Anne Frankenstein got to know alternative culture as a young girl observing punks in a park in her hometown of Dublin. Her tattoos have their roots in those early influences and also stem from Anne's affinity with colours and patterns.
What role do tattoos play in forming your identity?
I always imagined that I'd grow up to be a 'tattooed woman'. My mum used to take me and my sister to St Stephen's Green in Dublin when we were really young kids, and there would be groups of punks sitting on the grass with mohawks and piercings. My mum used to beg us not to stare at them, which, to me and my sister, gave them this magical aura of danger and mystery. I think those experiences really sowed the seeds of my fascination with alternative culture. I was quite punky as a teenager and was pretty uninhibited with my style, making some pretty bad fashion choices along the way, which makes me grateful that there were no camera phones back then. I discovered Suicide Girls in my teens too and that was a huge revelation to me, not just seeing this diverse group of women being celebrated for their alternative beauty, but also the fact that they were heavily tattooed and just living normal lives in the real world. Expressing themselves and being true to themselves, not being afraid of the judgement of others. So that helped me to be brave about becoming the 'tattooed woman' I had always hoped or expected to be.
Have tattoos transformed the way you see yourself?
Yes, definitely. I prefer what I see in the mirror now and I prefer what I see when I'm lying in the bath or putting my socks on or whatever. It's much more interesting and satisfying to look down and see all these bright colours and patterns. And with every tattoo I feel more like myself.
Has your wardrobe changed at all since getting visible tattoos?
I hadn't worn a t-shirt since I was about 15 until I got both arms tattooed, because I hated my arms so much. Now I wear them all the time. I own about eight of the same black vests, which I've been wearing all summer. I feel like I have to think a little bit less about expressing myself through my clothes because my tattoos do most of the work. My style has calmed down and become a lot more plain and casual.
Do your tattoos play a part in your profession? [Anne is a DJ]
That's kind of a tough question to answer. In some ways, yes, because many promoters don't know much about music and if they see you and think you look 'cool' it gives you instant credibility in their eyes. But that's a double edged sword, because as tattoos become more populist there's a chance they won't be considered 'cool' one day, and maybe that will end up hurting my credibility and costing me work. Who knows. Like most people, I'd rather be hired for my skill than for how I look. Having said that, I do think there's a correlation between djing and being tattooed, in that both require you to have a certain amount of conviction in your own taste - enough conviction to want to show it off and share it with the world in a more confrontational way than most people would.
As someone who used to work in HR, it would be fascinating to hear your thoughts on why you think some employers are put off by tattoos. Are tattoos still taboo in the corporate workplace, do you think? Do you have any stories related to this subject to share?
I've mainly worked in HR for creative companies where being tattooed hasn't ever really been an issue, and I think I'm immune to tattoo snobbishness anyway - I'd just roll my sleeves up in front of new employers and if they wanted to judge me based on my tattoos rather than my skills I always knew I could prove them wrong. My approach to HR was always to prioritise people's wellbeing, which naturally leads to a more enthusiastic and productive team. Trying to inhibit people's personality in a workplace is an archaic approach, which encourages nothing but resentment and apathy from your employees. I guess the thinking behind it comes from the same place that school uniforms come from - the idea that individuality is a distraction from hard work and self-discipline. Let people be themselves and you'll get the best out of them, always. Thankfully I think many workplaces are waking up to that fact.
Tell me a little bit about the latest addition to your collection: your mesmerising snake. How did that come about as a concept?
I've always loved leg sleeves and, only having tattoos on my upper body, I felt like I needed a bit of balance. I'm really lucky to have an artist who I really trust and who's style I love - I just approached Lucy [Pryor] and said I wanted a snake covering my leg and she created it for me and it turned out even better than I had hoped.
Do your tattoos have stories behind them or symbolic meaning?
Not really! I just love colourful tattoos. The 'TCB' on my wrist stands for 'taking care of business' so I sometimes look at it when I need a reminder of who's in charge.
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