Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Somehow, Monday has already rolled back around, and with it comes another trio of awesome artists for you to get to know! This week, I have another poet and musician, plus a tattoo artist, to praise for their incredible contributions to their respective fields.
Toby Campion - Poet
Toby Campion is a poet, performer, playwright, presenter and founder of the UK's first national inter-university poetry slam, UniSlam. For those of you who don't know what a poetry slam is, here's a very brief and basic description; Poets perform a 3 minute long piece and get scored by a panel of unbiased judges.
Toby's poetic work explores themes such as queer identity, belonging and romance in a way which leaves you leaning off the edge off your seat to capture every word. His undeniable love for the Midlands - where he was born and raised - is captured in effortless imagery whilst his ability to create double meaning with every word remains one of the most impressive poetic techniques I've had the joys of experiencing time and time again. His emotional vulnerability, paired with his comic wit and suave stage presence make Toby a force to be reckoned with within the poetry community. As audiences are brought to tears with his raw depictions of growing up gay, Toby's already setting up a witty punchline in order to dry them again.
But Toby's not only a great writer; he's also a great man. Toby does a lot of work to help promote and support up-and-coming artists and young writers, providing performance opportunities, workshops and events. He brings members of the community together to celebrate the craft of poetry and the impacts it can have on peoples' lives, building networks and connections that continue to support and assist one another for many years. His commitment to ensuring other writers are provided the tools and opportunities to succeed in a difficult career path is a true reflection of the beauty of his soul.
You can find Toby in the following places:
Fresh - Musicians
Fresh are an English punk band founded in 2015 based in London, UK. In 2017, they released their first album, Fresh, and released their second album, Withdraw, last year - both of which are available to listen to on Spotify. The first time I heard Fresh's music was at a gig in London where they performed as part of Big Scary Monster's Big Day Out and I was immediately enamoured with their comedic approach to dealing with emotional trauma and mental health issues.
Fresh's lead vocalist Kathryn has a raw quality to her voice which enthralls listeners, tempting them to join in with her passionate renditions of their cleverly crafted lyrics. One of the first punk bands I ever found myself enjoying, Fresh are able to channel all the qualities that made punk such a revolutionary genre of music, without leaning on them for inherent success. Loud, playful and riotous, Fresh are able to perform their truth in a way which is easily enjoyed without it feeling as though they're simply shouting over a lot of instruments.
Fresh explore many different issues surrounding our generation, such as mental health issues, the stigma around sex, and our lack of belief in the political system we are stuck in. However, these difficult topics are approached from a fresh and comedic perspective, allowing for even the toughest of issues to be considered manageable. When the prospect of suicide can be handled with a seemingly careless, "fuck you" attitude, everything just feels that little easier to cope with.
You can find Fresh in the following places:
Alex Hirsfelds - Tattoo Artist
Alex Hirsfelds is an award-winning tattoo artist based in Chelmsford, Essex. Originally from Latvia, Alex has been tattooing for over 12 years. After winning the Tattoo Awards 5 years ago, Alex set up his own tattoo studio called Lemon Dragon Tattoo in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford. He specialises in Oriental and Polynesian inspired designs, realism and animal portraits, whilst having a dab hand at cover-up tattoos.
Not only are Alex's tattoos absolutely stunning work, but his rapport with clients is next to none. With many of his pieces taking upwards of 3 hours, he allows you to simply watch films using his computer whilst you allow him to permanently mark your skin with his beautiful art. I for one have found this to be a very successful technique for distracting from the pain that comes with the constant needle pricking.
Alex's designs scream innovation, each one being carefully crafted to suit the client's personality, needs and desires. When asking Alex whether he had ever done a tattoo he didn't like, he said "No. I always tailor the designs the client gives me to make them as good as they can be. Tattooing is my hobby as well as my job. If a design doesn't lend itself to my style, I don't do it." Like a true professional, Alex isn't scared to hold his hands up and say that some tattoos would simply come out better if done by someone with a better affinity to a certain style. It is this open and honest approach to tattooing, paired with Alex's incredible attention to detail, that makes Lemon Dragon my personal favourite place to go for fresh ink.
You can find Alex on Instagram at @alexlemondragon, and you can find his tattoo studio pages in the following places:
These artists all share a talent of nursing pain in a way which allows you to feel it without letting it entirely consume you. Alex distracts you from genuine physical pain, Fresh make you laugh in the face of emotional trauma, whilst Toby provides you with hope for better, brighter days in the future.
Let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share my recommendations with your friends and family.
See you on Friday!
Peace and love,