The owner of a Falkirk tattoo parlour says she is expecting it to be her “best year” as she gets set to re-open her popular Vicar Street studio, Blue Lass, for the first time in 2021.
Alongside pubs, shops and restaurants, tattoo parlours in Scotland have been forced to close since midnight on the 25th of December owing to the second Covid-19 lockdown but many are due to open up today after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the easing of restrictions earlier in the month.
For owner of Blue Lass, Zara Dickson, the excitement is palpable as tattoo artists across the country get set to dust down their machines and welcome ink heads back to the chair.
"We’re all buzzing to start tattooing again.
"We have a work group chat and one of our artists, Colin, has been counting down the days like it’s Christmas – four sleeps to go, five sleeps to go” she excitedly laughs.
Bookings pouring in
Zara, 36, has been involved in the industry since starting as “a Saturday girl” 17-years ago, opening her much-loved studio in 2018 and, despite the difficulties for her and the entire industry over the past year, said she is already seeing evidence that the world of tattooing won’t just recover from the pandemic, but that it will boom as Scottish tattoo studios get set to reopen their doors for the first time in 2021.
"I’ve never been one of those people who book months and months in advance, but this is furthest I’ve ever been booked ahead in my career and it’s just getting busier – I’ve had to shut my diary at the moment.
"People are more desperate to get tattoos since the pandemic.
She adds, “All the studios in Falkirk are busy because of that. We’re all getting booked up.”
Despite an infectious positivity shining through, she admits the pandemic has been hard to navigate as a tattoo artist, especially during the first lockdown.
"I knew we needed to make some changes then, so we made sure the only people that came in were people with appointments and that you had to turn up alone. I needed to get a jump on this and you could feel it getting worse.
"I then decided to close the studio, it didn’t feel safe to bring people out of their homes for unnecessary reasons – yes we have families to feed, but I didn’t want to put people at risk. Within 48 hours we went into lockdown – that’s when it became frightening because we didn’t know what to do.
A scary time
"Being self-employed the first lockdown was a really scary time. The business was just two years old, and we’d just bought a house a few months beforehand. I thought 2020 would have been the years of getting my savings back – but they went really quickly. For a lot of business it was such a scary time.”
During the first lockdown, the artist who hails from Falkirk, discovered a whole new, and wholly unexpected, way to communicate with clients – even if her doors were closed.
"TikTok was unexpectedly good for us.
"I’m 36 so I was thinking ‘hell no!’ because I thought it was just all dancing. However, I joined it and started posting tattoos I had done, drawing processes and talking about tattoos, funny stories, what to do when you’re coming for your first tattoo and the response has been unbelievable. It drove sales of merchandise, our other artists Colin and Louise have been doing commissions, and social media has really helped keep us going when we couldn’t tattoo.
And even though it may feel the world is returning to normal, Zara has reiterated the importance of engaging with your local tattoo artist.
"While buying merch is great, money is tight for everybody, we’ve all had an uncertain year, but interacting with a studio’s social media, recommending it to your friends, sharing it to your story, commenting on posts – I don’t think people realise just how much that does for local business.
Blue Lass is set to re-open it’s doors on Tuesday 27th April, and their Facebook page can be found here.