Rejected from art school as a teenager, Connor Curran turned his back on pursuing a formal education in art. He knew deep down that he had the raw talent and the determination needed to make it.

But it wasn’t that simple. While he threw himself into knocking on the doors of local tattoo studios with his work, Connor made ends meet with call centre and retail roles, while he prayed for his big break. After years of rejection, Connor was starting to think he had a made a mistake turning his back on formal art training.

Perseverance eventually paid off and Connor was offered an unpaid apprenticeship at a respected studio where he worked tirelessly to prove his commitment to the job. The first six months were spent mopping the floors and cleaning the studio while he supported himself with a second job to pay the bills.

An unrelenting determination meant that Connor worked tirelessly for two years without a day off apart from Christmas Day. Connor’s work ethic shone through and people began to sit up and take notice of the young artist whose drive and talent spoke for themselves.

After listening to people tell him for years that his work wouldn’t cut it, Connor began to receive recognition for his art and a reputation as one of the country’s brightest talents in the tattoo industry. After a few years of grind, Connor decided to set up his own studio in a 300-year-old building in the seaside town of Holywood.

The town’s only tattoo studio, this archaic building is home to Connor’s business, Crooked Mile Tattoo, which he established two years ago. Connor is widely considered one of Northern Ireland’s most dynamic tattoo artists. His unique illustrative style and incomparable techniques have left an impressive mark on the industry. Inspired by tattoos of the 40s, 50s and 60s, Connor employs his own modern slant bringing this style into the 21st century.

In just two short years, Connor has built a reputation not only for his artistic flair but his uncompromising efforts to see more collaboration and support amongst artists across the world. Establishing an exchange programme, Connor’s team now hosts and visits tattoo artists across the world regularly, from Italy to Brazil, allowing artists and himself to learn and share skill-sets, inspiring the local industry and putting NI tattoo talent on the map internationally.

To those who have yet to #AnswerTheCall, Connor says, “Determination and passion will always outweigh natural talent so you need to be ready to work hard to make it.”

Connor has collaborated with Bushmills to create a limited edition ‘Bushmills X Crooked Mile Tattoo’ t-shirt for bar staff across the country. 50 of these limited edition t-shirts are available to win via the competition page.