Free anti-racism tattoo offer nearly ruins Austrian artist
An Austrian tattoo artist whose offer of free anti-racism tattoos attracted worldwide headlines has said he was nearly financially ruined after receiving hundreds of requests that took half a year to complete.
Tattoo artist Alexander Smoltschnik, who runs the Pride & Glory studio in Graz, announced the offer in June 2015 as a message of anti-racism and tolerance.
It followed the tragedy in Graz when a Bosnian man deliberately ploughed his car into a pedestrian shopping street, killing three people.
“Immediately a certain group of people were labelled as having negative characteristics,” the 47-year-old said at the time.
In a recent interview with Kleine Zeitung he added: “At some point, I could not watch any more as I was bombarded with so much unfiltered hostility. I almost couldn't bear it. I'm an artist after all and therefore by nature sensitive.”
After posting the offer on Facebook, Smoltschnik expected ten or fifteen people might get in touch but he was inundated with hundreds of requests.
“I was completely overwhelmed but there was no going back for me, that would have been cowardly,” he said this month.
“I have not counted how many there were in the end. But I have worked on the free tattoos until the middle of December.”
He said that the emotional and financial cost of having to spend his time doing so many free tattoos nearly ruined him as at one point he struggled to pay rent for the studio.
“The whole thing brought me to to my emotional and financial limits and then some more,” he said.
A year after he announced the offer, Smoltschnik posted online that “unfortunately things still have not changed” regarding intolerance in the world but he was happy he did what he did.
“On a large scale, I could not perhaps change anything - just a small part. That makes me happy,” he said.