Tattoo artists pledge to offer free cover-ups to combat client abuse in the industry

"It's very frustrating to hear horror stories."
"It's very frustrating to hear horror stories." Photo credit: Getty.

A New Zealand tattoo artist who received intense backlash for sharing explicit photos of his client's thigh has sparked a global movement to help victims who have been abused while getting tattooed.

The travelling tattoo artist, who is not currently based in New Zealand, has been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards his clients. One female victim alleges the tattooist took graphic photos of her thigh before sharing them in a group chat with derogatory language. 

The allegations of abuse have inspired a new global movement, 'Cover-Ups Against Abuse'. Over 100 tattoo artists from across the world have pledged to provide free cover-ups for those assaulted by their tattooist.

A number of allegations have been made against tattooists worldwide, from taking unsolicited pictures to inappropriate touching and other forms of psychological and physical abuse.

The campaign was started by London-based tattooist Jessica Rubbish and Claire Beatrice from the US.

"In an industry where trust and vulnerability play such a major role, it's very frustrating to hear horror stories about artists taking advantage of their position," reads the campaign's Tumblr page.

"It's very important to call them out but it's also important to take care of everyone they've affected negatively.

"There are a lot of bad apples but there's also a strong community who is working towards a safer environment and a more transparent relationship between the client and artist."

The artists who have signed up for Cover Ups Against Abuse will offer free cover-ups or "blast overs for tattoos made by any abuser".

A victim of the New Zealand tattooist has since had the tattoo covered with a new piece of art, called a "blast over". 

At the time of writing, only one New Zealand tattoo artist has signed up for the movement, identified by her Instagram handle @thegal.draws, who specialises in hand-poked tattoos.

The US, England and Germany currently have the largest numbers of tattooists on board with the campaign, although there has also been substantial interest amongst artists based in Australia, Canada and France. 

Newshub has reached out to the Kiwi campaigner for comment.


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