Thinkin’ Inkin’: How one woman took a gamble on changing the tattoo industry

I opened Jurassic Tattoo Company on Wollaton Road in August as a safe, comfortable space to be tattooed. It’s not going to be like other tattoo studios and I’m striving to be very radically different in the way I treat artists and customers.

I was originally a psychology researcher who started my PhD and quit due to a huge mental health breakdown. After many suicide attempts and little clinical help, I worked my way into the tattoo industry to find that the mistreatment and hazing of newcomers was harmful to my recovery. I was shocked at the awful way customers were often treated. I made it my mission to create something different.

Being tattooed is an extremely personal and vulnerable experience. During the tattoo process, a customer fully trusts their artist with a permanent change to their body, as well as letting them physically handle them for a stretch of time. They are in pain and experience a rollercoaster of endorphins and neurotransmitters that can induce intense feelings. I believe that this neurochemical rush, mixed with the prolonged close contact and the fact that they may be getting the tattoo for a meaningful reason, means the tattoo process has the potential to be either psychologically therapeutic OR psychologically damaging to the person. Which one it is depends on the professionalism of the artist and the atmosphere in the studio.

Unfortunately, in the industry, there are often less than ideal atmospheres in studios which intimidate or shame clients, rather than make their tattoo a safe and positive experience. From subtle things like having intimidating decor (“do not enter unless you’re a goth”) vibes! to shaming a customer for only wanting a small tattoo… to the small handful of artists who use their position to sexually harass clients.

“After working in psychological support in both the NHS and private sectors, I can honestly say that more therapy can be done on the tattoo chair than can be done in 6 sessions of CBT.”

I want to change this industry, or at the very least, provide a homely safe space for all clients to come, have a lovely chat and feel valued. After working in psychological support in both the NHS and private sectors, I can honestly say that more therapy can be done on the tattoo chair than can be done in 6 sessions of CBT. People naturally open up as they are already vulnerable and emotional. I believe this should be handled with the most respect and care possible.

Like many others, my business and personal finances have taken a huge beating throughout lockdown. I have scraped through only due to the huge amount of support I’ve had from my customers who have been booking on to my waiting list, buying my artwork or taking part in my tattoo raffles. I am hugely grateful to all of them and have been really surprised and touched by the amount of interest I have received!

It has been going overwhelmingly well since we opened, with my books being full until January 2021, and we’re all working incredibly hard to try and prepare for the possibility of another lockdown. Knowing that I may not be able to work for months with zero financial support from the government is a huge pressure, but I hope I can weather the storm if it does happen.

Jurassic Tattoo can be found at 76b Wollaton Road: Insta: @jurassictattoo; FB: @jurassictattoocompany

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