Skin Story: Rosie

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Hey Rosie, it’s lovely to meet you! Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Hey Claudia ! It’s great to meet you as well. So I’m Rosie, I’m 25 years old and I’m a jeweller and generally creative person from Birmingham.

When did you get your first tattoo, and what was it?

My first tattoo was on my forearm. It’s a quote from Dr. Zuess’s Lorax and reads ‘Unless’ from the quote in the book "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." I got it on my 18th birthday, it’s kinda awful and I’ll probably cover it at some point but it’s still a testament to my naive, younger self.

I know this is a hard question, but do you have a favourite piece? If so, please tell us why this one stands out for you.

I really love all of my tattoos, honestly. But I’d have to say my favourite at the moment is the word ‘Immortal’ that sits centrally on my chest. It was done by Isaac based in Plymouth (@permanent.reminder) and its meaning comes from my research into archaeological metalwork, and how much information ancient jewellery and metal gives us from the past. I was thinking about whether my jewellery will serve the same purpose in thousands of years. That’s my ultimate goal with jewellery. But either way, because of the material properties of everything I make, it will outlive me and, therefore, a part of me will always exist through my work. There’s a synchronicity between the permanence of the tattoo and what it represents that has a full cycle.

Rosie is pictured with her eyes closed and the word 'Immortal' tattooed on her chest.

As a womxn, do you feel as though being tattooed has changed people’s perception of you?

I would say so, yes. I’ve had the wildest comments! Mostly things like “I bet you were so beautiful before you did that” or about them not being pretty or feminine. The irony is that I feel my tattoos are heavily influenced by being a womxn - they make me feel more feminine, powerful and divine. Those comments used to make me cry, but now I think it’s a great reminder that we can’t prescribe or police beauty onto one another.

But I’ve been lucky that the people around me in work and home embrace that this is who I am and how I choose to present myself, even if they don’t understand it. 

A tattoo saying "no risk, no reward" is shown on Rosie's knee.

I can see that you are heavily involved in the arts and, in particular, jewellery making. Can you tell us a bit about where this passion stemmed from, and the motivation behind your work?

Yes, of course! I found jewellery on my degree course five years ago now. I loved how you could make something so incredibly beautiful and then wear it like it’s a part of you. I really enjoy making myself and others feel beautiful and unique. The way people beam when they wear something, anything, it doesn’t have to be jewellery, but just something that makes them feel more like themselves is like magic. They walk differently, carry themselves with pride. Being a part of that for me is what it’s about. 

I set up my brand Soma (@somadecoratives) just over a year ago now. My motives within my brand are to, of course, make people feel great, but also to honour the craftsmanship and the practice itself and where that sits today in the modern world. At the moment my work is cast using a free pouring casting method, with some modern technology mixed into the process along the way. But the main part of the process is thousands of years old. Aesthetically, I like to mix things up. I like to imagine my jewellery from a Pangaea-like perspective. From an unknown place way back in the past but with touches of today’s world. Textural qualities from buildings or paving, railings and staircases. I basically like people to feel confused! Haha. I like people to instinctively want to touch, hold and wear what I’m making. It has to be wanted from the wearer’s gut.

A lot of people say that getting tattooed changes their perspective on their body. Have your tattoos impacted your relationship with your body?

For me, I think the biggest difference for me is that my body has become incomparable. The basic patterns I think we all face as womxn is to look at other womxn’s bodies and compare. It’s one of the hardest habits I’ve had to learn to break, but tattoos have been a big part of breaking free from that. Part of me thinks it’s kinda cheesy to have lots of big meanings behind tattoos, like I appreciate that they can just be art for art's sake. Which is why I have a mixture of both, but to have a tattoo with a conscious intention is powerful! It becomes your narrative thoughts as you look in the mirror at yourself. 

A number of Rosie's tattoos are shown with shadows across her skin.

My stomach tattoos are in honour of my relationship with my body and being a womxn. I had an amazing experience with Emmy (@emmy_la_grizzly) where being a womxn was a lot to do with our conversation whilst I was getting tattooed by her. The experience was loving and kind, and exactly what I wanted to feel when I looked back at its reflection every day. 

A black and white photo shows Rosie's stomach tattoos

Do you have plans for many more tattoos, and are there any particular artists you want to be tattooed by?

I’m slowly but surely working on a body suit. I’m trying to make it a lifelong journey; I’ve enjoyed tattooing myself at specific moments or have people tattoo me that have been part of my life. They grow with me. There are so many people I’d love to get work from. I’m big into script and pattern so I’d be honoured to get something from Tomas Tomas (@tomastomas108) and @Mayonaize is a must. I’d also love to get some of Julim Rosa’s (@julimrosa) new work where she’s been turning text into pattern - that’s so sick. I am also a big fan of Mishka’s work in London (@mishkatattoo). The symmetry in her designs are just so incredible.