Tattoos aren’t only for gang members any more. Wearable art has become more accepted in society and young people are investing in tattoos. Even employers appear to be more tolerant of visible tattoos than they once were.

At Ottawa’s Free World Tattoo, this is what people are saying about their tats.

Jessica Caul

Jessica Caul says she giggles in pain when she gets tattoos. [Photo© Rima Moussalli]

Jessica Caul got her first tattoo, the word ‘hope’ on her shoulder, after going through a hard time. “It started out as a reminder to me to have [hope], and for anyone else that saw it,” said Caul.

Caul getting a tattoo by artist Nathan Henry, @nateartist on Instagram.
[Photo © Denée Seaton]

Robyn Coffey

Caul’s friend Robyn Coffey, 24, is trying to get into veterinary school. The two are getting matching tattoos.

Long-time friends Robyn Coffey, left, and Jessica Caul, live thousands of kilometres apart. Coffey came to Ottawa for the weekend so they could get their tattoos together. [Photo © Denée Seaton]

“Wherever I move, wherever I go, I kind of have a piece of them with me,” said Coffey.

“It’ll definitely be the most ridiculous tattoo I have, for sure,” said Caul, about the dancing skeletons she and Coffey now share. [Photo © Denée Seaton]
Coffey watches as her friend gets inked. [Photo©Denée Seaton]

Kaelan MacLeod

Tattoo apprentice Kaelan MacLeod, 19, got his first tattoo at 16 in memory of his father, who passed away from cancer. 

“I always wanted to do something with art and being able to put art permanently on someone’s body is just perfect,” said MacLeod. [Photo © Denée Seaton]
The black widow on MacLeod’s forearm is the visual representation of his father’s nickname, Spider. [Photo © Rima Moussalli]

MacLeod says some of his tattoos have meaning, others “just look cool.”

MacLeod shows off the tattoos he has been practicing on his leg. [Photo © Denée Seaton]

Tessa Ferzli

“Growing up I was always really bad at explaining who I was and why I was that person,” said Tessa Ferzli, a 21-year-old bricklayer. “I feel like tattoos give you an identity without having to say who you are.”

Tessa Ferzli got her first tattoo at 17 and since then has covered most of her upper body in art. She poses for the camera as she gets a black hole tattooed onto her forearm. [Photo © Denée Seaton]

“I struggle with patience a lot and the fact that I can sit for a … 10-hour session, proves to myself time and time again that I can be patient if put my mind and feelings behind it,” said Ferzli.

Godfrey Joekumar

Joekumar, 33, works in marketing and got his first tattoo when he was 28.

Joekumar getting his fourth tattoo. [Photo © Rima Moussalli]

“The first one took me a while to get because I thought it had to be super personal or meaningful,” said Joekumar. 

“I’m a runner. I hurt my knee recently and it took my running game out for the last year. So having wings on my leg, it’s kind of like The Flash. It was just for fun,” said Joekumar about his new tattoo. [Photo © Rima Moussalli]