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Talking Tattoos with Simon Erl & Sam Layzell

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We took a trip across to Hyde Park to visit Dragon Tattoo, a brand new tattoo shop run by Simon Erl & Sam Layzell. During our trip we learned all about their years of working together, reasons for starting a brand new tattoo shop and their plans for the future. Then afterwards we found some time for an unscheduled trip to one of Simon’s other ventures.

Here are some of our favourite moments from the chat if you prefer reading to watching:

On each other’s strengths and it drives them both to do better work

Simon – “What are your strengths Sam? Shall I answer for you, is that easier?


Sam – Sure, yeah


Simon – I think Sam strengths is that he’s extremely productive with whatever he sets his mind to


Sam – Simon’s strengths are… he’s able to be productive as a good tattooer, hand painting and all of that, and still somehow run a business and have a family. I know he said that I was productive but I also don’t have any other aspect of my life that I really focus on. So the fact that he can even turn up with paintings, having dealt with kids and other businesses and stuff is pretty crazy. But I feel like I have to keep up when I just don’t do any of that


Simon – I have always enjoyed doing a lot of artwork for bands, whether it’s t-shirts, tour posters or artwork for records, it’s something I’ve always… I guess that’s kind of what bridged me into becoming a tattooer early on and that’s something I still enjoy very much doing on the side.

On the awkward balance between tattooing & merch

Simon – Merch and tattooing is always a bit strange because it’s weird doing a t-shirt with your name on it and then someone is running around with it on. With a band, you have a band name and it’s a thing but having someone walk around with my name on seems odd, so again having a shop is great because you can hide behind that. You’re like, it’s a Dragon shirt, it’s not a Simon Erl shirt, which has been fun for designing new merch. As soon as we had a shop name we were like “Ah, cool” Both of us were super productive doing stickers or t-shirts or whatever. It makes it a little bit easier.

Simon – Dream merch item? That’s tricky. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting shirts printed on dead stock vintage shirts. Same just loves dice.


Sam – Yeah, I’m just into dice


Simon – He’s the luckiest dice player I’ve ever known, it’s very annoying


Sam – Yeah, I would say that getting a set of dice made was a good one for sure, I’d been very excited about that, got rid of them real quick as well

Simon – Digital stuff is just a nightmare, even just scanning a painting. You open the file and it doesn’t like anything like the painting you’ve done. Whether it’s, I dunno, CMYK or some DPIs & shit, it’s just Chinese to me.


Sam – Well those prints we just made, we used a neon red and then when we scanned them it was light pink. So you’re like “Oh this is why people don’t do that”


Simon – That’s probably a nightmare for you guys on the other end. So yeah, having friends that are good at… nerds basically. You need to have a few nerd friends

On their plans for the upcoming year

Simon – Grand plans, I’m just holding out for Spring & some nice weather. We’ve got a lovely courtyard in front of the shop which I’m excited to have some benches out, have coffees there in the morning & have people drop by the shop. We’ve got a lot of really good guest artists lined up, kind of want the shop to be popping off and have barbecues out the front on the weekend


Sam – It’s not even like you’ve got these grand plans of what you’re gonna do this year, it’s more that we’re on a path and just trying to keep going. Especially having now opened and it not being something where we’re like “ah we’ve gotta build that, we’ve gotta fix this” we’re now able to, not sit back creatively, but just kind of enjoy it and allow ourselves to keep going


After the interview, we said our goodbyes, packed up our belongings and headed straight to Simon’s other business, Temple Coffee for a “business meeting” and not so we could just eat donuts.



Dragon Press Tattoo Instagram – @dragontattooleeds

Simon Erl’s Instagram – @simonerl

Sam Layzell’s Instagram – @sam_layzell

Temple Coffee’s Instagram – @templecoffeeanddonuts

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