Tattooist parent Becky Adelaide has been doing some thinking about the challenges of parenthood.
There are both struggles, and rewards, when it comes to trying to do any job in this world and raise kids at the same time.
In this honest and open account, full-time mum Becky talks about the ups and downs of being a tattoo artist parent.
I don’t want this blog to appear as a long moan about how hard my life is.
Basically, I currently work alongside another mum and we have been having a lot of conversations recently around the subject of “just how are we supposed to do it?!”.
I had to share our thoughts with you all.
I’d better introduce myself. I’m Becky. I have a nearly two year old daughter, a lovely supportive husband and, not forgetting, Chica the Jackhuahua.
I started my tattoo journey as an apprentice in Birmingham in 2008. It was ‘a proper apprenticeship’ – full-time and unpaid. Days were spent making needles, cleaning tubes, creating flash sheets – I loved it (in between hating it)!
After a few moves around the country, I finally set-up my own studio, Number Nine Tattoo, in Malvern, Worcestershire.
We are an appointment-only studio. I currently work Tuesday, Friday and Saturday in the day-time, and Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings are taken up with my homework.
The rest of the time I am answering phone calls, replying to messages, bringing up a child and attempting to keep on top of the mountain of washing that never seems to diminish!
I’ll be honest. I’m struggling.
Some people today have rather massive expectation of the service we provide, as tattooists. It seems to be no longer acceptable that a tattooer is also human being. I am starting to realise that I am definitely too nice for this job.
A typical day
I get up at 7am after 4 hours sleep (our child is an awful sleeper). If it’s a day-time tattoo day, it’s off to nursery for 9am. I tattoo all day with no lunch-break and when it’s all over, I rush to collect the small one.
I get home, make tea, we put our little one to bed. I then spend all evening drawing, re-drawing or answering messages. If someone decides to cancel their appointment the following day, I go through my diary and see who I have waiting for appointments, message them, wait for a reply, and try and fill the slot.
Often as artists we spend our evenings receiving the all-too-frequent “?????” messages from potential clients. This is an attempt from them to chase us because we didn’t get back to them instantly. This winds me up but I always reply as, like I said, I am too nice!
Before I know it, it’s 11pm, time for a nappy change (on the little one!) and off to bed myself.
Evening tattoo appointments
On an evening work-day, I get up at 7am. I get us ready and hit the park, playgroup, shops or wherever we’ve decided to go. After lunch we have a nap (or more like she has a nap), I clean the house and answer some more messages.
On these days, I receive a lot of communication from people asking why the shop isn’t open as they’ve turned up spontaneously. We do have a huge ‘Private Studio – Appointment Only’ sign outside – but I will explain again to people that we are only open to the public on Saturdays and the rest of the week is by prior appointment only.
Once my monster wakes up, I try to entertain her whilst answering messages. I daren’t do any drawing as she hogs anything in my hands! Husband comes home. I’m exhausted. Now off to work.
More often than not, I get home at midnight, I answer the messages that have built up while I was tattooing, have a cup of tea, oh and crap… I forgot to eat dinner!
When disaster strikes
The worst day I can ask for is when one of us is ill. I have to move my client and will often work the Sunday so they don’t have to wait. They get arsey with me for cancelling. I feel like a failure, and I’ve lost my only day with my family this week.
The craziest day of all
On Saturdays, I tattoo for ten hours straight and leave the shop around 9pm. It’s the day when people pop in to book appointments in person. By the time I get home, I haven’t eaten all day or seen the small one. My husband has cleaned the house, wants to spend some time with me. I check my messages, eat some dinner… fall asleep. Sorry, love!
Living with demons
I only have up to ten clients a week. I work hours to suit me. It shouldn’t be so bloody hard, should it? I love my job and my little studio more than anything. If I concentrate on that then my family suffers and my house looks like a bomb has gone off. If I concentrate on my family, I receive those never-ending “?????” messages.
I have had counselling. I know I need to value myself more. I find myself very easily bullied into taking on much more than I really would like. I squeeze people in when I shouldn’t.
I wanted to write this article to ask myself the question – is tattooing a family business? No, it’s not. It’s a demon that takes over every part of our existence, but do you know what? I bloody love that demon. I just hope that my family understands just how important the demon is and how much he provides us!
If you are a mother tattooist with it all figured out, please shove a bit of wisdom my way, I’d love to hear from you. Comment below!
Words: Becky Adelaide
Photos: Becky Adelaide
Categories: Tattoo Thoughts