Eastern P.E.I. teen inks her own body for the ninth time to save money and express herself
Self-taught tattoo artist Noah Jory finishes her tattoo of a piece of henna-inspired art. Beth Atkinson photo
Noah Jory sets the tattoo gun down and takes in a deep breath.
“Oh God, this is going to hurt.”
Each new tattoo is always like the first, she said. First, she needs to pump herself up.
She lowers the needle to her leg and the machine begins to buzz.
She starts the tattoo with a few flowers, but by the end there is an elaborate henna-inspired tattoo.
Jory began begging her parents to let her get a tattoo when she was 15. Two years later, a Montague tattoo artist inked a drawing of a mermaid on her back.
Now 18, Jory has nine more. She tattooed them on herself.
The cost of the tattoo equipment was the same as the cost of just one professional tattoo. It was a matter of money, said Jory.
“If I was going to pay money to get them, I was going to do it myself.”
She researched how to safely tattoo herself before buying the kit from Amazon.
She chose organic ink, researched the most painful spots on the body to avoid and bought the proper machine.
“It was a lot of making sure I had prepared myself right.”
Creating her own tattoos gave Jory the freedom to express herself.
“You can have an idea in your head and get it done by someone else, but it won’t fully be your idea.”
Mike Young found his way into the business the same way. Like Jory, he was 15 when he found his passion for tattoos. The owner of Eternal Dragon Tattoo has been working as a professional artist for 20 years.
He didn’t have any other career plans, as he knew he was meant to be a tattoo artist, said Young.
“I’ve always been an artist. I’ve been drawing since I was a small child.”
Young began his trade apprenticing under an experienced artist in Vancouver for two years.
Although he hasn’t tattooed himself, it isn’t uncommon as a beginning artist, he said.
“The fellow that taught me in the 70s started out that way. He practiced by tattooing his own leg.”
Jeff Wilson also started by creating his own tattoos. He inked a cross on his wrist at age 10 before moving on to tattooing his friends.
Everyone starts out like that, said the veteran artist with Infinite Expressions.
“But it’s hard for artists to then grow in the field with the amount of tattoo parlours open now.”
There weren’t many options when he started 22 years ago, but things have changed dramatically since, he said.
“Now it’s hard for artists to not blend into the masses.”
But Jory isn’t worried since she doesn’t plan on turning her hobby into a huge business. She found a way to express herself and she’s going to stick to it, she said.
“With me doing it for myself, it’s just kind of a way for me to escape.”