This piece grew out of my lifelong adversarial relationship with my own skin. I’ve picked at my skin since I was a kid – I still do – I can’t stop. As a result, my arms and legs and hands are covered with scabs and scars, and I’ve never been comfortable showing my skin.
I was well into adulthood before I discovered that there is a name for it, and it is one of the many symptoms of an anxiety disorder. I am so uncomfortable in my own skin that I have literally spent my life trying to claw my way out of it.
I started reading about tattoo artists who cover self-harm scars, and was inspired. That, combined with my love of doodling and my tendency to turn any surface into a canvas, gave me the idea. The spark came when my friend Amanda announced the opening of Nether Lands waxing salon – a joint venture with two of her friends and coworkers. I wanted to help them celebrate, and it seemed like the perfect occasion to bring my idea to life. A woman’s body, naked but covered with intricately swirling lines. Since it was for a waxing shop, I focused on the lower body. I used my own body as a rough model for the canvas.
I drew the body in and painted it very roughly, then I spent forever drawing the tattoo patterns. I would photograph the piece in its current state, print the photo in black and white, then take it with me to my overnight job and draw more designs.
Once I got a design I liked on paper, I transferred it to the canvas in pencil, then painted each line twice – once in burnt umber, and once more with metallic copper.
This was my first NSFW piece, and my first piece to make any kind of a statement. This is about body positivity, and about learning to love the skin you’re in, and about creating art in unexpected places and on unexpected surfaces.
Someday I hope to learn to tattoo in this style, so that I can help other people make their skin amazing, even if it has scars.