The Galway Tattoist Q&A #1
Galway Stories

The Galway Tattoist Q&A #1

Galway's best Tattooists

The Galway Tattooist Q&A - Number 1 - The annual Galway Tattoo Show bring thousands of tattoo fans to the windy Wesht. But, despite the plethora of international artists that will be in attendance and tattooing from the festival for the weekend, Galway has a very successful tattoo industry all of its own, and has nurtured some of Ireland's best tattoo artists along the way.

With that in mind, This is Galway caught up with a few of Galway's best tattoo artists for a chat about Galway, why they do what they do, what drives them and a few other random questions.

First up in this series of Q&A's is Tony Flaherty from Rise Tattoo on Abbeygate Street...

Q. How long have you been tattooing and when did you set up in Galway?
I've been tattooing for about 6 years now, and have always been in Galway. But, I've had my own studio for about 3 years now.

Q. Tell us about your studio and your preferred style of tattooing.

The studio is called Rise Tattoo. We moved into the new location on Abbeygate Street a few years ago and thankfully it's going really well.

I like a bit of everything really, but at the end of the day I'm a tattooer so I'll do whatever a customer wants within reason. But my favourite style above all others is lettering. I love it! I wish I could do lettering all day every day and like one of my favourite artists says "everybody has something to say and I do lettering so I try and facilitate that". I really enjoy black & grey work as well, colour can be a lot of fun and I love doing cartoon/video game themed colour work a lot too.

Q. How did you get into tattooing in the first place?

I had most of my sleeve done long before I even considered it as a career so I'd gotten to know the artist that apprenticed me pretty well. He lived a few doors up from a friend of mine so I would see him when I went to visit her. About 6 months after I got laid off from my old job, I was getting some work done and I asked him how to go about getting an apprenticeship... We started right there that day!

Q. Who or what influences your work?
What influences my work is simply trying to be better and improve, especially trying to create my own lettering styles, etc.

As for who influences my work; they are all lettering artists really: Big Meas, Norm, BJ Betts, Flaks, Big Sleeps all the big names, but I really love the black & grey work of Jun Cha, Jose Lopez and Carl Grace, and there's a Korean guy called Potter who's work is stunning. Other than that, a lot of the local guys too... like Joe Westcott, Steve Kennedy and Caz are all fantastic artists!

Q. What’s the worst tattoo that you have? Or do you love them all in equal measures?
The worst tattoo I have by far is a really ghetto looking Buzz Lightyear. It's on the back of my leg and was done by a guy who was an apprentice at the same time and in the same shop as myself. I don't really hate it or any of my other tattoos for that matter. I had my hand tattooed by my favourite artist Norm last year and that's gotta be the one I love most! I've had my wife, my mom and some of my close friends tattoo me as well so they would come a close second.


Q. What advice would you give to somebody coming in to get their first tattoo from you?

Always, always always look at a portfolio, or at the very least look at their work online or speak to friends that may have been tattooed by me before. The amount of people that walk in off the street and don't even ask if I have a portfolio let alone sit down and look through it is unbelievable! Don't ever be afraid to ask questions about hygiene practices or to see any of the equipment beforehand. I think a lot of people are afraid to ask that kind of thing in case it pisses the artist off or whatever, but I don't mind at all.

Q. What is the tattoo that you’ve done that most sticks out in your mind, or that you’re most proud of?

That's a hard question to answer for good and bad reasons. I did a huge Cookie Monster on a girls side a few years ago and I did a brown paper bag with arms, legs and a smiley face on a guy last year and they always comes to mind when people ask if I've ever done anything strange. As for the piece I'm most proud of, that changes a lot. There is a swallow I tattooed on a girls hip about 3 years ago that still stands out to me and still gets a lot of comments from people. There was a black & grey crown and some roses I did only last month that turned out really nice and I was really happy with a Star Wars themed colour piece a few weeks back as well.

Q. What’s the latest trend in tattoos, and do you wish that it would go away?

I dunno about trends as such because every shop does different styles and has a different type of customer, but I still get a lot of guys asking for Maori/Polynesian work, also Mandalas are really popular at the moment too. I see a lot of artists complaining about trends or what you could call the typical "girly" tattoos or whatever, but at the end of the day it's a service industry and if someone comes to me and wants an infinity symbol or a feather turning into birds or stars, etc, I'm not going to tell then "no", or tell them their idea is silly. I will try my best to convince them to get something a bit different or more original but if they have their heart set on it, then I will do it for them no problem.

Q. Galway has been in the news a lot recently for all the right reasons. What is it about Galway that you love?
Whats not to love? There's some kind of event, festival or party of some description almost every weekend in this town, it's crazy! From Movie in the Park, Silent Disco and all the cultural stuff that happens in the summer, it's no wonder that when people visit Galway they say it's their favourite place. But for me its simple - It's where I'm from, 100% born & raised and I wouldn't change a thing about it!

You can check out more from Tony at Rise Tattoo by checking out his page on our website here, or by heading over to his Facebook and Instagram pages which are listed below. If you're one of the many students that have landed in Galway over the last couple of weeks you can avail of a 10% discount at Rise Tattoo!!


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