Three lifelong friends are set to open their own tattoo parlour while focussing on mental health.

Mark Richards, 47, Brendan Roberts, 44, and Norma Jean, 29, from Westhoughton and Deane will welcome the tattoo curious to the Stay Weird Tattoo Collective studio in Westhoughton from Monday .

With years in the industry, all three are banding together to create a judgement-free studio to challenge stereotypes on what a shop should feel like.

Mr Roberts said: “I have known Mark all my life and he was trained in my old shop and Norma Jean was an apprentice there. I have worked with her for about six years.

“I moved to Cyprus in 2016 and set up my own business because my wife liked the sun, and we came back because of Covid-19 and no tourists meant no customers.

“It was too hot for me, and you do smaller jobs and not big creatives ones that I was used to doing in England.”

The idea for Stay Weird was Mark's as he ran a clothing line under the same name. He had worked as a tattoo artist for years and wanted to progress the business.

Mental health is a focus point for the friends, who are keen to provide a positive space for everyone.

Norma added: “We all have different experiences in mental health and know what it’s like. Tattoo shops have a reputation to be intimidating places and people feel intimidated especially if they have never been to one.

“When they come in for a big tattoo it is a long time to spend here so people open up to us and will tell us things they will not just say in a pub with friends.”

Ms Jean considers it like counselling and added: “We do not want people to be scared and want to let them know they can be weird here. We want people to feel comfortable because we don’t judge people and will have a laugh.

Mr Richards worked for a conservatories firm but gave it up to go travelling before returning to become a tattoo artist instead of his old job.

He said: “We are looking forward to creating art in a positive atmosphere. I’m so excited and haven’t thought about anything else.”