It wasn’t too long ago that tattoo parlours felt like part of the underground movement – tucked away out of sight in upstairs rooms and basements. Things have changed a bit since then.
Today, studios are everywhere – thousands of them standing proudly on UK high streets in big cities and tiny villages alike. The tattoo industry has modernised and mobilised in the 21st century – stepping up to cater for a surging demand that’s only intensified after becoming pent-up during COVID lockdowns.
It feels like more people than ever are looking to learn about getting tattoos. And there’s plenty of information out there. At least, until the ink has dried.
According to Danny Birch – owner of the wildly popular Heart For Art tattoo studio in Stalybridge – info on tattoos largely stops after the needle hits the skin. Customers have all the feedback they need to make an informed decision on what designs to get – but only a cursory knowledge of how to take care of them.
Danny’s other business – Tatfresh – is aiming to change that.
“I noticed there was a gap in the market for tattoo aftercare,” Danny tells The Manc.
“A lot of what’s already out there is just repurposed nappy rash cream. But what we have at Tatfresh is a blend of just seven different organic ingredients – all natural – cutting out all the crap you just don’t need.”
Having been a tattooist for 12 years – launching one of the best-loved local studios in the process – Danny understands the importance of tattoo aftercare, and realised there simply wasn’t a good enough product out there to help people truly look after their skin.
Using contacts at Salford University, Danny and his business partner Ste Bacon came up with a concept and put it into a real testing environment – developing the solution over a period of three years to the highest standards.
As industry pros, Danny and Ste knew which ingredients were required to improve the appearance, health and longevity of tattoos – as well as how to add depth and boldness to designs. They crafted all these ingredients together – and the result was a plant-based, vegan and all natural skincare balm that actually worked.
It was something the industry had never seen before – helping improve healing rates of inked skin and reduce the number of infections – all whilst extending the lifespan of tattoo appearance.
Unsurprisingly, the product took off like a rocket – with major retailers even expressing an interest until lockdowns threw up a stumbling block.
Tatfresh is quickly becoming the go-to brand for tattoo care – allowing people to both recover from and prep for any appointments.
But what Danny is truly most interested in is what Tatfresh can teach people.
“We’re here to celebrate the culture,” he explains.
“The balm isn’t just a skincare product. We see it as a vehicle for education in the industry. We want to start the conversation and get people talking about how to look after their tattoos in the right ways.
“Everyone should have access to a balm that works for them. And know how to use it.”
At its heart, Tatfresh is a wellbeing platform – and this yearning to help others was plain as day during the height of the pandemic.
When COVID hit, Tatfresh gave away boxes upon boxes of balm to the NHS – posting them around the UK so frontline workers could keep their skin healthy and soothe cracked hands.
“We didn’t want to sit still [during lockdown],” Danny stated.
“We’re not those kinds of people.”
The business owners are so restless, in fact, that they’ve worked on morphing the balm into four separate products.
Alongside the Tatfresh skin care balm, the solution has been repurposed for different markets. Offshoots include Grandma’s Magic Balm for skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis, Sampson’s Rescue Balm as skincare for dogs, and an Exo Balm for the sport market – helping athletes recover faster from injuries.
But Danny emphasises whichever format the solution comes in – it does the trick.
The public feedback so far has been glowing, and Danny thinks he knows why.
“Our balm is the only one that works,” he states.
“And it heals unlike anything else out there.”
Tatfresh are now reaching out to tattoo studios, barber shops and retail with wholesale opportunities. Get in touch at [email protected].
Manchester’s massive Irish Festival is back next month with 200 events over 10 days
Manchester’s massive Irish Festival is returning to the city centre next month, and bringing hundreds of events over 10 days along with it.
And when we say massive, we do mean it.
Manchester Irish Festival is the biggest of its kind in the whole of Europe, and it’s known and loved for putting on 10 whole days of Irish revelry in the heart of the city centre every year – with something for everyone of all ages to get involved with.
Taking place from Friday 8 March, right through to St Patrick’s Day on Sunday 17 March, you can expect a jam-packed lineup of events spanning the whole city this year.
Expected to shine a light on the vibrant Irish community here in Manchester, and flood the city with the best celebrations outside of the Emerald Isle itself, this year’s Manchester Irish Festival is will be made up of whopping 200 different events across the city, including a lively pop-up Irish Festival Village, a Limerick competition, and, of course, the return of the legendary Irish Parade.
This year’s Parade on Sunday 10 March will see more than 30 floats, dozens of stunning and colourful Irish dancers and bands, and hundreds of people march through the city centre with pride to showcase the culture, heritage, sounds, and joy of the Manchester Irish community.
Some of the other exciting events on this year’s Festival lineup include a traditional Ceili-Cise dancing class for adults, with everyone of all abilities able to take part and the promise of a “fun and friendly atmosphere”, and a huge 12-hour St Patrick’s Day party at the city’s biggest and best-loved Irish bar, O’Sheas.
If you head on down to the Irish World Heritage Centre, there’s also the chance to learn, network, and attend talks from social historians and more as part of the Irish National Studies Conference.
There’ll be a whopping 200 events happening over 10 days up until St Patrick’s Day / Credit: Kevin Gallagher (via YouTube)
And then, when it comes to the musical offering, Irish sensation Damien Dempsey is stopping off at Manchester Club Academy on Saturday 9 March – right in the middle of the scheduled celebrations – as part of his 2024 UK tour, and the “true master” of Irish music, according to Irish Music Magazine, John McSherry and band will perform songs from their debut album at Band On The Wall on Sunday 17 March.
So, like we said, there is quite literally something to satisfy everyone.
Manchester Irish Festival 2024 is from Friday 8 – Sunday 17 March, and you can find out more about everything happening here.
Featured Image – Colin Home (via Supplied)
Art & Culture
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
🖼️ A new County-themed mural is currently being created in Edgeley by a talented group of young street artists – with a little help from Ethan Pye!
The new Stockport County mural is being completed as we speak.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Ethan offering his services off the pitch too.You can’t miss it.Credit: Supplied
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.