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Changing attitudes to tattoos in Barbados


Akeel Lovell

Changing attitudes to tattoos in Barbados
A client getting some ink done at the Barbados International Tattoo Fest. (GP)

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Tattooing in Barbados is gradually becoming less taboo and more accepted by the public than it once was in the past.

That’s the view of tattoo artist Caleb Straker, owner of tattoo and piercing parlor, Tribe of Leb.

He was one of the over two dozen tattoo artists at the 2022 Barbados International Tattoo Fest.

The event took place on October 29 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) and had several local and international tattoo artists showcasing their designs at their booths.

“I have seen the transition… it’s more welcomed now. You find more people being a lot more open-minded about it and accepting of it [tattoos and piercings]”.

Straker, who has been in the business for the past 18 years, said the local tattooing industry standards have improved as well and ‌are on par with some of the best in the world.

“Industry wise, a lot of guys came up and upped their game. So right now, we are on par with regional to international standards. Some of the things I’m seeing here are things I would see in London, Germany, overseas in general,” he added.

Organiser of Barbados International Tattoo Fest Dominic Jaglal agrees that the tattooing industry is getting bigger.

“I think that the Bajan tattoo industry is going amazing. I think that they are upgrading as they go along and based on what I am seeing, they are really, really improving,” he added.

It’s the second time the event was held in Barbados, with the first being in 2019

“Tattoo fest is an event that happens in Trinidad, and while we were in Trinidad, we decided it would be a good idea to have this event in Barbados, he said.”

He added: “Tattoo Fest is all about marketing, showcasing and advertising the Bajan artists and Bajan talent. So we decided to fuse everything together, taking a bit from Trinidad and bringing it to Barbados.”

Naomi Douglas, a tattoo artist based in Atlanta, said she flew home to be a part of the event.

“This is my first tattoo fest, and it’s really good. I feel like they definitely delivered. They have great music great good, booths,” she added.

The event was next door to the Ross University School of Medicine, and a few students came over and visited the booths.

Lauren Senkbeil, a student of the University, was happy to see how the event turned out.

“It’s really interesting to see we have a tattoo fest at our school. We have never been on this side of the building. I got my first tattoo at 16 and every tattoo on me means something, and has some form of symbolism,” she said.

Senkbeil wants, however, for there to be better advertising for the next event so more students at her school would attend.

The medical student stressed that people should be careful after getting tattoos to avoid infections. (AL)