As the UK exits lockdown Yayo heads across the pond to interview the super talented Conner Alderman. Is the American tattoo industry surviving the ravages of Covid-19? Read on to find out the answers and more...
Q. Who are you?
A. I’m Connor Alderman; a 28 year old lady tattooist from the US. Before I got into the industry, I studied Fine Arts with a concentration in oil painting. It was while I was enrolled in college that I began to pursue tattooing. 8 years later here we are. When I’m not tattooing, I’m at home taking care of my 5 year old daughter Vera.
"I went into tattooing because I wanted a career in the art world that would allow me to not only produce art but connect with other people as well."
Q. Why did you become a tattooist?
A. I went into tattooing because I wanted a career in the art world that would allow me to not only produce art but connect with other people as well. Originally, I went to school to be an art teacher however after receiving my first tattoo, I knew immediately that it was something I wanted to do.
Q. Where do you tattoo?
A. I tattoo in my own studio outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a little town called Trexlertown.
Q. What do you tattoo?
A. Most of my tattoos are nature based. I primarily tattoo flowers but I often do birds and other animals as well. My style is kind of a combination of all of my favorite styles of tattooing. Neotraditional, realism, and pointillism. I went through a long period of time where I felt like I was having an identity crisis in my work. I was able to replicate a lot of different types of tattoos but never had any consistent elements that made my tattoos uniquely mine until I started experimenting. I started to incorporate what I learned with my painting background to build my color palettes and tried to find a way to mesh it with the neotraditional tattoos I was doing. Eventually I found what worked for me and a way that I was able to do all the things I liked to do in one.
"I have nothing but good things to say about Yayo and their products."
Q. Why Yayo?
A. I have nothing but good things to say about Yayo and their products. What initially sold me on them was using their ointment to heal one of my tattoos. I have incredibly sensitive skin and had a hard time finding ointment that won’t cause my pores to clog or my skin to rash. The tattoo I cared for with their ointment healed beautifully and from that point on I now only carry Yayo products in my studio. My personal favorites from Yayo are the ointments, green soap and foaming soap specifically in the “Spook” line. It smells absolutely amazing and it works so well to keep my client’s skin soft and cooperative while I work. I also highly recommend the Candy stencil solution too. Overall, Yayo is amazing and the people behind it are the reason for that. You can tell how much thought and care was put into their products as soon as you try it for yourself.
Q. How is tattooing surviving Covid-19 and its restrictions?
A. Covid-19 has definitely thrown a wrench into things when it comes to my business. Tattooing was a rough industry to be in when all of this happened. So many artists were struggling to get by without the help of their government to cover the loss of work. Thankfully so many of us helped each other out to help promote the side projects and products we were doing to make the money to survive this. In Pennsylvania, we were shut down for 4 months before we were allowed to open at half capacity again. My studio is private, and it has never gotten much foot traffic, so we didn’t see a loss in walk-ins. It is just me and 4 other women who tattoo there and we have always only operated as appointment only. We had to jump through hoops to find a lot of our medical supplies once we were able to open again. The cost of gloves has skyrocketed as well as our disinfectants and other PPE. Despite the restrictions and the price gouging in materials, things have picked up and all of the artists at our studio are doing well. I think people are coping with the world flipping upside down by getting tattooed.
"I’m sure in many places the sexism is still rampant."
Q. How is being a woman in tattooing in 2020?
A. Honestly, being a woman tattooing in 2020 has been amazing. 10 years ago, when I got into it, that was another story. Consistently what I was running into when I got into the industry was either sexual harassment by my mentor’s clients and friends or I was talked down to by some of my male counterparts. I’m sure in many places the sexism is still rampant, but I don’t allow that into my life anymore. Most of the men I know in tattooing are incredibly supportive and treat me no different. The tattoo industry has changed so much, and it has become a much more welcoming and inclusive place.
Q. What are your plans for next year?
A. The goal for next year is to do all the traveling and conventions that I had planned for this year! I still am uncertain if that will happen due to Covid but I truly hope it does. Regardless of whether I travel or not, I’d really like to make new friends with other artists and continue working on improving my tattoos.
A final thought from the author: "Well we are out of lockdown, brothers and sisters. It's too early to say if this is the beginning of the end but at least a vaccine will soon be available; that can only be a good thing for the UK and UK tattooing. But lets not forget that tattooing is a global community and lets keep supporting each other, to get through these dark times. Yayo has your back and we are ready to take your orders. Good luck, and God speed my friends."
Yayo, be part of the family!
Words by Matt Haddon-ReichardtImages by Conner Alderman, Yayo and NHS England