With the third edition of the Malta Tattoo Expo coming to town this weekend, we thought we’d take a round up of some of the islands’ females with awesome ink.
They shared their personal experiences with Lovin Malta and filled us in as to what it’s like to be tattooed in Malta in 2016, why they chose the artwork and the artists they did, and what the intricate images they’ve chosen to have permanently etched into their skin signify to them.
“It’s very satisfying when I look at my tattoos. I love the contrast of my pale skin next to the perfected black lines and bold colors of the ink. Knowing I spent hours being marked with needles in my skin makes them even more rewarding. I had gotten my first tattoo, Koi Fish, out of thrill and rebellion. Not that it really meant something back then. I actually knew what it symbolized after a year of getting it done. I associated the meaning behind it with a personal experience and went for a full sleeve, to narrate the whole myth. I think some people hang their art on a wall, and I chose to display it on my body.”
“I consider myself to be a fine artist. I also cook and own a kiosk at St Marija Bay on Comino. I’ve got various pieces by various artists, mainly Estelle Used at Tat Shack. Tattooing for me, rather than adding to my skin, it’s as if I’m erasing the skin for the colours and designs to shine through.”
“I’m a tattoo artist at Guy Lee Familee Studio. Tattooing has become a lifestyle for me, I feel very lucky to be doing something I love every day. I see it as a privilege to mark someone’s skin and I feel that a bond is created between the artist and every client.
Tattooing for me is a form of self expression, whether it is to mark a phase of one’s life or to show a love of something special to you. I feel that I can express myself through the designs I draw up and find it interesting to put together client’s ideas and make them work to fit their body. The look on the client’s face when the work is finished is priceless and I feel very honoured to have given the person something to keep for the rest of their journey through life.”
“I got my first tattoo as soon as I turned 18. I have always been fascinated by how beautiful art can look on someone’s body. I got into the whole 1950s look about three years ago because I think it really portrays who I am, be it the fashion, the cars, the music, everything! I do believe I was born in the wrong era. When I came to choose what kind of art I wanted on my body it was only natural to go for old-school and I believe I have chosen one of the best artists in Malta- my beautiful blue-haired friend Dria from Guy Lee Familee in Mellieha. We connected instantly and she creates a masterpiece from whatever I have in mind. I firmly believe in the quote “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good!”
With regards to the Maltese mentality towards tattoos, I have to say I’m fed up of it to be honest! So many people stare, whisper and look at me like I’m an alien. The amount of strangers who come up to me and try to make me look like an idiot because of my tats is unbelievable. I work in fashion retail and thankfully I haven’t had any problems with work. However there’s still so much to be done.”
“I currently work as an executive housekeeper in a four star hotel. When I’m at work I have to cover up my tattoos with a long sleeved shirt, which I do not agree with. For me, tattoos are works of art, just like paintings. Bob from Inkers Family Tattoo Studio did my sleeve. I love the detail he puts in and the colours he uses, I wanted it to be in full colour because for me, colour represent life. All my tattoos have a meaning. My whole arm consists of memories of my life itself and whenever I look at it, it reminds me of my story, my successes, living with no regrets and my choice in all the decisions I’ve made.”
“The first time I got tattooed I was so excited. I’ve talked about tattoos since I was 10 years old. I used to tell my mum “When I grow up I will get a sleeve tattoo” and I did. I did it because I love it and I wanted art on me. I didn’t do it to look cool or to look like others, I did it for myself. Sometimes people look at me like I’m a bully or a fighter but I’m not. I’m actually very nice and I’d never pick a fight. You can’t judge a book by its cover. I may have tattoos but I’m still an 18 year-old that knows how to love and how to care for others. I have a good heart.
I have a one and a half year old son, so what I have tattoos? I still love him and take care of him like other mums do, he means everything to me! And even when I have a job, I’m a hard worker. My skin doesn’t matter if I work hard and treat costumers right. Why look at me different? My point is, stop talking bad about people that have tattoos, you really have know them first.”
“My nickname where I used to work was Rocket, because I’m very quick and small. I love the old-school tattoos that were popular with sailors in the fifties, so I got pin up girl on a rocket tattooed on my thigh. I’ve gone back to school to study but New York Best is still my second home. I hope to make it in the fashion industry as a make up artist. Then I can have as many tattoos as I like!”
“I’ve always been drawn to the combination of black work, thin lines and a keen eye for detail. I got the majority of my sleeve done at Guy Lee over the span of two years, whereas more of my recent tattoos were done by Rebecca Bonaci. In terms of the working world, my tattoos have never really given me any trouble as a graphic designer. I see tattoos as creative expression, as does the industry I work for. In fact I have often been complimented on them as opposed to being told to cover them up.”
“I really got into tattoos when I was about 16. I’ve always been a little rebel. I got my first tattoo when I was 18 and I knew the addiction was there. Five years later I have a full sleeve, my hand, knuckles, chest, thigh and little bits here and there done and I can’t wait to get more! As addictive as they are, it’s all about the money. I work for the family business. My dad doesn’t think much about my tattoos. As a father he does tell me to stop inking, but as an employer, as long as I do my work well it doesn’t bother him at all. Regarding clients, I have many interesting conversations at work. I was at the front-desk for almost 2 years and I met lots of people, kids too. The children loved them and some of the grown-ups did too. Otherwise it was just questions. I don’t think I’ve had any negative comments said to my face, but then again everyone has a different opinion and I respect each and every one.
I feel like Malta does need to grow up a little bit when it comes to tattoos and employment.. or even just every day. I applaud the companies that don’t make it an issues. As long as you’re respectful, do your work and pretty much get along with no trouble I don’t see how ink should affect someone’s opinion on who you are.”
The Malta Tattoo Expo will be held at the InterContinental Arena Conference Centre from this Friday 7th-9th October 2016. Find out more at www.maltatattooexpo.com.mt