Perhaps you’ve fallen out with the artist, maybe they moved away or it was badly executed, but is it ever, really, okay, to get another tattooer to complete someone else’s work?

This feature was written by Alice Snape, and originally published in Total Tattoo, September 2019.

I look at my back in the mirror. I try not to regret the huge tattoo that travels from my neck right down to my bum. That butterfly lady now looks at me, mocking. I wish I could rewind to that time, pre tattoo, when my back was bare. Tell myself to wait. The tattoo reminds me of the tattoo artist I would rather forget. But I can’t forget, whose hands my tattoo is by, the hours I spent under his needle, and how I felt bullied into getting it in the first place.

I started getting tattooed when I was 22, later than most, I was always overthinking, worrying about what I wanted, where it should go, and who should do it. Since I started writing about tattoos, apparently I have become an expert on them – I have presented documentaries, I even edited a tattoo magazine  – yet I still made a mistake. The advice I gave to others, I didn’t follow myself. The back is that huge piece of canvas that shouldn’t be wasted – or so I tell people. It is prime real estate for a custom piece of art by a tattoo artist that you love, whose work you will forever wear with pride.

However, somehow a quick chat about possible ideas with tattoo artist Matthew Gordon accelerated at a rapid pace and I was booked in for a backpiece. I travelled all the way to Berlin for my first session. An epic eight hours of linework, travelling back on the plane was agony. And something about the whole experience didn’t feel right. I went with it anyway, ignoring that nagging feeling in my stomach. But then every time he messaged about a follow-up appointment, I felt trapped. I couldn’t bear to spend even an hour being tattooed by him. Knowing what he had said about other girls’ bodies while in my presence,…

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