Tattooists Talk About All the COVID Tattoos They’ve Been Doing – VICE

Posted in Tattoo Designs on Dec 03, 2020

Both tattoos byDavid Baro

Tattoos mirror feelings, and this year everyone has been feeling much the same: scared, stir-crazy, and thoroughly sick of COVID. For tattoo artists, this has resulted in a small wave of people requesting COVID-themed tattooseither in the form of people wearing face masks, or just cartoon renderings of the virus itself.

We wanted to get an idea of how often these requests are coming through, so we emailed a bunch of tattoo artists from around the world. They each gave us a short interview on how their art has imitated life, and sent us a photo of their proudest COVID-themed ink to date.

Rami Ramo Rosvall, FinlandIG: @ramotattooTattooing for 14 years

VICE: How many COVID tattoo requests have you had?Ramo: Ive had quite a few, but Ive only been able to do one so far because my waiting list is super long.

What was the inspiration behind your COVID tattoo?Ive designed a few, but the one Ive already done is definitely my favourite. I love doing portraits, and this tattoo is a portrait of a distinguished gentleman wearing a mask and with COVID script on his face. To me it represents that classism doesnt exist during crisis; that were all going through this together no matter how much money we have. My client just wanted something crazy to remind him of this crazy time.

Do you think getting a COVID tattoo is becoming a trend?Right now, yes. Its like when any worldwide phenomenon occurslike a new hit Hollywood movieit can be seen in tattooing. At the moment, COVID is trending all over the world. Its all we talk about.

Will people be getting COVID tattoos long after its over?I dont know if people will still want COVID tattoos five years after the pandemic, but then again, will it ever be over? We could all be getting COVID tattoos for the rest of our lives.

Mundane Death, Australia@_mundanedeathTattooing for one year

How many COVID requests have you had since the shop reopened a month ago?Ive only done the one so far, but got another couple booked in for later this month.

What inspired the one youve done?This year, really. I was on such a roll and then lockdown kinda killed my momentum. The inspiration just came from around me; Ive been drawing latex gloves, plague doctors and medical masks for months. I just put them on my Instagram and people resonate with them and want them done. My friend loved the design of the cute girl with a mask, so she came in and we smashed it out. Now she has a reminder of 2020!

Have you always been inspired by the things happening around you?Yeah. I grew up kinda poor so I never had video game consoles or anything like that, and I started drawing just to keep myself busy and entertained. I guess Ive always let my emotions come out through drawing.

Do you think COVID-themed tattoos are becoming a trend?People definitely seem to want a permanent reminder of this year. But I think tattoos are good for peoples mental health too. Getting a tattoo after an absence feels good; like a breath of fresh air.

Woodz, Brooklyn, USA@woodzartTattooing for 15 years

Who did you do your COVID tattoo on?A managing nurse at Brooklyn Hospital. She contacted me in April as the levels were rising and her hospital was overwhelmed with severely ill COVID patients. She wanted to commemorate that time with an everlasting keepsake, as a reminder of the stress, sacrifice and loss. Hopefully this will be a thing of the past one day and she can look back on it and be proud.

What is the tattoo of?Its a take on the Virgin Mary wearing PPE; basically, my version of the Virgin Mary as a COVID first responder nurse. My client inspired the design. I incorporated Indigenous flowers of her native homeland as well.

Have you designed many COVID-related tattoos?I havent really pre-designed any. If people feel they need them, I let them come to me and I design based on their specific experiences, emotions and inspirations. Its kind of like their therapy, designing a keepsake to symbolise the way theyve dealt with the pandemic.

Have you got any more COVID tattoos lined up?No, but since reopening in July the studio has been busier than ever, and tattoos are integral in self-care for people across many demographics. Im sure that well see plenty more COVID-related tattoos as people try to get their life and their mental health back on track.

Do you think these designs will become a trend?Yeah, I think they already have. Personally, I think its tasteless to profit off a pandemic; Id rather do tattoos that help people through a healing process. The trend and the pandemic wont last. Thats been my driving force throughout this whole shitshow.

David Baro, Portugal@baraovtattooTattooing for seven years.

Have you been asked to do many COVID-themed tattoos?Ive done a few actually! I love them. My favourite is the COVID bug or virus with a 2020 banner. Fuck 2020.

Why do you love them?I love that people have the guts to tattoo something like that on them, and that its such a harsh, unavoidable reminder of a crazy awful year.

Who got your first COVID-themed tattoo?A long-time client who has become my friend. He was supposed to be travelling overseas the day before, and of course, he couldnt. So his reaction was to get a virus tattoo.

What inspired you to design COVID-themed tattoos?Tattoos come from a feeling, similar to music or perfume. You know when you smell something familiar and it takes you to a feeling? I wanted to capture the feeling of this year in the form of tattoos.

COVID has changed all of our lives so radically this year. There are parts I want to forget, but also things Ive learnt that I want to remember. Its also going to be super funny to show our grandchildren these tattoos. Theyll spark so many stories, both joyful and horrific.

Dominic Sniatowski, PolandIG: baddecisiontatsTattooing for four years

Whats your favourite COVID-themed tattoo youve done?My favourite is a tattoo I called Devotion. Its the face of a young woman with tears streaming down her face and a medical COVID mask that has a smiley face.

What inspired Devotion?The word itself is an ode to all the frontline workers. Theyve seen so much pain this year, yet theyve stuck through it and put a happy face on and theyve remained dedicated to saving lives.

I really wanted to create a dramatic image; something that would get people in the gut, you know? I cant imagine how dark it wouldve been to see all that grief and loss in such a short time period, especially with all the uncertainty and just having no answers for peoples loved ones.

Has COVID brought out a lot of creativity in you?Yeah. I mean Ive felt a lot of emotions, which always sparks creativity. This design in particular pretty much drew itself. Ive been thinking of words a lot, like pain, suffering and devotion and the creativity just starts there and goes in its own direction.

The pandemic is fucking everywhere, theres so much imagery to draw fromthings weve never seen on this scale before.

Like what?Like you know, masks: the standard COVID ones but also people wearing face shields and gas masks. Its like a horror film. But masks have also really forced you to look into peoples eyes, which is actually kind of beautiful and another reason why I wanted my design to have one.

Interview by Laura Roscioli. Follow her on Instagram

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Tattooists Talk About All the COVID Tattoos They've Been Doing - VICE

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