CARBONEAR TATTOO ARTIST HELPING COVER UP BAD MEMORIES
Community donates money and equipment to help with new tattoo
A St. John’s woman’s tragic tattoo story has pulled on the heartstrings of plenty of tattoo competition contestants.
What started as a small contest for a Carbonear tattoo shop has blown up into something much bigger, and life-changing, for one woman with a sad story behind her inked arms.
Von Stytch Studios, a tattoo studio and art gallery in Carbonear, took to Facebook earlier in 2018 to launch what they called a “crappy tattoo contest” – an opportunity for people to showcase their most poorly done, or overall regrettable tattoos, with a chance of getting the cost of a cover-up greatly reduced.
The contest was open on Facebook for several weeks, and group members voted on the tattoos they thought were some of the worst. The goal was to pick a first, second, and thirdplace winner to come into Von Stytch Studios to get their tattoos fixed up, or completely covered by something brand new.
However, as the contest grew by the day, Danny Williams, the shop’s head tattoo artist, ultimately decided to offer every contestant a $50-voucher for their cover-up, while still offering the original prizes to finalists who would be decided depending on how many votes they got in the group from onlookers and participants alike.
“There were just so many people that entered the contest, it honestly just didn’t feel right to just pick three and be done with it, so everyone who put their tattoo out there got a little something out of it from us,” said Williams.
However, amongst all the botched tattoos and regrettable decisions, one particular post stood out to Williams, as well as the hundreds of contestants.
Jennifer Bowser hails from St. John’s. She entered the contest with two tattoos on her arms, with stories that immediately tugged at the heartstrings of everyone who saw them.
Originally, Bowser got the tattoos at the age of 15, when she first got married. The ink on her arms bore the name of her exhusband, who she divorced almost five years later at the age of 21. While there were plenty of people in the contest with relationship-related tattoos, Bowser’s did a little more than simply remind her of a past marriage – they reminded her of two of her children she lost in a deadly house fire.
“It’s a constant reminder that I don’t want, because his name is on them,” she told the Compass. “In December of 2008, my three children – Jasmine, Kody, and Austin were going to visit him at their aunt’s house in Bell Island where their father lived at the time. I had no idea this would be the last time I’d see my beautiful daughter or my handsome son. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d hug or kiss them, or tell them I love them, and these tattoos are a constant reminder of that.”
Fortunately, Bowser’s youngest son at the time, Austin, escaped the fire unharmed, but the death of Jasmine and Kody is something she’s lived with since the night of Dec. 20, 2008 – almost 10 years ago.
Bowser herself did not place as a finalist in Von Stytch Studio’s competition; however, after seeing her initial post in the group, dozens of people reached out, hoping to make the change happen regardless.
After Williams announced that everyone would be receiving $50 off their cover-up costs, a number of people reached out to both Williams and Bowser, offering up their own $50 to add to Bowser’s in the hopes of covering the entire cost of a coverup for her tattoos. One individual donated $150, which Williams himself decided to match, and an Australian tattoo artist is sending out a special machine to help with the cover-up.
Williams explained that the cost of a cover-up, like most tattoo sessions, can vary in price depending on the size of the piece, as well as what the client wants done. He also said that depending on what the new tattoo is supposed to be covering, they can be rather tricky compared to regular tattoos on a blank canvas.
As of Wednesday afternoon, through all the voucher donations, Bowser is sitting on approximately $1,200 off the cost of a cover-up for her tattoos, which would cover most of the price.
“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it, honestly,” said Williams. “The fact that so many people have stepped in and reached out to help someone they don’t know at all? That’s amazing, man. I think that’s a perfect example of what Newfoundlanders are all about – being human beings, and helping other human beings no matter what. That’s what makes me so proud to live here, and work here.”
Williams and Bowser have been chatting back and forth over the last week or so, deciding when she would come out for the session, and what she would like to have done to cover the tattoos. While no particular date has been set, Williams estimates she should be able to start the process sometime in June, or the early summer season.
“I was very overwhelmed when I saw what that people were donating their own vouchers, and their own money, to help me get my cover-up done,” said Bowser. “I’m so grateful to all those people, and to Danny and his friends for making it happen. Soon enough, I’ll have a beautiful piece of art on my arms in memory of my kids.”
Danny Williams was taken aback by the outburst of donations to help with the cost of covering up Jennifer Bowser’s tattoos.
Jennifer Bowser’s tattoos bring back bad memories for her, but she hopes to change that by covering them up with some new ink.