Sarah Tredray, Amy Richards, and Rainë MacKenzie, of Sacred Art Tattoo and Piercing. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Lisa Urbani

For some people, getting a tattoo can be a kind of therapy, Sarah Tredray, owner of Sacred Art Tattoo and Piercing in Queen St, says.

She and her husband Jordan Tredray co-own the tattoo parlour, and find that clients like to use tattoos as a way to commemorate those they have loved and lost, or special moments like the birth of a child, or the reaching of a goal – all depicted through the medium of body art.

Now running again at Level 2 of the covid-19 response, observing high standards of hygiene was not new to their profession, as they were always vigilant about the health and welfare of their clients, and had taken the prescribed extra precautions.

Despite the lockdown, they were getting lots of bookings, and hoped, as a small business, to “be able to ride the wave”, Sarah said.

But they were “still relying on community support”.

“Sometimes people think they are too old, or not cool enough, but we want to encourage them to come in for a free consultation and collaborate with our artists for inspiration, it’s not as scary as they think, it can give you a buzz and be liberating.”

For anyone wanting a Maori tattoo, Jordan Rimene is knowledgeable about cultural practice and traditions.

Sarah handles the piercings, which are often a good way to start out if you are unsure, as they can be removed.

For Rainë MacKenzie, tattooing is a very personal therapy, like a form of “meditation”, and she finds it mentally stimulating and fulfilling.

Passionate advocates for raising consciousness about suicide, she and Sarah openly admitted they have had their dark moments too, with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.

They have done much to bring about understanding of these sad realities, by sharing their own struggles, and holding fundraisers for Suicide Awareness Matters.
For Rainë, tattooing, is a “living expression of myself and intertwined with my identity”.

She found it hard not being able to be tattooing clients during the lockdown, and felt as though “she didn’t have a purpose”.

Her work is intimate, it is about creating trust with someone when you are about to mark their skin, and then executing the work, and gives her an opportunity to focus on something other than her state of mind.

It was an opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment once the tattoo was done, and since she was willing to disclose her mental health problems, clients often felt enabled to discuss theirs.

Both Sarah and Rainë said having a tattoo should be carefully considered in terms of job prospects or longevity.

A significant other’s name might not be so desirable if the romance dies, and future employers might not enjoy artistic expressions that are too visible.

They do feel a sense of responsibility and will offer guidance, suggesting that when it comes to tattoos, discreet is the way to go at first.