Grace Neutral

While the expression may sound cliched, in this case the meaning holds true – Grace Neutral really is one of a kind. Based in London, the 26-year-old has transformed from ballerina to alternative hand poke tattoo artist in the space of a few years, and has garnered a huge online following for her unique and striking images characterised by ornate tattoos, dramatic scarification and a slew of other body modifications (not to mention a forked tongue and indigo ink eyes). 

Now, Grace has teamed up with contemporary fashion brand Motel on a brand new collection, bringing her evocative aesthetic to a range of ultra-covetable stark patterned pieces. We caught up with Grace to talk about personal expression, getting inked and being Insta-famous – and we just had to get an exclusive shoot of her rocking the new Motel designs too.

Motel x Grace oversized Tshirt

Motel x Grace oversized Tshirt

Tell us a bit about the new collection you’ve designed with Motel.

I wanted to design a collection that really embraced my style of tattooing with pattern work and geometry. The collab came about from knowing and tattooing a few of the girls who work at Motel – the whole process was really easy and relaxed. I think that’s because I was already friends with some of the girls, and they could really see my vision.

What’s your favourite piece in the range?

It has to be the kimono – I love how it’s turned out.

We’re super big fans of your style. How would you wear some of the collection’s designs yourself?

I love the kimono with a simple black crop top and a long black skirt or culottes. I also love the leggings with the matching long-sleeved top with some black half cabs and a black hoodie.

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Motel x Grace top and skirt; Hide leather gilet; Boots Rokit

Did you have a specific kind of person in mind while you were designing?

Not really; I wanted to design something that would appeal to everyone.

You’ve had a really interesting creative history. How did you make the progression from ballerina to tattoo artist?

I danced my whole life, and then one day I had an accident in a ballet class which took me out of the ballet game. Once I wasn’t under the strict lifestyle of a ballerina, I could explore some of the dreams I had to decorate my body.

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Jakke faux fur gillet; American apparel top; Motel x Grace leggings; Imogen Belfield rings

With your tattoos and body modifications, do you tend to choose them for their aesthetic appeal, or do they have more of a personal value to you?

A lot of my tattoos are just for decoration – I got them because I thought they were beautiful. I would say my modifications where much more of a personal journey of growing mentally stronger; with every modification I had I felt more like myself.

What aspect have you changed about yourself that gets the most compliments?

Probably my eyes, because that’s the main thing people notice when they meet me.

You have a huge following on Instagram – do you ever feel any kind of pressure or responsibility when it comes to your fans? What would you say to a younger fan who wanted to get their first tattoo or body mod done?

I don’t feel any pressure really, I’m just being myself. If anyone asked my advice about tattoos or modification, it would just be to go out and have a look around – especially with tattoos. There are tonnes of great artists to chose from, and obviously think about your tattoo and make sure it’s something you really want. With modifications, I would say do as much research as possible on your modification artist.

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Motel x Grace dress; Jakke faux fur jacket

What’s the most interesting tattoo request you’ve ever had in your work?

That’s a tough one! I’m really lucky as 99% of my customers come to me for my own designs – but the most interesting, I guess, are the bigger, more complex designs, because they challenge me and drive me to be a better artist.

If you weren’t involved in tattooing and modelling, what do you think you’d be doing?

I’m not sure but it would definitely be creative – maybe some kind of dance teacher or artist.

What have you got coming up in 2016?

The new year is all about being as creative as possible. I want to manifest pure unconditional love for everyone, and keep decorating the world with my designs.

Photographer: Elliott Morgan
Styling: Kyran Low
Make-up: Jay Pinxie