Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

The Art of Healing

November 11th, 2008 by

Flyer for FFOC's Soul of Skin fundraiserThe more I read, the more I learn and the more I learn the more I notice (and therefore can’t help but write about) how the tattoo community – or at least some of it anyway – has moved away from its rough and tumble, stigmatized roots and towards something much more gentle, much more beautiful and, undeniably, much more charitable.

Most recently there has been a frenzy of tattoo artists putting their artistic skills to work for charity. In exchange for their places in the Guinness Book of World Records, Derek Kastning and John McManus donated 100% of the proceeds of their tattoo record attempts to their local Humane Societies and other foundations and drives close to their hearts. In the past few months alone there have been a whole bunch of different tattoo shows and festivals – the Lower Hutt Charity Tattoo Show in Lower Hutt, New Zealand; Tattooing for Community in Fredericksburg, Virginia; the Kidderminster Arts Festival in Kidderminster, U.K., Tattooed For Good in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, just to name a few – that have raised tens of thousands of dollars for people and communities in need.

This past weekend the Foundation for Open Creation (FFOC) – a non-profit organization whose self-described mission is to “integrate self-expression into the medical community and the community-at-large,” – held a Soul on Skin fundraiser to raise money not only for themselves and their program, but also for a Tattoo Scholarship Program for Breast Cancer survivors. The FFOC and the scholarship program aim to “develop the idea that art, specifically tattoo art, can augment the recovery process for those with issues both physical and psychological.”

The FFOC is articulating something tattoo artists have been doing for awhile. My friend, Ottawa tattoo artist Wayne Murrell, has been tattooing three dimensional, realistic nipples for years on women who have undergone mastectomies. Many of these clients have been post-mastectomy women uninterested in further invasive surgeries to reconstruct their areolas.

Tattooed nipple courtesty of

When you consider these things, it’s hard to condemn all tattoo enthusiasts and the artists who tattoo them as delinquents residing in the margins of civilized society. There are many areas of tattooing that have become purely positive and I think our society is finally starting to take notice.

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