I’ve ummed and ahhed about writing this blog post because it’s not going to be a very positive one. But I wouldn’t be a very good blogger if all the things I write about are positive, so I apologise in advance for how much of a negative Nancy I’m about to be. I would also like to note that I was always going to write a blog post on this event – my negative experience is not the driver for this post.
First of all – this is in NO WAY a reflection on The Feminist Library. The Feminist Library is a large collection of Women’s Liberation Movement literature based in London. Run by a collective of volunteers, they have been supporting research, activist and community projects since 1975. You can donate to them by clicking HERE – every single contribution helps and will help to keep this safe feminist space open for years to come.
I first heard about the Feminist Flash Day on Facebook because I follow the fabulous Things and Ink. They are a magazine that focuses on women in the tattoo industry as well as the art itself – give them a read! They were running a series of flash tattoo pieces from King of Hearts in New Cross where three tattooists were tattooing these pieces for between £60-£100, with all proceeds going to The Feminist Library.
As you can imagine, being a feminist and a lover of tattoos I was sold. I was waiting eagerly for weeks, anticipating the flash designs being uploaded and finally choosing which one(s) I liked the most. I live in Essex, so I also had to plan to get there for the opening time (11am) so I could ensure I got the piece I wanted. It would take me around an hour to get there, so I left with plenty of time.
I got to the shop just after 11, and unfortunately there already was a massive queue ahead of me and the piece I really wanted was gone, but I managed to claim the cute little Vote envelope designed by the talented Miss Lou Hopper. I was told at the time that I was 8th in the queue, so to cross my fingers that I got seen. I explained that I had come all the way from Essex and that it took about an hour to get there so I really hoped I would be seen as soon as possible and the lady told me she would keep me informed. Happy, but a little dubious, I nipped to the shop to buy food to donate to the foodbank drop off that they had there, purchased a badge and a fridge magnet that say “RIOTS NOT DIETS” and I found myself a seat.
Then, I waited. I waited for FIVE HOURS. It appeared to a few of us that friends of the tattooists/event holders were being tattooed immediately, but I do know the shop was very anti-favours and that people needed to queue like everyone else, so I could be completely wrong on that note.
No one came to give us an update on how the queue was getting on which I found a bit strange. I overheard one of the people in the shop talking to another person that my particular artist was running behind, so I did have some kind of a view about it, even if it wasn’t directly to me. It got to around 4pm and they started to clear things away for the next part of the day, which was a panel discussion with various people of note in the tattoo world and still no one came over to the number of people waiting for tattoos. We all looked at each other really puzzled and exchanged comments about how unsure we were that we would even get tattooed and how bad it was that no one was talking to us.
So I took matters into my own hands and went to ask what was going on. I said I was 8th in the queue as I was told I was when I first came and asked how long I would need to wait. I was told I was actually 9th, not 8th – which was strange because I was definitely told I was 8th. The girl in front of me had left, so I told them all about that and I was bumped back up to 8th and told that I would definitely be getting tattooed today, although it would probably be towards the end of the day. Please note: the word DEFINITELY was used here.
Emma had come with me, and she wasn’t being tattooed. We had got up really early and she was very tired so I sent her home knowing that I had more of a wait ahead of me and she had already wasted her day enough. I waited maybe 10 minutes longer outside reading my Kindle, then ventured back inside to the main room. The girl who was in front of me came back, and appeared to be given a card and told to leave – so I went back up and asked if, now she was there, I would lose my space. I was then told – by the same person who just 10 minutes before told me that I would DEFINITELY be tattooed later – that there was no way that I would be tattooed today but to wait whilst she checked with the artist.
During this time I struck up a convo with three ladies who were also waiting for my artist too. They asked me how long I had been there, and they shared that they had only been there since around 12pm. One of the ladies said she was told that she was 8th in the queue for the same artist as me – which was remarkable, because that’s the number I was given when I was there an hour before her!
Lo and behold, she came back upstairs and told 5 people (myself included) that unfortunately the tattoo artists were unable to complete any more tattoos as they were beginning to get tired and that we were not able to be tattooed. We were given a card and told to call the shop to rebook for later on a weekday, but that the artists all had wait lists so it could be a while anyway. I said that I work in Central London so I should be able to do so…but on reflection, its probably going to cost me a day off work and even more expense to get there – something I’m not willing to do again.
I left feeling really upset, and I know a number of other girls did too. I personally had cancelled a night out the night before so I could attend, travelled an hour and spent a day that I could have spent doing something a bit more productive (i.e.writing new blog material, doing my clothes washing, spending quality time with my other half) sat in a tattoo shop waiting for something that realistically was never going to happen – so I was particularly upset that I had made such an effort for nothing. I actually got a bit teary on the way to the station with how frustrated I was. I’m completely turned off ever going to this particular shop again – I think I’ve now learnt my lesson that if something seems too good to be true, it generally is. I’m now going to stick to my favourite shop – Hard Luck Tattoo in Kingston – another shop that I have to spend over an hour travelling to, but they are very dependable and do brilliant quality work and have never let me down – even when I attended their Halloween flash event, and arrived 3 hours late!
Some of the good things that came out of today was meeting some pretty amazing women and having chats to people about important things. There were some amazing fat babes there looking so lovely – if my phone wasn’t dying a death I would have taken lots of snaps to share with you all! One lady in particular was wearing amazing grey jersey material dungarees that I thought were brilliant, and there was another lady in all black errything – pencil skirt and crop top combo! Classic and beautiful <3
I’m still really glad that I got to give a little to some very worthy causes, and I am still planning to give the money I would have given when getting tattooed straight to The Feminist Library because I don’t want them to miss out on what would be a really valuable contribution to their running costs.
I’ve been to flash events at other shops before, so I know that these kind of events can work correctly when the right expectations and boundaries are set. It was a shame that so many people were let down by what appeared to be a lack of communication and planning by those running the appointment bookings.
Have you ran an event like this before? Do you have any top tips on how to run a successful event? I’d be really excited to hear about them!