Meet the Tattoo Artist That CAN’T Draw but Has Tons of Clients
Tattoos serve as powerful self-expression and can reflect our deepest values and beliefs. Therefore, choosing the right design and artist is crucial.
The ideal tattoo artist can bring our ideas to life with precision and artistry. Yet, Helena Fernandes, a tattoo artist renowned for her style, is a unique exception to this norm. Her work is often described as unconventional or “ugly.”
Meet the artist.
In the vibrant city of Salvador, Brazil, you’ll find a unique tattoo artist who has carved a niche with her distinct style. Meet Helena Fernandes, the creative force behind a renowned tattoo shop. She specializes in what she affectionately calls “tatuagens peba,” or “trash tattoos.”
Helena shares her artistic journey with the world through her Instagram page, where her unconventional creations have garnered over 170,000 followers and counting. Notably, she showcases not only her designs but also the delight of her satisfied customers.
How everything started.
Helena found her true calling amidst a background in Mechanical Engineering, graduating from the Federal University of Bahia in December 2016. She furthered her academic pursuits with post-graduate studies in Materials Engineering at the same institution. When she had to decide on her future career, Helena remembers, she didn’t know that areas like marketing and design existed.
“A stable future is highly valued [and demanded] in my family and even by myself. So I took a standard course, I started working super early, and I spent my vacations taking courses to improve my curriculum or working more. I didn’t have a passion for any of this, but it was right, and I couldn’t even imagine the possibility of anything else”, she says.
However, her passion for the art of tattooing eventually triumphed. Driven by her love for tattoo creation, Helena embarked on a career shift, establishing her presence in the tattooing world by launching her own Instagram page to showcase her designs. Beyond her role as a tattoo artist, Helena is a multifaceted creative professional. She works as an illustrator and digital influencer. Occasionally, she shares her artistic wisdom by conducting art classes and helping fellow artists discover their unique styles.
Her unique style
True to her philosophy, Fernandes has cultivated a distinctive style that defies conventional tattoo-making techniques. Instead of crafting intricate and graphic tattoos, she specializes in crafting endearing, humorous, and surreal figures.
Her artistic journey began with whimsical drawings adorning her friends’ t-shirts, bags, mugs, comic books, and magazines. As people began to notice her unconventional creations, requests to purchase her artwork followed. Over time, she expanded her repertoire, taking on painting commissions and creating eye-catching flyers for concerts, parties, and various events.
For Helena, it isn’t easy to define her art, but the great certainty is that it represents her. “I just know that it’s something that really satisfies me, that it’s very easy for me to get out of because it’s very ‘real.’ It wasn’t designed to be like that. I really like people’s feedback. A lot of people tell me they find it fun and are happy. I like being able to represent things”, she says.
How she found success.
But Helena’s biggest breakthrough came when her friend Matheus asked her to tattoo a bat figure on him. And her first tattoo work instantly became a hit among her circle of friends. Another one of her friends asked for a cat tattoo, and another one wanted a dinosaur standing on a planet.
Helena decided to make the tattoo for her friends for free because she considered it to be a training experience. When she finally learned the ropes of tattoo-making, she considered taking her newly-found passion to a higher level.
Choosing tattooing as her actual career
In 2017, she created her Instagram account with the alias Malfeitona. Malfeitona is a Portuguese term that translates to “badly done” in English. As the name implies, Helena made it clear to everyone what her artwork is all about. Despite her unorthodox approach to the elaborate art of tattoo-making, Helena’s works receive positive remarks from people around the globe. It wasn’t just her friends anymore; more and more people began asking her for tattoos.
As her name became popular among tattoo enthusiasts, other tattoo artists started recognizing her designs. Since Helena was new to the craft, some tattoo artists gave her tips on how to prosper in this career. Due to their advice, Helena decided to put up her own shop and take this venture to a business level.
Bad tattoos, in all their imperfection, serve as a reminder of self-expression. It’s important to remember that beauty is often subjective and what one person might consider a bad tattoo, another might see as a unique and personal work of art. Tattoo artists like Helena Fernandes have gained popularity for their unique approach to body art. These tattoos challenge traditional notions of beauty and offer a different perspective on the art form.