Forever True's owner and resident tattooer Richie Clarke has been tattooing in his own establishment since 1995, drawing inspiration directly from the tattooing legends of the late 19th and early to mid-20th century.
As well as producing his own unique bold tattoo flash, Richie also repaints faithful reproductions of long lost tattoo designs from tattooing's earliest and most influential fore fathers, Bert Grimm, Joseph Hartley, George Bigmore, Tom Berg (to name but a few). Famous names your great grandfather would like to have visited between the bars and brothels (before he met your great grandmother) during shore leave from Singapore, to the Barbary Coast.
Now thanks to impeccable research, these designs are now available to collect again, repainted with an expert hand as they would have appeared more than half a century ago adorning the walls of tattoo parlours from the sea ports of Europe to the sideshows of Coney Island.
Richie is determined to see these classics live on with a modern audience hungry for original work, "Why spend hours trawling the Internet for hours when you could go home with a genuine piece of heritage on your arm, a tattoo is something to be earned not downloaded. Every tattoo told a story, a seasoned veteran, a grieving son, a lost love, and it's no different now, clients still want names of their children, lovers, symbols of life or death, memories or aspirations, but people struggle to find good designs and search the Internet finding images they think are original but in reality probably adorn thousands of others".
"They need to trust the old artists, the names who brought tattooing to the West and fashioned classic designs that forged the modern tattoo world. A good tattoo is forever and should outlive the artist & client and that's what these designs have done. I'm a craftsman first and foremost not a fine artist, a folk artist maybe, part of a long line before me. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel..."
So whether working with clients on their own custom idea or introducing old tattooing legends to the next generation of collectors, Richie is mindful of his place in tattooing's long and illustrious lineage, "As a tattooer you must always bring your 'A' game regardless of the tattoo but when you tattoo a Sailor Jerry Collins design, you better do it with respect, as if old Ironside himself is standing behind you watching.