Mark Gibson from Monkido Tattoo Studio explains the bio mechanical sleeve tattoo

Bio mechanical sleeve tattoo by Mark Gibson of Monkido Tattoo Studio.

Bio mechanical sleeve tattoo by Mark Gibson of Monkido Tattoo Studio.

You may have seen the bio mechanical sleeve I posted earlier by Mark Gibson. I was blown away how Mark was able to weave an amalgam of complex, mechanical motorbike-inspired parts onto his client’s arm in a way that yielded a flawless and fascinating piece of art work on living canvas. I was able to chase Mark down and find out a little bit more about this tattoo, which I later learned was based on Ducati parts. Not bad for an artist from a small European town. Read on to find out more from the interview.

Tell me a little more about the client. What was the inspiration behind this tattoo?

His name is Matthew Buckley, and he lives a few hours away from our studio in Oxford.  He’s a collector of awesome tattoos, and has some awesome work by many talented tattoo artists from around the UK. I was lucky enough to receive his full right arm to tattoo. His inspiration would have been his own Ducati, and also a mechanical sleeve I’d previously done based on car parts on a different client.

I saw that this tattoo took about 30 hours of work. How many sittings did the client do?

Thirty hours was a rough estimate by the time we had finished tattooing, not including tea breaks and the odd sandwich here and there. Thirty hours was just for the tattoo application, if you added on another sixty hours in design preparation you wouldn’t be far off.  The thirty hours was broken up into full day sittings at around five hours each, this meant six day trips for Matt to make.

How did you come up with the sketch? Did you freehand directly to his arm? Or did you come up with a stencil ahead of time?

This tattoo had a slightly different approach to the rest of my work, due to its complexity and it’s importance that it looked like a robotic arm instead of a motorbike engine.  We started with a lengthy consultation which included all measurements and tracings of Matthews arm/muscle shapes/joints etc.

At the consultation I received a CD from Matt that included hundreds of high quality photographs of his motorbike from all angles and details that you could imagine. From those images I basically chopped them all up, picked the bits that I wanted and ‘photoshopped’ a rough guide together. This was printed off at full scale and traced over a couple of times making adjustments and re-drawing parts  to create an image that would work on the body. Once Matt had approved the tracings a few weeks prior to his first sittings, they were carbon copied directly onto his arm.

What type of tattoo work do you typically do? Black and grey? Color? Portraits?

I really don’t like to limit myself to any certain styles, and will enjoy any piece regardless of colour/black and grey as long as my client is happy to collaborate with me on the artwork. I believe any idea no matter how rough or basic it may seem at the consultation, has the potential to be an awesome tattoo.

Do you ride motorcycles at all? If so, what kind of bike do you have and what do you love about riding?

Unfortunately I’ve not ridden a motorbike since my teens which was just a field bike. I have a lot of good friends who ride and I can certainly appreciate the custom builds that they have. A lot of their work is done by Steve Hackett who owns Hack Shack  Customs, you can see some of their stuff via

What tattoo studio do you work for?

I work for Monki Do Tattoo Studio, we are situated near Derby in a small town called Belper. It’s pretty remote here so fortunately our clientele are happy to travel to us. I’ve never worked for any other studio as I apprenticed under Andy Bowler who is the owner.

Do you have personal website or does your tattoo shop have a website people can visit?

We have for the studio, and I have a personal website on facebook, you can find me on there via

Mark Gibson with his mentor and boss from Monkido Tattoo Studio, Andy Bowler.

Mark Gibson with his mentor and boss from Monkido Tattoo Studio, Andy Bowler.


3 thoughts on “Mark Gibson from Monkido Tattoo Studio explains the bio mechanical sleeve tattoo

  1. mark is an awesome tattooist and i have the privilege of him working on my back piece..a memorial to my late son..the main feature is the portrait of which mark has done lewis proud and captured him perfectly.i have know mark for around 8 years and his work is toatally outstanding and every piece he does is a credit to him.
    monkido rocks

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