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Why are more women over 50 getting tattoos?
THE first thing you notice about Lorna Jones is her tattoos.
Wearing a sleeveless top, her brightly coloured inkings stand out – especially a large dragonfly resting on a poppy that covers her left shoulder.
Tattoos have become a passion of the full-time artist. As well as the ones on her arms she has a striking still life of an ammonite and a moth on her calf and she is toying with what to get done next, and where.
Her beautifully drawn tattoos would be striking on anyone – but perhaps what makes them even more eye-catching is that Lorna is 58.
What’s more, she has acquired her five colourful tattoos in the last two years.
Lorna is part of a growing trend for mature women to have tattoos. Last year Lady Steel, the wife of former Liberal leader Lord Steel, hit the headlines when she revealed that had a pink jaguar tattooed on her shoulder to celebrate her 70th birthday.
Lorna’s first tattoo was a Singer sewing machine on her right shoulder when she was 56.
The mother of four and step-mother of one has always been an artist and it was her love of art that led her to get a tattoo.
“I had been thinking about getting one done for a long time and it just seemed right,” she says as we chat in her studio at The Point, Eastleigh.
“It used to be that you went into a tattoo studio and picked an image from one of the pictures. Now it is an art form.
Lorna with one of her many Singer sewing machines, which inspired her first tattoo
“I searched round for the right artist and then had to go on a year waiting list to get it done.”
Lorna has designed or co-designed all her tattoos. Her first features a Singer sewing machine – she collects them – roses that represent her children, and a small dragonfly which is her personal emblem.
“I first trained as an illustrator years ago,” says Lorna, a textile artist and art teacher who runs her own business, Artymess.
“Art is a big part of my life and body adornment seemed like the next thing.
When I saw the way tattoos were evolving, I realised there was the potential to have one that was a lovely piece of art.”
She admits that her children were a little bemused but adds that they like her tattoos.
A year after her first tattoo, Lorna was made redundant.
It was a very difficult time for her and it prompted her to get her second tattoo – the large dragonfly and poppy image on her left shoulder.
“It was really traumatic being made redundant,” she says.
“The tattoo reminded me that I had the strength to carry on. I’ve always identified with dragonflies and it shows my dragonfly wings that carry me to new places.
“Getting it done was a bit of a rite of passage.
“It’s become a bit of a talisman for me,” she says holding it with her opposite hand.
She went on to get the ammonite and hawkshead moth on her calf, a pair of sewing scissors on her arm and she and her partner both got similar tortoiseshell butterfly images on their forearms.
“We aren’t married so it felt like a bit of a commitment ceremony,”she says.
She says that seeing them makes her feel happy – that’s why she has had them all in places where she can see them rather than, for instance, on her back.
“I like my body but they do make you look at it in a more positive way. They are comforting and colourful. I am passionate about colour and beautiful things.”
Lorna says that she has only ever had positive reactions to her tattoos – which she covers up when she goes into schools to do art workshops with children.
“Earlier today an old woman in a charity shop said ‘aren’t they beautiful!’,” she laughs.
“When I was younger it would have been frowned upon. No ‘nice’ woman would have had a tattoo!
“It’s far more acceptable these days. I guess it’s nice to be part of that attitude change. I haven’t regretted any of them for a single moment.”
Lorna is currently considering what her next tattoo will be.
“As soon as I get one done, I start thinking about what the next one will be,” she says.
“They say it releases endorphins, having it done. I like the process of it – you go in and lay there and come out with something beautiful.
“It’s my alternative to things like getting facials or my hair done!”
Lorna hasn’t decided yet whether she will go on to have full ‘sleeve’ tattoos – but she doesn’t see any reason why she won’t carry on getting them done for the rest of her life.
“My friends know that this is typical of me,” she laughs.
“I’m not one to do things by halves!”
- For more information about Lorna’s textile art, Artymess, visit artymess.wix.com/artymess or search for Artymess Textile Art on Facebook. TATTOO artist Karen Faith says that she is seeing more and more mature women coming in for tattoos.
Tattoo artist Karen Faith says a growing number of older people are getting tattoos done.
Karen in her tattoo studio in Shirley
She sees a lot of older clients of both sexes but says that mature women seem to be even more interested in getting tattoos.
“I had a woman getting her first tattoo in her 80s,” Karen says.
“I think women like to see me because at 52 I’m older myself, so it makes them feel comfortable.
“They get them done for a real variety of reasons.
Sometimes it can be because they have lost someone close to them.
For some people it’s often deeply spiritual “They can definitely boost body confidence too.”
She adds that both attitudes to tattoos and techniques have changed, opening up a new market.
“People now see tattoos as a form of art and expression – they’re not just for criminals!
“Tattoo techniques used to be very basic but people like me are freehand artists.”
She adds that mature women tend to get feminine and discreet tattoos – at least for the first time.
She jokes that she has had so many herself that she just has one big tattoo.
“I’d say to anyone thinking about getting a tattoo to consider how it might affect their lifestyle in future. But if it feels right in your heart, do it.
“It’s great that people feel they can express themselves.”
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