Inside the Fantastical World of Tiggy Tattoos
If you were to stumble into Briar Rose Tattoo, located in Southeast London, you might think you’ve transported directly into a modern-day fairytale.
Pastel colors of pink and grey play off a shop brimming with character and charm. An antler chandelier that looks plucked from Gaston’s chalet in “Beauty and the Beast” hangs from the ceiling; quirky stuffed animals and action figures line the shelves; and vintage accessories like glass bottles and candelabras mix with exuberant accents that pay homage to popular video games.
It’s in this beautifully outfitted tattoo studio that you’ll find Tiggy Tattoos and her talented team of female artists. The 31-year-old artist, who apprenticed under Kamil “Mocet” Terczynsky, is known for her colorful, cartoon-like pieces that pop off the skin.
A Deep Appreciation for Disney
Tiggy, who happily admits to being a real-life Snow White, opened Briar Rose in 2017 and turned it into a place sparkling with imagination.
“I decorated the shop the way I would decorate my house if I owned one. I just filled it with all the things I love,” she says. “It gets such a fantastic response from our customers and guest artists. People go around taking photos of everything and I’m so pleased that everyone loves it because I put so much effort into decorating it.”
Inside the shop, Disney plays a big role in the overall decor and aesthetic. Character figurines ranging from Ariel to Sleeping Beauty are propped up everywhere; pillows take the shape of “Snow White” and the “Aristocats;” and the shop is home to a large collection of Mickey Mouse stuffed animals (we counted 12 in one picture alone!).
“Disney has been a love of mine since forever,” says Tiggy. “My first word was ‘mouse’ because my Mum decorated my bedroom with everything Mickey Mouse. Now, as an adult, I’ve always found that watching Disney is something I do just to give myself some happy vibes when I need a pick me up.”
In her tattoo career, Tiggy has inked plenty of Disney characters onto people’s skin. A quick review of her Instagram account reveals tattoos inspired by “Mulan” and “Fantasmic”—”Frozen” and “Aladdin.”
“I do get a ton of Disney devotees at my shop,” she says. “I tattooed a girl who played Mickey at the parks. It was a total fan-girl moment for me! I think that it’s a really lovely and welcoming community. Everyone just accepts that we all love Disney in our own way. It’s really nice.”
Briar Rose even comes with its own set of Hidden Mickeys. For those unfamiliar, Disney fanatics search for these hard-to-find representations of Mickey Mouse in Disney parks all over the world. While renovating her tattoo studio, Tiggy added some of her own Hidden Mickeys to keep herself entertained during the process.
“I got bored of all the non-painty jobs like sanding or laying the floor, so I just went around with a paint brush and hid some Mickeys around the place,” she says. “It was a spontaneous decision. I’m not sure how many there are!”
See also: Michela Bottin talks Disney tattoos
A Gamer at Heart
Although Tiggy is a self-proclaimed Disney fan, her interests span the far reaches of fantasy and pop culture—all of which show up regularly in her tattoos and artwork.
Prior to taking on a tattoo apprenticeship, Tiggy studied computer game design at the University of Wales, Newport and started her creative career path as an artist for online gaming companies. While she was doing her apprenticeship, she also worked in a game shop to make ends meet and support herself.
“I’ve been a digital artist for 15 years—starting with a little Wacom tablet and Photoshop 7,” she says. “I definitely think that my style is more influenced by digital art, game art, and all of the other things I was interested in was before I even started getting into tattoos.”
Those other interests run the gambit from Harry Potter and Studio Ghibli to Marvel and Star Wars. She’s also a huge Pokémon enthusiast. “My main project in tattooing at the moment is trying to complete my tattoo Pokédex of the original 151 Pokémon,” she says. “I think I still have 130 to go—so it’s going to take a while.”
Making a Place For Herself
Unlike some female tattoo artists who have horror stories about their apprenticeships, Tiggy talks about her time studying under Terczynsky with reverence.
“I felt very privileged to have been offered an apprenticeship with such an amazing artist, and I was very lucky to be in a studio around a host of other fantastic artists,” she says. “I definitely feel that working there hugely benefited my career.”
But, at the same time, Tiggy admits to never feeling like she personally fit in at her mentor’s shop.
“I’m a nerdy cat lady, and all those guys are way cooler than me,” she says. “The dark-themed decor wasn’t me. The heavy music wasn’t me. Rarely would another female artist guest there, so I wasn’t meeting any other lady tattooers either. I am so thankful to have worked there, but I am definitely more in my element now.”
Briar Rose is a reflection of Tiggy’s personal style and aesthetic, and she’s excited that she’s been able to welcome other female artists—including Olivia, Costanza Giannellini, and apprentice Adriana—into the fold. She’s also opened up her shop to traveling female guest artists as a way to meet new people and build relationships.
Tiggy adds that the majority of her clientele—nearly 90 percent—are also women, and she’s happy to be able to provide a space where her clients feel welcome and comfortable.
“We get to meet all different ladies from all different walks of life,” she says. “I just feel so honored to be at the center of this little, supportive ladyverse in this tiny corner of South-East London.”