Currently reading : Helen Mcdonnell’s Tattoo collection

Helen Mcdonnell’s Tattoo collection

28 January 2015

Author : antoine

Helen McDonnell is a Belfast based tattooist who works and owns at Skullduggery studio since she opened it fourteen years ago. Starting her apprenticeship in 1991 in Dublin at Johny Eagles street shop, as far as she is aware she is one of the very first female tattooists in Ireland. After a year working and learning what she could get from her coworker, she went on to travel all over the world and collected amazing pieces from some of the greatest artists on the globe. We had the chance to snap a few pictures when she visited Sang Bleu studio to get tattooed by Phlip Yarnell. Here she took us through some of her favourite pieces.

Filip Leu
Filip Leu

Filip Leu – Half sleeve forearm

I asked him to do what he wanted, so we continued the water from the upper arm piece. Initially I thought it would be really formal session, and was happily surprised by how sharing he was with is knowledge. It was a great experience.


Horiyoshi the third

Horiyoshi the third – Flowers on forearm

I went to visit him and was really surprised that I got to get booked in at fairly short notice, especially because he is such a legend. The first session was in in his older studio. We got collected, and had to be guided there, in the middle of a residential area.

I asked him for flowers and to do whatever he wanted. He only drew two lines to define the space he will work within and freehanded the whole piece.

When we arrived, there was a thunderstorm, and due to the metal roofing the noise was really amplified for the whole session, and stopped when the tattoo stopped. The most dramatic tattoo I have ever had experienced.

The outline was done with a machine, and the shading traditionally. It was super fast as well, an hour and half for it all.

Dr Lakra (in progress)

Dr Lakra backpiece (in progress)

This is a version of Kali goddess, started a while ago and still in progress. I like Dr Lakra’s style. He has a graet sense of humour which shows through his art and tattoos. It’s wonderfully imperfect. When everyone is striving for perfection he goes with his instinct. He is also incredibly knowledgeable about tattooing which informs his work greatly.

Samoan shin piece by Petelo Suluape
Samoan shin piece by Petelo Suluape

Shin piece by Petelo Suluape

We traveled to Samoa to get traditionally tattooed. It was wonderful meeting him. He is really entairtening and generous man who told us to go meet his brother in Auckland which we did. I was really nervous about getting this piece done. It was a unique experience to get tattooed while pigs and chickens walked around you in close proximity.

Malu by Paolo Suluape

Malu by Paolo Suluape

This is piece was made by Paolo Suluape, a couple of months before he untimely passed away in 1999. He was a wonderful ambassador for samoan and polynesian tattooing. He was really into educating the world about this tradition.

He suggested I get the malu tattooed which was a great honour and I wear it with pride.


Borneo side of the hand

I got that one done during the same trip in Borneo.

Jaie Devore

Jaie Devore (Diablo Rojo tattoo Austin) Rose on hand

Jaie your tattoos are wonderful and you are a great friend but you are a grumpy old man.

El Monga

El monga – Flying skull with snake body.

Well…he is brutal! But we love him for it! The first part was done in Black Garden in London and finished in Aloha, when guesting there. He was singing away when tattooing, and he does it well.

Philip Yarnell
Philip Yarnell

Philip Yarnell

He is such a gentleman and I look forward to getting tattooed by him again.

Related articles