You might know him from this years’ TV reality hit series, Tattoo Artist of the Year, but Simon ‘Cookie’ Cooke has more to offer than being a reality TV star.
He is a self taught tattooist who comes from the small town of Silverdale, United Kingdom. Here, he and his wife Vikki own and operate their shop, The Ink Spot.
Simon spoke exclusively with best tattoo about his life, career and becoming a reality TV star.
best tattoo (IC): Let’s start with the basics. You are a self taught artist. How did you get into tattooing?
Simon ‘Cookie’ Cooke (SC): Basically I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to be a tattooist. My wife and I argued on about this for around 6 months. I have a background in art from school/college and various jobs. I read as much information as I could and absorbed everything about techniques, researched as much as I could and taught myself how to tattoo. The hygiene side is well catered for, as there are printed guidelines to adhere to so that was pretty straightforward.
IC: What artists inspired/inspire you?
SC: There are so many images that inspire me but I wouldn’t say I have a particular artist who inspires me. I do appreciate the work from Paul Acker, Steve Butcher and Niko Hurtado. I love how much depth and detail they manage to capture and I know it may sound cliche’ but I get inspiration from the strangest things like lighting a piece differently is a big one for me; shadows are awesome.
IC: What is or was the craziest, most intricate and interesting design you’ve ever done?
SC: In the past, I did a motocross/nitro circus inspired sleeve. This was one of my most intricate tattoos down to all the little sponsor badges on the motorbike leathers, to all the ‘knobly tires’. It took a while to finish!
IC: You and your wife Vikki own and operate The Ink Spot. How do you find balance between personal and work lives while working together?
SC: My wife, Vikki, is the shop manager and controls the day to day running of the shop. It’s hard to balance our family life with work. We have a 12 year old son who is growing up fast and we try to involve him as much as we can with the studio hoping he will continue the business one day. Taking time off is hard, but after some years, we learned to turn the switch off. We enjoy going to car shows or comic conventions.
Tattoo Artist Of The Year
IC: Tell us about your experience with Tattoo Artist of the Year and how this exposure has positively affected you, your career and your shop.
SC: The whole TV experience was awesome, I enjoyed every minute! Tattoo Artist of the Year was a great show to do, although there were a couple of stressful moments where I doubted my ability, it was awesome. But that’s what the goal of the show was, similar to USA’s Ink Master. I’ve always been a firm believer that you are your own worst enemy and if you don’t push yourself on a daily basis you will never learn new tricks and get better! People have been so supportive of me after the show and the shop has gotten busier! My whole experience was really positive.
IC: How difficult was it to focus with cameras around you? Tell us about that.
SC: It wasn’t that hard to concentrate with the cameras around. I used to do a bit on stage in my younger days (singing/dancing) so being “on show” doesn’t really bother me that much. To be honest you kinda forget they are around once the tattooing starts and you have to concentrate!
IC: You were obviously exposed to some amazing artists during the show. Were you impressed by them and did any make you re-evaluate how you do your own work?
SC: To be honest I always take notes of what’s going on around me. I did know Beki, JJ and Luke before filming so that made it easier to settle in. All the artists featured on the show are so different so it’s hard to say how impressed I was. That’s hard to say, though I love JJ’s style, his own way to do stuff is very, very cool. The most impressive thing on the show was the guest judges, I feel that gave the show more credibility due to their knowledge and experience. Mo Coppoletta for example is an amazing artist and truly a nice guy, such a legend!
IC: You were the runner up! That’s very impressive. Though we hear fans of the show would have preferred seen you win. Do you agree with them?
SC: (Laughs) It’s nice to hear that so so many people wanted me to win, of course, I agree with the fans (laughs). The support has been incredible across all walks of life and social media platforms. I’m just a normal guy trying to do his best for his family and again. I know cliche’ right but honestly, I love my job! The continued support from the fans, my customers, my friends and family only spurs me on to try and achieve more.
Are you listening to Spike TV Ink Master?
At the end of our interview ‘Cookie’ made a shout out: “So once again, it’s been a blast, but here’s a call out to Spike TV Ink Master: I’m ready and waiting for an invitation”. We certainly hope to see Simon ‘Cookie’ Cooke taking the US by storm in the near future.