Mark Gray is a talented tattoo artist who is renowned for his detailed, black and grey tattoos of portraits and buildings, which he creates from his studio at Branston Court. He has transformed what was once a simple office into a eclectic yet cosy creative space that gives us real office envy.
We had a quick chat with Mark to find out more about his tattoo career and why he chose Branston Court to be the home for his business.
Hi Mark, can you tell us a little about your business and your career within the tattoo industry?
I’ve been tattooing for 12 years. I spent a few years working at another great shop in town called Modern BodyArt. As great as it was, I was doing a lot of conventions all over Europe so I got to a point where I was permanently busy. Not a lot of people do single needle tattooing – which is my specialism – so I do a lot of detail oriented pieces that focus on fine line drawings. I became known for that unique, specialist style, and so I needed a relaxing space to develop.
I really wanted to have my own creative space to focus on quality rather than quantity. I don’t do what I do for the money – I do it for the love of the art form.
So, what made you choose an office with UWS?
The overall feel of the place caught our eye. We wanted something old but with a bit of character. After searching high and low nowhere else appealed whatsoever and we found that there were too many soulless places.
We liked how accommodating the UWS guys were from the beginning. When I told them that I wanted a small tucked away space, they knew exactly what would work for me. I liked the ivy outside the front door- some greenery in the city is nice and we’re quite outdoorsy people, so it was a nice touch. I didn’t want a shop because I think that a shop is where you sell something – I wanted a studio and a creative space and for that this office is perfect.
How does UWS compare to other office space you’ve seen or worked in?
They’ve always been good with security awareness– that was something we always felt strongly about so they’ve put cameras up for us and are just generally quite mindful. They’re totally different to other offices. It just felt right for us here and I think that’s mostly to do with the people – it wasn’t impersonal like some of the other places we looked around. The character of the buildings just completely drew me in and when they told me their prices I was sold.
What is your favourite thing about being an UWS tenant?
The trust that they give you. They let you put pictures up and customise the space however you want. They really went out of their way to make sure we got the space how we wanted it. It turned out exactly how I’d imagined it and that’s because they were so accommodating. They even helped with changing the planning permission from a Class B1 to a Sui generis – which means that my tattoo studio doesn’t fall into a particular class category. This is an important requirement and they made it so easy to sort out.
Your office definitely has a unique feel to it. How did you get it to look so good?
We’ve just painted some walls and we given our kitchen its own separate area. There was no manual labour to be done on our part, which was great. We just got to come in and make the office our own with wall art, lights and furniture. There are still some bits and bobs we want to do but It was really easy and straight forward to customise the space with UWS’ help.
If you could do anything to your office and money was no object, what would you do?
We’re really happy with the place to be honest, but we would like to look at getting some chandeliers and maybe some heater covers in the future.
Right now onto the important stuff, where is your favourite local lunchtime spot?
We normally make our own lunch for ourselves and our clients, especially if they are having large pieces done to give them a bit of sustenance. Other than that, we’ve been to all the favourites around the Jewellery Quarter. We particularly like Urban Coffee, Coffee Tales for their cakes and the Eight Foot Grocer for their artisanal bread and friendly staff.
What else is there to do nearby?
There’s always stuff going on around the Jewellery Quarter. We used to go to the Drop Forge for meetings and after work drinks – Rose Villa Tavern does great cocktails too. The Floating Spa usually has a lot going on – they do yoga there which is pretty cool. We love around here, it’s really up and coming.