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kenhanlon introThe festival season continues and with it our search on new project participants. During this year’s M’era Luna festival, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we have found the possibility to speak with Ken Hanlon, the main voice of rock outfit DARKHAUS, who were playing on the main stage this day.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Ken: My first tattoo was a little piece of Chinese text, which supposedly translated to “Courage”. I was sixteen years old at the time and needless to say, years down the line I came to regret that decision. I eventually got it covered.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Ken: I have a Celtic cross on my right wrist which I had done in Hollywood when I was 21, and although the work itself was kind of “spur of the moment”, the design was something I’d seen before and kept in mind for a while. On my left wrist there are four Led Zeppelin symbols which I treat as one piece, which I don’t necessarily regret getting done but rather wish I had made a better choice in artist. I wanted this done so badly for a long time and I didn’t have the patience to wait until I could afford a more skilled tattooist. Lesson learned! My last tattoo I had done on my left upper arm a couple of years ago in Jacksonville Florida where I now live. It’s not quite a half sleeve but still a work in progress. I plan to get some more filler done in a few spots, it’s just a case of setting it up with my artist at a time when we’re both in town, which has proven to be a little tricky so far as we both travel often. The tattoo was designed for me personally and each element was deliberately chosen for a reason. I have a 4 year old daughter named Lily, hence the flower. The roses and pocket-watch were inspired by the ‘Side Effect of Love’ video.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Ken: Other than the already mentioned filler, I’m sure I’ll get more at some point. After already covering up one tattoo I don’t plan on having to do that again so all my more recent work was carefully considered before committing to it.

RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist?
Ken: Different artists from different parts of the world. I don’t necessarily need to stick to the same person, as long as I’ve seen enough of their previous work to where I feel 100% confident they can execute the tattoo to the standard I’m expecting. But I will say that I definitely wouldn’t be interested in anybody else finishing off my sleeve other than the original artist.

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RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Ken: It really depends on the artist, the area being tattooed and of course your overall pain threshold. My left arm has around 9hrs work invested into it so far, which was split into two sessions. Sure it doesn’t exactly feel awesome but it really wasn’t so bad either. I knew what I was signing up for.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Ken: I only regret the artists behind my earlier work, but I don’t see myself ever covering them up. You really do get what you pay for.

RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Ken: Honestly I’ve never given it any thought. I couldn’t imagine ever being offended by a tattoo. It would have to be pretty terrible. It’s more about placement, I probably would never get anything done on my hands or face.

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Ken: Some people have addictive personalities and are just that way by nature. So sure I believe you could become addicted. It’s still a form of body modification and we know many people get addicted to plastic surgery.

RoD: Currently, tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Ken: There are folk out there who will quite happily walk into a tattoo parlour with cash in their pocket, having done zero homework on the artist, and there will always be someone on the other side willing to relieve them of that money. It’s supply and demand at the end of the day. Personally it doesn’t bother me, people have to pay their bills. Of course, many of these people will grow to hate their decision at some point down the line but that’s their mistake to make and learn from.

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RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a "good" job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Ken: It depends on what kind of career they want. The general opinion on tattoos has shifted dramatically in recent years. With shows like “Miami Ink” and “Inkmaster”, more people are starting to view tattoos as an actual piece of art and not just something that appeals to thugs. I respect the talent, it takes a lot of skill and eye for detail. But honestly, it’s 2017 and the world could descend into nuclear war at any second because of two assholes on Twitter, so in the grand scale of things who really cares that much about a little ink?

RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Ken: My advice would be to not rush it, find the right person, have them draw something up for you and go from there. I spent quite some time researching all the main artists in North Florida before settling on one. Her name is Sole De Real and if you ever find yourself in the sunshine state and looking to get some work done, I highly recommend hitting her up. Other than that I would say be sure to eat something first and bring some water or soda to stay hydrated. And all my ink is black and white which is my preference because it ages better than colour.

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Daria Tessa (
Special thanks to the M’era Luna Festival for supporting the project and for giving opportunity to take pictures.

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