Amy Black is a renowned tattoo artist and owner of her studio, Amy Black Tattoo. With a background in fine art, her love of tattoos started in college where she collected tattoos and soon found herself as an apprentice in Richmond, VA. She threw herself into her work showcasing her unique artistic expression in nature, realism, Tibetan, Hindu and the classical masters like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, In 2011, Amy took on a new artistic challenge: “mastectomy tattooing”.
Also known as “nipple and areola repigmentation”, Amy was approached by her first client who underwent breast reconstruction. She recreates the illusion of realistic nipples and areola textures with tattooing.
Working with her patients in her private tattoo studio, she receives many referrals from plastic surgeons throughout the US and around the world. Now part of the healing process for many breast reconstruction patients, she feels a sense of satisfaction.
Today, Amy’s dream is to expand awareness of her PinkInkFund, a not-for-profit foundation whose mission is to provide financial assistance and create a network.
Why did you start doing mastectomy tattooing? It seems so natural with your art background.
I was cold called by a survivor looking for someone to help her reclaim her body by tattooing a 3D nipple onto her left breast (she kept her right breast) so it was completely by chance. I was so honored and happy to do it, even if it was the only one i got to do, I felt totally confident to be able to do it with my fine art background and at that time i had ten years of tattooing under my belt so the combination of the 2 made me feel i could do what she needed to her satisfaction. View my mastectomy tattoos gallery.
When you complete your tattooing, how do your cancer clients feel? What types of things do they say to you?
Many times there is a bit of time to acclimate to seeing something there they may have not seen for anywhere from months to even years. Many let me know how wonderful it is to feel like their breasts look normal again and their body looks normal. There is a mix of exhilaration to emotional release. It’s a healing moment for them. They tell me everything from:
- Thank you
- I feel whole again
- I can move on now
- It’s over, this was the last step
- I feel confident to be able to date
- Undress in the locker room
- Look in the mirror in the bathroom when I shower
- Show them to my husband, partner, family, etc
- I feel beautiful again
- I feel/look like a woman again
How do you feel when you’re done the tattoo? Is it emotional for you as well?
I am so concerned with making sure it’s done right for them that I typically stay in a caretaker kind of zone. I’m constantly focused on making sure they are OK as well as doing the best job I can for the “day of reveal” which can be a lot on some people. So I am feeling very focused and compassionate afterwards I guess. It can be emotional for sure. I leave that space open to them to do whatever they need to of course. The client is the focus and more important than me.
Do you have a mix of people come see you? For example, previvors, women breast cancer survivors and male breast cancer survivors?
Yes a pretty good mix. Mostly survivors and previvors, women. No male breast cancer survivors yet.
Can you tell our readers about your great PinkInkFund and who do you see it helping as it grows?
The PinkInkFund is firstly created to help those in need of financial aid to get the mastectomy tattoo they desire. It is geared towards low income, military and first responders. It’s able to help worldwide. I hope it continues to grow in ability to give larger grants to applicants and also help create a network to bring clients to providers, as well as help with training professional tattooers and medical providers to do better.
Lastly, if someone reading this wants to make a donation to your Fund or reach out to you, how can they do it?
They can donate via the PinkInkFund website at: PinkInkFund or mail a check/money order to us at: 3125 w. Cary St. Second Floor Richmond,VA 23221
For questions specifically about the charity they can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For mastectomy tattoo questions, they should email me directly instead of the charity: email@example.com