When tattooist Caitlin Thomas was requested to create matching tattoos for a grandfather-granddaughter duo, the job introduced her with a possibility to do what she loves most – facilitate significant connection by way of ink.
CityMag meets with Caitlin Thomas at her Dulwich tattoo area, Banksia Studio.
She obtained the keys in April, and the intimate area has since been fitted out with prints, brightly colored tapestries and loads of crops.
With a click on of a lighter, she begins to burn some incense and units her Spotify playlist to shuffle.
“All my stuff is right here,” says Caitlin, “I’ve a boring bed room now.”
Waling into Banksia Studio places you instantly at simple. It’s worlds away from the stereotypical black partitions and checkerboard flooring you’d see in exhibits like Miami Ink.
“My favorite studios are at all times those the place you’ve gotten the area to your self and have that quiet,” Caitlin says. “I’m a bit egocentric with it as a result of I wish to have that as effectively. I do suppose [tattooing] is a little more intimate than possibly folks deal with it typically.”
Caitlin entered the tattoo business after seeing an commercial for an apprenticeship on Gumtree. Initially a graphic designer and drummer, she’d been moonlighting as a wooden burner for distinctive drum kits whereas travelling backwards and forwards to the US.
“I simply thought [tattooing] could be a very cool medium to attempt it for a bit. I by no means thought that I’d do it as an precise job,” she says.
“After which it’s been like nearly 10 years later and I’m nonetheless doing it, so it’s actually surprising.”
Caitlin discovered herself in a bikie run studio, educating herself the commerce shortly, creating her signature type of superb strains and nature designs.
“There’s so much to be taught in tattooing. That’s most likely one of many causes I’ve stayed in it as a result of there’s simply so many new little issues across the nook,” she says.
“However the extra that I tattoo, the extra I realise it’s truly concerning the interplay you might be having with the particular person you might be tattooing.”
Caitlin says it’s tough to choose a favorite design from her 10 years of tattooing, however what sticks together with her is the sensation she will get when a shopper will inform her how her work was helped them by way of a troublesome time.
Whereas an appointment may solely final for a small portion of somebody’s day, Caitlin’s work is a everlasting document of their dialog and fostered connection, an ink rendering of the feelings shared between she and her shoppers.
“You’re fortunate sufficient to have their undivided consideration for probably hours at a time, and also you get to satisfy and see a complete completely different facet than you’d at a celebration – you get a complete deeper degree of connection,” says Caitlin.
“I feel naturally, or psychologically, folks have this factor that if somebody’s serving to them with one thing or caring for them, then they’re extra more likely to let their guard down.
“Listening to all these completely different tales and completely different experiences, I really feel prefer it offers you a lot perspective folks in society usually.”
Canberra-based Peta Bulling reached out to Caitlin earlier this 12 months, regardless of realizing the tattooist’s had no open bookings. The younger environmentalist pitched an thought over e-mail of an identical tattoo together with her grandpa, Peter.
“It was such an extended shot; I actually wasn’t anticipating her to get again to me in any respect. And when she did, I used to be ecstatic,” says Peta.
For so long as Peta has been alive, she and Peter have had an plain connection. A mischievous duo, they’d joked about getting matching tattoos for years. They each determined to chew the bullet in June and get inked to have fun Peter turning 90.
They opted for a Sturt’s Desert pea, a reference to the 2 being like peas in a pod. Every bit is a souvenir of the time the duo spent travelling throughout Australia collectively.
“We love a great highway journey,” says Peta.
“Someday we had been on a highway journey in Central Australia after I was about 12. It had simply rained in the midst of the desert and all these Sturt’s Desert Peas sprung up… I assumed they had been stunning, we each actually preferred them.
“After which we went on one other highway journey after I was 18… and that’s after we [had] the concept of, ‘What if we obtained matching tattoos? Wouldn’t that be so humorous?’
“The 2 peas within the pod has a whole lot of that means for us.”
The Sturt Desert Pea is the floral emblem of South Australia, so for Peter, who was born and bred right here, the tattoo additionally symbolises his heritage.
“There was an added factor there for those who may say, ‘Oh, , foolish previous 90-year-old with a with a tattoo’ – and I can at all times say it’s the South Australian [floral emblem].”
Peter additionally hopes to see extra folks of his technology have fun their lives and households by way of tattoos.
“I’d wish to suppose that I used to be a pacesetter in that discipline,” says Peter. “I’d wish to suppose that I’ve began a development or persevering with a development that’s already there.”
For Caitlin, opening her books to accomodate Peta and Peter was a no brainer.
“I really feel so honoured that somebody would even ask me and embody me in one thing like that. I positively don’t take that as a right,” she says.
Whereas the tattooist’s books are nonetheless closed for customized work, Caitlin continues to publish month-to-month flash designs for Adelaide ink lovers and people new to the craft.
She says implementing flash into her tattoo apply helped her fall in love with work once more after feeling creatively burnt out.
“I used to be at a little bit of a crossroads possibly 5 or so years in the past the place I used to be simply going to cease tattooing utterly or I simply needed to flip the sport,” she says.
“I really feel like with flash, it’s a little bit of a lesson to belief your intestine.
“You’ll be able to simply see that sense of freedom when [people are] doing it. They’re letting themselves simply be enjoyable and so they’re not telling anybody. They’re simply doing it for themselves.”
Caitlin’s flash tattoos have develop into a sizzling commodity. December bookings offered out in lower than a minute.
When Caitlin isn’t tattooing, yow will discover her taking part in the drums within the Adelaide-based rock band West Thebarton.
Taking part in worldwide and nationwide gigs and discovering a daily spot on the Australian competition circuit, West Thebarton’s success has allowed Caitlin to understand a really particular dream she had nearly a decade in the past – tattooing whereas taking part in drums in a band part-time.
“Drawing and music have each been issues that I’ve focussed on since I used to be fairly younger. I’m simply actually fortunate that they’ll each be a giant a part of my life now,” she says.
“I’m sort of pinching myself a bit nonetheless. It takes a whole lot of stamina to remain on this business.
“I feel I’m nonetheless realising simply how lucky I’m, however I additionally attempt to do not forget that I’ve labored onerous to get to that time as effectively… It’s not one thing that simply landed in my lap.
“I actually tried and I actually pushed it for thus lengthy, and it’s simply lastly beginning to repay I feel.”
See extra of Caitlin’s work on Instagram.
Join with Banksia Studio on Instagram.