With the slogan You make us naked, many tattoo artists have pulled it off. What is behind the action and who is actually making whom naked here?
The action is a silent protest. We wanted to show that we are at the end, more or less at the end. We just don’t have the financial means to carry on, to persevere.
We are promised help that unfortunately does not arrive or that only arrives very slowly. We’re naked because it just gets more attention. Had we held up the signs alone while we were dressed, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the media the way it is now with nudity.
How successful was your campaign then? How were the reactions?
Actually consistently positive towards me personally. So I got a lot of positive feedback. They thought it was great that we took the initiative to raise awareness of this situation. Because somehow nobody really talked about it until that point in time, before this action took place. This action got us attention and people just thought it was brave. Brave that we pull out to draw attention to this grievance. Of course, there was also criticism on other platforms. Sure, you had to expect that. But actually very positive in itself.
Please take us into your situation. How long have you closed? And what does that mean for you – financially, but also psychologically?
We have been closed since November 1st, 2020. It’s just lousy. So about my situation: I have the shop, the shop is here now. I only opened it in March – or I could have opened it in March. Then came the first lockdown. I wasn’t really able to open until May. That means I only worked five months last year. Then we had to close it again. Now we haven’t made a cent since February. That’s pretty stressful. Of course you have reserves, but they’re not really intended to finance a shop that has been running for five months. It is empty, although you want to work, you are not allowed to. I am a sole breadwinner. I have to pay for the shop all by myself. I have the rent, the utilities, the insurance. Everything goes on. I still have reserves, but they’ll run out at some point.
Extensive Corona help was promised. What did you get there? And is that enough?
Zero is enough. So the November aid was applied for as soon as one could apply for it from a tax advisor. The first part of it. There were only two payments on account. Which was not so great with half of 75 percent. You couldn’t do much there. The first half came in December, the second half came in February – so half of 75 percent in February brought me zero, of course. By then I’ve already paid in advance. The December aid has not yet come. And because I think it will take a little longer with the lockdown, I will now also request the restart help. When it comes, however, is written in the stars.
The corona situation in Germany is still tense. That is why there are so tough measures, so tough corona rules. How much understanding do you have for that?
Yes, at the moment my understanding is diminishing a bit. Just the thing that hairdressing salons are allowed to open is one of those again. It just meets with a real misunderstanding because we simply have a much higher standard of hygiene than hairdressers. They closed after us and are allowed to open again before us. That just kind of creates a bit of frustration. You just feel somehow forgotten. And measures or not, at some point is just enough. What else do you want to do? I mean, you can go shopping, then you can go to the hairdresser again from March. Why not to the tattoo artist too.
Does tattooing work with a safe distance or is that not possible at all?
But that is possible if you have the appropriate shop for it. I have it now. You can definitely keep your distance. We can wear our masks. We can wear faces. We can wear whatever is prescribed. We can keep at least as much distance as a hairdresser.
Do you see yourself and your industry threatened in their existence?
Yes absolutely. We do not know it. Do people still have any money? Investing money, time and enthusiasm in tattoos. Wouldn’t you prefer, when you are allowed to travel again, to travel first and do everything that you were otherwise not allowed to do? Is there any money left from tattooists at all? Well, I do think that it will be very difficult for us.
What do you think needs to change? What perspective do you hope for – maybe also from politics?
From politics I would like to see tattoo artists simply perceived differently. We’re not just people who put some kind of picture on our skin. We are just as important as everyone else. For example, we make sure that people process events with their tattoos. We do something like a bit of pastoral care. Beautiful events are perpetuated or not so beautiful. No idea. When people lose their pet, we put it on the skin. You have it with you forever. I would say that there is definitely more pastoral care here than at a hairdresser. There you have just as small talk as with us, but with us stories are actually simply immortalized on people forever and that simply means a lot more than freshly cut ends of hair.
What do you expect? As for the motives in the next few months? Because you say that bad, but also positive events are processed there. Now we have Corona. What will be stung in the near future?
Yes, that remains exciting. I hope not so many Corona motifs. I would not like to have the virus or toilet paper rolls tattooed now. I hope things are nice, of course. So not just sad things because people have lost their livelihoods. I just hope that people want beautiful subjects.