For Morgan Hughes, owner of Cast Iron Tattoo in Davenport, WA, her skills as a tattoo artist combined with her BA major in psychology have been a powerful driving force in her decision to give back in a big way.
On her shop’s Facebook page are statistics of victims of Domestic Violence. A grim 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men are a victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Morgan offers free tattoo coverups for abuse victims that have their abusers name tattooed on them. She dedicates two days each week to this endeavor and is already booked out to August as the requests keep streaming in. Thinking about these victims carrying around the permanent “branding” of their former partners, and the emotional scars that come with them, are troubling for Hughes. Because of this, she has a rule in place that she will not tattoo partner names on her clients, and she is very selective of partner tattoo designs in an effort to prevent people from having to deal with any painful aftermath that a permanent tattoo brings to a potential breakup.
“Tattooing has always been a beautiful expression of art to me and finding out that there are people using them in such an ugly way was and is truly appalling and devastating to me. Offering these coverups is a way to right that wrong…I try hard to listen, and to make the experience a good one.” Because privacy is a concern for many victims of domestic violence, she books these coverup appointments individually and offers to lock the doors to maintain a private and safe space. When discussing the statistics of domestic violence, especially regarding men (who typically do not reach out for coverup appointments) and the stigma surrounding being a victim of intimate partner violence, Hughes adds “The amount of domestic violence that still occurs is heartbreaking. No one should hold power and control over anyone else and for these offenders to think it’s okay to treat someone so terribly, is truly horrifying… the state will step in to press charges after repeat offenses, but Tina’s Law is important to put into effect. There are registries for all kinds of things, even animal abuse, but there is currently no registry for violent abusers.”
Tina’s Law would require any person with a history of domestic violence, violent offenders, and individuals with Protection Orders against them to be registered in a similar way to sex offenders. This would hold these individuals accountable for their actions.
Currently, Cast Iron Tattoo continues to receive a steady stream of messages requesting consultation for coverup appointments. She has had people from all over the United States wanting to make the trip to her studio, and that has brought on many emotions for Hughes. She worries about the time and expense that clients would have to undergo to make the trip, and the safety of traffic and weather conditions. Hughes is hoping that she can build a nationwide network of other willing tattoo artists that would be willing to offer coverup services to DV victims in efforts to share referrals with one another in cases like this where people are reaching out from other geographical regions. When asked if blocking off two weekdays for coverup appointments impacted her business negatively, Hughes affirmed that in fact, she found the opposite to be true. Most of her coverup clients make appointments for new tattoos after they are finished with their session, and several have taken stacks of business cards to share with family and friends. Her monthly appointment calendar is booked solid before the month is halfway through, and she often comes in on her days off to accommodate tattoo appointments. Her business, and her service to the community is thriving.
During our interview with Hughes, a gentleman from Care and Share in Davenport came in to tell her that he saw her being featured in the news a few months back and had since been thinking about the women that came in for coverups. His heart went out to them, and he wondered how he could help her in her cause. He brought a large quantity of Thrive Causemetics mascara as a gift from Care and Share to be offered to female clients during their coverup appointments. He felt like it was a small thing that they could do to help these women feel pretty and supported after what they had been through. Word of mouth has also been a boon to her business, and Hughes has not needed to spend much revenue in advertising. Community members support her business and they also share her work and her cause with their followers on social media, and as she shared – it is garnering interest from all over the United States.
If area artists are interested in networking with Cast Iron Tattoo, she can be found on Facebook at Cast Iron Tattoo, Wa.