How does he manage? Tattooist - Darryl Gates, owner-manager, Diamond Jacks

- When did you become a manager?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I used to be a computer programmer. I got my first tattoo at 18, and started helping out here about 11 years ago, in my late twenties. After an apprenticeship at another place, I was offered a job here. I bought the business in 2003.

- What does management mean to you?

Managing staff is a headache. Some of them have never had a proper job in their lives, so they come in late. There's a lot of regulation: we're trained to avoid cross-contamination, and there are regular inspections and spot-checks. We're busy all the time because of our Soho location. I'm booked up two months ahead and Saturdays are mad, because we do walk-ins. The credit crunch hasn't affected us. We turn away 20% of people, those who want swastikas or genital tattoos. But we get all types: we've had a tattooed lady judge with a big dragon from her bum to her shoulder, and a Muslim woman in full burkha who wanted a saucy tattoo from a female tattooist. Tattooing has become a fashion accessory, with lots of tiny stars and 'tramp stamps' - really unoriginal. I tattooed my mum, a swallow on her shoulder. Now that was weird.

- What do you like/dislike about your job?

I'm quite artistic, and love meeting people. But you have to forget about being this cool tattooist and think about business. And rates and rent are astronomical in Soho.


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