Who’s Happening: The Vagabond Tattoo Studio’s Paul Hill

Next up in Another Man’s exclusive survey of the talent shaping the contemporary landscape, we meet tattoo artist and motorbike collector Paul Hill, who is revving up for a summer of inking and riding

What was your first tattoo?
Stars in the elbow ditches of each arm aged 16 on a family holiday – which, as a result, I ruined!

Why stars?
Because that’s what I saw as soon as I walked in. I’ve since tattooed over them.

How many tattoos do you have now?
I describe it as one tattoo, but it’s probably over 100.

Have you tattooed yourself?
That’s how you learn: on your legs. In summer you can tell a tattooist because their legs show a progression of tattoos from awful to average to good.

What’s the weirdest tattoo request you’ve had?
A black cross upside down on someone’s Johnson. To tattoo a penis you have to have stretched skin, it needs to be hard!

Did you do it?
No, and I’ve no plans to in the future.

You tattooed Question Time presenter David Dimbleby for his 70th birthday…
Yeah, he wanted this Google image of a scorpion. I drew my own versions of it, but nope – he was very set on the design.

How did you get into collecting motorbikes?
Before tattooing, my job was airbrushing cars and bikes.

How many do you own?
Five. I have restrictions in place from my girlfriend so I keep most at the studio.

Which is your prize bike?
My Triumph T120A Bonneville – the one you guys used for your centrefold shoot. It has that Easy Rider feel to it, but is probably a collector’s worst nightmare: an original 1970s Triumph that’s been chopped to bits.

What are you looking forward to about summer?
Summer is the busiest; people see sun, remember they have skin and fantasise about drawing on it!

This article appears in the S/S16 issue of Another Man.

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