‘It broke me’: Why tattooist is offering free work

AN Ipswich tattoo artist is offering free cover-up tattoos for women who've undergone breast cancer surgery to help cover up their scars.

Oliver 'Sudsy' Walker will open his new tattoo studio - Sudsy & Son - at Booval within weeks, and is planning "a tonne of good vibe things".

"One of them is a once-a-month free tattoo to ladies who have endured breast cancer and need mastectomy or surgery scars covered up," Sudsy said.

Oliver Walker, right, more commonly known as Uncle Sudsy, and son Zeek.
Oliver Walker, right, more commonly known as Uncle Sudsy, and son Zeek.

He's done similar tattoos for breast cancer survivors in the past, and has seen first-hand the confidence they can bring.

"I had these ladies coming to me with these scars saying 'I want to feel pretty', and that's as raw as it gets. One woman said she felt like a boy and that broke me, so I thought 'what can we do …'" he said.

That first tattoo made a change not only to the woman involved but to her tattoo artist as well.

One of Sudsy’s designs that can be used to cover a scar.
One of Sudsy’s designs that can be used to cover a scar.

"After the first one, I was so confronted, but it made such a difference. I asked her to come back in to show me because I didn't know how it would heal over scars. She bought it in and she was a different woman," he said.

"I'm just trying my best. I felt bad charging for it so I thought 'how about we do it for free?'"

Sudsy will do one free tattoo a month for a woman to the value of $200.

"Where you get that curved scar under the boob where they cut, I can cover that for $200," he said.

"For that, I can do a decent thing. And if they want a full day (of tattooing), that would still be less $200."

A tattoo by Booval artist Sudsy.
A tattoo by Booval artist Sudsy.

Sudsy said the majority of his clients have been women from conservative backgrounds aged between 18 and 70.

"A lot of my clients want to download, like when you go to the hairdresser. You want to be in that safe space where what you say is not going to be repeated, your privacy's going to be respected, and the reason behind your tattoo isn't going to be exposed," he said.

"In the last six years, my clientele has been 85 per cent female. A lot of the mature ladies are commemorating their grandchildren or a lost loved one. You have to tread very carefully because it's often very fresh. I've suffered a lot of loss too so I understand it."

"I find celebrations and commemorations come down to respect. If you go into it with respect, you're going to have a good outcome."

Sudsy said women interested in registering could contact him via his Facebook page Sudsy & Son and add their name to a list when the shop opens within weeks.

The father-of-three said he wouldn't turn anyone away but they may have to wait.

"I want to do this," he said.

"People come to us with a very sensitive issue. I want to turn that into a tattoo where they're not so sensitive about it, and can celebrate it and turn a negative into a positive."