After years of trying to make a living from his eye for detail and artistic talent, Danny Birch finally set up his own tattoo studio, Heart for Art, in Stalybridge in 2012. Born and bred in Greater Manchester, there was only one place he considered laying foundations.It’s a real family affair with both his co-founder brother Tomm, and mum Carol both working in the business.
The studio is a distinctively unique space with bags of quirky style and a family atmosphere which makes for a far more positive experience than your usual ink den. It offers timeless and bespoke pieces of body art, taking the values, personalities, memories and ideas of its clients and turning them into individual artworks that reflect them on the outside.
After five years of hard graft and dedication, Danny and his family have now opened a second studio in Sale. And, having scouted across the UK for the industry’s finest talent, the two studios currently house ten of the best artists covering most styles and regularly winning industry awards.
What got you started in your field of work?
I coloured my friend’s tattoo in with a pen. He liked it so we bought a kit. The rest is history, and some awful tattoos at the beginning.
Who have been the biggest influences on your work?
An artist – now friend of mine – David Corden. His work showed me that tattoos don’t need to be only black and 2D. You really should see this guy’s work.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
In my career, giving the opportunity to a few of my family members to retire from their jobs and help grow this with me. Family forever! And personally, winning my first (and only) boxing match last year was a tough and amazing journey, raising over £50k for St Mary’s neonatal unit in Manchester.
What does your typical day involve?
My typical work day starts with an early morning gym session, home to shower and eat with my fiancé and little man, then off to the studio to prepare my station and stencils. I tattoo for 6-8 hours. It’s mentally draining. I go home for more food, I design for the next day and chill with the family again. It’s probably really boring compared to what people usually assume tattoo artists are like.
And how do you relax on your days off?
There’s nothing better than a trip to Tatton Park. A day riding bikes with my family and exploring the forests, weather depending. Indoor days are usually spent playing with toys and being shouted at for making a mess.
What is the best advice you have been given or can give?
The best advice I’ve been given was from my dad, and I’m not even sure he knows how profound this was to me. He said “Throw enough shit, some will stick.” Well, I’ve thrown a lot of shit and this shit really stuck, dad.
If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?
If my tattooing hadn’t worked out, I’d definitely be doing something creative with art. Before this I was painting murals for kid’s bedrooms, in salons etc. I even did that for 12 months over in Australia so I may have even ended up back there, who knows? There’s still time yet.
Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear
People might be surprised to hear me say my advice to young people wanting a tattoo at 18 is DON’T DO IT. Unless you have something so profound and timeless to represent, then please just wait. You may not be this same person in 10, 5 or even 1 year from now. Permanent means permanent.
Red or Blue?
I didn’t know what Red or Blue meant ha ha. All I know about football is that it causes loads of traffic. Some serious skill and dedication from the players though and to be fair I’m happy that two of the greatest teams on the planet are from here.
Name your three favourite places in Manchester
Beat Street for summer vibes. Kettlebell Kitchen for some good clean food. And Evelyn’s Café for a chilled brekkie. Can you tell I’m a foodie?
If you could change one thing about Manchester what would it be?
It would have to be the door policies on most bars and clubs. A rare night out for a busy family man is full of uncertainty. Too many times now I’ve been turned away for silly reasons. It’s just not like that in other cities.
And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?
The thing I love most about Manchester is the sense of home I get. I understand the people, the behaviour, the hundreds of accents. I’ve travelled a few places and it’s always good to hear a Manc accent when you get back.
Heart for Art offer a walk in day the last Saturday of each month.