Do your tattoos symbolise something?
The tattoos don't symbolise anything at all - I just like the way they look. That's not to say that I won't get more that do symbolise something. Getting a tattoo can be a great way to memorialise someone or visually interpret a particular event, feeling or relationship, but I don't think tattoos have to be symbolic. They are valuable in their own right.
What motivated you to get your tattoos?
I can't remember ever not wanting tattoos. There wasn't really anything specific which motivated me to get them, I think they look cool and it was always the plan. I've always liked body modification generally and it's not really something that can be explained, it's just a preference.
During our photo shoot, you mentioned that a booked called The Illustrated Mum was one of your first tattoo influences. Can you tell me a bit about how that book impacted you? How old were you when you read it?
I was about ten or 11 when I read The Illustrated Mum. I remember thinking I would never be embarrassed about having a mum covered in tattoos. I thought it was cool!
"it kind of gives the impression that the more [tattoos] you have the more hardcore you are, and the less you care about what people think, which is a bit pathetic, but I think more people feel that way than would admit to it."
Do you think that the pain that comes with getting tattooed is something to 'put up with' and withstand or can it be a positive experience?
If they didn't hurt they wouldn't be special, so I'm glad it hurts. That said, I don't like the pain at all and I'm a bit of a pussy about it. When I was getting the piece on my flank I had to do about four or five hours of heavy linework on my ribs and stomach and I was a complete mess afterwards. I had to be physically escorted home. It felt like someone had kicked me multiple times.
Often people will talk about tattoos being addictive. Is this something you've ever felt? What do you think it is that makes them addictive?
Addictive isn't the right word. It's not a compulsion, although I definitely want more. If it wasn't so expensive to get decent work then I would be absolutely covered. It's partly because if you have something that looks nice, why not get more? 'Less is more' doesn't really apply to tattoos, as long as the work is good. There's also a competitive element to it; my tattoos are quite large and they are well done, but if I see someone with something bigger or better it always makes me want to get more. I remember when I was planning the ones on my arm, my boyfriend at the time was getting some work done, which spurred me on. I remember saying “mine are going to be better than yours” during an argument. Also, because it's painful and not everyone likes them, it kind of gives the impression that the more you have the more hardcore you are, and the less you care about what people think, which is a bit pathetic, but I think more people feel that way than would admit to it.
Is there anything you've discovered about yourself through the process of thinking about and getting tattoos?
I haven't really discovered anything about myself, but I do know that having tattoos is an excellent conversation starter; quite often, at parties, when someone is tripping and they're like “woah look at your arm”. They also mean that you don't get easily forgotten about.