Tattoo art - a remedy for feeling low?
This month Community Bridges interviewed a talented tattoo artist, Amanda.
I know Amanda from the time we worked together in a leisure centre. We connected with her over the mental health struggles that we both experienced at that time. She was never just doing nothing. Whenever she had a free minute, I would see that girl with a pen and a piece of torn paper. By the end of a working day, she would always have new artwork. Quite often dark-themed, but so mesmerizing. That amazed me and I couldn't believe such talent is what seemed to me in the wrong place.
We lost contact for some time after I left, but when we met again, Amanda told me how she knocked on every door of every tattoo salon in the city to start a career in what she loves so much.
Finally, this determination has landed Amanda a full-time place in a tattoo studio. She is now fully booked for months with people coming back to her for more tattoos.
In this interview I asked Amanda about her work as a tattoo artist, and what it means for her and for the people she works with.
Why did you start tattooing? What is your background?
Amanda: I was always this one child with a notebook doodling something in the corner of a room. Always with a book, always with some pencils on me. I can honestly say I’ve been embracing art all my life before starting to tattoo. I’ve made an endless number of paintings and drawings which gave me a great background in the tattoo world.
I got my first tattoo gun when I was 14, my dad has bought it for me seeing how much I am into art and hoping I will tattoo his body. Unfortunately, back then we didn’t have the knowledge I’ve got now, and that machine didn’t have enough power to leave lots of ink underneath the skin so I might have left fainted marks on quite a few bodies in my early stage of tattooing.
Growing up in a pretty rough family I’ve always been fascinated by the pain in relationship with art. I think it was pretty easy for me to take this sort of path as it helped to release my emotions and help others to do the same.
What are people saying about your work? How do you think it helps them?
Amanda: Well, this part fascinates me. It’s not about the compliments from the customers, as I strongly believe we create their art together, but it’s the comments about the process and the afterwards part of getting a tattoo that’s so interesting to me. There are plenty of different reactions to tattoos. Some people are crying, shouting, and grieving in silence. Some enjoy it, but most of them will message me after getting one, and when they tell me they feel strong and relaxed, that’s what’s getting me. I’ve heard many times tattoos are therapeutic and I do believe that myself after getting so many. There’s something about them that makes you want to have more after each one you’re getting!
Why is tattoo art important for the community in your opinion?
Amanda: As I said, I really believe in the therapy factor in tattoos, hence this is my main drive with them! To help a lost person is really much, for someone caring so much about people as I do. But it’s also the art factor, the connection you can make with people through your drawings that I love. For me personally, it’s leaving a bit of my world on someone else's skin.
How does it help your health and well-being?
Amanda: I never thought about it before becoming a tattoo artist. But the fact I’m working in this industry just now is so fulfilling for me that I barely ever get sick. I’m waking up each day with new power, new ideas, and new drive for what I do. It’s a pretty beautiful thing to have this sort of feeling about your work but it didn’t come easy to me. It’s not like anyone can be an artist just because they want to, you have to work really hard in order to start being in this industry. And most importantly, you have to create art on daily basis, no matter how tired you are.
What tips would you give to others in regards to their mental health and wellbeing in regards to your profession?
Amanda: “Don’t be sad, go get a tattoo” as they say :)
Whenever you’re feeling low, just get yourself even a small tattoo appointment which will surely help you feel better for days. In the studio I’m working at the moment we do a minimal charge which is £50 and I find it so much better than spending that money for example on takeaways, which will only make things worse. Tattoos come with health. We always speak a lot about drinking enough water and eating well before and after a tattoo and I feel like sometimes you need to hear it from a stranger to get that wake-up call.
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Get personalised items with Amanda's work here