Interview with Lainey Bee | Realism Style | The Netherlands 07/09/2020

Please start by telling us something about yourself and what inspired you to start tattooing? Do you have any formal art training?

I am Lainey Bee, a Dutch artist, my studio Custom Cult is based in the Netherlands. I didn’t have an formal art training before I started to tattoo. We had 2 lessons at my high school in drawing and crafts. The school system taught me that I had to earn money to setup a life and arts were just for fun… (I guess not everything they teach you is correct) I soon became interested in psychology and which resulted in the study of Child Psychology. After working with young adults for several years I realized it didn’t gave me enough positive energy. I decided to stop and before I knew it another door opened. I started working as a shop manager and piercer in a tattoo shop. Between my tasks, I filled the time by drawing. The passion for art came back to me. Something that I had not done in years gave me energy again. I got motivated to tattoo and create art.

Q: Is there any tattoo artist that helped you while you were a beginner?
A: I was inspired by other artists to start tattooing. I had a very short apprenticeship but it inspired me to ‘go for it’. I compared my work to some of the best artists around and pushed myself to make every tattoo better then the last.

- What's your opinion on tattoo apprentice today, do you think is necessary?
I think that if your drive is big enough you can make it without a long apprenticeship, that’s what I did, but you will definitely need a good start. I realize that it’s so much easier if you have someone helping you! I wish I had a longer apprenticeship because reinventing the wheel is not something that comes easily! For sure I do not support people working from home or taking a 5-day tattoo class. I think tattooing on someone’s skin is way too serious to do something like that. If I could recommend something to people who want to learn how to tattoo, I would recommend this; take art lessons! All kinds of art, sculpting, painting, drawing etc. Build a portfolio of your art and visit artists that you look up to for an apprenticeship.

Q: Sometimes it's hard for an artist to find their own style right away, the process of self expression and developing a style can take some time... What type of tattoos you used to do back when you were a beginner?
A: I started out as an black and grey artist. I tried to do every style that was thrown at me! In my opinion young artists sometimes forget that you need to build a solid base first. Sometimes the smallest most ‘simple’ looking tattoos are the hardest to do. And keep in mind that every tattoo style is needed to create your own style.

- Do you see progress?
I see progress in every tattoo I do. I break down every piece after tattooing it. I look for flaws in it and try to design the next one just a little better then the last. The quality keeps on improving this way and my style keeps on developing.

Q: I bet it was hard to put your name out there, work hard and hope for gaining confidence in your work as well as customer trust. How long it took?
A: I’ve been tattooing for 6 years now. It took a 24/7 attitude! But after a year and a half of tattooing I had a 2,5 year waiting list! Crazy right? This was without Instagram (I was a little late on that). This was built on positive talk from clients. I don’t have a 2,5 year waitinglist anymore. I open up my bookings and book for half a year in advance, after this my books close up until the next round.
I tattooed my first ‘perfect’ piece after 5 years of tattooing. Perfect meaning, a piece that I was really happy with! I went on so many conventions and work day-in-day-out and I am happy to say that it has payed off in confidence. I can now say I am an tattoo ‘artist’ something I never used to say.

Q: Being dedicated is a must! As a full time artist now, how do you organize your day?
A: I tattoo 5 days a week. My mornings are for emails and video consultations, meetings, preparing for a session (setting up my station and making hand drawn stencils). My sessions are a minimum of 6 hours and start at 12pm. I finish tattooing between 6-9pm. I clean up, drive home and do research for my next designs. Normally I work from 9am to 10pm. The other 2 days I design and spend on the business aspect of running my studio. I usually make sure I finish every design 1-2 weeks before the set appointment. I make sure I have 1 week a month off from tattooing that I spend on my new business! I can’t tell you all about it just yet but I have created something for artists that will safe us time and helps us organize our shops! Very exciting news, that will drop very soon! I am all about being organized, hygienic and saving time I can spend on my passion. So keep an eye out for it on my instagram!

Q: I see a lot of potential and enthusiasm for experimenting with lots of styles. You play so nicely with color inks! Hah Every tattoo you did has some unique touch... I like the portraits a lot. How much realism as a style is a challenge to master and not so much from a technical perspective, but creatively as well?
A: Color realism is a very difficult technical style for sure. But for me the challenge is to be creative with this style. It isn’t easy to ‘copy’ a realistic image at all. But it’s even harder to get the right composition in a realistic tattoo. Something that fits the shape of the body, emphasizes the lines of the muscles. A piece of art that fits both the body as the personality of the client and their story. This is something that I work on in my style on a daily basis.

Q: Realistic tattoos are really cool especially when the artist tries to add some other elements like interesting backgrounds or objects. It really makes it original artwork. Do you draw unique sketch designs for each client prior the tattoo session or?
A: Yes I always make custom designs. After a consultation with my client I start by doing research on their subject first. I gather inspiring images. This is spread over a couple of weeks. Then I start designing. This can take up between 6-40 hours, depending on the size! When I am in my studio I try to finish and show the design to the client 1-2 weeks prior to the set appointment. They can’t take it home but It’s good to see their reaction. If there’s anything they don’t like I will still have enough time in my schedule to adjust small things. But to be honest I hardly ever need to make adjustments. I think this is because of the long consultation. I put time in to getting to now their wishes.

- Have you ever refused or changed someone's mind over design? Tell me a bit about those negotiations. : ))
Yes this actually happens a lot. It’s really hard to know what looks good in a tattoo if you’re not an artist. So a lot of times my clients come up with ideas that might work on paper but won’t work on skin. This is also why I do consultations. If their wishes aren’t possible and they don’t want to adjust it to something that will work I won’t take on the project. I feel that’s it's my job to make sure I deliver the best tattoo possible every time that stays beautiful for a lifetime and not just for the Instagram picture. :)

Q: Are you available for your clients on email if they have any questions about their new tattoo etc? You can also write about the appointment process.
A: My bookings are open at the moment. If you want to inquire you can do so by filling out the form on This is the only way I accept inquiries since it has all the questions I need to get answered to see if I can help you. When filled in, I will contact you as soon as possible to set up an consultation by video call. And after this we will schedule in the appointment. You can find my full work method on my site if you want more information.

- Where are you located?
My studio is based in the Netherlands but I travel the world (when covid-19 isn’t messing up the schedule). If you are interested in my travel schedule please keep an eye out on my Instagram or visit my website.
My studio;
Custom cult
Bloemerstraat 88
6511 EM Nijmegen
Studio website;
My personal website;

Q: We are living in some challenging circumstances right now during global pandemic, seems like we are all on some pause. How is your schedule? Do you have any plans/things you look forward to do when we are finally over with this?
A: My travel schedule has changed a lot because of the pandemic! I had to cancel all my trips to the USA and Canada and couldn’t tattoo for 2,5 months in the Netherlands. Luckily I have a lot of amazing clients that filled up the open spots (from cancelling my travels) really fast :) The 2,5 months I couldn’t tattoo I spend on my new business so I am happy I can launch this product even faster then planned! I am really looking forward to that! I think I am not alone when I say that I am looking forward to next year, hopefully a year without a pandemic and with a lot more conventions and guest spots again!

Q: What the new artists should be aware before entering this business?
A: Make sure you have the right state of mind! Be ready to be consumed with this lifestyle 24/7. Make sure you get the best equipment!

Ms. Lainey Bee Thank you so much for the interview.
Kind regards,
The team