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07 October 2021

Roxy Velvet & The Velvet Underground Tattoo Studio

Meet Roxy, the owner of London’s first all-female staffed tattoo studio.

Owner of London's first female-only staffed tattoo studio, ‘Velvet Underground Tattoo’, Roxy Velvet is as metal as they come. With ten years as an aerial, fetish, burlesque and circus performance artist under her belt, all it took was one particularly wild night out to send her spinning into the world of tattoos after a pal set her up on a machine, applied a stencil to his arm and said ‘Go on then!’. At the time Roxy didn’t have a single tattoo, but what followed was ‘A life-changing moment’ and resulted in her packing in her performance career, moving to Thailand and subsequently Sweden where she trained with Thai Art and Stockholm Ink respectively.

Once she’d put in the graft with her training, Roxy set about running her own studio and quickly decided that she wanted it to be an all-female enterprise. ‘In the beginning, I thought very carefully about the kind of studio I wanted to run and the experience that I wanted the clients and artists to have. The way I see it, women haven’t been given much opportunity to develop and establish their own ways of doing business, particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries. As a society, we’re moving towards more ethical, less environmentally damaging commerce, with an increasing focus on employee well being and devolved responsibility. I think women have a huge part to play in that but unfortunately many are held back by sexism, harassment and the wage gap. I was curious to see how a group of strong, independently-minded women would work together albeit with some trepidation.’ 

A quick scroll through the Velvet Underground Instagram page shows off the range of tattoos and styles offered up, plus some of the more ‘bespoke’ requests. Roxy enjoys the challenge of ‘working with people’s ideas to create something unique’ and refers to some of the art she’s currently working on including a ‘sleeve of Manta-Ray skeletons, a Paradise Lost inspired leg sleeve and a kitsch Jesus back-piece’. Probably not all on the same person. Probably…

So as an avid rider, has Roxy got any bike-inspired marks? ‘I’ve got a few strategically placed tattoos covering up various motorbike related scrapes and burns including an old school style pulled tooth on my ankle’. Not technically moto-culture tattoos, but we’ll allow it - all part of the fun. 

Roxy was an early adopter of two wheels, getting her first manual bike aged 19. ‘It was a Suzuki RV125, which was in pieces in my boyfriend's Dad’s garage. He said he’d rebuild the engine if I did the electrics. I was well out of my depth but I really wanted that bike so I figured it out somehow’. Since then Roxy hasn’t looked back and even ‘managed to squeeze in an impromptu three-week road trip through Vietnam just before we went into lockdown.’ As you do. 

‘We started by flying into Ho Chi Minh City from Bangkok where we picked up a couple of bikes and then made up the route as we went along. Our original plan to ride to Hanoi was a little far-reaching as we hadn't accounted for Tet, Vietnam's New Year and most important national festival. Having been delayed by some minor incidents (me losing my bike keys in a waterfall) and slowed down by 'Brad Pitt-Stop’s roadside beard trims, we rolled into Hoi An just in time for the Tet celebrations to explode and it was joyous!’ 

‘We dropped off our bikes with the rental company’s Hoi An garage, continued by train to Hanoi and picked up a couple of custom bikes there from a local. Vietnam is full of surprises, culture and wonderful people, I highly recommend it’.

Roxy’s eyes were constantly flitting around and admiring some of the custom Mutt Motorcycles in our Bethnal Green store, so we asked her what her favourite thing about Mutts is: ‘I love the custom feel and retro-inspired styling of Mutt bikes. As a fairly slight, 5’3” woman the size and weight of a bike is always a bit of a consideration for me, especially for city riding. Mutt bikes are perfect in that respect while still having a satisfying gravitas about them. They look great, they sound great, they turn heads and they are perfect for getting me through the traffic in style when I've slept through my four alarms. It just makes you grin every time you ride it!’

If she had her way, Roxy would make a custom Mutt inspired by a suitably dark legend: ‘Hel or Hela. The Norse Goddess of The Underworld who is in charge of the souls that don’t make it to Valhalla’. And when it comes to an anthem for listening to while she rides? ‘It would have to be Venus In Furs. We have one of the lyrics ‘Different colours made of tears’ in neon on the studio wall’.  

If you’re itching for new ink, give Roxy and the crew a visit at the Velvet Underground Tattoo studio in London or take a peek at their recent work on instagram, @velvetundergroundtattoo

You can also keep up with everything Roxy over on instagram, @roxyvelvet

We’ll see you out on the road, Roxy!

Motorcycle featured: FSR 125cc // Photography by Gavin Watson

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