Rewind back twenty years and finding the wealth of vegan restaurants we do now would be unimaginable, in a similar vein, tattooing had a similar boost in the late 90’s and much like veganism it refuses to slow down! With a rise in acceptance and understanding of both, the need for your newest ink to be cruelty free has naturally become important to tattoo junkies with an animal loving heart.
We sat down with one of the biggest talents in England, South East based Fraser Peek to chat the rise in popularity of veganism, his journey in his trade and how veganism has entered the tattoo world.
Hey Fraser! Thanks for sitting down with Vegan Connections. How have you been?What have you been to up to the past few months?
Hey thanks for this opportunity! I’ve been great thanks. The past few months I’ve been working a bunch, travelling about a bit, riding my bike and working on a healthier work/life balance.
What inspired you to become a tattoo artist and how long have you been in the trade?
I thought about it for a little while when I was living in Derby way back in 2001 – 2004 at university, Gerry Carnelly of Octopus Tattoo was probably the first proper tattoo artist that I went to and I remember vaguely talking to him about it. I was definitely interested as I’d been drawing since I was a kid, but at that point of my life I was a nightmare! I probably wouldn’t of taken it as seriously as I needed to. All I was doing back then was riding my BMX and being a drunk idiot.
Fast forward to 2012 and I was living with my misses working from home as a freelance graphic/web designer, constantly chasing payments and scrambling for consistent work. I had a shitload of big canvases in storage and decided to start painting again. Next thing you know I had created 10 or so large paintings and my wife suggested putting on an exhibition of my work… I wasn’t into it but she made it happen and I couldn’t be more thankful for that kick up the arse!
From that I was offered to apprentice for 3 years at Ritual Art Tattoo, which was probably the most reputable shop in the area with the likes of David Corden and Dan Chase previously working there. I finished my apprenticeship on the 5th November 2016 so I guess I’ve officially been in the trade since then.
I’m assuming you’re vegan yourself. When did you make the change and what prompted it?
I was vegetarian for a long time but went vegan I think about 6 years ago, I’m not sure. I felt like a bit of a hypocrite not eating meat cos it was cruel but then consuming cheese/milk from industries that are just as bad – so me and my partner just made the jump. I don’t believe any living creature should be exploited for human use.
Over the years have you noticed a shift in people wanting to make sure their tattoos are fully vegan?
In my short time in the tattoo industry I have noticed it. But that seems to of coincided with the cruelty free boom. I think it resonates across everything these days, the more aware people are the more they question things! People are jumping head first into veganism and it’s great, with all the information at hand they can now get tattoos that suit their lifestyle minus the guilt.
A lot of your tattoos are animal based I’ve noticed. Do you get many requests from committed vegans to have you ink their commitment on them and how proud are you when they come to you for that?
I do tattoo a lot of animals, everyone loves them right?!?
Don’t get me wrong, I have my own issues with certain types of vegans and I’m not about to tattoo ‘VEGAN’ across someone’s face, but I love the subtle tattoos, clients that just love their choice in life and genuinely love animals and specific creatures. It’s an honour to tattoo everyone and these guys are no different, I just might end up talking more about food than I would with a ‘regular’ client haha.
Could you give an advice for those artists who want to make a switch to vegan-friendly tattooing?
Look at everything you work with and change the items if they have animal products in them – its that simple…. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get a fully vegan plastic bag to cover your machine, (you’ll still accept the new plastic notes as payment right?!). Most companies now are fully vegan or offer alternatives. It’s actually really easy to make the change and there’s a bunch of forums out there for information and vegan artists that would happily help.
Finally, what has been your favourite piece you’ve ever done?
Probably the skull and cross bone I tattooed on my leg when I first started. It marks the start of this crazy path I’m stumbling along.
If you’re looking for a nice shiney new piece then luckily for you, Fraser is in Edinburgh from January 30th till February 3rd at Semper Tattoo
Follow his work at:
Instagram – @fraserpeektattoo
Email – email@example.com