How designers can manage coronavirus: “Social distancing doesn’t mean behaving distantly.”


How designers can manage coronavirus: “Social distancing doesn’t mean behaving distantly.” The UK government is now in the “delay” phase of the coronavirus epidemic. Although the official number of people infected has reached 600, many other cases are possible. Although containment […]

How designers can manage coronavirus: “Social distancing doesn’t mean behaving distantly.”

The UK government is now in the “delay” phase of the coronavirus epidemic. Although the official number of people infected has reached 600, many other cases are possible. Although containment measures vary from one country to the next, such as closing schools and limiting public gatherings, a major concern is the effect on work life. We speak to designers about their concerns and possible solutions, as well as the long-term effects of the virus on their work.

“It was the greater purpose that swayed us”

It seems that there is a consensus among design studios about remote working. Simon Manchipp, the founder and strategic creative chief of studio Someone, is responsible for allowing employees to work remotely. “We had many discussions about it, but it was the greater purpose which swayed me. All of the staff at the company are young. The company’s staff is young, fit, and healthy. We felt it was the larger picture that required our attention.

“This is an ever-increasing threat. Every day is important. If you delay by one day, you are not helping a few cases. Your community could have hundreds to thousands of cases. These cases increase exponentially every day there is no social distancing. The commute to London puts us in close proximity to many opportunities for the virus.

We can. We don’t work on the front lines, and we aren’t required to be there for many meetings. The work is done remotely. Just as thousands of Google employees around the world have gone home with their laptops, so can we.

Many believe that flattening the curve like this will be the best way to reduce the virus’s impact. It is based on scientific predictions of the probable number of cases. If events are cancelled and precautions taken it may be possible to extend that number over a longer period. This could allow people to have greater access to care, which could potentially save lives.

How to become: a tattoo artist

Design Week: What’s your title?

Amanda Rodriguez: Technically my title is director because I’m the director at Three Kings Studio in South London. However, I prefer to call myself a tattoo artist.

DW: What is your educational background?

AR: I attended Rhode Island School of Design and studied furniture design. I learned how to draw furniture. It was quite technical. I learned how to weld and woodwork. There was certainly less computer-related work.

It didn’t necessarily translate into my current work in an obvious manner. It was technical and I gained a solid understanding of technical skills. It gave me these skills but it didn’t influence my art.


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One of Rodriguez’s furniture projects

DW: How has your career progressed so far?

AR: I graduated from college in 2005. At that time, most furniture designers were primarily working in CAD. Because the school I attended had a contract from Apple, I didn’t learn CAD. Apple also didn’t have CAD software on its computers. It was difficult.

After finishing high school, I worked in a factory as a manual laborer. I was not sure what I wanted to do in the furniture industry.

Web design was something I did for a while, along with my apprenticeship in tattooing. It was easier to make a living web designing, but I continued my apprenticeship in tattoo design four days per week after work and on weekends. After one year, I received my license and started to work. However, it wasn’t a full-time job for me.

Web design was my passion for many years. I have also worked with Apple and Sony. I eventually found a local tattoo shop, which was a great opportunity. It was also a good stepping stone for me to develop my work and my style. After I was offered the Three Kings job, I was able work full-time and didn’t have to take on any other jobs.

DW: What got you interested in tattooing/illustration/drawing?

AR: This is a terrible story. I am laughing about it now. When I was painting the portrait of my step-grandmother, a friend of mine came to visit me and said he was a “scratcher”. (A scratcher is someone who tattoos without a license.

After seeing what I had done, he suggested that I look into becoming a tattoo artist. It was a beautiful thing that I fell in love.

DW: What does a typical job look like for you?

AR: Every client and every job are different. Every client has their own expectations of me.

DW: What are your primary day-to-day tasks and responsibilities?

AR: I used to be booked for several months back when I tattooed in New York. Each tattoo is prepared for a few days in advance. I get up, get ready, and then go to the shop.

In my early days of my career, I was able to do multiple tattoos in one day. But, as I have grown in my profession, I find it easier to only do one piece per day. Of course, not everyone is able to do that.

DW: Is the job creatively challenging?

AR: You might get someone who is interested in something you do, but has a hard time conceptualizing it in your head. For example, a girl wrote me to say she wanted a tattoo with roses and falling books. I couldn’t imagine how that would look. (final tattoo pictured below).

Those kinds of requests are what really test you. These tattoos end up being the ones you love, but you don’t know how to do it. It’s great to be challenged by others with something. A rose on the shoulder is simple, but a unique tattoo requires you to really think about it.


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Photographer: Susana Rico

DW: How closely do other designers work with you?

AR: I sometimes get inspired by the ideas of my colleagues. However, I prefer to draw at home most of the time. This is because I feel most at ease where I am not distracted. However, every now and again, I will be inspired by a colleague.

DW: What are your strengths as a tattoo artist?

AR: Problem solving skills are essential because it can be difficult to get people to stay still. It’s amazing how many people will squirm as you work. It can be difficult because you don’t want to shout at your client but you also have to plan how to fix it if someone moves while you’re tattooing. You must take it seriously because art is a living, breathing canvas.

DW: What are your favorite parts about your job?

AR: It’s gratifying to have the opportunity to express myself in a way people will treasure for their entire lives. While it is cool to make millions, I find it more meaningful to me that people love what I do and want it to last them their entire lives.

Tattooing has given me great social skills. Although it’s easy to judge someone when you first meet them, I have learned that everyone has something to say. It is rare to meet someone who isn’t cool. Even if they don’t like your idea, if it’s something that you wouldn’t get yourself, it might mean something to them.

DW: What are the worst parts of your job?

AR: It is also important to understand and work with someone’s pain. You need to be able balance their pain. It’s not about wanting them to feel comfortable or wanting to complete the piece.

Sometimes, I struggle with this. Although you love your client and don’t want to hurt them, tattooing will always hurt them. It can be difficult to help someone through pain. Although I wouldn’t pressure anyone to finish a tattoo, some people push themselves too hard and become miserable. That is something you have to learn.

DW: What would you look for in an apprentice tattoo artist?

AR: I would like to understand their motivations and expectations if I were looking for an apprentice. While I would look for someone who is passionate about tattooing and has drawing skills, I believe it is important to set realistic expectations.

The job is glorified on Instagram. While there are many people who have made a great living doing this, I want everyone to understand that it is hard work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You don’t get sick days. You don’t get vacation days. There are slow seasons. At the end of it all, you rely on others to want what your putting out.

It is something I absolutely love, but it has some things that tattoo artists need to be aware of before they even consider becoming one.

Another of Rodriguez’s furniture pieces

DW: What advice would you give to people who are considering tattooing?

AR: Many people end up learning by themselves because it’s difficult to find an apprenticeship. While I don’t agree with it, some people are unable to do so.

If you are passionate about something, you will find a way to make it work. It’s unrealistic to expect that there will be an easy way. While I strongly recommend the apprenticeship route, it is not the only way to get in. It’s best to meet people who are interested and then go out and get tattooed. Most likely, they will turn you down if you cold call.

DW: How is the job market?

AR: There is an oversupply of tattoo artists to be honest. Many people don’t know the value of tattooing. While there are many things that are very popular, Instagram has made it easy to share your own style.

This is a great thing to do at the beginning. Even though you are just trying to do what comes your way, it’s important to have a style that drives people to you.


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