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Like almost all good ideas, this one started off by listening to a bunch of records. Kate Collins, a tattooer out of Seven Swords Tattoo in Philadelphia, was doodling in her sketchbook as her husband Jay was cycling through their extensive collection of punk albums when inspiration hit her — punk rock lady head tattoos.
“I draw lady heads a lot anyways, and I have never seen anyone do that,” Collins recalls. “It seems kinda weird that no one had come up with that idea. I started noticing all of these different songs, and I was thinking that it would be pretty cool if I found songs that were positive to women, because there are a lot of negative songs in punk rock.”
Collins didn’t just make a couple of sketches and call it a day, she took things further and created a book of the punk-inspired flash called She’s the One. Taking its name from a Ramones song, it is filled with gorgeous and unconventional punk rock girls, each one inspired by a different tune.
It should be no surprise that “She” by the Misfits features a lady head rocking a devilock, and naturally the lady accompanying “Baby I’m an Anarchist” by Against Me! has a bandana ready for when the tear gas starts flying. It is this attention to detail that makes the collection so special and shows the love and dedication that Collins has for both her art and the music.
“I’m into the history of tattooing, obviously since I do traditional tattoos, a lot of them are based off of sirens from the silver screen, circus ladies, the women that [old school tattooers] found attractive,” Collins explains. “These are the women that I looked up to and the these are the women that I find amazing and beautiful. They aren’t the typical tousled hair, whatever. They’re big, they’re small, they’re kind of ugly, but beautiful because they rock it in a way with such confidence. That’s something I aspired to capture.”
For a veteran of the punk scene, flipping through the pages of She’s the One feels like looking back through old photographs. To the point that you can almost swear that you know some of the people — there’s the girl who bummed you a cigarette at a 7 Seconds show, and isn’t that one of the people that helped you up in the pit at Gilman Street? “Most of the time I would listen to a song and then I would just start to draw it, without subconsciously realizing that I would be taking certain ideas and influences from certain people,” Collins laughs. “The inspiration comes from seeing these people over and over again at shows for the past 15, 16 years.”
Turning the beauty standards placed on the pinups of yesteryear on their head would be one thing, but by pairing each one with a female-positive punk rock song Collins is making a dual statement. By including songs by woman led bands like Bikini Kill, X-Ray Spex, and Mo-dettes we are reminded of how male dominated and misogynist a lot of punk rock — and popular music as a whole — can be, a topic that came up often as Collins researched the project. “Part of that conversation was, that I would tell people to think of a positive song and then I’d have to be like, no no no, that is not positive. And they would look back at it and be like, ‘Oh, that’s really bad!’”
Now that the book is available (with a mix tape!), we’re guessing that Collins will be booked up for the discernible future tattooing one empowering punk lady head after another. And when the client turns to the mirror and sees Collins’ work for the first time a tune will get in their head, “Yeah yeah, she’s the one. When I see her on the street, you know she makes my life complete…”