by Leigh-ann Worrell
Even though many Barbadians are deciding to get inked, they are still staying squarely in the box when it comes to the design choices.
“I would do an eyeball tattoo if I found a client willing to do it,” tattoo artist Kensush Craigg (better known as Kenny) asserted with a laugh during an interview with Loving Me this morning at his St. Michael home/studio.
“Bajan clients are conservative. They would follow the trend, but they wouldn’t start it. If one or two of the right people did it, it would become a fashion statement.”
A self-proclaimed “artistic entrepreneur,” Kenny believed locals were even more reluctant when it came to styles that could be deemed as negative, preferring traditional and Biblical symbols like the popular “praying hands.”
“Bajans like to see someone doing things first before they try. Only chosen few would try to be different.”
The father of two has definitely tried to be different, both with the designs on his own body and the ones he gives to other people.
Kenny became interested in tattoos more than a decade ago, after he was discovered by a tattooist one day.
“He saw me cutting hair and saw me doing designs in people’s head with the razor blade. When he saw that, he asked me if I can draw, so I showed him my portfolio. From there I was drawing patterns for him. At first I wasn’t interested [in tattoos], but after watching him, I realised there was nothing to it. As opposed to your work just in a corner of the house or in a museum, it is walking around. I put art on people’s skin and people can see it,” he continued, as he prepared to put fresh ink on Barbados TODAY’s photographer Remy Rock. Remy chose the Chinese character for love.
As his interest grew, Kenny researched the skin and its different types in order to produce the best work possible. The Cooperative High alum practised on himself to work on his art.
“Obviously, the calibre of tattoos I was doing then is not up to the ones I am doing now,” the tattooist conceded, “but once you like it … the pride shows in your work.”
His first tattoo was on his now wife, Lisa, which was a heart with a ribbon and the name of their daughter.
Surprisingly, he revealed that hearts were a popular choice for men. They also preferred the names of their mothers as well, he said.
As for the ladies, stars and names were top choices.
Kenny was of the opinion that public perception of tattoos was changing. In his experience, the strictly Christian-minded had the biggest problem.
Kenny believed there was nothing “under the name of art” that he would not design for a client. He had only one limitation: he would not tattoo male genetalia.
For tattoo virgins, Kenny believed professionalism was the most important thing to look for.
“There is a difference between a tattoo man and a tattoo artist. A tattoo man does do tracing and use stencils and apply prints. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good tattoo men, but they don’t offer the same quality as an artist,” he said frankly, adding that he believed “you get what you pay for.” email@example.com