Interview with Tattooist George ‘Astrix’

Originally Published in The Bite Magazine – Note – The TV show was never made and these artists no longer work together.

George ‘Astrix’ Wilkins the ‘Liquid Elite’ of tattoo artists catches up with Becky while sticking it to her!

‘Liquid Elite’ have a stand at Hammerfest so we thought we’d have a looksie. Having researched the boss George’s work I am very impressed with the quality and book myself in for a few hours under his needle. Well, it would be rude not to right?

George, often known as Astrix, heads up the team – a quiet, unassuming gent (but I later learn this is a just a front really, he’s just as badly behaved as the rest…he’s just more subtle!). He leads his crew and various guest artists around the country to festivals, conventions and events in a town near you. Look out for The Tattoo Tour Bus. He also has a private tattoo studio at his home in the South West of England. He has the place kitted out to make the experience as private as he can from the outside as he often tattoos celebrities who enjoy the anonymity as well as his artistry.

The guest artist this time is the easy on the eye Adam G from The Tattoo Boutique in Liverpool’s trendy Bold Street. He has a great style and inks another Bite Mag team member Steve whist we’re there. Keeping these inksters in check is their fabulous front of house master Jay. Always smiling and ably demonstrating his organisational skills by making sure everything runs smoothly.

The banter is great with all the guys and the hours I am there whizz by. They cope seamlessly with marathon tattooing days, one after another client with barely any time to rest. They are very adept at handling the drunken fools or curious bystanders that wonder in and try and chat to them while they work. I imagine that tattooing at a festival is a lot different from working in a studio, there is a lot of pressure, definite time constraints and of course you have to watch out for intoxicated persons. George says simply ‘it’s what we do, we’re used to it’. But admits he enjoys how its constantly different from one minute to the next.

I am extremely pleased with the tattoo I receive and how he has understood and even improved my vision. The end result looks fantastic and I can’t wait to go and see him again to finish it. I am hardly a tattoo virgin and I can safely say I hardly felt a thing! He is by far the gentlest tattooist I have been under! He has won literally hundreds of awards for his work and I can see why.

They tell me George and his crew are being featured on a tattoo reality TV programme being made by WestonSuper Television, also starring Dan Gold. I ask what he thinks about the two week ‘tattoo academy’ course that is being run in the UK. ‘What a load of shit’ he says ‘And you can quote me on that!’. We discuss how you cannot possible learn to be an ‘artist’ of any kind in two weeks. He tells me of various ‘scratchers’ that he has open shop over the years, producing terrible work and putting people’s lives at risk. Most of them don’t even know what an Autoclave is and if they do they can’t afford one so they don’t use them. For the uninitiated the autoclave is the sterilising machine used by artists…pretty essential. George explains how there is no real regulation system for tattooists so practically anyone can buy equipment off ebay and set up shop. This is of course dangerous and stupid and we both agreed a regulation system ought to be put in place. The best way to become a tattoo artist, in George’s eyes, is to get in with a good artist and start at the bottom. Learn the trade and earn your stars and stripes. Most front of house bods are tattoo apprentices earning their place.

I ask what the stupidest tattoo he has ever been asked to do is, he says he once tattooed a portrait of a baked beans can on someone. But asserts it’s subjective, like all art. ‘To me it’s strange, but to others it’s not. Nowadays there are no limits to tattoo’s and styles’ He explains how in the tattoo world there are different fashions just as in any other form of culture. ‘Tribal used to be big now it’s a joke to some, day of the dead skulls are everywhere at the moment but then it’ll be something else’. He goes on to explain how he personally won’t tattoo faces as he feels it’s too much of a commitment. He also tells me it’s actually illegal to tattoo hands and faces but that he has never heard of this law being enforced anywhere.