If you spent your summer sat in front of the TV watching the romance and drama unfold on ITV’s Love Island then you’ll most likely recognised brunette beauty Abigail Rawlings (Abi). While she may not have found love in the villa, she does still have her one true love – tattooing.
It wasn’t love at first sight and in fact tattooing wasn’t something Abi had considered doing, even though she was clearly a talented artist, with a job as a graphic designer even had a fairly large dream catcher tattoo on her back. Go back over 8 years from now and you’d find the young designer moving to Bournemouth to study Graphic Design at University, something which soon became a distance memory as within just three months of starting her course she received a messaged, that very much brought a new love to her life…
“I had a message on Facebook at the time from a local tattoo artist. He was looking for an apprentice and he was like “I love your work”, because I just used to upload drawings and stuff that I did. He was like “I think that you could be a really strong asset” and basically long story short, I dropped out of uni and became a tattooist,” Abi tells us.
“Mum was livid, but it was all for the best way these things. Now I’m like eight years plus, still tattooing, going strong and it’s just the best, best occupation I could ever tell anyone to do because it’s just so fun and I love it.”
Take a few moments to scroll through Abi’s tattooing Instagram account and you’ll be amazed at the stunning pieces of art she’s created. Although she was given a great opportunity, one that she has clearly excelled at and enjoys, it wasn’t all easy, especially being a female in the tattooing world. Unfortunately, like many of us, she experienced situations where a number of men didn’t think a woman could do such a job. “There was one example where these two guys came in for just a walk in tattoo. They just wanted something really simple. And I said, hi, okay, so I would we be doing yours and this man [another tattoo artist] is gonna be doing yours and he laughed, just assuming that I was being sarcastic and telling a joke. And I was like, no really, I’m going to be doing your tattoo and his response was like, well how, you’re a woman. And I was like, correct, and I’m also very capable,” she recalls.
“I’m so proud of our females because before we were just kind of shunned, people didn’t really take us seriously, and now I just think we’re just kicking ass…”
Back then tattooing was a male orientated industry, but over the last five years, more and more talented female tattooists have emerged. “Women just kind of like stepped up and were like, no, we are here. And now just the amount of strong female artists are out there, I’m so proud of our females because before we were just kind of shunned, people didn’t really take us seriously, and now I just think we’re just kicking ass and kind of, not taking over because we’re all equal, but we’ve definitely gotten about now.”
If you did see Abi on Love Island you’ll know that she’s very much a sweet heart and while chatting to her she’s no different. She’s so calm and lovely to speak to and it’s no surprise that she uses her art to help transform the lives of others, by empowering people to love their bodies. “I get a lot of cellulite or stretch marks or scars, or just things that have made them feel less confident and with a tattoo obviously they can’t get rid of it, but it’s such a good like disguise that you can give someone this tattoo, and the way you can see the lift in themselves in the mirror afterwards is just so different and it’s so, it’s quite overwhelming to see how happy you can make someone be in their skin. I’ve had a cry for a few customers in the past like if they cry, then I cry. But it’s lovely, I’m so grateful that I’m in a position to be able to do that for people on a daily basis,” says Abi.
One of Abi’s dreams is to own her own tattoo studio, but more recently she’s chasing another dream and has launched a new YouTube series Abigail’s Tattoo Diaries, in which she tattoos some of her famous friends. Her first episode features fellow Love Islander Dale Mehmet, who we see receive a neck tattoo from Abi and the story behind it. “One of my like, massive things would be to have my own like TV programme. So I thought, it’s an ambition of mine. I’d love to have it one day, why don’t I try and recreate something that I’m hoping to have one day to see what it’s like and if people like it.“
“I wanted to show people, the real process of tattooing without making it gimmicky. Literally like this is the processing from drawing it to print, to stencil, to tattoo and showing it, like how it goes and like close ups about the needles and stuff for people that might not necessarily be that bothered or interested in whoever I’m kind of interviewing at the same time or to have a chat with, but also someone that’s interested in watching the process and finds it fascinating.”
It seems like Abi is well and truly on her way to fulfilling her dreams and it’s really inspiring to see, what would her advice be to others? “Just because it scares you, don’t not do it,” she says.
“I find with the biggest things that have happened in my life personally. I’ve had things kind of appear and come out of nowhere… it’s always been really scary at first, for example, earlier, when I was like, oh god, I’ve I’ve literally just started university in three months and I had this opportunity to start a new career. Do I do it? It’s a bit ballsy, but I did it.”
“Just because an opportunity that comes your way scares you, don’t let that deter you from your dreams because it could end up being the best thing that ever happened.”
“And then when Love Island approached me it was something I was like, oh, I’m so happy with my life. I might risk it and I might end up being like hated by the nation and be really sad. I was like, it’s a risk you’ve gotta take, and in the end I was like oh, okay, let’s do it. And now it’s like one of the best things that I did like. Just because an opportunity that comes your way scares you, don’t let that deter you from your dreams because it could end up being the best thing that ever happened.”