I got my first tattoo when I was 18, a rather predictable £10 Chinese symbol picked off the wall in 5 minutes flat. This was joined by a lily a year later. I loved that I had them and they meant a lot to me but as I got older they dated pretty fast. I thought I was stuck with them forever until a friend told me to go and see Shaun at Mantra as she was certain he’d be able to do me a cover up.
This time round I thought long and hard about what to have. Butterflies and moths are my passion so they were an obvious choice. When my marriage ended in 2010 I decided that was the time to do something about the tattoos.
I knew that a black symbol would need a dark tattoo to cover it, and I knew that I wanted real butterflies, preferably British. I went a little bit away from the British theme and chose a Camberwell Beauty for the main cover up. I went to see Shaun and ask for his thoughts, he was so positive about the cover up and interested in what I wanted that I knew I’d picked the right place. I asked for a Common Blue, a Fritillary, a Swallowtail and we also decided on a Pale Clouded Yellow.
Shaun researched them himself and when I went back his drawings were just amazing. The work he has done and the level of detail and accuracy is just outstanding and I am so proud to have them. They continue down my back from where the original symbol was and they don’t have anything joining them all together because I want each one to be separate, the wing of the Pale Clouded Yellow comes over the top of my shoulder because I wanted it to just be visible from the front. The lily has been reworked and there will be more flowers further down my back to tie that into the design a bit.
When they are all finished they will curve all the way down my back. The feeling of having really good tattoos, done by a real artist is incredible. People are usually surprised to find out I have tattoos and then surprised again when they see how amazing they are.
I know butterfly tattoos are trendy at the moment but they were the natural choice for me as butterflies are my obsession, and I know that mine are unique as they were drawn for me. My favourite is the fritillary, drawn from a photo of a Pearl Bordered, but that was also the most painful – a hell of a lot of colour in a small area!
I suppose you could draw on the symbolism of rebirth and fresh starts, I’m not sure I’d have got them had my life not changed so dramatically. But really to me they are beautiful images of creatures I am passionate about. I’m looking forward to getting the others, probably later in the summer and after that who knows? I do quite fancy an Elephant Hawkmoth on the inside of my wrist……