Around the world: Interview with Meraki Fade.
Much like the rest of the world, tattooing was hit hard by Covid, but unlike many industries government support was slow and haphazard. Conventions were hit particularly hard and this impacted not only on the convention organisers but the artist who booked to attend. Yayo sent out tattoo collector Matt Haddon-Reichardt to talk to Meraki Fade; to get an artist’s perspective on the covid convention debacle.
When I started writing for the tattoo industry the first person I interviewed was dotwork tattoo artist Mereki Fade. Nine years later Fade’s career has skyrocketed and she is now not only an internationally renowned artist but one of the world’s leading tattoo anthropologists. If I ever need an opinion that’s firmly on the pulse of tattooing my first port of call is Fade.
"When Covid 19 first hit, I was stuck at sea on rations, with all borders of the world shut."
When the world went into lockdown Fade was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean taking part in a pioneering study into plastic waste. As part of an all female crew, Fade embarked on the eXXpedition round the world sailing voyage and research mission.
“When Covid 19 first hit, I was stuck at sea on rations, with all borders of the world shut. My guest spot in Tahiti was cancelled. The studio was shut mostly for one year, and we had to move a six month waiting list four times. During the first lockdown the government didn’t even indicate that we would be able to re-open so it was impossible to put any provisions in place.”
“The main issue with Covid 19 has been the government's management of the situation. Certain creative industries like musicians and artists have barely been supported. We had no relief here and had to pay all the bills regardless. I’ve had to keep myself afloat out of my own pocket because the government mismanaged things. Many clients have been made redundant and have had to cancel their tattoo appointments, which affects things going forward. Despite all of that, we have re-opened, seen all of our regular clients, and are back in the studio. During the lockdowns I took the opportunity to finish my book on tribal tattoo history. I am also currently planning an 8 episode series about tattoo history worldwide. We come back with fire.”
“I’ve worked at tattoo conventions across America, Europe, Asia and done guest spots all over the world."
“I’ve worked at tattoo conventions across America, Europe, Asia and done guest spots all over the world. My favourite has to be my home town in Brighton. Now that London has shut down, Brighton is the most prestigious in the UK. The most fun I’ve had has to be in Borneo, but the Northern Arizona Tattoo convention was great too! It breaks my heart that the London Tattoo convention has liquidated; it was the heart and soul of our industry. Conventions give me the opportunity to network with a wide range of artists, and I often tie it in with a guest spot in that local area which makes me more accessible. It’s been great, I’ve had some of my best times doing that.”
Social media has now taken over as the main means for a tattooist to display their art, but Fade still thinks conventions play an important role.
“Tattoo conventions will always have a vital role in the industry. They give us the opportunity to meet artists from all over the world and network with a variety of cultures.”
"I’m looking forward to working with friends from all over the world that I haven’t been able to see for a long time."
Like most tattooists, Fade can’t wait to get back working the convention circuit.
“Yes I have missed them. It’s such a shame that so many conventions have been postponed or rebooked several times, I can’t wait for them to happen again. I’m looking forward to working with friends from all over the world that I haven’t been able to see for a long time. We are booked into Brighton convention which is in February so I plan to work there if we are able.”
While 2020 into 2021 may have been a quiet time for Fade, next year will be the exact opposite.
“For 2022 I am currently pitching for funding for my TV series Eternal Clothing, about global tattoo history roots and culture. I will be hosting 3 exhibitions in NY exhibiting my tattoo anthropology photographs, films, and book release. Lecturing at the NY Folkart society whilst I am there and part of me feels like I need to return to Tahitii and finish what I started as my trip was cut short, so I need to retrace those footsteps.”
A Final thought from the author:
"Fade is not only an accomplished dot work tattooist she also specialises in hand tap tattooing. The hand tap technique is much gentler than machine tattooing and causes less trauma to the skin. Even though there is less trauma it is still advisable to use an aftercare product to heal the tattoo; and what better product than Yayo. if you want the best then use the best; use Yayo."
Yayo, join the family!
Images by Fade, Yayo and MNHR, words by Matt Haddon-Reichardt