5x5 with Louis Rivers

For no.17 in our 5×5 series I’ve chosen Louie Rivers. Working out of  Tattoo in Exeter, Louie does a lot of large-scale really nice folkish traditional stuff and is well worth checking out.

What are your 5 favourite images to tattoo?

I enjoy tattooing images of Tiger heads, I try to make them look wild.. You can create a lot of energy with a cat head.

Religious imagery is cool. Tattooing a bleeding Jesus head is a pretty heavy idea, but looks so strong. It almost feels like you kinda shouldn’t be doing it, just in case he is watching.

Butterflies are great. Infinite patterns. Even the classics look like new with different colours etc. I also like the fact you can put a small one on a wrist, or make them real big on the torso.

I really enjoy black and grey, and have been lucky enough to do a few portraits recently. It’s nice to get asked to do something different too.

Devil heads. Difficult to pick a top 5.. Again so much variation on a theme, but I like how much red you can use against the black shading.

Your 5 favourite places to tattoo?

I haven’t worked in a whole bunch of places yet.. I enjoy working with my clientele in Exeter, there’s enough tattoo culture going on here to be able to make some bigger tattoos on people, a lot of full sleeves and stuff..

Swansea Tattoo Company is a really cool shop, I worked there a couple times. Definitely worth a visit.

Seven Doors in London, always has great guests as well as a strong team of tattooers. Welcoming place as far as shops go.

From tattooing & living in London, one thing I really appreciated was the variety of people getting tattoos. I’d get emails from people who were here on holiday from all over the world. Its cool to think people are living their lives with a mark we made in their skin, in that space of time we were both in the same place.

Your 5 biggest inspirations?

Don Ed Hardy.

He is a true pioneer. His art work (whether it be tattooing or any other medium) is full energy. Even while sticking to the the rules, still looks so fresh & innovative.

Dan Higgs. 

I’m not sure if it comes across in my tattoo work, but it’s always in my mind. What would Higgs do? Who knows.. Does he? It’s a style a lot of people want to want to emulate, but without any magic, you’re just turning out a dumb re draw and calling it folk art.

Bert Grimm.

I love Berts paintings as well as tattoos. The ratio of black to colour is aesthetically pleasing. He has always been one of my favourites. 

Valerie Vargas.

Valerie’s tattoos & paintings are incredible, but you already know that.. I’m looking forward to one day visiting modern classic & getting a tattoo.

Dan Santoro. 

I got tattooed a few times by Dan in New York. Very solid & super quick. I’m really into his style of tattooing, he has a really nice way of recreating classic designs. 

5 favourite tattoos you’ve done?

Louie Rivers - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

Louie Rivers - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & StreetwearLouie Rivers - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & StreetwearLouie Rivers - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & StreetwearLouie Rivers - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

5 tattoos that have impressed you lately?

Oliver Macintosh (@oliver.macintosh) (Frith St)

Oliver Macintosh - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

Mario Desa (@mariodesa) (Great Lakes Tattoo)

Mario Desa - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

Brad Stevens (@brad_stevens) (New York Adorned)

Brad Stevens - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

Bailey Hunter Robinson (@baileyhrobinson) (Private Studio)

Bailey Hunter Robinson - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

A.P. Shrewsbury (@apshrewsbury) (OTR)

 A.P. Shrewsbury - Swallows&Daggers - Clothing & Streetwear

You can find Louie on instagram @louie_rivers or at  Tattoo in Exeter, UK.

You should also check out the previous 5x5s with Scott Move, Luxiano Street-Classic, Eterno8, Joe Ellis, Alex Boyko, Acetates, Cheyenne Sawyer, Ryan Shaffer, Joe Chatt, Clare Frances, Kelly Smith, Hans Heggum, Akira Latanzio, Blair Maxine Hewitt, Alex Petty and Ash Hickman.

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Size Guide

CHEST SHOULDER BODY LENGTH SLEEVE LENGTH
XS 53.5 cm 42 cm 65 cm 22 cm
S 55 cm 44 cm 66 cm 23 cm
M 58 cm 47 cm 68 cm 24 cm
L 60 cm 50 cm 70 cm 25 cm
XL 62 cm 52.5 cm 72 cm 26 cm