The transformative power of tattooing.
Part I Leaning to evolve. I have been tattooing now for almost fifteen years, and I have encountered the transformative power of the tattoo week-in, week-out since the very beginning of my love-affair with tattooing. Early on in my apprenticeship, I saw how it's not only the visual result of the process that helps people to transform, but also the cathartic process of of making and receiving a tattoo that has inherent transformative properties. Through facing the discomfort ahead and choosing to make an indelible change to our skin, often we walk out a slightly different person to the one who walked in. This transformation can come in many guises and be a symptom of many experiences- it can be about emotional pain, joy, distracting from a body part we don't like, accentuating one we do, embracing or enduring change... each person's reason is as unique to them as the tattoo that I make for them, and therefore their transformation is unique to them. Transformation doesn't only come after trauma, we can take the reins on how we interact with our bodies every day. However- as huge transformative experience for me has been working with post-mastectomy patients and creating some wonderful projects for them. I was lucky enough to be taught about working with scar tissue right from the start of my apprenticeship, so I was well versed in working with challenging projects by the time I did my first full post-mastectomy project. The day we spent together was one of those days where you go to your bed that night knowing that a little part of you is older, wiser, and stronger, and that every day life is marching forward and you're on the path to good things. Every day we grow, but some days life gives you a memorable marker for this. That special day of tattooing was expertly recorded in photographs by her partner at the time. This added another interesting layer to the experience for both of us. It caught those moments in time, and I have to say I was quite speechless when I first saw the photographs. It was as if someone had visually captured how I feel when I work. The craft, the intimacy, the results. Immortalised and transposed to a new medium.