When the opportunity arose to open a tattoo shop at 10 Downing Street, there was only one name that would ever suit the business.
Ministry of Ink has been at the iconic address for seven years, but you won’t find it in Whitehall, nor will you see TV news crews routinely camped outside using the front door as a backdrop for their reports.
El Harper, who has been tattooing for nine years, has been the studio manager since the opening.
The tattoo and piercing studio wasn’t always meant to be at this location, originally it was planned to be elsewhere and when those plans fell through, they came across 10 Downing Street.
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At the time, there was a call for a tattoo shop to be set up in Farnham and the owners were sold on the location’s striking, but very much not unique, address.
From there came the name, and Ministry of Ink came into existence and has since become multi-award winning.
Whilst the address has become the perfect way for people to remember the company, it doesn’t come without its downsides.
El said: “It is a really cool address, though sometimes tattoo suppliers don’t think it’s real, they’re like ‘yeah, okay what’s the real address?’ and we have to convince them it is our actual address.”
First time tattoos are becoming more common since lockdown. Ministry of Ink are said to be seeing around two to three first timers a day – recently, they did a first time tattoo on a 76-year-old.
Due to the change in both the amount and type of people paying out for a tattoo, the taboo surrounding them is slowly disappearing.
Trends are becoming increasingly hard to predict due to the Internet making the concept of long-term trends phase out and be replaced by more different types of tattoos than ever before. Whilst the fast changes do mean that the artists are faced with many styles, they are finding themselves having to counter some unrealistic expectations of what can be done on the skin.
Despite all of this, at 10 Downing Street in Farnham, roses and skulls still remain the most common request.
The company is easy going when it comes to doing tattoos, however they will refuse to do anything that is discriminatory, offensive, or the artist is uncomfortable doing.
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El said: “I’m a big believer in energy, and if you put something already negative onto someone, and you don’t really want to do it, then you’re also putting negative energy into something that is going to be on that person forever.”
On their Instagram, they share ‘flash sheets’ – these are tattoos the artist has designed and would really like to do and customers, instead of bringing in inspiration photos, will get that design on them.
“The best feeling is when you know that someone wants something which you’ve done, on them forever, with no changes to it, especially when the original drawing wasn’t intended for a tattoo.”
Ministry of Ink has a range of artists, specialising in everything from animals to a traditional Japanese style; the capabilities of the artists means all styles are catered for.
The studio was redecorated over lockdown, to both become compliant with current restrictions and to make the store look approachable and open. Framed images of previous works act as both inspiration and a showcase of the talent and personalities present at the studio.
Previously, El has had tattoos featured in the ‘Tattoo Artists’ UK & Ireland Yearbook’. The yearbook features hundreds of images of tattoos with the artist and has five additions across Europe.
The studio is currently working under appointment only to ensure they can continue doing what they do best and that the artists and customers remain safe.