The art form of tattooing is transformation incarnate. The power of expression, as well as release, is permeated through and through. For breast cancer survivors, getting mastectomy tattoos can mean rebuilding a healthy relationship with their body. There are many tattoo artists out there who have made these particularly sensitive and intimate pieces a part of their portfolio. It is a beautiful relationship, between artist and client, that can help a reincarnation of body positivity flourish. In this article, we talk about some awesome Breast Cancer Awareness initiatives as well as tattooists around the world who offer mastectomy scar cover up tattoos, areola pigmentation, and more.
Evie Bacopulos focuses on areola pigmentation and 3D nipple tattoos. Her post mastectomy tattoos have helped many women who struggle to feel confident and comfortable after the tremendous task of surviving breast cancer. Even those who have undergone breast reconstruction need support to feel deep healing. And although her enthusiasm began as a concentration on breast cancer survivors, she sees her work helping others to overcome adversity as well. Evie says, “Almost 2 years ago now, I began offering areola and nipple tattoos. I did it for a few reasons, most notably because there was a serious lack of financial accessibility and even knowledge surrounding it. I had no idea it would extend to more communities. I’ve been tattooing clients that are post mastectomy, post bilateral, post top surgery, men, women, trans folx, this project has seriously grown. And it has absolutely become the most rewarding work I’ve done my entire career.”
Good Hair Day and Breast Cancer Now teamed up to bring breast cancer survivor stories to the forefront. GHD has actually made this an annual concentration, with over 11 million dollars being raised over the past 12 years to help fund charities that concentrate on breast cancer awareness, research, and other means of support. This year GHD and Breast Cancer Now brought some incredible women together to talk about their experiences in a new campaign promoting hair products that will raise funds for charity. Each one of them had received a mastectomy tattoo of their choice, and they spoke about how much this brought them closer with their body. One of the women, Natasha, shared, “I’m not the only member of my family to have had a cancer diagnosis. Eight members of my family have also been diagnosed with cancer, including my sister who was going through treatment when I was diagnosed in 2014. She sadly passed away...'I had chemotherapy, mastectomy and a reconstruction. I decided to get a tattoo...After they finished the tattoo, I cried with how beautiful it looked...The experience of cancer has been so difficult, in terms of my journey and so many people passing in my family. My breast is something beautiful to me. It closed the chapter in my life that day. It made me feel free.”
Chicago-based tattooist David Allen has perfected the art of mastectomy tattoos. His devotion to the empowerment of his clientele is stunning, as are his pieces and the carefully curated imagery documenting the process. In August of last year his mastectomy tattoos were shown as an exhibit at the International Museum of Surgical Science. He’s also frequently involved in many initiatives creating visibility for breast cancer and often holds workshops for other tattoo artists interested in understanding post mastectomy tattoos more deeply. Reinventing scars with budding blooms and lush florals, David Allen is a conduit for transformative healing within his clients lives; his tattoos celebrate the resiliency and beauty of survivors. His client Jody said during the process, “Will I be able to look in the mirror and not see scars but see the strong and sexy wife and mother I once was? I know in my head all of these things should come from within, and that is what I would tell anyone going through this. But it is happening. This is my new journey.”
There are many tattoo artists out there who are supporting breast cancer awareness by providing the special service of mastectomy tattoos to survivors. Whether you’re looking to cover scars or replicate nipples, there is a tattooist out there for you. Evie Bacopulos, David Allen, Shane Wallin, and so many others the globe over are proving that the tattoo art form is heavily connected to transformations that can create physical, as well as emotional, healing.