35% of working Dutch people (18+) have a tattoo. Just as Sam Onkenhout, who doesn’t tattoo others –but only herself. Eventually, Sam wants her whole body covered in tatoos. However, there is always a lot of commentary about tattoos – especially from an different generation. Tattooing your own body is a very impressive talent that requires to have the right set skills.
How long have you been into tattoos?
Ever since I was a teenager I thought tattoos were really cool and especially on other people. As I got older I really wanted to have tattoos myself. I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 22, because the threshold for a very first tattoo is quite high. It is quite exciting and at first I didn’t know what kind of tattoo I wanted.
How did you get your first tattoo?
A friend sent me an Instagram post from Tattoodesign for only 50 euros. There was a design in between that looked very much like something I wanted to have done. I thought: I’ll just do it, it’s cheap and I have to start somewhere (in terms of first tattoo). I contacted the shop and was able to schedule an appointment very easily.
When did you think of tattooing your own skin with your own tools?
Pretty soon after my first tattoo I wanted to get more tattoos. Only tattoos are quite expensive and I didn’t have any money at the time, so I looked up things online about getting ‘stick and poke’ tattoos on yourself. For not that much money Ifound a set of needles and ink online. Getting tattoos on myself was just the cheapest option.
Were you never afraid that you would make a mistake on yourself that could not be undone?
I thought it was scary to do it myself and maybe I would make a mistake, but I also liked the challenge. I also thought that if I made a mistake, it could eventually be fixed by a real tattoo artist. I didn’t take it all too seriously.
Is it taboo in the tattoo artist world to tattoo yourself?
Personally, I don’t think it’s taboo to get tattoos on yourself, because this is also an expression of creativity and a good way to practice your skills. Making a mistake on yourself is less bad than if you do it on someone else.
There are many people who do not give tatoo artist the same credit as, for example, an painting artist etc. What is your opinion about this?
I do think that some tattoo artists should get more recognition, because tattoos are also a kind of art. It involves a lot of creativity, but also technology and knowledge. I always try to give credit to the artist on social media, because I think that’s important. It’s their job and everyone should know that.
There are people who associate fully tattooed people with insecurity, depression etc. What do you think about fullbody tattoos?
I think that everyone has their own reason to have themselves fully tattooed and of course others can’t really judge that. Some people do it because they just like it, maybe others do it because of a little insecurity and some people do it for the experience. Ultimately, I also want a lot more tattoos and also almost completely covered, but I want my skin to be still visible and I don’t want tattoos on my face. And if other people do want that, that’s just their choice and I respect that.
Have you ever experienced negativity because of your tattoos/piercings?
I’ve had piercings even before I got my tattoos. Not very intense, just in my nose (septum). From some people I got compliments about that piercing and from others a comment that it reminds them of a cow ring, but don’t really care about their opinions. I haven’t heard any negative things about my tattoos until now, even at work. My boss really likes it and he sometimes asks: “And? Do you already have a new one?”.
Are you going to tattoo other people in the future as well or will it just remain a hobby for yourself?
I’ve been thinking about getting a professional tatoo artist for a while and that’s something I’m still considering, but for now I’m keeping it to myself. I don’t have the skills yet to make it look good on other people, I would have to practice a lot more for that.