding the lily

This Tattoo is a Small Celtic Design - He wasn't originally planning to have a tattoo on his other arm

Small Celtic design tattoo
Small Celtic design tattoo

but it just seemed like a good idea, again covering some existing hieroglyphics

The finished tattooos
The finished tattooos

And Here are the Finished Tattoos

Good, aren't they?

James was really chuffed when he came out.

In the first few days scabs form wherever the lines were drawn. They have to be left alone until it has all healed up, leaving the bright colours of the tattoo to take.They must be kept scrupulously clean, to avoid infection.

And Here's the Final Photo - A Close-up of the Eagle and Snake Tattoo - Isn't it a fine piece of artistry?

The tattoo was allowed to develop over the next few weeks and this is the end result

This is what Rachel Kennedy, writing for Tattoo TV says about Lal:

" he's very old school, and a very respected name. One of the original "London Inkers" in fact, these days a bona fide legend, due not only to his artistic skill, but also his highly knowledgeable voice promoting the art and its traditions.

"Lal got his start far, far back during the Teddy boy revival and on through the punk scenes, the new wave period, the rockabilly chapters and the rave kids. There are decades of experience under this man's belt. He's self taught, his origins in the solid old school genre, honing expertise over time with more styles such as the Japanese Traditional genre - he's created full body suits, back pieces and detailed colour work that masters of the genre themselves would double-take upon.

"Lal is also a dedicated enthusiast and admirer of his fellow tattooists, having recently released a photo-book collection of the work of assorted tattoo artists whom he considers top in the industry ....The book - The Mammoth book of Tattoos (see above) has quickly become an essential addition to those serious about collecting publications that document the very best of tattoo work".

Take a look below at the Websites about Tattoos, Inking, Body Art, Piercing - And Tattoo-related Things to Interest You

Some websites relating to tattooing, including a poem I wrote, and also Lal Hardy's own websites, and health advice on maintenance of new tattoos to stop them going septic

I love to hear from people, whether what you have to say is good, bad, indifferent, irrelevant and or irreverant. Take your pick, but just communicate!

Take This Poll About Tattoos

Have you got a tattoo?

See results

Interview With Famous Tattooist Lal Hardy

This is the Place for your Comments - If you liked this article, great, please comment; if not, you don't know a gem when you see it, but you can still say what

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    • profile image

      Bill Kasman 

      2 years ago

      I have mixed feelings about tattoos even though I have a couple myself. The reasons for getting a tattoo and the precise one(s) chosen should be the subject of much reflection and questioning of ones' motives - a bad choice can come back to haunt you - and never get your current boy/girlfriend's name tattooed anywhere on yourself!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @clevergirlname: : Thank you for your message which will be dealt with as soon as possible.

      This is an automated reply.

    • clevergirlname profile image


      5 years ago

      I've grew up "in the industry". I have one tattoo but have seen oodles of them done (as well as Piercings and suspension.). There's a lot to be said about the art!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      One of my best friends is tattooist as well. I love this art. I have one tattoo, but in the future I want to have plenty :))

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      6 years ago

      Some people get loads of tattoos and you really can't tell one from another. Less is more in my opinion. Your friends tattoo looks really good although I would never get one myself.

    • GeekGirl1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Tattoo is one way of expressing themselves for some people but there are still people like me who prefer without it.

    • myneverboredhands profile image


      8 years ago

      I've decided to check out this lens because my oldest son suddenly ask if he can have a tattoo, and not a tiny one but he planed it takes all his left arm! My answer was "no" of course... This lens very interesting and has very nice pictures of tattoo (before, during the process and after its done), but I wouldn't get one...

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I'm sure it is all very artistic and clever but I just don't like tattoos.

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 

      8 years ago from Columbia Mo

      Very cool

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I once watched a friend get a tattoo--a sun around her bellybutton--and I think it hurt me more watching than it hurt her (although, I could tell it hurt!). Unfortunate thing was, she didn't like it at all once it was done. I think many tattoos are really neat, but I'd never get one myself. Just personal preference. Anyhow, interesting lens!


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