Richard Lazenby is a tattooist and the proprietor of Crooked Claw Tattoo in Sheffield and True ‘Til Death in Accrington. Working with other resident artists Rae Robinson, Josh Kent and Sam Young – as well as Christopher Kenyon, Jim Longhurst and Bex Clark in Accrington – Richard has set out the Crooked Claw stall on Ecclesall Road, not far from Endcliffe park.

Richard told us about his craft and his plans for the future.          

What’s your background and how did you get into tattooing?

I first got inspired by tattooing by spending time with my uncle Gary as a kid. He was covered from head to toe. He acquired all of his tattoos whilst serving in the Navy. I always loved how tattoos made him different to everyone else and each piece had a story.

From that point I decided I wanted to be tattooed and strived to be different. I spent ten years as an electrician, but always had tattooing in my mind. It never left me. I love art, drawing and being creative, and finally got the courage to try and get somewhere with tattooing after meeting my now-wife, Lisa. I got everything I needed to start from friends in the industry: machines, needles, inks, everything. I hung out in friends’ shops. I tattooed myself, mates, anyone who was willing to sit for me.

What was your first tattoo experience?

I was 16 when I got my first tattoo in a studio in Castleford, which was my local town. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but I remember him being abrupt and intimidating. I got a snake and a thorn on my shoulder. It cost £40. I felt invincible and wanted to show it off as soon as possible.

What particular styles do you specialise in?

I wouldn’t say I specialise in a particular style of tattooing. I like to try my hand at all styles. However, I’m best known for my American traditional and Japanese.

What does the future hold for you and Crooked Claw?

To keep pushing forward and try and be the best artist I possibly can be. I’m immensely proud of both studios I own and run, Crooked Claw and True ‘Til Death. I’m proud of the artists and all we have achieved. The work coming out of the studios is outstanding and the guys are a credit to the shops.

I’m a big believer in street shops in cities and towns and we are there to provide a service for everyone, whether you’re a tattoo collector or getting your first tattoo. I’m proud I’ve stayed true to the origins of street shop tattooing and providing all styles of tattooing for all walks of life, not just what’s cool on social media that month.

I’m always looking forward to what’s going to come through the door. I tattooed Tom & Jerry on a guy’s stomach last week. I spent my childhood tracing cartoon characters like that. It’s a constant surprise and never a dull day. I feel very lucky indeed.

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@crookedclawtattoo

Sam Walby