WOW! Festival Photo Booth: Part I

We were part of something special that took place on Sunday 13 March. WOW! Women of the World was a festival that transformed London's Southbank Centre into a space buzzing with creativity, conversation and female empowerment.

We were there with our camera and the wonderful Alice from Things and Ink to talk to women about their tattoos. Here are some of the inspiring people we encountered...

(See part II here)

“I was just 16 when I got an arrow on my ribs. The more tattoos I get, the more comfortable I feel in my body. It is mine and I have chosen the way it looks.”

“I was 59 when I got my first tattoo. My daughter found Grace Neutral and I knew I had to collaborate with her. I see getting tattooed by her as a collaboration. She draws the designs on with a Sharpie and then tattoos over it. I find it a very interesting approach. I feel better about my body now than I ever have before. I love it because it is art.”

“I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 30. I was away in Cape Town at the time. I always wanted one, but could never decide. I got it to symbolise how I was feeling at the time. It is an amalgamation of all the things I like right now, so fulfils everything I want from a tattoo. Until that changes I probably won’t get another.”

“I got a butterfly with a lion’s face when I was 23. It's an aboriginal symbol. I am a great lover of art and I love the symbolism. I also have a rose with an ankh matching with my sister. I will definitely get more.”

“I was 18 when I got a henna design on my foot. I don’t notice my body anymore, I see the tattoos first. That makes me feel more confident. I don’t see my body, just the blanks spaces that need to be filled.”

“I got a snake on my back when I was 18, but I have since had it covered with butterflies by Dominique Holmes. I wasn’t very well informed when I got my first, I was impulsive and it was a long time ago. I wanted to get it covered for years to turn it into something more positive. I find tattoos give me confidence and are a way of reclaiming my body after the teenage years and having children.”

“I got my first tattoo when I was 26. I wanted something strong and feminist, so I got a fox, which means femininity and strength.

People often have the misconception that women with tattoos look butch, and it's definitely looked down on more than when men get tattooed. My friends and family also question why I wanted to get tattooed. I think that gender can whitewash people’s opinions.”

“I started my backpiece when I was 19. I was a tattoo apprentice at the time. Before that I remember wanting tribal on my hand, but my boss told me to wait and think about it first. I was so glad I did when I discovered the work of Jason Saga in a tattoo magazine, my boss even paid for me to get tattooed by him.

“At that time, tattooing was exploding into an artform, but most tattoo magazines were very poor and sexist, with a busty blonde with crap tattoos in a bikini in the cover. But I guess it has been a very male dominated world. However, I did find that being a female artist worked in my favour, as women felt more comfortable getting tattooed by me. I'm no longer a tattoo artist; I'm not sure I can compete with the amazing artists around these days, but who knows?”

“Tattoos tell a story and spark up conversation. I think they are truly an artform. Women with tattoos are often seen as sexy, whereas men are seen as tough. Tattoos should represent strength for women, too. My mum hates my tattoos, she thinks I will never get married if I get tattoos on my arms. It should be about how I want to look, though.”

“I was 34 when I got a lyric tattooed on me. I had heard the song throughout my life, but I heard it the day before I got the tattoo and it really struck a chord with me. The tattoo is for me and I love having it. For me, it's about remembering that phrase every day for the rest of my life. That is the purpose of the tattoo for me, and any others I get will have the same purpose. I was very ill with clinical depression, the quote means that the human spirit still exists to survive.”

“I was 18 when I first got a doodle on my bum. A year later, I got a classic dragon on my lower back. At the time everyone was doing it – it was part of the drum and bass music scene. These days I don’t think there is much difference between men and women getting tattooed. Although my friend is going to be a bridesmaid and she has sleeves, a couple of people did mention how she might look on the wedding day.”

“My tattoos are a collection of things I like and remember; significant times in my life. I'm a huge fan girl. I have Gillian Anderson’s signature tattooed on me and I also have matching tattoos with friends, which makes them more meaningful. Tattoos make my body feel like it belongs to me, and that makes me more comfortable in it. They are the ultimate form of customisation.”

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