Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. Some people choose to share their narrative through tattoos. When one thinks on which identities are important, which stories do one wants to tell to the others, how one is seen, and how one wants to be seen, the tattoos can easily become the soul tattoos.
Corline, how do you define yourself?
I’m a 35 years old woman, I live in Belgium. After around 10 years of being a vegetarian, I turned to veganism. I used to volunteer in shelters for a long time. I’m also used to different kind of rescues – that’s how I adopted my dogs, directly in the fields. I also did investigations of mistreatments for some associations/organisations. I’m participating in different direct actions like arena invasiveness trying to stop bullfighting shows, manifestations against slaughterhouses, etc. Now, because I can reach out to a lot of people through my studio, I try to inform people about veganism and animal welfare in general. That’s why I decided to organise a big event once a year, it has been 4 years now.
What is veganism for you? Also, how has veganism changed your life?
I was already a vegetarian, so the transition was natural. I remember that I saw a video and talk by Gary Yourofsky, after that I knew that being a vegetarian wasn’t enough – I was still causing a lot of misery to animals. It was around 6 years ago when I became a vegan. Veganism for me is the only way to cause less trouble, suffer and pain to other beings. Not only non-humans, but including humans. One does not go without the other. Everything is earthling. It changed my life in a positive way. I feel much better regarding health and nutrition. I’m feeling more aware and conscious of the Life and Nature. Well, it has changed also my social life, of course… For some people it was hard to share social moments, you know how it works: you change, your friends or family ask why and how, and so on… and for some, some don’t want to know the truth or even being informed, having a problem with their own behavior towards animals (pretending of course they like them, and I’m sure they truly think they love them), so you become the one that disturbs their everyday comfort and they prefer to forget to invite you. On the other hand, you also meet a lot of new fantastic persons (humans and non-humans), so… Every change in life will have repercussions on your personal and social life. If you change yourself for a better and more conscious way of life, it’ll naturally bring to you some positivity.
What types of social and political movements are important to you?
I’m more about social movements than political, it’s useless to wait some good change from politics. I think that all begings with people, thanks to an information flow. Information is the clue. Of course, if politicians feel that something becomes inescapable for the citizens, then they work on the subject (as we can see now with the climate, etc). I don’t think we have one chance to see something truly good for us or the planet or the animals through politics. I believe more in “being the change you want to see in the world”. If no-one buys this or that product, they will stop selling it. Everything’s about money and power. And more than ever, politics is more about lobbying than nothing else, so because of the numbers, WE have the power to change the world.
You are the owner of the Cry Baby Tattoo Belgium. What were your reasons being establishing the brand?
I’m tattooing for 15 years now, I had the chance to have my own studio since 8 years. It was really hard at the first time, inter alia, because I got attacked for 10 times more or less (broken windows, racketeering attempts, threats, etc) but I fought for my dream, and I never gave up. Now I have a wonderful team with me, and we’re doing the best we can for customers, in our way, our styles, and identities. The studio is truly rock’n’roll, engaged and vegan! Like us! I chose this name, first because of the crazy John Waters’ movie, and secondly because the studio has also space for art exhibitions and performances – tattooing can make you cry because of the pain, art can make you cry because of the emotions you feel while looking at a painting or picture, or listening to music, whatever in fact. So, I felt like it was the right name for my studio. It corresponds to me.
How did you become a tattoo artist? What does being a tattoo artist mean to you?
That’s one of the most important part of my life. When I was 20 years old, I was working in art and advertising. I didn’t like that world and those people at all. I began to design some tattoo flash and designs for music bands, etc, and then I found an apprenticeship at a very good and rock’n’roll studio where I had a blast. Entering the tattoo world was natural, because of the world in which I was growing, rock & bikes from my dad & mom, music and so on. I understood – this is my place. I’m still living in an “alternative world” and I wouldn’t change this for nothing. I love my life, I love my job. I’m blessed to be so lucky, even if it’s a daily battle. No pain, no gain.
What is the most important tattoo that you personally have (and also been done to someone else), and why is it the most important?
I have too many preferred and important tattoos on me to choose. My tattoos are part of my life, tributes and so on. I prefer to keep this for myself, if don’t mind. As the most important tattoo been done to someone else, I would answer the reconstruction tattoos (like after breast cancer) – you really feel that you have helped the person. Healing souls through the skin… awesome moments.
Any thoughts on why tattoos have been so widely used for raising awareness and telling political stories/messages, e.g. about veganism, animal rights and feminism?
I think that a tattoo is an alternative way to communicate with others, another way to exist in the society. Tattoos are, even nowadays, not so well-received and I think it’ll stay like “backdoor art” forever, and I’m OK with this. So naturally, you can find more different ways of thinking, alternatives approaches in the tattoo world. Or you can find more vegans in some special music movements like punk or hardcore, for example, because these people try to find something else that TV, radio or internet in general want to put in our heads. We push the doors of the other side! We want to learn, to know, to think by ourselves! Be ourselves as we want to be.
Tattooing was once considered a male-dominated profession, but women artists everywhere are changing the game. What is it like being the founder and owner of the studio, a tattoo artist and a woman in the industry?
When I began it was quite rare to find some women in the middle, that’s true. But personally, being a girl in the men’s world has never been a problem or barrier. It’s rather an advantage. I love working with men, and also with girls. Parity is OK for me. It’s a question of personality, honesty and loyalty, not genders. Furthermore, I truly think that the feminisation of the tattoo world brought something different, new and cool to it. Another way to listen to the customers maybe… For the rest, I always liked to evolve with men. I have a strong personality, and I have always been like a tomboy, so it’s totally OK for me.
What is the position of creativity and activism for you, and how do you see symbiosis between creativity and activism?
It’s infinite. The fight for the animal rights add very strong feelings to your soul. Every year, at our Vegan Garden Party, every artist proposes one or several tattoo flashes inspired by the movement, and all the benefits go to different shelters and associations. It works very well, particularly with activists, because they are very sensitive to the message in those tattoos.
You will organise the fourth Vegan Garden Party this June. Please tell me about this event.
Yes and we’re so happy! It’s a lot of work but it is definitely worth it! You know, since the beginning, several persons turned to veganism thanks to this event! And some people around them turned vegans, and so on.
The Vegan Garden Party has a tattoo part and a piercing part (both caritatives) inside the shop. We have a photo exhibition of Animals in slaughterhouses and some happy rescued Animals. We will also have a conference. Then outside, in the parking lot, there’ll be approximately 20 stands (about 10 food trucks/vegan shopping stands and 10 associations). In the garden you can chill, take a seat in a tropical ambiance with our caritative tiki mojitos bar and vegan pastries. We welcome everyone from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. So c’mon everybody, Cry Baby on the 2nd of June!
What non-human persons can teach us?
Respect. Wisdom. Honesty. Living in the moment, in the present. Love.
In fact, I’m feeling totally myself and full of love when I’m in the nature with my non-humans family. It’s just like… something so pure…
What vegans, creative activists, tattoo artists, etc would you say have influenced you the most, and why?
I would say Gary Yourofsky, because after seeing one of his videos I turned to veganism. The late Jean-Pierre Garrigues (RIP) for his engagement for the fight anti-bullfighting. My friend Jérôme Lescure, a film director, for his creative and militant work, and also his engagement and honesty. My friend Patrick Sacco, for everything he did for the non-voices and everything he is. He is the most kind person I have ever met. This guy is fantastic. Joaquin Phoenix for what he is, for the Earthlings and all his engagement. Not an easy step for a super star. I love Moby for all his beautiful and fantastic music, his engagement since the beginning. Yann Arthus-Bertrand [a French environmentalist, activist, journalist and photographer] is important too! And Leonardo Di Caprio. It’s important that well-known people spread this message. Paul Watson [a Canadian-American environmental activist, who founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society]. French Lithuanian-born singer Giedré (I’ve seen her several times, she’s so funny and corrosive!). Morrissey, of course. Jane Goodall, a goddess… and so many others I do not recall at the moment. I love Johnny Depp, but I don’t know if he’s vegan or vegetarian, nevertheless he spreads good messages to his fans. See, there’s many artists in veganism!
What’s next up for you?
I‘ll follow my life, try to find more wisdom, and peace. I’ll always follow tattooing with all my heart and my engagements, with loyalty and honesty. And keep on fighting every day for a better world.