One woman’s garbage drawing skills are another person’s new tattoo. Brazilian artist Helena Fernandes has started a trend, which she has aptly named “trash tattoos.” It all started when she inked her boyfriend with a terrible looking bat. For whatever reason, people loved it and asked for their own. She soon cultivated a following, and from there, she decided to open her own shop called Malfeitonia in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. She calls her work tatuagens peba, which translates to “trash tattoos.” So take it from the artist's own mouth, not my personal review, these are some ugly tattoos and she now has a cult following. It reminds me of when my high school friend sold his dirty socks on eBay. He had a niche market, and his customers always wanted more.
Much like the idea of selling- or buying- dirty socks on the internet, this trend for bad tattoos may sound odd, but there is real charm in her designs. Even though she would probably fail art class, she has somehow wielded her lack of ability, turned it into a job, and has been extremely successful with it. Her honesty about what she’s selling is what gets her five star reviews and over 32,000 followers on Instagram. Most of her work looks like what you might have doodled in your composition notebook instead of listening to your history teacher drone on about Christopher Columbus. Her process is simple. She starts by sketching an image in a notebook with a ballpoint pen, and then tries her best to replicate the image on human skin. What I love about the process is that there are no touch ups, because she doesn’t know how. Something tells me that the risk is part of the allure.
To be honest, in a universe run by people like Jon Boy and Dr. Woo, Helena Fernandes is a much needed breath of fresh air. It’s nice to be able to step away from technical skill and into a realm of feeling and light heartedness. People get tired of the auto tuned perfection of Taylor Swift and want something raw and unrefined like punk and indie rockers. That’s what trash tattoos bring to the table. There is no over thinking, there is no refinement to the point of being soulless, and there is no pretense of perfection. Sometimes the most technically proficient artists in the world have no personality in their work, and they end up with designs that are sterile and uninspiring. That’s part of the reason why the whimsical and often funny tattoos Ms. Fernandes draws are so popular.
You will surely never be called basic with a trash tattoo. It’s not a live, laugh, love tattoo. It’s not a copy of something Miley Cyrus or Rihanna got this year, and it’s not something that people will look at and say “oh yeah, my friend has that same tattoo.” However, it is a tattoo that is a self-proclaimed piece of trash. So the question is, would you consider getting trash tattooed on your body forever?