Our Story

Skins and Needles were founded in 2011 by Matthew Salvin. Matthew, originally a barber with a group of barbershops, fell in love with the tattoo industry when he found himself working next door to a tattoo studio. After travelling to Thailand, where he met a master of the industry, a hand poking Buddhist monk, Matthew spent weeks with him, each day learning his take on the sacred art that he and his family had used in various healing and spiritual aspects for generations. Travel around Europe from city to city soon followed, learning how this secret art would change his life. After years of learning and educating himself on the industry and how the business worked with various other small ventures, he decided to take it to the mainstream and do the job properly. His mentor Mr Mote was contacted and kindly asked if he minded that Matthew could name his new venture after his. Mr Mote gave his blessings, and Skins and Needles was born in Teesside!!

Cracking the industry

The tattoo industry has always been a hard nut to crack, especially when not a tattoo artist. Matthew found a way to break down the boundaries and win the respect of the sacred industry with his passion for the art and stories behind tattooing. This was not to everyone’s delight, and Matthew soon found himself battling daily to maintain a place in the tattoo industry which he did with a mixture of the Teesside attitude not to give up and the sheer will to succeed.

Going Mainstream

The traditional tattoo studio back in the early 2000s was typically a back-street affair run by an artist or 2, usually with little customer service and empathy for their customers. Matthew wanted to take what he had learnt and bring the tattoo industry up to date with the idea of a top-class customer experience available on the high street whilst still maintaining a lot of the traditional values. The studio was a success from the outset, and even though so many tried to push Matthew off course, he stuck to his values and prevailed.


The success of Skins and Needles then led Matthew to introduce additional team members and services to the tattoo studio and later the brand. Firstly, a piercer Kim Hutchinson aka the skin seamstress, was hand-picked due to her absolute devotion to the industry. This was a well-thought-out plan as she brought so much knowledge and skill to the studio. The studio was ready with three artists, a desk worker (Matthew) and a great piercer. Since then, Skins and Needles have gone from strength to strength and become more than just a tattoo studio, introducing award-winning in-house barbers, an award-winning beauty and laser clinic and a bar/bistro which hosts a variety of events with local artists performing and its very own upcycling workshop and showroom.