Canadian tattoo artist Samantha Rae Carniato covers mastectomy scarsJanuary 14, 2019
Magic ink: Talented tattoo artist who covers women’s mastectomy scars with stunning designs reveals how her work helps bring ‘closure’ to cancer survivors
- Samantha Rae Carniato, 37, from Vancouver Island, is a talented tattoo artist
- For the past four years she has specialised in covering mastectomy scars
- Recent designs include flowers, butterflies and words ‘dancing through the fire’
A talented tattoo artist is transforming the lives of cancer survivors by providing them with inkings to cover their mastectomy scars.
Samantha Rae Carniato, 37, from Vancouver Island, has been working at her studio 2009, but in 2014 she began transforming women’s mastectomy scars into intricate tattoos.
Recent images from inside Samantha’s studio show an intricate floral design chosen by one survivor who chose to have words ‘dancing through the fire’ written beneath the breast tattoo.
Another recent design shows a feather motif going across the chest alongside ribbons of blue ink as the backdrop for the central words, which read ‘dance to my own rhythm’.
Tattoo artist Samantha Rae Carniato, pictured with a client, has been working at her studio 2009, but in 2014 she began transforming women’s mastectomy scars into inkings
Samantha Rae Carniato, left, has worked on over 40 mastectomy scars over the past four years including this flower and dragonfly illustration with the words ‘Dancing through the fire’
Butterflies feature in many of the designs, with Samantha Rae having worked on over 40 mastectomy tattoos to date.
Samantha Rae says she enjoys being a part of the women’s journeys to recovery – many of them battle body dysmorphia – and enabling them to move on from their cancer battles.
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‘Between 2002 and 2014 I was a full-time airbrush body paint artist, working with production companies in the entertainment and film industries in Western Canada,’ said Samantha Rae.
‘While I had a stunning professional art portfolio at the time, I pounded the pavement to make connections in the tattoo world, one shop at a time.
‘It wasn’t until 2007 that I was welcome to sit in during sessions in a tattoo studio in Vancouver.
A recent mastectomy tattoo with the words ‘Dance to my own rhythm’. Butterflies feature in many of the designs, with Samantha Rae having worked on over 40 mastectomy tattoos
Samantha Rae (right, with her ‘mentor’ Stacie Rae) says she enjoys being a part of the women’s journeys to recovery and enabling them to move on from their cancer battles
‘Then by 2012 I was a qualified tattoo artist, working in my own studio that my husband and I built. People travel for an average of two hours to arrive for their special tattoo appointments.
‘My first encounter with a mastectomy client was while I was an airbrush body painter. I painted flattering torso designs with flowers and stencil designs, finished off with glitter.
‘For some people, this was the first time they could look past their scars or their cancer.
‘My first tattoo design over mastectomy scars was in October 2014, which was a filigree design with cherry blossoms cupping the side of each breast, and a soft hummingbird over her port scar on her left upper chest.
One of Samantha Rae’s recent works, an incredibly lifelike nipple tattoo. She said: ‘Working with scar tissue and radiated skin while illustrating realism is a big challenge, but I was ready to embrace it’
A client inspects her new mastectomy tattoo. Samantha Rae now supports and advocates for many charities and organisations providing mastectomy scar tattoos
‘My mastectomy journey really began with Stacie-Rae, my mentor. I came into her life just before her scheduled prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and I’ve been right beside since. I did my first ever areola restorative tattoo with Stacie-Rae in May 2015.
‘Working with scar tissue and radiated skin while illustrating realism is a big challenge, but I was ready to embrace it.
‘In my experience, everyone arrives with a wildly unique history, although I recognise a lot of similarities in my clients’ journeys.
‘Some have partners who are there every step of the way, some go through separation and divorce and have to fully start their lives again.
Ink in Samantha Rae’s tattoo studio. Samantha Rae herself has suffered loss at the hands of cancer – which motivates her to create the significant tattoos for her clients
‘Some people stay very jovial and know they will get through with a positive attitude, but some suffer from body dysmorphia and severe mental and emotional lows.
‘For the most part, I hear stories of relief, closure and beauty once their tattoo dreams have been realised.
‘I love being an artist and an intuit of visual potential. I just love lifting people up and caring for my clients and covering their scars. It’s great to be providing someone with a new lease of life with a successful tattoo.
‘Clients have said that the tattoos changed their lives and brought back their confidence. Others have said that it helps them be able to look in the mirror again.’
Samantha Rae now supports and advocates for many charities and organisations providing mastectomy scar tattoos.
Samantha Rae, second right, with her team of tattoo artist. She said: ‘I love being an artist and an intuit of visual potential. I just love lifting people up and caring for my clients and covering their scars. It’s great to be providing someone with a new lease of life with a successful tattoo’
Samantha Rae on stage at a speaking convention. The tattoo artist says she enjoys being a part of the women’s journeys to recovery as many of them battle body dysmorphia
Samantha Rae herself has suffered loss at the hands of cancer – which she says motivates her to create the poignant tattoos designs in order to help women express their journey in a way they wish.
‘Tattoos present a new start, closure and a happy dance across the finish line of cancer,’ said Samantha Rae.
‘It’s a celebration of one or more years being cancer-free. Finally, it can be about having the control over a decision after having your life altered completely by cancer.
‘I have experienced loss and it motivates me to create beautiful and meaningful art for my clients. I can see how much joy my clients get from ‘our’ experience together.’
You can see more of Samantha Rae’s work at @samrtattoo and @aftercancerart
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