This week’s Ink’d will be a little different. Instead of featuring several ladies and their tattoos, it will feature Sue-Ann Cooper, an amazing lady hailing from South Africa. Sue-Ann has several geeky themed tattoos and is in the process of creating an entire back piece. The format this week will be more similar to that of a Q&A so Sue Ann may explain the intricacies of her artwork.
GeekGirl World: Please tell us what fandoms your tattoos are from.
Sue-Ann Cooper: My back piece brings together a number of fandoms (although it’s not completed yet). Currently it’s Firefly, Doctor Who and Stargate SG-1. In time, it will include Star Trek (either Voyager or TNG), Star Wars, Babylon 5, Farscape, Robotech and Stargate Atlantis.
My legs are Discworld – my very first tattoo was The Grim Squeaker and the other is The Librarian, with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg due to make an appearance within the next two years.
GGW: What is the significance of these fandoms to you?
SC: For my back piece, it’s not so much a fandom as the ideas and feelings generated by the fandom. At the moment I have a Serenity, TARDIS and SG-1 Stargate on the top third of my back; the entire piece will eventually include Star Trek (probably Voyager or TNG), Star Wars, Farscape, Babylon 5, Robotech and Stargate Atlantis. The main reasoning behind this is that these fandoms represent making a family and relying on one’s crew. I love my family, but in all these series and movies, the protagonists end up becoming closer than blood-kin with virtual strangers. They love and respect each other and would do anything for each other. They ARE family, often in a world different to what’s familiar. I guess it’s a kind of yearning to be understood and accepted for my foibles; as much as my family and friends love me, how many people really “get” the people they love? Serenity, in particular, is important to me – so much so that I have a wrist piece, too. I see it more often than my back and it reminds me that no matter what, there are worlds out there waiting to be explored, and maybe in another universe, I’m part of that exploration.
Apart from making one’s own family, they’re also about adventure and exploration. The spaceships, that is. They’re about going to new worlds with a team of friends, meeting new people and exploring new terrain. Space is huge and wonderful and exciting, and these series and movies are the ones that make me happy and pull me out of depression. I prefer shows that have a message of hope, and that’s what these provide.
My Terry Pratchett tattoos are, again, about being different. I’m pretty average on the outside, nothing special. Inside, I’m a wannabe rebel, a witch, a superhero. Terry Pratchett has always been somewhat subversive, and I like his ability to distill the traditions of mankind into practicalities. Discworld is real and practical, dragons, trolls and magic notwithstanding.
My shoulder tattoos are for fun – I’ve always liked octopi and my krakenlet is just the cutest thing ever. It always makes me smile. My husband loves spiders, so I decided to have a “matching” tattoo on my other shoulder for him. Jumping spiders are the bee’s knees, even though I’m terrified of anything small and fast.
GGW: What was your decision-making process behind getting these tattoos?
SC: I wanted a tattoo for years, but could never decide on a design. I wanted a wolf, but a running wolf, and I couldn’t find a decent pic. For 12 years I thought and searched and planned. Then my boyfriend and I went to Durban for my 39th birthday, and the day after my birthday I woke up and decided that as I loved Terry Pratchett so much, I should get the Death of Rats. I didn’t want Death Himself. I had saved a pic by Hanie Mohd ages before and decided to get that done. Best decision ever.
My back piece was meant to be the start of my sleeve of bad-ass women, but when I went to the tattoo shop, the artist I wanted wasn’t available. My boyfriend said I seemed more enthusiastic about the idea of my spaceships, so that’s what I did instead. My sleeve will come soon enough.
My shoulder tattoos are just because, to represent my husband and I.
Who was/is your artist(s)?
My very first tattoo was by Abigail who was working for Electric Eye Tattoos in Umhlanga at the time. She really made me think about issues like size, placement, why I wanted it, and the like.
My back piece, my shoulder pieces and my Librarian tattoos are by Ryan ‘Busta’ Bolton of The Golden Tiki in Johannesburg. He specializes in a New Skool style that was absolutely not what I wanted, but the first tattoo he did for me was my Serenity, and I was blown away by his ability to do realism. He’s the most fun. We always have a good time when he’s tattooing me, and he is always understanding of my ability to withstand pain. Sometimes I can sit for hours, sometimes I can only sit for a few minutes. He never makes me feel inadequate. Unfortunately he’s travelling in the US at the moment, so I’ll have to wait until next year to continue my back piece.
My Serenity wrist piece was by Jinx of Fallen Heroes. She’s the gentlest artist ever. She’s just moved to Portugal so there are going to be some great tattoos coming out of that country soon!
GGW: How long have you been working on these?
SC: I got my first tattoo in September 2009 and have had one every few months ever since.
Has having this or any tattoo affected your life in a positive or negative way?
Absolutely positive. I always hated my back because my skin never looked like the beautiful backs in magazines. And I’ve always been much bigger than my friends, so I didn’t like to show off any parts of myself. Since having my back piece, I look for clothing to reveal it. I even decided to make my wedding corset a halter-neck just to showcase my ink. I’m also a lot more confident – not as much as I would like, but much more willing to talk about the weirder side of myself. It’s made me more open to be forthright about my geekiness, too. Our wedding was all about sci-fi, fantasy and cosplay, and it’s partially because getting my tattoos meant I decided to do what the hell I wanted and not what was expected of me, and my husband backed me every step of the way. Plus he has always said whatever I want to tattoo on myself is my decision and not his – he’ll give his input but he would never tell me what to do. That makes me happy.
Below you can view her tattoos as well as some shots from her wedding showcasing them and her love of spaaaaace!
If you are a tattoo artist who would like to be featured on GGW or if you just have an incredible tattoo that you’d like to show off, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!