Years ago, a client approached me with a request. Adriana had fought cancer and won. After having a mastectomy and reconstruction, she wanted a tattoo to conceal some of the scarring on her breast. As interested as I was, I had no idea the weight of what was to come.
Before every tattoo, I try to wrap my head around the content and client. It's a matter of putting myself into their shoes (relatively) and pouring whatever I can into the piece. It's always a collaboration; it's a joint effort.
I'll never forget meeting Adriana and connecting instantly. I wasn't sure how to be. I knew just a portion of her story and my heart was heavy. Do I respond with pity? Of course compassion, but how much do I show? She walked in and all ambiguity was gone. My job was to be present; to think less about myself. Somehow I realized she was taking care of me before I had a chance to do the same. Maybe she sensed my concern, so her response was to allay my nerves. She showed me love and I knew only to do the same.
How do you help a woman who has fought death? What can you possibly contribute?
I knew then all I had was my vision, my eye. Years of passion towards one visual goal had me prepared. She was there and vulnerable... ready and willing to trust my view. The weight was incredible, but together we created a work of art. Her scar was concealed, but more importantly, she took back control. I'll never forget it. What was clinical became beautiful again... we turned sterile into sensual. We took back control.
There is healing in this.
It was wonderfully overwhelming. The whole process was stunning. That day I was changed more than she. The process is difficult. It requires trust and vulnerability on both sides. But it's the most wonderful thing I've given myself to... well, besides being a father :)
Moving the Needle on Recovery From Breast Cancer - The Healing Role of Postmastectomy Tattoos - David Allen - JAMA
I'm booked awhile for normal tattoos, but I'm always choosing new clients for this incredible process. If you have a scar or scars you wish to conceal, please email me directly with a request: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include a pertinent subject, your name, information, phone number, date of the surgery/scarring, and anything other information you'd like me to know. Also, I know it can be difficult to send photos of yourself for this, but please include at least one photo of the scar (or scars) you'd like to be tattooed.
Currently, I take on only three of these projects a month. The process is important and I choose clients based on the freedom allowed. I usually use floral or organic designs, as they allow more room to hide variegated scar tissue. Straight lines and compositions just don't transfer well. If your project isn't accepted (most are not), please know it's nothing personal. Each tattoo is considered based on multiple criteria... time, freedom, scarring, travel arrangements, openness to ideas, and the age/condition of the scar.
Thank you for taking the time to even read all of this. Tattooing is absolutely a viable option. When coupled with an artist you've researched and feel connected to... taking the reigns and regaining some sort of control can be empowering.
- Artist's mastectomy tattoos reveal the beauty of survival - Chicago Tribune
- How Tattoos Are Transforming Mastectomy Scars - US News & World Report
- 'Reclaiming Their Beauty' - NPR, WBUR
- Tattoo artist helps breast cancer survivors feel beautiful again - The Verge
Wherever you are in your journey, know that you are not alone!
Based on the wonderful response to these stories, I've setup a: PRESS CONTACT FORM