Black Cherry Tattoo has only been open for little more than a year but has attracted a loyal and extremely satisfied clientele. ELIZABETH BIRT went to check out their designs and find out more about the studio from the artists themselves.

FRIENDS Kat Johnson and Jesse Roberts opened the doors of Black Cherry Tattoo in Newport Arcade in June 2018.

Ms Johnson has only been tattooing for three years but already shows off decades worth of knowledge.

The idea to open the store came from Mr Roberts. After moving to the area from South London, he spent time in the tattoo shop Ms Johnson previously worked in. And, wanting a change, Ms Johnson agreed to Mr Roberts’ idea of striking out on their own.

And so Black Cherry was born. A unique set up, with a reception and comfortable seating area downstairs and an open plan tattoo studio upstairs – both connected by a cute spiral staircase.


Dozens of pieces of artwork, all designed by the resident artists and some of their guest artists, line the walls, showcasing the variety of styles available. These can also be used as inspiration or even as the actual design.

The artists, including apprentice Ashleigh Ridout and Dale Lavender have created a friendly and relaxed space, with the star attraction being parlour dog Bella (don’t worry health and safety people, she stays downstairs in the reception and isn’t allowed upstairs where the tattooing happens). But she would easily put anyone at ease if they have any pre-tattoo nerves.

“We’re friendly and open. We’ve seen and been asked everything and are non-judgemental,” said Ms Johnson.

She added: “We’re a younger team, which is different to a lot of studios. Most people expect a big, burly, older and slightly intimidating guy to be the one who tattoos them and are surprised by how friendly we are.”

South Wales Argus:

Katy Rose (R) - with Bella the dog - with Ashleigh Ridout (R) and Jesse Roberts at Black Cherry Tattoo Studio in Newport Arcade. Picture:

Mr Roberts added: “People like us, we’re like therapists. They tell us things they wouldn’t normally tell people.”

It is also alleged that Ms Ridout makes the best cup of tea – something that the artists are proud of and their Facebook reviews corroborate.

Each artist has a style that they enjoy. Mr Roberts does colourful styles while Ms Johnson does a lot of black linework.

“I seem to mostly tattoo women,” she said. “I don’t mind that, but I also don’t mind tattooing men. I think it could be to do with my tattoo style which is more feminine. I would say about 90 per cent of my clientele are female.”

Another point that makes them stand out is that their tattoos are custom designed. Ms Johnson said: “While we do draw designs and people can choose those if they wish, most of our designs are completely custom and designed for the individual.

South Wales Argus:

Katy Rose at Black Cherry Tattoo Studio in Newport Arcade. Picture:

“It doesn’t matter what they want, if the client has an idea, we will work together with them to make sure it is perfect. You don’t have to come in with a design, we will happily create one for you.

“I once spent hours researching different cultures and cultural symbols for a client. It was fascinating.

“We will custom design a tattoo for free - you get a quote for the tattoo, but this is for the tattoo itself, the drawing is done on top for no extra.”

Despite their relative newness to the industry in comparison to some other artists about, they pride themselves on making sure that they give the best possible experience and advice.

“Please research who you get tattooed by,” said Ms Johnson. “Always check out their work and pay attention to what people say about them before you go ahead.

“Tattooing is so accessible now that people forget it is a permanent decision and can end up putting themselves at risk.

“It is so easy to get a tattoo done at home now and its easier to become a licenced tattooist than it is to become a qualified hairdresser.

“It is always best to spend a bit more and get a quality experience.”

South Wales Argus:

Katy Rose (R) looking at her designs with Ashleigh Ridout at Black Cherry Tattoo Studio in Newport Arcade. Picture:

Mr Roberts added: “We’re committed to providing an experience and not just a tattoo. All of us here are in the business because we genuinely love getting tattoos and love tattooing.”

They also agree there needs to be more regulation.

“It needs to be more regulated,” said Ms Johnson. “There should be exams on hygiene and things and people should inspect studios regularly.”

While we were there, tattoos were being done and hearing the conversations and seeing the smiling faces from clients backed up the artists claims.

Taking a quick look at their Facebook page shows some stellar reviews.


One from ‘Noddy Davies’ in July sums up this entire article in a few sentences: “From being greeted by their dog, to the laid back atmosphere and fantastic tattoo artists, this is a brilliant place to have new ink done. I’ve been to a few different studios before but this is by far the best one. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. And if you do decide to go there, ask Ash for a cup of tea. One of the best you’ll get...”

Another by ‘Jessica Henry’ agreed: “Had a tattoo today with Kat and she was so lovely. The studio has a great vibe and everyone makes you feel welcome. Definitely coming back for more. So impressed with my tattoo I absolutely love it!”

One from just a couple of months after the shop opened said: “Kat was professional, accommodating to changes and enthusiastic to tattoo me. I’m utterly overjoyed with her work, its beautiful. I’ve got my next one booked.”

“I had my second tattoo done yesterday by Kat and I’m absolutely in love with it! She does exactly what you ask and is very patient and made me feel very comfortable! Will definitely be going back for more.”

You can find out more about Black Cherry from their social media pages.