Larne tattoo artist honoured to work on professional footballer

Carl (left) and L�o Bonatini.
Carl (left) and L�o Bonatini.

An up and coming tattoo artist from Larne has recently had the chance to tattoo a Brazilian football player.

Carl Heggarty (28) and his boss Willy Grattan have been working on a back piece with Léo Bonatini, with the finishing touches set to be applied in the near future.

Willy had previously tattooed Leo and after Carl and Willy posted a collaboration back piece online a few months ago, Leo saw it and asked if they could do the same for him.

Carl and Willy travelled to Nottingham to work on the tattoo, where Leo is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Detailing his excitement for the project, Carl said: “I am a massive football fan and have been a Manchester United supporter for as long as I can remember.

“Who Leo plays for didn’t even come into my mind when the opportunity presented itself, obviously I knew of him from Willy’s encounters, but as for Leo or potentially any future players, their team doesn’t concern me, business is business.

“I am just honoured that this status of client is willing to have my art displayed on their body, especially at this early stage of my career. It is a dream come true. Every day I take pride in the person that walks through the door of our studio.”

Leo is not the first celebrity Carl has carried out work for. Last year, he was commissioned to do a piece of artwork for Larne native and superstar DJ, Fergie.

Commenting on this, Carl stated: “The Fergie work was a massive compliment for me when he was given my artwork as a gift from his mother. That was another honour as I looked up to him as a young boy, wanting to be a DJ, and seeing that a guy from our wee town made it so far.

“We have since become very good friends through it and would speak regularly via social media. He is looking to get tattooed by me someday when he is home, I look forward to that.

“Leo is my first high profile celebrity/sports star that I have tattooed. Hopefully this will open doors in the future as I have a few celebrities that I would dream of tattooing.”

Carl currently works at Willy G Tattoo Studio in Whitehead.

Paying tribute to his boss and mentor, Carl added: “It would only be right to express my upmost gratitude to Willy Grattan not only for this particular highlight, but for making my dream of becoming a tattoo artist come true.

“All of this wouldn’t be a reality if it wasn’t for him, taking me on and having such trust and belief in me to teach me the craft of this industry.

We work so well together. He isn’t just my employer, mentor, or idol, he is like a brother to me. I have looked up to him and idolised his work for a long time, now I work alongside him every day.

“Each day I am learning from him not only as a tattoo artist but as a person. I really am eternally grateful to him, He has simply changed my life!”