In Austria, one tattoo artist is putting his tattoo education to use for a good cause by offering free tattoos. However, he has only one condition for these tattoos to be free: the designs must promote ending racism.
According to a July 28 BBC article, Alex Smoltschnik, whose Pride and Glory tattoo studio is based in the southern city of Graz, says he received 200 requests for these tattoos after posting the offer on Facebook.
To get a free anti-racism tattoo, individuals were required to place their requests by July 18. The tattoos are completely free; Smoltschnik simply asks his customers to make a small contribution to make up for the cost of the ink.
Smoltschnik explains that his anti-racism campaign was inspired by a recent hit and run during which an Austrian man of Bosnian descent drove his car into a crowd in Graz, killing three people in the process. Soon after the event, Austrians began to blame the man’s Muslim background.
“Straight away a certain group of people were labelled as having negative characteristics,” he says. “By getting a tattoo you’re making a statement. It is something very personal, you wear it on your body, it’s very visible.”
So far, some of the tattoos include a fist smashing a swastika, two stick figures of different races holding hands and black and white shaking hands inside a star above the words “against racism.”
While the response to his work has been largely positive, Smoltschnik says he’s seen some hostility from the European community. Hateful comments made on an article from the Kleine Zeitung that profiled Smoltschnik forced the newspaper to close its Internet forum.
And although Smoltschnik knows racism won’t end overnight because of his tattoos, he says he believes he’s using his tattoo education to slowly encourage people to be more accepting of one another.
“Of course, we’re not going to save the world with tattoos against racism … but I think it’s still important to give a sign of the desire for a common coexistence.”
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