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How old do you have to be ?

18. It’s the law.

Does it hurt ?

A little bit. Tattoos aren't for pussies. The outline, especially, can feel a little sharp. You have to be cool with that ! Shading and colouring uses more needles & this means that, together with the numbing effect that kicks in after about 10 minutes, it gets easier as it goes on. After a while some people feel nothing at all. If your pain tolerance is unusually low you can try a numbing cream on the area to be tattooed an hour or so beforehand.

Is it safe ?

Bobby Swallow's Tattoo Parlour is licensed by the local Health Authority and complies with its strict code of conduct and hygiene. I wear gloves and use autoclave sterilization. Inks, needles and tips are single service & are disposed of after each customer. You can rest assured you are in safe, professional hands.

Where's the best place to get a tattoo ?

The choice is yours but, if you're allergic to pain, you might want to avoid the ribs or collarbone. If you plan to get pregnant one day you might want to avoid the stomach where the tattoo, once stretched, might not return to the exact same shape. If you like being tanned you might want to avoid exposed places. Brown skin and bright colours just don't go together. Likewise if tattoos don't fit with your job.

Will I regret it ?

You might, if it's badly done or an unwise choice but, as a customer who worked with old folk once told me, "What old people really regret is the things they didn't do."

Can I bring my own design ?

Since Miami Ink hit our screens this has become fashionable. I'm happy to tattoo your design as long as I can see what it is and it will work as well on skin as it does on paper. It may need some re-drawing so it's unlikely I will be able to do it there & then. We will be able to give you an approximate price though.

How long does it take ?

Obviously a larger tattoo in an awkward place will take longer to do. It will most likely have to be done in more than one sitting, maybe several. I feel that tattooing sessions of around 2 hours are comfortable for tattooist and client alike although I will work longer on the right person. On Miami Ink you may see someone like Garver starting a large tattoo & finishing it a few minutes later. That's because it's a TV programme. It's called editing !

Do you do cover ups ?

With the arrival of "ebay" tattoo machines have become all too easy to get hold of, spawning a generation of wannabe tattooists. Buying a tattoo machine and being able to use it is not the same thing. If an amateur has made a mess on your arm I might be able to fix it but I might not and may "pass" on the job due to the difficulty. There are compromises involved. Generally speaking, the cover up tattooing has to be bigger and darker than the original. You're welcome to come down with your problem tattoo for some honest advice. I'll cast a bloodshot eye over it but I'm not a magician !

Do you tattoo faces ?

No I don't. I'm not mad on tattooing hands or the side of the neck either though it depends on the person. I'd think twice about this if I were you. It might seem appealing now but in 10 years ? Or 20 ? Do yourself a favour and get a tattoo that will be easy to live with. If you mean cosmetic tattooing, the answer again is no.

Do you do portraits ?

Of your cat or dog, yes. Of someone you love no, not at this time. Be careful who you let do this. You need a portrait specialist.

Do you do body piercing ?

No, I gave it up. I used to pierce back in the days when the Spice Girls ruled the world, and even before that, but I prefer being a full time tattooist these days.

Did you used to work in Chatham ?

Yes, although I started off in the North and have worked in Holland and Germany. When I returned to England I was the first to ever open in the In Shops, later moving round to Church Street. I tattooed in Chatham for many years but no longer have any connection. The parlour in Station Road, Rainham is the fourteenth I've worked in and, for me, the best.