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Tattoos are big business in the South West and now, thanks to a £25k refurbishment, Cheltenham’s No Regrets has relaunched as the biggest tattoo studio in the South West.

No Regrets, run by Cheltenham boy Ben Lakin and business partner Alex Brown, increased its floor space from 1,300 to 2,000 square feet during the ambitious refit. With a team of five artists, the owners are keen to make Cheltenham an alternative capital of tattooing in the UK. One of the studio’s artists, Alec – known in the industry as Phatt German – walked away from the recent national Tattoo Freeze convention with the Best Large Colour title, the latest in a list of 40 awards scooped by the shop since it opened three-and-a-half years ago. Meanwhile, resident piercer Ash specialises in the latest micro-dermal piercing techniques, and recently branched out into branding – sparking a feature in next month’s Bizarre magazine.

The new-look studio has a relaxed atmosphere, with walls adorned with contemporary art. Alec has welcomed clients from as far afield as Sweden and Germany into his chair, and customers regularly travel from all over England to have work done by realism specialist MeeHow. He said: “We wanted to look at the industry from a new perspective – it’s about the interaction of the artist and customer and we wanted to move away from the intimidating style of traditional shops to a relaxed atmosphere, welcoming to hard core ink fans and first timers alike.”

Ben and Alex, who met while studying economics and marketing together at the University of the West of England in Bristol, opened the Cheltenham studio in 2008, and launched a second branch in Gloucester a year later. They plan to further expand across the south of the country, with a third shop set to open later this year. They have also launched a supplies section, enabling them to sell equipment and products to other registered studios across the UK, while a range of No Regrets merchandise is being produced, supporting local businesses and independent designers. Cosmetic beauty treatments, including laser hair removal and semi-permanent make-up, are also set to be introduced this year.

More info at www.noregretsstudios.co.uk