I met Karen at the Women with Tattoos photo booth back in March. She told me that she didn't have any frame-worthy photos of her tattoos, so I offered to take care of this for her! One month later, when spring started tiptoeing towards us, we met at Hampstead Heath in London to document her tattoos...
When you got your first tattoo, did you know you would go on to get as many as you have today?
No. I didn’t imagine myself with so many tattoos. I started off pretty slow, only getting one or two, and took a break for a while. But then I just saw some amazing pieces from artists and I just knew I had to have them and I guess they’ve just accumulated from there.
What initially drew you to the idea of getting tattooed?
I really like how artists use the body as a form of canvas and how a tattoo can embellish a certain part of the body. For me, when the right piece is chosen, it sits perfectly on the subject and it looks natural on their skin.
Did you feel differently about your body or a particular part of your body after getting it tattooed?
I have never really felt confident in my skin, but my tattoos help with making that a little easier. My tattoos are an armour and can stop people from seeing me, but they also allow me to communicate my individualism. Some hide behind makeup and I hide behind my tattoos, I guess.
What’s your favourite style of tattoos and are there tattoo artists you’d like to work with?
My favourite style are old school tattoos with the majority of mine being old/new school. I choose my designs based on the artist’s style. The same idea behind a piece can look completely different from other artists so when I have an idea for a piece in mind I look for the style which I like best.
I really want some work from Kim-Anh Nguyen I remember discovering her prints online and have been following her for a very long time. I’m particularly interested in her as her designs have the old school theme, but she puts her own style to them and they look fantastic.
How do you feel before getting a tattoo?
Before a tattoo I am a mixed bag of emotions. My last two tattoos were my knee tattoos and each one was very painful. I was very nervous and anxious before getting tattooed but was driven by the excitement that I would be getting new tattoos. I’m fine once we start. I think I’m like a child just waiting to open my presents.
Have you ever regretted one of your tattoos? You mentioned you’re planning to do a cover up on your wrist…
I will be doing a cover up on my wrist this summer. At the time when I chose it I felt it was perfect for the location but with time my style choices have changed and it no longer fits with my other pieces. I don’t want to say I regret it because it’s just a constant reminder to me that my tastes can change. I just hope that doesn’t extend to the multiple ones on my legs!
Featured tattoo artists: Max Rathbone, cooleytattooer, Bastien Jean