In the last few years – as the pieces got bigger – tattooists became, quite reasonably, ‘tattoo artists’. But James Robinson – who has just opened his own studio, Gilded Cage – is just an artist, full stop. His line-free colour work is like a watercolour master – beautiful, delicate, often taking influence from nature (his birds and flowers are stunning). His black and grey tattoos are equally striking, almost sculptural, with nods to religion and the macabre.
“My style is changing all the time,” James says with his ever-present cheerful enthusiasm. “I’m moving towards realistic grey tonal base with washes over in colour.”
He’s joined at Gilded Cage by the equally talented Hannah Keuls, who he worked with at Nine.
“We have a good time together,” he smiles, “singing along to the camp music we play while we work.”
As you might have clocked by now, Gilded Cage isn’t your average walk-in-and-choose-something-off-the-wall joint. James’ reputation means that his books are filled until July next year and he’s not even taking new appointments until the New Year.
“I’m going to be quite strict about what work comes out of the studio,” he says, explaining that as everything is drawn by hand on the day there’s a lot of trust involved.
But if you can’t wait that long you can still have James’ art in your life. The ground floor boutique of Gilded Cage sells art prints and cushions made from James’ designs by Sacred Stiches. It will also be a free gallery space for local artists that will change every couple of months.
WHERE: 106 St James’s St
PHONE: (01273) 933420
WEB: Gilded Cage