Old Sarum Tattoo Studio have been inking Download dogs and much more on faithful DL’ers since 2014. We cannot wait to have them back at Donington next month, so we caught up with Old Sarum Tattoo Studio owner and resident artist Darren Hubbard to talk #DL2018.
With a whopping 18 years of tattooing behind him, Darren Hubbard is a guy the Download dog would be put his paws in if he was going to get his first tat. The Old Sarum Tattoo Studio will be celebrating their fifth anniversary at Download this year, so it’s only right that Darren’s making his studio fit for a headliner by doubling in size. And, that’s not all as he’s bringing new cleaning and aftercare services to keep your tattoo looking like a first class work of art.
Darren dishes up his advice on getting a tattoo at Download, which band he’s dying to ink on the line-up and reveals the new flash sheets for #DL2018!
How long have Old Sarum been at Download?
This will be our fifth year tattooing at Download -we’ve done four years previous. Our first year was very small, just in the RIP section, and since then it’s just grown massively. This year we’re going to double-up our size in the arena.
What are you favourite memories from Download?
Definitely catching the last 30 minutes of Slipknot, that was insane. It was definitely one of the best live performances I’ve seen – it was so good.
One of the best things about what we do at Download is when we have the repeat customers and they come back every year; they tell us their crazy Download stories and every year their stories get longer and longer. They have a bunch of Download tattoos as well, it’s a real big part of their life and it’s cool for us to commemorate that.
What’s the best tattoo you’ve ever given at Download?
In 2016 [the organisers] wanted to do some filming for some promo stuff and they asked me to do a Download dog and they used it on the big screens the next year. There’s a clip where I’m tattooing this guy and he’s being asked why he wanted the tattoo. I’ve never been filmed start to finish for any promos and I really felt the pressure! It came out perfectly, so that was the one I was most proud of.
What’s the weirdest request you’ve had a Download?
The weirdest one was the first year we ever did it in the RIP area and it was the first tattoo we did at Download. It was this group of guys and they all had a kind of Blink-182 smiley face thing but the Download version; two of them had it on their arms and the third person, for some reason, just wanted it on his groin and I don’t know why! [laughs]. Myself and the other guy totally lucked out and had the arms and the other [tattooist] had the guy who wanted it on his groin. We had to totally shave him for where he wanted it – bang in the middle.
What advice would you give anyone who was thinking about getting a tattoo at Download?
The best advice is if you want to get it done that’s pretty awesome and we’d love to have you in there…but, you have to make the decision that if you want to go and mosh and go crazy, I’d advise against it. If you do want to get it done, you want to be mindful that you’ve had it done; we’ve seen people in all sorts of states, so you don’t want to be mixing a fresh tattoo with sliding in the mud. Just make an adult decision on which way you want to go.
Have you ever declined anyone for a tattoo at Download?
Yeah, we’ve declined plenty of people for all the same reasons as in a tattoo studio. The same rules apply and we decline people for the same reasons.
What are those reasons?
Being absolutely hammered drunk, being underage. We have people who come along who’ve not been clean themselves; you can’t tattoo someone if their personal hygiene is not up to scratch and we’ve had to send them away.
What’s the design you’ve been asked to tattoo the most?
It’s definitely the Download dog , one hundred percent. We love doing them as well and it’s such a cool thing. I can’t think of any other festivals that have a mascot that’s so popular.
Do you have any favourite tattoos that you never get bored of doing?
A lot of the guys like doing stuff that’s to do with the bands that are playing because it changes every year. There’s another [tattoo] on the sheets that’s like cherries, but the cherries are actually skulls; it’s a popular design that’s been tattooed for years and we quite like that.
Because it’s our fifth year I’ve totally redone all of the Download dogs. A lot of people who come and get stuff from us every year pretty much have everything we’ve done, so we have a whole fresh lot for this year. I hope the guys will like to do them and don’t kick my ass for making then too intricate!…I’ve redone all of the old ones as well, so this year everything is totally fresh and new.
What else have you got planned for this year’s flash sheet?
I’m really happy with it, I’ve put a lot of effort into it. I’ve taken the Download dog and dressed it up as all of the acts: we’ve got a Slash Download dog, a Marilyn Manson Download dog, a Ozzy one. I’ve done Avenged Sevenfold…I took the skull and put the Download dog head in and put the wings coming out of it so it’s like the death dog. I’ve redone all of the old ones as well, so this year everything is totally fresh and new.
I do quite a bit of internet stalking in my spare time and look at all the Download chat groups and try to get an idea of what stuff you all want. One thing that also comes up is, “we were going to do it but we kept hearing about festival prices”. I charge the exact same as in the studio, we don’t jump them up.
Doing it for five years, I know it’s a small anniversary, but I’m of proud of it you know.
How do you keep your equipment clean?
A lot of the time we’re asked about our equipment, how we keep it clean and how we keep the areas clean and the answer is with a lot of hard work. A lot of people don’t like that we keep our tent empty, but we would not be able to keep the area sanitary if we had everyone walking in – it’s why we have the queue outside and not filling up our reception area .
This year we’ve brought in a specific team, who do all of the tattoo conventions in the country, to keep the area clean and run the aftercare. Their team will be split into two: one half will be dedicated to preventing cross contamination, helping to keep all the stations clean and keeping the floor clean and the other half will just be for the aftercare.
We’ll have our aftercare stations again where you can come back: if you get tattooed on the Friday you can come back on the Saturday and Sunday and we’ll clean everything down for you and rewrap you. We’ll be using an awesome new a product that we’ll be wrapping tattoos in: it’s breathable, you don’t have to take it off – it’s another barrier against the elements. It’s a great second skin for everything that Download might throw at you.
Are there any bands on the line up that you’ve tattooed?
I tattooed the drummer from Avatar [John Alfredsson] a couple of years back when they last played. He wanted a tattoo on his foot, like a comedy one, he wanted ‘no regerts’ instead of ‘no regrets’.
We do the backstage one, quite a few of [bands] come by and I’ve made quite a few friends over the years. I’ve been out with a couple of bands from Download and tattooed on their tour as well. Last year it was Steel Panther, we’ve done Bowling For Soup a few times.
Are there any newer bands on the line up that you’d like to see?
I really like Bury Tomorrow. I was a guest for King 810 and Death Blooms [who were supporting] were opening and I really like them, they were good. I would love to see Hate Breed, Inglorious as well; I met those guys when we was on tour with Steel Panther back in January they were pretty cool. Milk Teeth as well.
If you could give one our headliners a tattoo, who would it be and what would you tattoo would you give them?
Do you have any advice for anyone who was looking to become a tattooist?
This my 18th year of tattooing. I got into it through an apprenticeship pretty much straight from school. Work really hard on your portfolio and get tattooed a lot. When you come across a tattooist and you like their stuff…harangue them for an apprenticeship – it shows them it’s serious. That would be my best advice, for sure.