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Episode 23 – Danyelle| Role of Tattoo Art in Body Image | My Body.My Story PODCAST| 45Over45 chapter

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

In this episode(LISTEN TO THE EPISODE), Danyelle talks about tattoo art and its role in body image, life-changing experiences, and different reasons why people do tattoos. She also talks about the psychology and symbolism behind tattooing.

As an old-school professional tattoo artist, Danyelle talks about the importance of ethics a tattooer should have. A tattooist often becomes a trusted person with whom people share their stories and secrets. Often a tattoo artist helps people to transit through their most important life events.

Danyelle says that even if it’s a full-back or a tiny tattoo, it is a way of expressing something that is within a person. It is a reflection of who they are as a person and should be respected equally.

Danyelle also talks about her favorite cover-up tattoos.

Danyelle’s advice to younger women is:

Know your own value. Be true to yourself. Educate yourself, don’t take everyone else’s word as truth, know your own core beliefs. Protect and look after your health – mind, body, soul.

Danyelle’s contacts:




10 Facts About Danyelle

(at the time of the project)

1. 50 years old.

2. Danyelle is a single mother of four adult children.

3. Danyelle is a tattoo artist on Mid North Coast.

4. She’s been doing this for a very, very long time. And did it old school, where even inks were made with pigments and acetone.

5. Her favorite tattoos today are cover-ups.

6. The oldest person she’s tattooed is 93.

7. Danyelle is passionate about her kids, her garden, her cat and just living life as best as she can.

8. She likes taking photos of flowers.

9. Biggest challenge at this age – “Not being able to do what I want to do..”

10. Positive change with age – “More of an acceptance of who I am and my place in the world. I'm not stressing so much about stuff.”

Watch Danyelle's VIDEO interview HERE




INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT (auto-generated) :

Hi, you are listening to My Body My Story podcast,

And that is why I am tattooing, as well. And that's a big part of me and why I've done it for so long. And people stories, that you are literally under some people’s skin.

This is the 45 or 45 chapter where we celebrate rule breakers and role models, the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show that sensuality, beauty, soul and true essence. Here we talk about what it's like to be 45 Plus, adjusting to the changes that come with time, and will listen to the stories of our participants. If you have an interesting story to share, we would love you to participate, you can email us on or visit our website, www.

Hi, Danielle, thank you very much for joining our project. And I'm looking forward to your interview because you are very interesting person. And I have a lot of questions to ask. And let's start with a simple one. Just tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm freshly 50 now, the big five-o in August. I'm a mother of four amazing humans. I'm a tattoo artist on mid north coast. And yeah

Sure, short and simple. So tell me what are you most passionate about?

Ah, definitely my kids. Ah, my garden, my cat. Um, yeah, like taking photos and flowers and just just living life as best as I can. With what I've got.

I knew that you mentioned that you are tattoo artists. And I have a lot of questions I want to ask you about this. Because I think it’s a real art and for me, it looks like magic. So, and I think it's, I want to connect this question with another one about the body image. So first of all, I want to ask you where do you think the idea of perfect body image comes from?

I think that's in our own minds. And how we perceive ourself and in relative to other people, I think there's a lot of comparisons, I think society puts up a lot about body image. But ultimately it comes down to how you think and feel about yourself, and how you compare yourself to what's around you or the other.

So I'm connected with this question, I want to talk a bit more about the role of tattoos in the body image. So I have a lot of questions how why people start doing that and what is the meaning

Oh how many hours have you got?

okay, so I um, well, people choose for themselves to get a tattoo. And for what that reason is, is unlimited probably um. I can only speak for myself personally and where I work and how I've been working. But a lot of people get tattoos because they just like them and they want one um, and then within that it's could be for a keepsake, memorial, a dedication, they just like animals, and they just like flowers or there's so many different reasons, and why people get tattoo. So you can even go as far back as tribal tattooing. And the art form of tattooing is so old. It's, you know, a part of our society and human for 1000s of years,

Particularly talking about this tribal tattoos, I think they were signs of, or tools for identification, you know, and differentiation, like one tribe from the other and for, I don't know, is it the right word, like a for a military purpose, like to know the enemy..or to frighten them..

in line with your questions, I guess? I mean, if you ask the same question to a roomful of Tattooist, you would get so many different answers from different perspectives and things like that. So as an art form, it's just been in, in our society for 1000s, and 1000s, of years, so whenever that's changed, then the art forms changed. And, you know, you've gone from hand poking tattoos now to machines, or wireless. Like even technology, like it's such a layered thing.

What I'm interested is, like, it's quite, it's a permanent thing. I know, you told me that you can cover one tattoo with another in case of like, the person change their mind or, but initially, the person has to decide to cover the body or skin with the images or with the signs, which will be permanent. Like, it's something which you were like, you cannot erase it. You cannot, you can, theoretically, but

yeah, I mean, there's technology now that you can get laser and tattoo removal and things like that. So there is there is removeable out there that can fade off tattoos, and I mean, I have seen it and heard it. And then yet you have people that do cover ups as tattoos which is I love I love doing them as like if people come into the studio, and they're like, I need a cover up, and no one will, wants to do it or try and cover up. They're my favourite tattoos today.

Yeah, so just tell me a bit more, because I think it's a quite difficult skill, you know, to cover up the old tattoo with the new one.

Yeah, and, you know, I, um, the way a lot of those cover up tattoos to their old or names or images that people just don't want on their bodies anymore. It's just not who they are. Like, they've changed. They might have got a tattoo when they were teenagers, or in their 20s or something, and now in their 40s 50s. And it's just, it's maybe not appropriate, or it's just, they want it gone. So yeah, it's just inks are different now as well, machines, techniques, all of that sort of stuff plays into it. Skin, like the quality of the skin, the actual tattoo itself, what colours is being used, and if it's blown out, or all sorts of stuff, so yeah, cover ups do present a bit of a challenge for the artist as well. And yay, it's an art form, we finally get one shot at it as well. So there's all the challenges of cover ups and but like we share minds,

how many times you can cover that to like, for example one she or he has gone to you can cover it. So how many layers you can do

Oh, yeah, well, that comes down to healing time in the scheme and each tattoo would be different. But that is a bit of a joke. I've had a few tattoos where I've done a cover up of a cover up of a cover up. So yeah, there aren't sure about this thing or, or they've got the tattoo and someone said yeah, I could cover it because then it doesn't cover up properly and and they don't like that. And then you sort of got to try and work with what you've got there and cover it up again and then. Yeah, it's kind of like goal painting over painting over painting over painting, but it comes down to skin tone and trying to call it that you use as well. So when it gets really, really dark colours, um, that can be a little bit more difficult. But in saying that too, you can research it if you want. But there's people that do wide over black color, so you black out a whole area, and then that hardens up a bit and hills and then people have been putting white and colour like either that. If you do search it up yourself, there's amazing artists that do amazing things with cover ups. And fix ups like fix UPS is a big thing, too, is a great surge at the moment to have blast overs and people putting other things over tattoos, but then leaving little old bits sticking out. And that's that's part of the tattoo. Yeah, people I've seen just blacking whole pieces of themselves, like not mentioning anyone but yeah, so it's another it's another thing like it's your skin, it changes with you, it moves with you. Um and, I mean, the oldest person I've tattooed is 93. So

So is it like is it like a fashion thing? Because I remember you mentioned that it's also differ from City Fashion differ from the country?

Yeah, yeah. So within that art form itself, you have different styles of tattooing that people will gravitate more to, and like go sort of styles. So I guess you could say is a fashion being, so you have people that really love realistic looking tattoos or have people that love Neo traditional tattoos or have people that love black line fine black and grey, people or love colour. So it's definitely a reflection of who they are as a person, and their style and what they like and, and things like that.

But do you think there is influence of the society or like your area where you leave, because like, I remember you said like, in the country is more fashionable to have the one type of tattoos like the sleeves of flower, the floral sleeves, and in this city is something different, or within that group of the people, if they influence you to have a certain tattoo. So I'm leading into the subject of body image, which influence

okay. That's really interesting. So I guess since when I first started tattooing, there wasn't so much on social media, there wasn't social media. And so you could walk into a tattoo shop and pick flash off the wall and, and just you picked a tattoo that way. Now, you've got social media, pin images, Google images, all this sort of stuff. So it has the meat personally. And again, I can only speak for myself. So if you had a room fool of tattooists, you get all different answers. But it is very interesting how popular tattooing has become. And people bring in the same reference pictures that are like the top photos on Google or the top photos in Pinterest or they might pick a particular style that they like, and the same reference images will always keep popping up or copying other people's tattoos or things like that. So it has been interesting over a long time watching tattoos and how tattooing would become more popular and mainstream and yeah,

so I suppose to be divided like tattoos out of the fashion because everyone is doing that and It looks cool. And tattoos, which means something like your name of kids, or events, which are not more of a fashion but more meaningful. Like, is that right to say like that, or?

Yeah, I mean, you like I think that's the most amazing thing. And what I love so much about tattooing is that everyone will do it for different reasons. Every day is different. So you could you could go into work one day and and the first person's getting a slave added on adding on to their slave or something because they're really like a wolf for argument's sake, then the next person's come in, and they're getting a full sleeve of roses and clocks that represent each kid's birth time and date missing that. For each person it is still a very personal thing, whether it's just because you want to look cool, or it's a date of your child or a memory of someone that's passed over, each tattoo is a very personal, personal thing. And I love the ones that come and go, now, Man, this looks cool. There's no meaning not every time you have to have a meaning to it either. Some people just really like, tigers. So they really like it. So that and then you and then then the very next person will come in, and we'll give you the big life story. And this could be the tiniest tattoo, but it will have so much meaning and a big life story behind it. And it's the world for them.

People in times of grief will come and get tattooed. And so, personally, again, I'm only speaking for myself, for some of the clients that I've had, I have been their first port of call after they've lost someone. Sometimes you're not only just sitting there in the capacity of a tattoo artist, you're there as a friend, a counsellor. Yeah, this is this is sort of like trade sort of joke of your tattoo rates are 115 our council rates 200. You have people that will sit and get a tattoo and you'll find some will just sit like this not say a word others will just tell you their deep dark secrets. And there's things that people have told me over the years that I'll take to the grave. So in like cases of grief, people are hurting or grief is in a can be a loss of a loved one a child or relationship, anything like a grief. They're hurting so much and then numb that sometimes a tattoo and the pain of the tattoo makes them feel real, like real again. And then you've got to actually care for the tattoo afterwards. And it scars in it does its process. So um, there's that hole they're hurting, they can actually feel something again, and then they have to take care of themselves. So there is all different processes entirely, as well that I don't know if a lot of people realise or talk about or, or self. So the few clients that I've had that I have sat and cried with I don't know how the fuck they're still standing with what they've gone through. And so it's a very big privilege and honour sometimes that you're with this person in that moment. And, and you're tattooing them, so you're working, but you kind of.. I don't know how to explain it, but you you kind of like this person that transitions and transitions them through to something else. And then like physically have this thing on them that, that you've been a part of. And that is why I am tattooing, as well. And that's a big part of me and why I've done it for so long. And people stories are key literally under some people skin in more ways than one.

Yeah, I can relate. Because I have same stories of women who come to the photoshoot it's

I remember, I remember. Yeah, I remember really early in my career. This woman, I recall the story a lot of people and I get goosebumps every time. So she can't because where we used to work there was sort of like this little gate and she was meant to go to the other side or something. happen and she came to me. And this is where I strongly believe sometimes people will cross over paths. And I'm meant to tattoo people. And I've always believed that from day one. Anyway, this lady came in and she just wanted these tiny but I was only fresh into tattooing really had no idea. And she laid down and I did this tiny little bird. And she started crying and sobbing, and it wasn't from the pain of the tattoo, like she was going through big bond stuff. And I didn't know what to do is first sort of time this happened. And then anyway, cut a very long story short, this little bird, I put so many different colours in it, and everything and and this whole energy can't was coming out. It sounds crazy. So anyone that knows me will know what that you know. Anyway, so I'm tattooing her and I could feel all this really yucky stuff coming. And I in my head, I'm just kidding, I just have to put this back in you. But somehow metric was positive like transformer. So that's my whole thought when I start doing this like, and then at the end of the chapter, she's still crying and everything. And I remember misogyny my early 20s. And I said to all I know what's going on to you. But I just want you to know that from now on, you're just like that bird, you're beautiful, and you can fly for it. And she just burst into tears pretty much just handed me the mommy and lift. What just happened then kind of do. Anyway. So a few months later, I got this postcard glass back then snail mail. And I've got this beautiful little postcard and there was a fairy on it. And it was called Vivian the fairy of all things, which totally tripped me out because that's my middle name. And no one really knew that. Then I flipped it over. And what is this, and this lady had written me this card and said, you probably will never see me again. But I needed you to know that my time with you and getting that tattoo, I came back I packed on myself she lived a domestic violence situation. The dad had Melissa like this is all in this car, totally told me all this stuff. And she finally got enough to pack up, do it. And she moved to the other side of the function. And that was in one little postcard sent. And that really hit me of like, wow, what am I doing? What am I really doing. There was another lady found her daughter on the streets in the cross and pulled her off, got her home and got her healthy, got her off drugs. And she bought it in all she wanted was a little star. And I remember chattering down on her and saying to ever you feel like you need like you feel you're going to that dark place. Again, remember your stylist needs to keep on. You have these opportunities with people. And it's only in that moment that you might never see these people get. And my early days were in Byron Bay. And it was the late night like it was the 90s. So like the late 90s. So it is here to keep me in the 90s of that summer for ever I will be so happy that I'm there were moments where he just went with these people.

And I think again, if you had a room of tattooists, we'd all have these monumental gut wrenching stories of human kindness and compassion and, and something in that moment when you try doing some of these people. So you every aspect of an emotion of humans can be reflected some way in a chatroom. Someone might come at you from last someone great mean love. Versus children do not like everything that we feel as humans can be put into art. And it's not just totally like there's music. There's all that's why the collective creative people are so important in all society. Yeah. And that's the guy that taught me to tell you years and years ago like he's, he's passed over now and I am always eternally grateful and loving for it. He said, doesn't matter if you're doing a bad job or a tiny little chatter, like everyone is the same. They've come to you and they trust you to do that. They do and they really want it And yes, you have to get one. You have to get one.

Me no way. Because I heard the tattoos can change live. Do you believe in that?

Yes, I do. I believe that they, they can. That's the one thing that that I, um I travelled three states and five years and had so many people tell me that I could never ever be a tattoo artist ever. And so I just I just a magic of chattering and I just wanted to have a go at it. And actually, he only j