Tattoos are one of the greatest forms of self expression as these markings reflect what we find meaningful. That’s why, we need to be very meticulous when it comes to choosing what to ink into our skin. This is because these markings are symbols that represent our unique character and beliefs. Aside from the design, it is also equally important to choose the best tattoo artist to do our tattoos. Someone who can exactly visualize what we have in mind and turn the idea into figures. And someone who can ink these figures into our skin with prowess and perfection. Yes, that’s certainly what we’re looking for in a tattoo artist.
However, there’s a particular tattoo artist that may defy all these norms. Meet Helen Fernandes, a tattoo artist known for her ugly tattoos. She has been doing tattoos for three years. You only have to look at her works to tell how bad they are. But why is she so popular and in-demand among tattoo enthusiasts?
Tattoos that are so bad, they’re good
This Brazilian artist has her own tattoo shop in the city of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. She is very well-known in the place for her unusual tattoo designs that she calls tatuagens peba (trash tattoos). In order to showcase her masterpieces to the world, she regularly uploads photos of her works thru her Instagram page. As of this writing, her Instagram has more than 70,000 followers and still counting. Aside from her designs, she’s also uploading photos of her happily satisfied customers. One look at these designs and you’ll probably ask, “Are they really happy with these ugly tattoos?”
We can understand if you think that this is some kind of a joke, but it’s not. Helen Fernandes is serious about her craft and she takes pride in her unique designs.
“I was never into realism.” “Drawing was just something I really enjoyed doing. It made others happy and it made me happy.”
Although she loves drawing, Helen never thought she would become a tattoo artist. She earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Federal University of Bahia in December 2016. And she has also earned units in post-graduate course on Materials Engineering at the same university. However, her passion for tattoo-making won over her. So, she decided to pursue her career as a tattoo artist by creating her own Instagram page to showcase her designs.
Aside from being a tattoo artist, she also works as an illustrator and digital influencer. She’s giving art classes from time to time, particularly educating artists how to find their own style. Faithful to her words, Fernandes indeed has her own unique style that doesn’t follow the technical rules of tattoo-making. Instead of drawing intricate and graphic tattoos, she settled on drawing cute, funny and unrealistic figures. At first, her drawings made their way to her friends’ t-shirts, bags, mugs, comic books and magazines. People began to take notice of her unusual drawings and some even ask to buy her workpieces. Later on, she started accepting painting jobs and making flyers for concerts, parties, and other events.
But Helen’s biggest breakthrough came when her friend Matheus asked her to tattoo a bat figure on him. And her first tattoo-work instantly became a hit among her circle of friends. Another one of her friends asked for a cat tattoo and another one wanted a dinosaur standing on a planet. Helen obliged and made the tattoo for her friends for free because she considered it as a training experience. When she finally learned the ropes of tattoo-making, she considered taking her newly-found passion to a higher level.
The Peculiar Tattoo Artist and Her ‘Badly Done’ Tattoos
In 2017, she created the @malfeitona Instagram account. Malfeitona is a Portuguese term which translates ‘badly done’ in English. As the name implies, Helen made it clear to everyone what her artwork is all about. Despite her unorthodox approach to the elaborate art of tattoo-making, Helen’s works receive positive remarks from people around the globe. It wasn’t just her friends anymore but more and more people began asking her for tattoos. As her name spreads like a wildfire among tattoo enthusiasts, other tattoo artists also started to recognize her designs too. Since Helen was new to the craft, some tattoo artists provided her with tips on how to prosper in this career. Due to their advice, Helen decided to put up her own shop and take this venture to a business level.
Before you can avail her services, you’ll need to book an appointment first because she also has other works to do. Furthermore, you’ll have to personally go to her shop in Brazil to get your tattoo done. She also does tours once in a while so check her Instagram for her tour schedule. If she happens to visit your place, you can take this opportunity to book for an appointment.
“I adapt my prices to the area I’m working in. In Brazil, the average tattoo costs about R$400 ($100). Of course, it depends on how much color and detail a particular design has. And if I went to the States, I would have to figure out how much tattoo artists charge their customers there before setting my own price as well.”