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Danielle Jones
Interview by: Danielle Jones Tuesday 14 August 2018
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The Rise of Vegan Tattooing

In an industry that is constantly evolving and changing, it’s no surprise that there has been a dramatic upswing in the last few years of those wanting - and expecting - their body art choices to be in line with their own principles and ethics.

Veganism has come out of the realms of a counter-culture and is very much part of the mainstream nowadays. An estimated 3.5m Brits subscribe to living a cruelty-free lifestyle, which represents a staggering rise of 700 per cent on the figure published by the Vegan Society in 2016.

Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the tattoo industry. With celebrity tattooists such as Kat Von D – whose message it to ‘make it easy for the consumer to choose compassion over cruelty’ - and tattoo models like Monami Frost spreading the word of vegan tattooing, there are now websites dedicated to finding vegan artists, new tools of the trade eschewing animal products and a whole host of new art and subject matter thrown into the mix.

Tattooed vegan model and YouTuber Monami Frost has recently released her own cookbook

Tattooed vegan model and YouTuber Monami Frost has recently released her own cookbook

The full Silverback Ink range is certified 100% vegan

The full Silverback Ink range is certified 100% vegan

Indeed, at this year’s London Tattoo Convention, UK-based suppliers and brands such as Killer Ink Tattoo and Yayofamilia will be bringing their vegan tattoo products to the three-day show.

Even for those who don’t consider themselves vegan, given the choice, many will choose to go cruelty-free when getting new ink. Sustainability and the impact of humanity on the world around us is a huge deciding factor when it comes to living. So how can you take this into account when selecting a new piece of artwork?

It might surprise you to discover how much of the process has involved animal products. Many non-vegan supplies will incorporate elements such as bone char, animal fats, gelatines derived from hooves and fat and more. And it doesn’t’ stop there, from the transfer paper, balms and products for aftercare, to even the razors used to remove hair from the tattooing area – animal products have, up until now, played a big part within the industry.

However, with many people switching to veganism there has also been a dramatic increase in new products that are totally vegan – and many artists are coming together to promote cruelty-free practices and tools within the trade. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the majority of mainstream inks are now 100% vegan and if you decide you want your next piece of work to be vegan there are a few things you can do to ensure that this is the case:

* BRING YOUR OWN RAZOR

Many razors are not always vegan. Modern blades often incorporate a moisturising strip that may contain lanolin and other animal derivatives. To ensure that your razor is cruelty-free try purchasing one from Superdrug’s own range or a one from vegan-approved Preserve.

* RESEARCH INKS AND SPEAK TO YOUR ARTIST

It’s worth reaching out to your artist beforehand to find out what inks they use. You can discuss with them about what brands they typically work with and do some due diligence of what is contained within those brands and colours. Then, if you find they are non-vegan, speak to your artist about whether they would be happy to order in vegan alternatives. Many artists will have their preferences and will have a wealth of experience of the results on particular brands – however the majority should be happy to discuss this in detail as they want to be able to give you the best possible results and make sure you are happy with the finished product.

Some inks that are certified 100% vegan are brands such as Silverback Ink and certain items from the Bullets Tattoo range.

* TRANSFER PAPER

Transfer paper is very important for the planning and placement of a design on the body. Typically, many transfer papers incorporate bone char, however, there are some on the market, such ReproFX Spirit Vegan Thermal Transfer Paper, that are vegan-friendly. Alternatively, some artists may prefer to draw the stencil freehand directly onto the skin.

* DURING AND AFTER CARE

Often products used during and following tattoo application may contain lanolin or petroleum-based items. For example, Bepanthen and Vaseline are not vegan, but there is a huge range of vegan items now available on the market from healing balms and cleaning product.

One brand that is 100% vegan is the YAYO Familia – they carry a range of items from black and green soaps, protective films and aftercare butters, all created within no animal products.

And, from the high-street, Lush Ultrabalm (£10.50 for 45g) comes with the vegan society seal of approval and in a reusable tin.

Come and meet the tattoo artists and suppliers that carry vegan products at this year’s London Tattoo Convention 28-29-30th September. Advance Tickets are available to purchase now.