lee etherington, the founder

I was originally from Mayfield near Ashbourne, Derbyshire. I moved to South Gloucestershire in 1995 and I completed my first apprenticeship in 1998.

At the time, I was still working but I spent all of my spare time painting, drawing and tattooing. Right from the start, I felt a true passion for body art and realised what an awesome responsibility and what a real honour it would be that people would show an incredible amount of trust and let me tattoo them. In the beginning, I learned the profession alone. After visiting several conventions and watching well known artists and how they were working, what techniques and what equipment they were using. All this helped to accelerate my learning process.

Two years later, I served an apprenticeship at the Skin Art Studios in Bristol for two years. Three years after that I moved back to Derby and opened Inka Tattoos in 2005. Since then, I have hugely enjoyed creating body art for my clients and can’t imagine doing anything else.


the new studio on curzon street

Inka has over-gone many a change in its long standing timeline, it was originally based at 35 Curzon street across the road to its current digs , some of our older clients will remember those days, Lee and his father Errol, worked tirelessly to create the reputation of the studio and they soon took derby by storm. The way that the studio was being run was different to what people had experienced elsewhere, 

Inka pioneered because unlike a lot of studios at the time we used customer service and actual business practices to heighten the experience of the client, something that we still do to this day.

The next few years were fast paced and it soon transpired that Inka was ready for yet another transformation, so Lee and Errol developed the company further and purchased 46 Curzon street, the current home of todays Inka tattoos.

This big move was exactly what we needed and started to put Inka on the map for tattooing in the UK.

Over the next few years, the industry slowly developed and saw an enormous rise in the interest in the arts of tattooing and piercings. The odds were in Inka’s favour – the industry was transforming.

Over the next few years, our reputation grew and Inka developed. Being home to some fantastic artists and developing some brilliant apprentices. At this point Lee and his partner Michelle started to consider the opportunity’s to develop a way to facilitate learning of the sacred arts on a bigger scale.


the body art academy is born

In 2009 Lee and Michelle and the Inka team worked tirelessly to start to develop a cutting edge way of teaching tattooing and piercing to students. This was just dubbed the academy at first , but would be later called the Body Art Academy. The aim was to pioneer the industry and really develop the techniques and protocols within the industry to new levels, something that we continue to do presently.

This soon took off and within a couple of years, the body art academy had taken hundreds of students, and with the brilliant teaching levels had gained a 100% pass rate, something we still boast to this day 


Benjamin Memmory, current owner

In 2009/10 I picked up my first tattoo machine. I was just a teen but I had so much passion or the industry, all the way through senior school I had been the person who would be drawing on friends arms in lessons and I just couldn’t get my head out of the sketchbook. I loved anything to do with art, from such a young age I had been drawing and loved to try my hand at any style or medium. Tattooing just seemed to be a natural step for me too take.

After finishing senior school I started at art collage. I loved it so much. My first year I had some brilliant teachers. at the time I had no idea how much knowledge that they had given to me, but now I know that what they taught me in those years was absolutely priceless. This time at college only furthered my passion for tattooing and I was studying all my modules on the art of tattooing.

After a few years at college, I made the plunge and I started to pave my way into the industry. I started by working at small studios, whilst working a few jobs in customer service and retail. The experiences that I gained in the customer service were probably the most important of any that I learned.

2013 came around and after a couple of years paving my way into the industry I finally decided it was time for me to try an get into one of the bigger studios in derby , never did I think I would be able to get in at the ever reputable Inka Tattoos .

But after a long day of being told no by so many places I finally plucked the courage up to ask at Inka, if there was any vacancies and on that same day it was decided I would become a permanent resident artist.

2013 – 2017

all day, everyday

Over the next few years Lee and Ben worked all hours under the sun, surrounded by a brilliant team the business continued to progress. Inka was furthering its reach of clients by the year. We soon had people coming from all corners of the world to get work down with us, the highest of honours as a tattoo artist. 


change of hands

In 2017 after years of working together Lee decided that it was time to try an kick start the next generation of the business. Lee had spoken with ben and asked if he would be keen to take over the company at some point , this had been discussed many times in the years prior. 

In September 2017 it was decided and the decision was Made to do a compete role reversal. Ben would be the new owner and lee would become a resident artist.

This kick started the next chapter for inka.

From 2017 to present day lee and ben still work extremely closely together making body art on so many lovely clients and also making important business decisions to further the companies progress.

the story is far from over.

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