Many people dream of having a tattoo. It adds more color to your personality and a tattoo can also speak much about what you like and also about the way you think. However, one of the biggest considerations of many tattoo lovers is to have the perfect design and to find the perfect place to make it done. You will look for the best artist who has the necessary skills and experience before deciding as it will be on your body forever. But, will you ever be willing to have a tattoo from an artist who is not skilled in this art? If you know about Helen Fernandes, you will surely say yes as she is terrible in the drawing but her tattoos are incredible.
Her tattoo shop is located in Malfeitona, in her native city of Salvador de Bahia and she calls her art as tatuagens peba, which literally means ‘trash tattoo’. She regularly uploads the pictures of her happy customers and she has over 57K Instagram followers.
Speaking of her art skills, she says, “I started to draw because my parents were taking me to the church 3 times a week. To keep me quiet, they would give me a pen and some paper. But I kept drawing because I liked it.”
“I was never into realism,” she said. “Drawing was just something I really enjoyed doing. It made others happy and it made me happy. It still does. However, I never thought I could be an artist. By specialty, I’m a mechanical engineer. I got my degree in December 2016 and had been attending a post-graduate course on materials engineering at the Federal University of Bahia until last year. But recently I switched to being a researcher, studying the relation between tattoo and Instagram. I am, however, interested in other fields as well. I’m also a digital influencer and I give art classes (mostly on “how to find your own style”), and work as an illustrator.”
“Parallel to my “official” activities, I’ve been involved in art all of my life. And I’ve always drawn stuff that’s funny, cute, unrealistic, and doesn’t follow the “technical” rules of the craft. My works have appeared on my friends’ mugs, bags, t-shirts, even zines, and comic books. I’ve even sold them to those who wanted to buy them. I’ve also painted walls and made flyers for concerts, parties, and other events. And I’ve performed some nail art on myself and my close friends.”
“Once upon a time in 2014, I drew a bat to Matheus, a very close person of mine. It had pointy teeth, and Matheus liked it so much, he asked me to tattoo it on him. We planned everything out and I did it. He’s a great pushy person that has always believed in me. Later, my other close friend wanted to get a tattoo of a cat I had drawn. And another friend asked for a dinosaur standing on a planet. I didn’t charge them for it since I had no experience. It was just a friend thing (but following all of the safety requirements).”
“I created the @malfeitona Instagram account in 2017. In Portuguese, malfeitona means ‘badly done.’ The title makes it very clear what it’s all about. People who weren’t my friends started asking me for tattoos, so I charged them a bit to cover material costs. Later, friends of these people started contacting me as well, including other tattoo artists that liked my ideas and were giving me tips while I was working on them. This taught me a lot and I eventually got my own studio. I stopped bringing strangers to my house and wrapping my entire room in plastic.”
“I have other work as well, so I don’t tattoo every week. In some cases, I might not pick up the needle for an entire month. But when booking is open and I’m up for it, I can produce 30 a week, especially if I go to Sao Paulo (i live in Salvador but I do tours).”
“I adapt my prices to the area I’m working in. In Brazil, the average tattoo costs about R$400 ($100). Of course, it depends on how much color and detail a particular design has. And if I went to the States, I would have to figure out how many tattoos artists charge their costumes there before setting my own price as well.”
“I think people like my style because of how cute and funny it is. But it’s a number of things. People don’t just like my designs, they also like my pictures, captions, and stories on Instagram. Stories that explain my tattoos and help them relate to them.”
“A tattoo is something very personal and I try to make the entire experience of getting it as nice as possible. I spend as much time on my customers as they need, we talk and develop ideas together. Also, I have a very clear political position and use social media to spread it. Brazil is currently in a very complicated political situation.”
She will be visiting Mexico in April and if you are nearby, this would be the best chance for you to have a trash tattoo!