Making Statements: Tattoos

Making Statements was based around the idea that fashion statements are not only made with clothing and what you wear; there are so many different ways people express fashion and one way in particular I chose to focus on was tattoos.

Tattoos can be the boldest and most committed statement you could make when it comes to your physical appearance. I went along to meet Kieran Sargent, who is a student that tattoos himself. Conveniently, on the day of our interview, twenty-four-year-old Kieran rocked up in shorts and a white tee so his artwork was on show.

Kieran1Kieran got his first tattoo of a flower arrangement done by a professional (before learning himself) at the age of eighteen. During a consultation with his old man, a different point of view meant Kieran had to hide it from both parents for a year. Eventually his secret was uncovered when his father came home from work, unexpectedly, to find Kieran cooking in his boxers. This resulted in Kieran having to tell his mother, which dramatically led to tears!

Do you feel people treat you differently after getting tattoos? I asked. He said: ‘people lie to your face most of the time when they judge you anyway and I wouldn’t want to be in an environment where people are judged in that way for having tattoos. If they don’t like it its their own problem, I’m not effected’. It’s hard to imagine Kieran receiving any negative reaction from his tattoos because in truth not one that I could see was distasteful, they channelled an expression of art more than anything else.

Kieran2In September 2010, while on his lunch break working part-time, Kieran was ‘bored out of his skull’ and had an epiphany: ‘fuck it, I’m going to learn how to tattoo.’ That evening he ordered the relevant equipment and by the next week, (after his fruit bowl took a bit of punishing) he ventured onto bare skin. Luckily, thanks to his very willing friends his first official tattoo turned out surprisingly well.

‘I’ve been referred to as a “scratcher”, which is someone who does it on their own.’ Kieran added that tattoo artists are reluctant to teach others because it’s their trade, they want to keep it as secret as possible to avoid more competition.

Kieran5Within the industry most artists start out as ‘scratchers’ as he observed: ‘if you’re really committed to doing it, one way of proving it is to do it on yourself.’ Their skin acts an indicator of their skill – a walking portfolio – although Kieran wants his talent to remain as a hobby.

His favourite tattoo and why? He said, ‘People can say what they want for having tattoos – to remember someone or something – but for me it’s just an expression of good art really’. He showed me his tattoo on his forearm, inspired by his favourite painting by Alphonse Mucha.

The detail of each one is impeccable and it’s obvious he’s a creative guy, which is why I was shocked when he told me he didn’t take an art related course. Kieran is a Human Nutrition student and aspires to work with cyclists, in particular, on a personalised dietary plan. So far his tattoos have never got in the way of anything he wants to do but he agrees that tattoos are definitely strong statements, although he argues that, depending on where they’re presented, they’re obviously going to show, but ultimately they aren’t for other people.

Click here to read more about Luke Jackson, the talented photographer who shot these artisan images.