A tattoo artist had the time of her life making history as she weighed anchor and took her craft to the high seas at a world’s first tattoo parlor on a glamorous cruise ship.
Cathy Jo Pothecary has created tattoos for some of the most famous names – including Rihanna, Professor Green and Charlotte Crosby – but 2022 has seen her join Virgin Voyages to tattoo people at sea.
Aboard the stunning new ship, the Valiant Lady, Cally Jo got to work delighting travelers in a luxury new tattoo parlor – dubbed Squid Ink in keeping with an ongoing nautical theme.
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She sailed around the Mediterranean for two weeks from May 22, admiring Barcelona, Ibiza, Cagliari and Cannes in between getting the stunning tattoos she became famous for.
Cally Jo, who has been tattooing since she was 18, told the Daily Star: “It’s hard to say what the best part was, it was such an amazing experience.
“I think just being able to tattoo at sea, on the ocean, knowing that you’re going to wake up in a different country every day – I had to pinch myself every day, it felt so good.”
The lure of knowing she was setting a trend, just a few years after returning to the UK from Australia, also played its part.
“It was so awesome to be involved in that, I’m still so happy about it now,” said the fine arts graduate.
“Virgin has tattoo parlors on both of her new ships and being one of the first people to get tattoos on the ship while at sea was fantastic.
“I’ve actually tattooed aboard a cruise ship before, when it was stationary in port for a tattoo convention in America, but being able to sail and have this traveling tattoo shop on the ocean was actually amazing.”
Despite some fears you might rightly have of getting a tattoo aboard a ship battling the waves out at sea, the trip was actually a lot calmer than you might think – with only one day noticeably restless during Cally’s two-week stay.
The Squid Ink parlor sets records as the first modern tattoo parlor at sea, but the cultural practice of inking our skin has long nautical roots.
“Tattoos have a connection with sailors and the sea, I think that’s what’s so cool about this trip”, develops Cally Jo.
“It’s sort of come full circle, back then tattoo shops were still in port towns so sailors could get off their ships and get tattoos.”
Cally continued, “We actually had a giant porthole in the salon itself where you could see the ocean while the clients were getting tattoos,” she revealed. “Some days you could see dolphins and whatever you were looking at – it was pretty amazing.”
So, does she have any favorite tattoos she created while on board?
“A lot of people came looking for smaller ones like anchors and turtles as souvenirs from the trip, but we made a few that were a bit more detailed.
“I made a deer head to represent a guy’s dad and it was really cool.”
Looking ahead, Cally Jo hopes to continue working regularly with Virgin Voyages – and has even set her sights on a possible world cruise next year, bringing her incredible style to all of the most remote corners of the Earth.
Cally Jo most often works at Custom Propaganda Tattoos in Botley, Hampshire, but also works regularly in London and further afield.
To see more of her impressive work, check out her Instagram: @callyjoart.